Meanwhile, the man who played more games at third base as an Oriole than anyone other than Brooksie has officially been replaced, at least for the short term. With the signing of former Rockies infielder Garrett Atkins, free agent Melvin Mora's departure from the club seems much more tangible. While it's still relatively early in the Hot Stove season, I can't help but wonder just how difficult it is for Mora to sit and play the waiting game. There's been next to no buzz about him in the rumor mill; I heard one report linking him to Colorado and one comment left on a MASN blog in which the person claims to have run into Melvin and solicited the player's opinion/belief that he would return to the Mets. I wish him the best no matter where he goes, but based on what I saw with my own lying eyes in 2009, time is running short for him in MLB.
-He's hit for power in the past (averaging 25 HR and 110 RBI from 2006-2008), so we know he's capable of it.
-He just turned 30 last week, so we're getting younger at the position and it's not likely that he's washed up so soon.
-He is a righthanded hitter, and boy howdy do we need those.
-He's good buddies with free agent prize Matt Holliday, so who knows? Maybe he's bait for a bigger fish.
-He won't block top prospect Josh Bell. He's only signed for one year plus a team option for 2011, and if Bell's ready this year Atkins could slide over to first base depending on who is or isn't getting the job done at that position.
-He's (sorta) cheap. You won't find many guys with proven 20-30 HR power for what we'll be paying Garrett ($4-5 million in 2010, depending on incentives).
-There's not much else out there on the market. Chone Figgins landed a big-years, big-cash deal from the Mariners and Adrian Beltre (who's no slam dunk himself) will not come easily. Everyone else is jammed together in the pack, so Atkins is as good as anyone.
-He was really bad last year and his performances from 2007-2009 could indicate a troubling trend. Some guys are finished at 30.
-He's got a reputation as a subpar defender. With so much young pitching, one of the best (and still cheapest) ways to improve is by tightening up the 'D'.
-It's hard to ignore those home/road splits. Say what you want about humidors, but he's proven to be a much better hitter in the thin air of Denver than he has elsewhere (120 OPS+ at home, 82 on the road).
-He'll be facing American League East pitching for a huge chunk of the season. Things ain't getting any easier.
-Small sample alert! Garrett has three singles in 23 career at-bats in Baltimore.
-Small sample alert II! In 15 career postseason games, he's hit .231 with one home run. Guy's a choker.