Saturday, January 14, 2006

Julio Down by the Ball Yard

Jorge Julio -- the oft tried-and-failed save specialist for the Baltimore Orioles -- likely will compete this spring against newly acquired RHP LaTroy Hawkins for the team's closing job. Julio can be expected win the job by default, with Hawkins moving to the long relievers' post. Ironically, chief contract negotiator Mike Flanagan might easily have kept his true closer of choice, B.J. Ryan, under contract early last year, and would have done so relatively cheaply. But Flanagan waited so long to ink Ryan that the young Orioles fireballer had time to discover his ability to rack up saves, and recognize his undiscovered market value. Thus Ryan will close for the Toronto Blue Jays for the next five years at a rate exceeding $50 million, and Flanagan and Julio will take another turn through the revolving door. Baltimore fans hope Julio has matured enough to keep the job this time.