Last night the O’s came to terms with two free agents: Mike Gonzalez, a left-handed reliever, and Garrett Atkins, a third baseman. Any hopes you had we might bring Melvin Mora back in a desperation move can now be tossed aside as Atkins will likely step into the 3B spot on Opening Day. Gonzalez should help to sure up the bullpen and will likely have a shot to be the closer coming out of Spring Training. Both signings are a little worrisome as we’ve had bad luck in the past with relief pitchers coming over from the National League and Atkins had a poor season last year so we’ll need him to rebound to his 2005-2008 form. It is also a liability anytime you sign a player from the Rockies as it’s unknown how much of his hitting success can be attributed to playing 81 times each season at Coors Field.
With Mark Hendrickson’s status unknown it’s important to get another lefty into the bullpen and he has some experience closing for the Braves, so Gonzalez can fill a number of roles for the O’s this season. I liked Atkins when he played for the Rockies, although I was always under the impression his stats got a nice boost from playing in mile high conditions. Hopefully he has a bounce-back year for us and can be our everyday third baseman while Josh Bell is being groomed in the minors.