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Utility infielder Chris Gomez and pitcher Russ Ortiz both filed for free agency on Saturday, the first day after the World Series. On Sunday, backup catcher Chris Widger joined them.
Chris Gomez may the only player of the three with any pleasant memories in Baltimore. Although his defense at shortstop was marginal, at best, he made a perfect complementary player for the Orioles. The presence of present-day ironman Miguel Tejada helped minimize even that concern. Gomez contributed most often as a defense-oriented first baseman. He also fit in well on a team that often struggled against left-handers, posting a robust .396 OBP against them in 2006. Gomez lost much of this season with a broken bone in his right hand, but he recovered by posting an 1.115 OPS in September.
The Russ Ortiz Experiment has finally come to an end. Ortiz, formerly famous for the ludicrous four year deal he signed in Arizona, joined the Orioles in mid-season for the prorated league minimum after his release. Baltimore baffled many observers by keeping Ortiz on the 25-man roster all season, despite an 8.48 ERA in 40+ innings that understated the difficulty of actually watching him pitch. If you're looking for next year's Jose Lima, here he is.
Orioles fans have gone a long time without an adequate backup catcher and the Chris Widger era was no exceotion. Although he was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox in July, the organization clearly favored him over AAAA slugger Danny Ardoin. Unfortunately, Widger went down with a pinched nerve in his neck and only had 17 at bats with the Orioles.
Several other Orioles are eligible for free agency and Inside The Warehouse will keep you updated throughout the off-season.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com