Waiting for Wieters

Orioles fans, meet the man who, for a while at least, will be blocking your dreams from coming true:

Gregg Zaun returned to the team that drafted him in 1989, finalizing a $2 million, one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday.

The 37-year-old Zaun is expected to replace Ramon Hernandez as the starting catcher, at least until the team’s top prospect, Matt Wieters, is ready.

Zaun has 14 years of experience to draw upon in working with a young pitching staff and newcomer Koji Uehara of Japan. Zaun has a .251 batting average in 1,114 games with Baltimore, Florida, Texas, Kansas City, Houston, Colorado and Toronto.

With his guaranteed money this year and his buyout for 2010, that means that, no matter what, the Orioles have to pay Zaun $2 million. Between that obligation and what is likely a strong desire to keep Wieters from achieving super two status, you can probably expect to see Zaun starting through the All-Star break or later.

Is that as satisfying as seeing the best prospect in baseball? Nah, but hey, Zaun is Rick Dempsey’s nephew, and that has to count for something in Charm City, right?

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  1. Grant said...

    Rick Dempsey is a dumb gasbag and one of the worst color men, even for local guys, I have ever seen.

    But yeah, let’s stall that arb clock a bit, shall we?

  2. Johnnyo said...

    I wonder how many fricking references to Dempsey we are going to have to hear on the radio and TV because of the relation!!!>>??

  3. SKates said...

    As a lifelong Baltimoron, I am fine with this direction. Seeing Wieters for an entire year in his prime vs. 2 months as a rookie? It’s the exact OPPOSITE kind of moves by management that get us pissy.

  4. Eric Solomon said...

    (First time/long time)

    I think they’re doing the right thing with Wieters.  They aren’t going to contend this year but have some promising talent in the system so should be aiming for beyond 2010.  The longer they have control of Wieters, the better for them (if he’s even half as good as everyone projects).  It really will be nice to see baseball resurrected in Baltimore.

    And this is from a Yankee fan.

  5. Heath said...

    O’s fans are OK with this. This organization has a bad habit of rushing prospects and stunting their growth. Every now and then it works out (Nick Markakis) but usually it’s a disaster (Daniel Cabrera, Hayden Penn).

    Zaun knows the deal; he’s just keeping the seat warm for Wieters and he seems OK with it. And Zaun is a good bet to post a better OPS than Ramon Hernandez did last season.

    A fine backup catcher pickup.

  6. Robert Dudek said...

    Orioles fans will love Zaun; he was definitely a fan favorite in Toronto in recent years.

    He’s also done color commentary during the playoffs on Canadian TV and seems like a very good candidate to manage when his career is done.

    I can’t think of a better guy to mentor Wieters over the next two years.

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