Orioles look to move up

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

A.J. Burnett was supposed to be on the mound last night in Phoenix as the Florida Marlins played the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mark Redman was on the mound in Pittsburgh as the Pirates played the Houston Astros.

So the proposed three-way deal involving the Baltimore Orioles, Marlins and the Pirates wasn't that close to fruition or Burnett and Redman would have been scratched from their respective starts.

Yet there was a lengthy conference call yesterday involving Baltimore's boss men Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan.

The Orioles want to make the deal on the assumption they'll never have a better chance to contend against the American League East heavyweights than this year.

Baltimore went into last night's game in Minnesota tied with the Boston Red Sox and a half-game behind the New York Yankees.

Remember them?

They were deader than Kelsey's Ghost and plans were underway for the burial a few weeks back.

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If the Orioles can work out a multi-year deal with Burnett -- another starter the Blue Jays had hoped wound be reunited with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg -- the dominoes would, according to reports out of Baltimore, fall like this:

- Burnett and first baseman Daryle Ward of the Pirates would wind up in Baltimore.

- Redman, Baltimore reliever Jorge Julio, outfielder Larry Bigbie and prospect Hayden Penn head to the Marlins.

- Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell winds up with the Pirates.

Despite having $20 million US per year to spend, the Jays say they were not interested in Lowell and the $18 million he has owing the next two seasons.

The deal would help the Marlins the most, as the AL East should run true to form when all is said and done. Either the Yanks or Sox win the division, the loser getting the wild card.

At the all-star game in Detroit a writer was polling baseball people on the "most disappointing team of the first half."

Most scouts tabbed the Yankees, but a close second was the Marlins, a game below .500 heading into last night's play, seven games back of the Washington Nationals.

The proposed deal allows Miguel Cabrera to return to third with Bigbie in left, while Julio will help the 'pen.

The Jays are worse than ordinary when Roy Halladay doesn't start. They are 14-5 when Halladay is on the mound, 30-42 when he isn't.

So with 11 days remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline, the Jays need starting help.

Meanwhile, the White Sox and the Nationals are looking for a lefty starter. Yet neither had scouts in town to see Ted Lilly last night.

However, the Nats' Bob Boone was on hand for Lilly's previous start, and the Jays had a scout in Milwaukee on the weekend to see Washington.

Bill Scherrer of the White Sox saw Lilly pitch twice this month. Nats general manager Jim Bowden last night said he was close to a deal for a starter, but it wasn't Lilly.

Former Jays executive Bill Livesey, now with the New York Mets, was in town last night watching the Jays.

The Mets need bullpen help. Hello, Miguel Batista?

The Texas Rangers, after being told Vernon Wells was not available, have some interest in Frank Catalanotto, although the Jays think more of Catalanotto's worth than the Rangers do.

So is Burnett like Matt Clement, baseball's version of the Loch Ness Monster, or a "Sams-quatch," as Bubbles says on The Trailer Park Boys: a starter who wants to be re-united with Arnsberg but is never seen in a Jays uniform?

Clement went for the money and a chance to win when he signed with Boston this past off-season.

Last night, Ed Mirvish threw out the first pitch as a pre-birthday celebration.

Honest Ed turns 91 Sunday and was one of the few people at Rogers Centre older than Seattle Mariners catcher Pat Borders.


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