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Mailbag: Chasing Cabrera

Mailbag: Chasing Cabrera

I want to see shortstop Orlando Cabrera with us next year. Any chance the two-time Gold Glover, who hit .281 and scored 93 runs last year, could sign with us?
-- Jeff F., Princess Anne, Md.

Cabrera, despite his readily advancing age and big-ticket salary, could be a good fit in the right circumstances. The Colombia native would represent a massive upgrade for Baltimore and would come without requiring any exchange of talent in return. And like Hernandez, Cabrera might be ready to run to the highest bidder.

That's where pursuing him could become problematic. Cabrera is a league-average starter who's made more than $30 million in the last four seasons and could sign an even bigger deal this time around. The 34-year-old has slugged higher than .400 just once in the last five years and will likely begin to see the rest of his game slip.

And at this point, his performance level just can't sustain too much regression. Cabrera has scored a .330 on-base percentage or better in each of the last three seasons, but he's only scored 100 runs one time in his career. And that's despite being durable, logging more than 150 games in seven of the last eight years.

Cabrera should be available and he could be interested in what the Orioles have to offer him. But if Baltimore has a chance to pick up a younger alternative -- either in a trade or in free agency -- it should heavily consider it. Cabrera, while a nice piece on a contender, would likely be an albatross on a second-division club.

What are the chances of Scott Moore joining the big league club next year and getting more than a part-time role?
-- Gerald C., Bronx, N.Y.

Have a question about the Orioles?
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Moore is still in an organizational no-man's land, thanks to some veteran talent ahead of him and a lost season spent flailing at Triple-A Norfolk pitching. Moore had a red-hot Spring Training and parlayed it into a reserve slot with the Orioles, but he was blocked by Melvin Mora and sent to Triple-A Norfolk shortly after the season began.

The former first-round Draft pick batted just .247 with seven home runs and a .404 slugging percentage for Norfolk, opening the door for Baltimore to begin looking elsewhere. Moore, who recently turned 25 years old, has been in the Minor Leagues since 2002 and has yet to break through, prompting questions about his overall potential.

Moore, the eighth overall pick in 2002, has had to deal with rapidly downgraded expectations over the last couple of years and is beginning to look like he might have to prove his worth at Triple-A over several seasons. If everything breaks right, he might be able to have a career path that resembles big league veteran Casey Blake.

To answer Gerald's question, though, the odds aren't good that Moore will carve out a starting role in Baltimore. The Orioles seem set to go with Melvin Mora, and it's not out of the question that they pick up the veteran's option for 2010. Moore has to give them a reason to reconsider, and he'll have to be healthy to do it.

I've heard a lot about L.J. Hoes over the years. His stats were pretty good in limited action this year, but do you think he has the potential to be a Major League starter in the future?
-- Christian F., Bethesda, Md.

Hoes is still just 18 years old, so it's a little premature to make any long-term guesses about his career. But you can get a quick-and-dirty approximation of his potential just by looking at his draft pedigree. Hoes was selected by the Orioles in the third round of the First-Year Player Draft last June, which tells you how much they think of his ultimate potential.

And after signing, Hoes didn't do anything to change that opinion. The infielder batted .308 with a .416 on-base percentage and 10 stolen bases in 48 games for the Gulf Coast Orioles, but it's hard to get a fix on what those numbers really mean. Hoes will show more when he's playing at a full-season league this year or next.

In reality, we won't know whether he's a good bet to make the big leagues until we see how he does at Double-A Bowie. That's the toughest proving ground for most prospects, and Hoes might not see it for another three seasons. Until then, he's just another intriguing prospect with plenty of potential and lots of work to do.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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