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Moeller's value not lost on Orioles

Moeller's value not lost on Orioles

NEW YORK -- The Orioles may have used much of this season to evaluate their youngest players, but they'll find themselves judging a capable veteran during September. Baltimore holds an option year on Chad Moller's contract and will have to decide whether to pick it up or cast around for a different backup catcher during the offseason.

Moeller started the season as Gregg Zaun's backup and went to Triple-A Norfolk in late May, when the Orioles opted to promote top prospect Matt Wieters. The veteran backstop got his ticket back to Baltimore punched in August, when the club traded Zaun to Tampa Bay in exchange for a player to be named.

Now, with the season winding down, Moeller finds himself secure in his position. For now. Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, said that the club will take its time before deciding whether to pick up the $850,000 option for next season. In effect, Moeller may not know his future until November.

"We'll go through sort of a mini-organizational meeting," said MacPhail. "We'll go through how many guys we have to protect and what different options are available to us. We'll make those decisions after the year is over."

Having said that, MacPhail acknowledged that Moeller -- who entered Sunday hitting .276 in 76 at-bats this season -- has been everything the Orioles hoped he would be this season. Baltimore won't have to make a decision on Moeller until 10 days after the World Series, but the club should have a plan in place long before then.

"We had the opportunity, sitting in this dugout last year, to see him from the other side -- to see what he did for the Yankees," said manager Dave Trembley. "I think he's been very valuable, a guy that knows the division. He's really been a mentor, in a different sort of way, to both Wieters and some of our younger pitchers."

The Orioles started Moeller twice during their series against the Yankees, and they were rewarded with a sacrifice fly in the first inning of Sunday's game. Trembley said that having a guy like Moeller -- an experienced catcher who can work with young pitchers -- allows Wieters to learn on the job and focus on his offense.

"Now that we have a third catcher and it's late in the year, we have an opportunity to DH Wieters a little more and keep him fresh, and give Moeller an opportunity to catch some guys," Trembley said. "He's chipped in and got some big hits for us, which is kind of a bonus. But he certainly has done a nice job catching."

Trembley, who is also waiting to hear whether he remains in Baltimore's plans for next season, has been vocally supportive of Moeller since Spring Training. And when asked if he'd like to have him back next year, Trembley said on Sunday that he'd like to have a roster filled with players as conscientious as his backup catcher.

"I don't think you can ever get enough guys who are professional and that can do a few more things beyond just play," Trembley said. "I think you need guys in your clubhouse that have a feel for preparation and how you go about doing things. ... He's certainly a guy that I think should be considered."

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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