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News Roundup: Orioles Cut Jay Gibbons

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-P- The Orioles have dumped Jay Gibbons. That may not seem too interesting - team cuts perpetually injured mediocrity, stop the presses! - but it's a move that may have symbolic significance for a franchise that's finally making some progress. The O's drafted Matt Wieters in June, then traded veterans Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard for younger players this offseason.

When I was in college, my roommate Ryan (an Orioles fan who now posts at Bucs Dugout as "scoreboard"), used to complain about the way the Baltimore media treated Gibbons, who was then emerging as a young player with the O's. To the city of Baltimore, Gibbons was some sort of developing star, Ryan said, but in a better organization, he wouldn't have seemed like a big deal at all.

Gibbons, as it turned out, was a perfect Oriole - not exactly bad, definitely not good and, eventually, too expensive (the O's are risking eating his contract by dropping him). Getting rid of him after seven years probably isn't the sort of thing the Orioles of, say, 2004 would have done.

-P- I hate to even link this, but I can't resist.

It's been 2½ years since the Braves last played a postseason game. It's been 13 years since they won the only World Series of their 14-year rampage as division champions. It's been 17 years since the Braves of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Steve Avery and Charlie Leibrandt made their first foray into October in the Bobby Cox-John Schuerholz era.

But it wouldn't shock anybody -- anybody -- who has seen them this spring if this Braves team turns out to be as good as any of those teams. And by that we mean: The Braves -- yeah, the Braves -- are our pick to win the World Series.

Go ahead. Call us nuts. Start typing those e-mails lecturing us on why the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Tigers, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Rockies, yada yada yada are better than this team. Maybe they are.

Okay: you're nuts. This idea is as stupid as "productive outs," or the absurd Shannon Stewart-for-MVP campaign. The Braves are the third-best team in their own division. If ESPN.com would like me to try to stir up controversy by writing some articles that actually make sense, I would be happy to do it.

Here's the most disappointing part of the article:

"I don't think anybody should be looking forward to going into Atlanta this year and facing [Tim] Hudson, Smoltz and Glavine," said Nationals manager Manny Acta. "And [Mike] Hampton, too. That's a bunch of tough hombres to go up against. And as long as Bobby Cox is over there, I don't think anybody should overlook that team."

Yeah, I'm sure there are 29 big league teams shaking in their shoes over the possibility of facing Mike Hampton. This quote is actually cited as evidence in support of the argument that the Braves will win the World Series, as if Acta's motivations - good sportsmanship and all - aren't completely transparent. The thing is, Acta seems to be a highly intelligent and iconoclastic manager; a journalist seeking to write a controversial article could probably just ask Acta for ideas, and he'd probably rattle off ten good ones.

Either way, we Bucs fans will really - finally! - have something to brag about if we take two or three from the Braves this week. Thanks, ESPN.com!

-P- The Dodgers will bench Juan Pierre and start Andre Ethier in the outfield. Good for the Dodgers; it took a .169 Spring batting average by Pierre to convince them, but they finally made the right decision.