The Orioles cut Jay Gibbons today to get their roster to the opening day maximum of 25 players.
I didn't see this coming with the delay of his season-opening 15-game suspension. It looked like the break Gibbons would need as the MLB considers granting amnesty to past substance abusers while putting a new system in place.
Now, not only have the Orioles released their second-longest tenured and most productive (although admittedly inconsistent) player over the past few seasons, but they will also owe him $11.9 million.
The $10+ million salary difference is worth eating to keep a younger player (utility infielder Scott Moore) who may be more useful this year and down the road.
The real question that remains though is, is this the end of the housecleaning? Already two of Baltimore's three best players from last year (Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard) have been traded for a boatload of unproven prospects and chic pick closer George Sherrill, and now one of the biggest bats in the lineups (relative to the rest of the order) has been released for nothing in return but a little relief from the distractions his appearance on the Mitchell Report was causing.
Considering Brian Roberts was Gibbons' best friend on the team, I think the rumor of him being traded to the Cubs will become a reality very soon. Along with Tejada and Bedard leaving, that would mean that the top three players from last season would be out of Baltimore with Nick Markakis, Jeremy Guthrie and (gasp) Adam Jones leading the Orioles in their pursuit of finishing better than third place before Peter Angelos sells the team to Cal Ripken, Jr.
While the Orioles have been unloading, the other four teams in the AL East have been reloading. Consider it a huge accomplishment if the O's finish higher than fourth and/or within 25 games of first place this season.