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Lookit Erik B over there. That's about how I feel.

Honest to God, this morning after my "yay, spring training!" post, I seriously talked myself into believing in the Orioles this season. I was talking to my broseph, Tony Ling, and I says to Tony, I says, "We don't have any flat-out WEAK spots anymore. The bullpen is improved. If the rotation doesn't suck, we could win some games."

Then about an hour after that, having thought about it further, I went out into the living room to tell my roommate that the Orioles were making the playoffs this year. He thought I was just dicking around at first, but then he caught that crazed baseball fan look. He seemed almost taken aback. He attempted to reason with me. I wasn't having it.

Then I make some lunch, do some stuff, you know, chill for a little while. And goddamn it all, Kris Benson is out for the season.

IT'S FEBRUARY.

IT'S FEBRUARY.

What kind of sick news is this? I couldn't even get a DAY to be wrapped up in baseball fever? Not ONE DAY?

Baseball's Gods are laughing their asses off at our expense. Being a fan of the Orioles has become a big fat joke on us.

SON OF A BITCH.

Kris Benson isn't great, but he's a Major League pitcher. He's fine. He holds his own. I didn't like his trends, but there was enough reason to believe he could repeat his numbers from last year or maybe even bump them up a notch. You know, if you ignore statistics and shit like that. But most importantly, for better or worse, we knew what we were getting out of him. He is a known commodity.

Now, the options to replace him. With Rodrigo Lopez gone (and I still don't see that as a bad move, because to hell with Rodrigo Lopez), there's Hayden Penn in-house, and free agents Steve Trachsel, Ron Villone and Mark Redman.

Let's start with Hayden Penn. My answer is no. He is not good enough to start in the major leagues. They'll want to sign one of these guys anyway for depth now, because Penn will get shelled. He is not good enough yet.

Villone is 37 years old, sucks, and hasn't started a game in two years. The most innings he has ever pitched in a season is 142 2/3, eight years ago. No to Ron Villone.

Redman was, like, the shittiest All-Star ever in '06, but someone had to rep the Royals, and it's not like Ozzie Guillen cared who it was. Redman has had a couple of fair seasons, but they kind of came a few years ago. He's not that old, and he's sure to be cheap, but a third lefty in the rotation? I don't care for this at all.

STEVE TRACHSEL. STEVE TRACHSEL. STEVE TRACHSEL.

He's reliable, he's proven, he's younger than Villone. His BB/K sucked awful last year, and it's never been great, but chances are it won't be any worse this year than Benson's would have been, because Benson's was no prize and I doubt Trachsel will be 1:1ing it again.

So, yeah, I want Trachsel. I've always liked him for no good reason. I could live with Redman. Ron Villone would make the least possible sense, so expect Ron Villone.

They cannot just not sign somebody and give Penn this spot, though. That can't happen. If Penn looks great in the spring, fine, give him the ball. But they have to have a safety net there, at the very least. I feel this is 100 percent necessary. Hayden Penn is not ready to start every five days in Major League Baseball. He just isn't.

Boy, this sucks.

But Steve Trachsel is taking us to the playoffs, baby. I will not be deterred. ("I will not be the turd.")

And you know what else, and I feel this might get ignored in all the hubbub? This sucks for Kris Benson. Here's a guy who was a No. 1 draft pick, had incredible promise, and now he's got a partially torn rotator cuff to go along with a Tommy John surgery that already derailed his career years ago. Who knows what his career could have been without arm trouble? He's not the first and won't be the last, but Benson seems like an honest, hard-working kind of guy, and I feel bad for him. This could seriously, seriously hamper his future in baseball.