What a dagger for the Orioles bullpen. Chris Ray had Tommy John surgery this week so instead of being back on the roster next month or on Opening Day '08, he won't be back until after the All-Star Break next season. And that's actually a best case scenario. It's not entirely unlikely that he misses the entire 2008 season.
I had a lot of faith in Ray even through his struggles this season as I said here a couple times. Despite the jump in ERA and the blown saves I felt that he improved from last season and was going to be a fine closer in the future. He will still have a shot to be that elite closer going forward, but even though Tommy John isn't a huge risk surgery anymore, this still clouds Ray's future. Losing a year to an arm injury is never a good thing for a pitcher.
Danys Baez was officially named the closer, presumably for the rest of the year or until he loses the job, by manager Dave Trembley. Baez had a three up, three down ninth today to gain his first save as the full-time closer. If he can pitch well down the stretch and rack up a few saves, there might be an outside chance at Baez becoming a tradeable asset which you'd hope the Orioles would take advantage of to get out from under his contract. I doubt that's why the move was made, but it might be a nice benefit if it works out.