The Orioles moved quickly to fill the vacancy at pitching coach by hiring former Marlins' PC Russ Kranitz. He comes in having guided a very young 2006 Marlins' staff to an excellent season which was enough for Baseball America to name him their Major League Coach of the Year. I'll reserve optimism on this one given the failures of two high profile pitching gurus (Leo Mazzone and Ray Miller) in recent years. Still, on the surface of it, it seems that the Orioles made about as good a hire as could be expected.
As could be expected, the team has already parted ways with some deadweight as Jaret Wright, Rob Bell, Victor Santos, and Victor Zambrano have all been granted free agency after fulfilling their role as sub-replacement level pitchers on last year's staff. Catcher JR House was also released. That one isn't surprising, although it still hurts that the Orioles continue to ignore the concept of freely available talent.
And since no round of transactions can be completed without the Orioles doing business with the Cubs, the club claimed Cubbies reliever Roberto Novoa off of waivers. He missed all of this season with an injury after adequate performances for the Tigers and Cubs from 2004 to 2006. He did strike out more than a batter per inning in about 45 innings of relief work for the Cubs in 2005, so he might be a nice power arm to have in the organization. If nothing else, this hopefully signals that the Orioles are looking to solidify the bullpen through low-cost acquisitions rather than multi-year contracts. The team has done that in the past, though one would hope that the new front office is better equipped to separate possible contributors from junk.