The Orioles announced the signing of Cesar Izturis to a two-year, $6 million contract today, formalizing an agreement reached last week during the Winter Meetings. Izturis is a Gold-Glove-caliber fielder who often struggles to get on base (he's a career .260 hitter with a .299 OBP), but fortunately for him, the bar hasn't been set very high.
The Orioles had five different players start at least 25 games at shortstop in 2008. What's even worse, the position was a complete black hole -- collectively speaking, Baltimore's shortstops hit just .218 with a pathetic .259 OBP and .276 SLG last year.
Izturis definitely has his faults (namely, the inability to draw walks) but he puts the ball in play, rarely strikes out and can steal a few bases. Given what Baltimore is used to from the position, he'll look like a Silver Slugger, all while providing a nice upgrade in the field. For the price and the relatively short commitment, this was an absolute no-brainer for Baltimore. It won't make them relevant in the AL East, but at least they're no longer going backward.