Ryan Freel was traded to the Chicago Cubs on Friday for Joey Gathright. The birds also sent cash considerations in the deal. Like many of you I predicted this about a week ago in a previous blog.
Freel’s tenure as an Oriole was short but not at all sweet. I for one am glad that it is over because Freel had nothing to offer the 2009 version of the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles already traded for Robert Andino this season to supplant Freel from his intended role as an infield utility player when Freel demonstrated an inability to play shortstop during spring training.
Our outfield platoon was established once the Orioles dealt for Felix Pie in the off-season. Pie was intended to see the majority of the playing time in leftfield with Luke Scott filling in as needed.
Inevitably Freel had no defined role on a team that was surely going to finish well below .500. The Orioles play in the AL so pinch-hitting opportunities are at a minimum, especially when the options aren’t hitting very well. Dealing him was another case of addition by subtraction much like the trade Andy MacPhail made to bring him to Baltimore in the first place.
The Ramon Hernandez deal has proven to be beneficial to the Orioles in many ways, and I foresee this move having an equally positive impact on the clubhouse. I for one could not stand to watch another game where Hernandez and his lackadaisical work ethic put the Orioles in jeopardy of losing.
Hernandez refused to block the plate and to run out ground balls all the way to first base. He would not backup throws and his incessant ole tactic behind the plate lead to an overabundance of passed balls, errors, and opportunities for opposing team’s runners to advance. Hernandez was tabbed as a defensive catcher but I viewed his play as purely offensive, offensive in the sense that it offended me that he was a major league ballplayer.
In much the same way Freel was touted as a no-nonsense hustler who came to the ballpark each day and went to work. However Freel became a subversive force in the locker-room and a liability in the lineup. He will in no way be missed by the team, and his classless statements upon arrival in Chicago cement his legacy as a spoiled whiner.
Since when did career backups and utility players develop a sense of entitlement?
The Orioles added Joey Gathright a 27 year old AAAA outfielder who really has only one dimension, speed. Of course this wasn’t an ideal trade but the Orioles once again called on their favorite trading partner, the Chicago Cubs, who came through with a reasonable deal. The actual benefit of this trade is the clearing of a roster spot because Gathright was optioned directly to Norfolk.
This move could be a precursor to calling up either Nolan Reimold or Matt Wieters, or potentially both. If Wieters is called up the Orioles will look to slide Chad Moeller through waivers, so an opening on the 40 man roster may become a key to their future plans.