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Posted on 13 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson
We have heard it all offseason; we have heard it for the past decade. After Orioles owner Peter Angelos was quoted saying Baltimore is a “limited market.” GM Dan Duquette has reiterated those sentiments, discussing the minute “resources” and trying to stay “competitive” against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.
We all know the real story there; the owner refuses to open his wallet, knowing he is going to take $3.50 from every household in the Baltimore area for his MASN network. The reports circle every offseason how much Angelos grosses from his TV deal, but we all know that money will never be re-allocated to the roster, while he is in charge.
In the end, he is the owner and that is his prerogative; he can basically run his “business” however he so chooses (even if that means spitting in the face of those who fatten his pockets; but that’s a different story, which is already well reported by the WNST staff). If Angelos is going to stick to that “business plan” (if you want to call it that), then the team must operate as such.
Every offseason for the past ten or so years, we hear about those players that the Orioles are “interested” in acquiring. Whether it is Mark Teixeira or Zack Greinke or Nelson Cruz, everyone knows the real story; the team will not pony up enough to garner their services, but cry that those players would not sign in Baltimore. So as a fan base, this is a plea for the the organization to stop with this nonsense.
It is time for the Orioles front office to embrace the “limited market” mantra they have been spewing for years. Stop acting as if the team will be actual players in the offseason; start acting like the team that will build from within.
Andy McPhail started that idea years ago; after moving Erik Bedard for Adam Jones (a move that panned out pretty damn well). But those are the smart (and tough) decisions the organization has evaded, since their resurgence in 2012. Take emotion out of your moves; basically make decisions with your head and not your heart.
The team traded away Closer Jim Johnson, one year too late and could not capitalize on his value at the time. A contending team like the Dodgers or Tigers or Cardinals (I know I’ve said this before) would have given up an everyday player or at least some top level prospects in return if they would have pulled the trigger last offseason. Instead, the Orioles received a struggling 25 year, who was demoted to Triple A in 2013.
The same goes for fan favorite Matt Wieters; he’s been a gold-glover and an All-Star, but is he really worth the $100 that his agent (noted Orioles pain in the ass, Scott Boras) will ask for. The question is now what can you get in return for an overworked catcher, who is slow and cannot hit above .250? If they would have considered moving Wieters before last season, they would have returned several top prospects and MLB players, while his value was at an all-time high. Now, no one can even be sure Wieters can get back even one everyday player or starting pitcher.
The point is that if you want to pretend that Baltimore is such a “limited” market than put your business plan in place as such. Do not keep stringing along the hopes of fans holding out that the team will actually sign a Shin Shoo-Choo; start following the same model of successful “limited” market teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays.
Before last season, they traded away a pretty good top-of-the-rotation starter in James Shields. In return they only received…the top prospect in baseball in OF Wil Myers and the Royals best pitching prospect, Jake Odorizzi.
Now the team is in the same bind with former Cy Young Award Winner, David Price. Since their actual resources are limited, they understand they cannot retain him under their budget. In turn, the Rays, a perennial winning franchise in baseball, is looking to deal one of the top five best pitchers in the entire MLB.
And why? Because they understand value and have a business plan in place for the next several years. They are stocked with young talent on throughout their farm system and continually replace players, like Price or Shields, with more top prospects.
The Orioles brass seem to have little grasp of this concept, especially after standing still for the past two offseasons. The tough moves are always the hardest, but will always help in the long scheme of things. If the front office has no intentions of keeping around some of the team’s “star” players in the not too distant future, (i.e. Chris Davis) then why not make the tough decision now.
If the slugger is not in your future plans or budget, then why not recoup as much as possible for players the Orioles will have control over for the next seven-eight years. Teams would be lining up with their best offers to acquire the services of a power-hitting first baseman with two years left of team control.
But then again this is the Orioles we are talking about. They will bank you parking your butt in the seats at Camden Yards for the next two seasons, to watch “Crush” hit bombs towards the warehouse. All the while, you handing them money for tickets and hot dogs and beers and merchandise.
Posted on 03 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson
Its official; no one will get that queezy feeling at Camden Yards in the 9th inning, when hearing “The Pretender” anymore. Jim Johnson was moved to the Oakland Athletics for second baseman, Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later. What a difference a year makes.
If the Orioles moved Johnson before last season (like I said here and here), they would have had a pick of the litter of players from several different contending teams. What would have the Tigers or Dodgers or Cardinals have done to sure up their closing roles before 2013? It sure as hell would have been more than a 26 year old second baseman with “potential.”
The lack of proactive nature by the organization has cost the Orioles a great deal, in terms of on-field production. Johnson has been a good relief pitcher for years, but his value was at his highest at the end of 2012 playoff season. For a team that wants to build with youth, to sustain success for the future, making tough decisions, with generally likeable guys, is simply a must.
As for the return, Baltimore receives a player, in Weeks, that could be the everyday second baseman (but confidence in that actually panning out has to pretty low at this point). After being called up in 2011 (which he played 96), he posted a .303 average and .421 OPS, with 22 stolen bases. But following his stellar first MLB season, things went awfully wrong for the 12th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Hitting just .211 in 2012, leading to a demotion by the A’s; playing in only nine games in the majors in 2013. Though he had decent numbers in the minors last season (.271 avg, .376 OPS, 17 stolen bases), Weeks could not have foreseen his career path heading in this direction.
But what could Orioles really expect to recoup in a trade for a player everyone in the MLB knows they will not pay $10 million? Johnson was one of the most inconsistent relief pitchers in baseball last year; leading the league in saves and blown saves. He never had dominating “stuff” to finish out games, did not have enough strikeouts as a closer and put too many runners on base.
Could Johnson have contributed for the Orioles in 2014? Absolutely. If Buck Showalter would move him back into a less-volatile role, in the 7th or 8th inning (like he was pre-2012), there is a good chance he could regain his form. But with the manager’s loyalty, Buck would probably be too tempted to throw Johnson into a game with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. The team simply had to move on and got the only thing possible in return; potential.
The same fans that wanted to DFA (designate for assignment), essentially releasing Johnson for nothing, halfway through last year, now are complaining about the balance of this trade. As for the organization “saving” all that money, this is baseball, there is no salary cap, teams can pay players whatever they like. There is no cash limit in baseball that teams have to adhere to and the Orioles are no where near the luxury tax threshold. And with an organization that has a successful television network, cost-cutting on a contending team is inexcusable.
Did the Orioles clear some dead money off the books? Yes. Will they use that money to acquire much needed depth on the big league club? Only the next couple weeks will tell. Of course, Peter Angelos could just pocket that money and let his “baseball people” make the baseball decisions, with the roster as it stands.
Posted on 20 November 2013 by Brett Dickinson
This could be my “I told you so moment;” well maybe it is a little. But the Orioles have finally decided to make the smart business decision and consider trading away catcher, Matt Wieters. I have been reporting for years that move would be in their best interest (found here and here and here; yeah I’ve talked about it a lot). The “Mauer with Power” aura has left Camden Yards and the fan base seems to be finally on board to move on from the once top prospect in baseball.
Though good defensively, he does not offer enough at the plate; except for the occasional untimely Home Run. Wieters has an excellent arm, controlling runners on the base path, but is not mobile enough to consistently block bad pitches and pop out of his stance to snag tough foul balls. Questions have arisen over the years on how long he could even last at catcher because of his large frame. He’s not half the athlete of Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer (a top QB recruit coming out of high school), who has been forced to move to first base this season.
So there is my spiel on why to move on from the former Gold-Glover, but most have already seen that over the past two seasons (and called me an idiot for saying so). Now let’s look into possible trade partners for Wieters, who is a Scott Boras client, meaning a team will have to pony up to extend him beyond this season.
Though Matt Wieters trade value is now at an all-time low for his career (unlike a year ago, when I first started this campaign), he is still an upper-echelon catcher, compared to what is available. The Orioles should be able to at least get either an every day player or starting pitcher in return in any deal. But after Texas traded 2B, Ian Kinsler (who would have been an ideal fit with the hole at the position for the Orioles) to the Detroit Tigers, for 1B, Prince Fielder, there is one less option in the pool for Dan Duquette.
Matt Wieters to the Los Angeles Angels for OF/1B/DH Mark Trumbo.
Both teams would benefit greatly from this swap, as the Orioles sorely need a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lineup and the Angels get an excellent game-caller to help along their porous pitching issues. The Angels will also save money in the long term, because they will be line to extend Trumbo and OF, Mike Trout (who is the best all-around player in baseball), within a 12 month span.
In acquiring Trumbo, he is not set to hit free agency until 2017, giving the team control for several years, while their core still in their prime (and set to make a World Series push). Trumbo offers the Orioles more financial flexibility in the near future; something Peter Angelos surely would sign off on. He is also a power hitter from the right side of the plate, while being able to fill in holes in either LF or DH (and possibly playing the occasional first base to rest Chris Davis).
Matt Wieters to the Chicago Cubs for SP Jeff Samardzija
The Cubs are another team in desperate need of a back stop to control the game behind the plate. Add in the direction of their front office (with Theo Henry’s track record of trades) and they have the funds and means to re-up Wieters contract. Chicago has already expressed willingness to move on from their No. 1 starter (with trade rumors with the Diamondbacks), in order to upgrade their lineup and defense. Though Wieters is not a good hitter, he is still an upgrade over Wellington Castillo (the only catcher on their roster), with his power numbers and ability to bat from both sides of the plate.
In Samardzija, the Orioles are not exactly getting back the ace they desperately need, but a pitcher who is willing to be a stopper every fifth day. Though he struggled in the second half last season, he has proven to hold his own against some of the better pitchers in the NL. He is also in the last year of his contract, so any deal will include a sign-and-trade, which could lock up the starter for the next several years.
Matt Wieters to the Seattle Mariners for SP Erasmo Ramirez and Prospect(s)
The Mariners may have the worst catching situation in the entire MLB, with the failed experiment of Jesus Montero behind the plate. They are left with a plethora of young talented pitchers (including former Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez), including several prospects ready to break through in the big leagues. Though the Mariners have Mark Zunino (a top catching prospect) making his way to the majors, he could develop behind Wieters for the next couple of seasons, until the Baltimore catcher needs to be moved from behind the plate.
In return, Baltimore is receiving a highly touted pitching prospect, who is the most Major-League ready in their organization. He struggled this past season but at only 23, has plenty of growth in the big-leagues awaiting him. Ramirez will be under team control for several seasons, adding into the young starting core of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. The Mariners may need to add in another low-end prospect or two to make the deal fair.