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Orioles “poking around” at Seattle pitcher Vargas?

Posted on 12 July 2012 by Luke Jones

As fans dreamed about the possibility of acquiring Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke or Cubs pitcher Matt Garza over the All-Star break, the Orioles are apparently kicking the tires on a far less intriguing and cheaper option.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported Thursday the Orioles have cooled on the possibility of trading for Garza and are “poking around” at the possibility of trading for Seattle pitcher Jason Vargas.

The first-blush numbers suggest it wouldn’t be a bad move as the left-hander has an 8-7 record with a 4.09 earned run average in 19 starts for the lowly Mariners this season. Vargas has a 1.15 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitcher) and has struck out 86 while walking 32 in 126 innings this season.

However, a deeper look at the stats suggest the soft-tossing 29-year-old is far from an ideal target to compete in the American League East.

Vargas has thrived at cavernous Safeco Field this season, posting a 2-3 record with a 2.84 ERA in eight starts (57 innings), but his road numbers paint a different picture entirely. The southpaw has a 6-4 record with a 5.09 ERA and has allowed 17 home runs in 11 starts (69 innings) outside Seattle.

Those numbers just don’t translate to being successful at Camden Yards, and the Orioles would likely be getting just another guy to throw in the mix with the struggling trio of Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter who are currently at Triple-A Norfolk.

Despite all the talk of acquiring a pitcher such as Greinke or Garza by the trade deadline, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles are far more likely to add a pitcher like Vargas, who would have a much cheaper price tag but adds very little upside to the starting rotation.

Such an option may be more realistic, but it’s not going to get the job done in keeping the Orioles in the pennant race unless there’s substantial pitching improvement from within.

In other words, thanks but no thanks.

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