Give Dan Duquette credit.
Prior to last week’s Winter Meetings in Florida, Duquette pledged he was on the look-out for several things, one of those being a left-handed bat.
He made good on that promise yesterday.
It wasn’t quite the Shin-Soo Choo holiday gift we were all hoping for; instead it was a guy who has 400 career at bats in the major leagues.
The acquisition of David Lough on Wednesday wasn’t a “horrible move”. For starters, the departure of Danny Valencia isn’t going to cost the Orioles a half dozen wins or anything, but they will need to replace his bat against left handed pitching. Valencia was virtually one dimensional. He was bat only, although his glove could fill-in for a day or two if one of the infielders had to take a day or two off.
Lough is what the experts call a “plus defender”, which is usually a way of saying a guy is really, really good defensively — and that makes up for the fact he’s not all that good at the plate.
Here’s what David Lough is — and here’s why the move is a typical Orioles maneuver.
He’s basically a cheaper version of Nate McLouth.
McLouth might be a tad more effective with the lumber in his hands. Lough has a better arm in the outfield and is a little more versatile positionally. They both have decent speed. McLouth probably hits a couple of more home runs per-season than Lough, and his plate discipline is better.
McLouth, though, makes $5 million per-year.
Lough makes $500,000.
It’s basically a lateral move that saves the Orioles $4.5 million.
Now, please understand this: If I thought the Orioles were taking that $4.5 million and doing “something” with it, I’d probably be much more excited about the move.
If they were working on a deal for, let’s say, David Price from Tampa Bay, and they were going to use that $4.5 million in part to pay him the $16-18 million he’s going to command in 2014, I’d be doing cartwheels.
David Price is a game changer.
They’re not getting David Price, of course. The Orioles wouldn’t pay a pitcher $18 million if Walter Johnson came back from the dead and said, “I have three great years left, give me $54 million and let’s go beat the Yankees and Red Sox.”
If I thought the Orioles were taking that $4.5 million and putting it in a hedge fund somewhere along with all that MASN money they’ve been hoarding in an attempt to make a boatload of cash to hand over to Chris Davis sometime over the next 12 months, I’d say, “OK, you gotta give a little to get a lot…I understand that way of thinking.”
But, that’s not what they’re doing. If Chris Davis puts up something in the neighborhood of 50 HR, 120 RBI again, he’ll be on the verge of becoming one of those $150 million/7 year baseball players and that immediately takes him OUT of Baltimore and in either Boston, New York, Detroit or Seattle.
If they were spending some of that $4.5 million they were saving on the likes of a “real” left-handed hitter like Shin-Soo Choo and making Lough their 4th outfielder – a la Chris Dickerson, say – I’d be very comfortable with that kind of move.
Instead, here’s what happens to that $4.5 million they saved on McLouth: They’ll take that money they saved by flipping McLouth for Lough – in essence – and simply say, “That’s how you build a good team in a limited market.”
I hope David Lough works out.
As it stands now, it would appear the Orioles have four left-fielder types, none of which are even close to being “a sure thing”. Nolan Reimold=suspect. Francisco Peguero=suspect. Steve Pearce=suspect. Lough=suspect.
They need Lough to come through, since I think we all know the chances of any of the other three breaking through with some sort of magical, career year are relatively slim.
Then again, this is what Duquette does best. He plucks piano movers away from teams, hands them the notes to Elton John’s Greatest Hits, and effectively says, “I know you’ve only moved pianos your whole life. But I was hoping you might be able to play Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”
Duquette tries to make piano movers into piano players.
The great teams simply hire piano players to do that.