Tag Archive | "Zach Greinke"

Orioles 2012: This Year, Next Year, or Both?

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Orioles 2012: This Year, Next Year, or Both?

Posted on 13 July 2012 by Robert Testoni

As I wrote in an earlier blog, one of the best parts of the game of baseball is that for the most part the 162 games separate the pretenders for contenders. The way that things have been going for our birds, I do not see them getting to 81 wins, as constructed right now. I am also a firm believer that deadline trades do little more than cost you as compared the value you get out of them. The best of these deals in the past 20 years has been CC Sabathia to the Brewers. He gave them 6.7 wins above replacement. Most of the better trades hover somewhere around 3. Will 3 to 5 wins make the Orioles a playoff team? What are you willing to give up for those 3-5 wins? These are interesting questions that Dan Duquette has to muddle through in this next 2 weeks.

Buck Showalter has been a miracle worker as he has kept this team in contention with the worst defense in the league, and a minus 36 run differential. Only Minnesota and Kansas City are worse in the league. I think it has helped that the Yankees, Rangers, and Angels of late, are the only teams that have separated themselves from the pack. The Birds are finished playing the Angels, and have 3 left with the Rangers and 9 with the Yankees. That means the birds have 65 games left against average competition. That itself, should keep them competitive at least into late August. Considering what we have lived with for the last 15 years that is a win for everyone involved including the team, fans, and the local starving businesses. Let look at some of the rumors that have been floated out in the media.

I believe Duquette can make some moves that can keep this team in contention for the Wild Card. Let’s get real; they are not winning the Division. A pitcher like Zach Greinke seems to be out of the question. The cost would be too prohibitive to be worth it. He would give us about 12 starts and if he is on top of his game, maybe 8 wins? More than likely, he is good and we get 6 wins. Whomever he replaces, Matusz, Arieta, Hunter etc… would probably win 2 by accident. Is that 4 to 6 game difference worth what you have to give up? Trust me, Bundy and Machado will be center of the conversation. Also remember he is not signed past this year. Thank you, but I will pass on this one.

Of all the rumors, I look to the Chicago Cubs and either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza. I do not have an issue about taking Alfonso Soriano because he can still hit. Yes, you have the contract for the next couple of years, but he is a hits the ball better than anyone we have in left field. Frankly, money should not be the issue either since they have save millions since the inception of MASN. Dempster will come cheaper, in players needed to give up, than Garza and you have the ability to be free of him at the end of the year if it does not work out. Although on the disabled list, he is just about ready to come back and doesn’t have a history of injuries. The best part of getting Dempster and Soriano is that you more than likely do not have to give up the untouchables, Bundy, Machado, Jones, and Weiters.

Whatever happens, it is going to be interesting and telling next couple of weeks for Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter and the Orioles. The playoffs are not out of the question because of the mediocrity of most of the field. What, if any moves will they make to get those 5-6 wins they need to part of the mix. I am sure we all will be watching, and that is an improvement from most of the last 15 years.

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Your Monday Reality Check-How about getting a good player next time?

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Your Monday Reality Check-How about getting a good player next time?

Posted on 09 July 2012 by Glenn Clark

I was in Paris when the Baltimore Orioles’ trade for veteran DH Jim Thome became official and didn’t get much of a chance to opine about it. My guess is that I would have politely said something along the lines of “sure, Jim Thome is better than no one, but is a part time DH with little left in the tank really going to make much of a difference?”

I’m glad I didn’t have the chance to say that. Boy would there be egg all over my face.

Thome has come to the plate in six of the Birds’ eight games since being acquired. He’s managed to collect five hits (all singles), score a run and drive in another. He’s also walked four times and struck out 11 times. He’s been far from terrible since arriving, but hasn’t really made much of a difference in the lineup either. The O’s have won three of the eight games they’ve played since acquiring Thome and enter the All-Star break without scoring a run over their last 21 innings.

The Birds finished the first half of the season with a 45-40 record, good enough for 2nd place in the AL East and currently holding what would be the second Wild Card spot in the American League. The troubling part is that over their last 19 games before the break, they compiled a 6-13 record and averaged scoring less than three runs per game during the stretch.

I don’t want to seem like I’m taking the Orioles’ pitchers off the hook during the stretch. The team allowed nearly 5.5 runs per game during the same stretch, demoting starting pitchers Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta to AAA Norfolk in the process.

I’ll stop short of labeling the stretch “a disaster” for the Birds, but I’ll admit that I went through about ten minutes of inner monologue before I decided the term would be unfair.

I’m not particularly mad at Thome for not lighting the world on fire during his first week with the Orioles. It would be unfair to expect any player to become a serious catalyst in just one week, but there was absolutely zero reason to expect a soon to be 42 year old who hasn’t put up particularly good offensive numbers since 2008 to be the one to do it.

The truth is that the Thome acquisition is going to bug me until the Orioles decide they want to acquire players who are actually good.

I know WNST.net’s Drew Forrester said Sunday the Birds “had better” make moves to upgrade the team before the July 31 trade deadline. My column today isn’t just an echo of Forrester’s sentiments. My column is much more particular.

I’ve said for some time that the Birds cannot view their start to the 2012 season as a sign that they’re on the cusp of turning the page. There simply is not enough evidence of that being the case. There is significantly more evidence of the Birds experiencing good fortune thanks to a couple of nice pieces (OF Adam Jones, C Matt Wieters and P’s Jason Hammel & Jim Johnson notably) and an element of luck via injuries to rival teams.

I’m certainly not backing off of those statements. The start of the 2012 season is in NO WAYS a sign that the Birds’ “rebuilding” plan has worked, or that former executive Andy MacPhail and current GM Dan Duquette have put together a group of players that are just a year away from reaching greatness. The reality is that there just aren’t enough good players either currently at the Major League level or set to reach the majors in the next year or two to suggest the team will be able to win for more than half a season.

The players I mentioned before (Jones, Wieters, Hammel, Johnson) are good players. Unfortunately, that’s about where the list ends.  OF Nick Markakis and SS JJ Hardy are supposed to be good players. SP Wei-Yin Chen and RP Pedro Strop have showed signs that they might be good players. P Dylan Bundy and SS Manny Machado are believed to be good players for the future. Thome and 2B Brian Roberts USED to be good players. 3B Mark Reynolds and 1B Chris Davis (or is that 1B Mark Reynolds and OF Chris Davis?) are players you want to believe are good but you know better.

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Message to Dan Duquette: Stop Slippin, Start Callin

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Message to Dan Duquette: Stop Slippin, Start Callin

Posted on 02 July 2012 by Big Chee

Not sure how many of you out there reading this article would consider yourselves DMX fans, but when I think of the Orioles right now, losers of 5 of their last 6 games, I can’t help but keep thinking about the song “Slippin” he had out back in the 90s. The chorus starts off with the line “I’m slippin, I’m fallin, I can’t get up.” As far as Baltimore in the AL East Standings, this song sure sounds fitting. A month ago, the Orioles were first place, riding a wave of optimism. Jason Hammel was 6-2 with a 3.06 ERA. Rewind a month and a half ago, and Nick Markakis still had both of his arms in tact.  Don’t get me wrong; the O’s have plenty to feel good about heading into the All Star Break. Pending they do not lose all seven games out on the West Coast, the O’s will finish with a record above .500 for the first half of the season. That’s not too bad in arguably the toughest division in baseball year in and year out.

 However, it’s not good enough. This team has given the fans in this city a taste of success, and the last thing people want to see is management taking their foot off the gas because they do not believe that they should trade prospects to win now. And to win now, make a move now. Do not wait until the trade deadline on July 29th to make a move, by then this team could easily fall back to mediocrity and pave the way for Ravens preseason talk to dominate the airwaves before August begins. There should be no All-Star “Break” for Dan Duquette, he needs to keep this team in contention before it is too late.

Now, I am not suggesting the Orioles get crazy and give up the house for Zach Greinke, the unheralded best starting pitcher at the deadline. The Brewers will want the house for a guy who will hit the Free Agent market after the season and command top dollars. Leave that to your neighbors to the north in the Bronx to make that move. The other name mentioned as a possible back of the rotation starter is Francisco Liriano of Minnesota. Let me give you real world business guys a scenario before you consider him a good move. A kid comes out of college at 23, cannot find a job in this tough economy so he decides to sell cars. He comes in fired up out of the gate and crushes his numbers, he clearly has talent. Six years later, you can still see the talent; he cannot seem to push those cars out the door like he once did. That is what I think of with Liriano. He burst onto the scene in 2006, going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts. Now, the strikeouts are still there (70 strikeouts through 12 starts), but his ERA is over 5 and his record is 2-7. Plus, he reminds me too much of Daniel Cabrera. Remember that name, O’s fans? Sorry I am sure you would like to forget some of his atrocious outings.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reported a couple of weeks back that the Cubs are looking to move Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano. Dempster is their most attractive piece, even at 35 years old. He is spotting a 2.11 ERA through 12 games started this season. The Cubs are so desperately trying to ship out Soriano, rumor has it that they would be willing to pay 90% of his salary to the team who takes him.

If I am Dan Duquette, I am calling Theo Epstein and I am trying to bring the veteran Dempster along with Soriano to Baltimore. To me, the trade makes sense on so many levels for the O’s. First and foremost, the O’s lack a veteran, durable presence in their rotation. Forget about the fact that Dempster is currently on the 15-day DL with Right Lat tightness, he will be back right after the Break. Since he underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2003, Dempster has been a rock in both the Cubs bullpen and starting rotation. Thus far in 2012, Dempster has spotted a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts, compared to Matt Garza who is more expensive and has a 4.01 ERA. Plus, Dempster at 35 would be the oldest pitcher on the O’s rotation, and that is by no means a bad thing. Who better for the 26 year old of the rotation, Wei-Yin Chen and Jake Arietta to learn from than the described laid back Dempster? I mean come on, the guy told the Arizona media in 2007 if that if his career were to tumble, he planned on taking up ninja training. How cool is that?

As far as Soriano is concerned, even if you are a casual baseball fan, you probably know his career has been in a steady decline since the Yanks shipped him out for A-Rod back in 2004. But if the Cubs really would pay 90% of his salary, would it kill you to have him as your 4th Outfielder? He is a seven time All Star and two-time World Series Champ, it cannot hurt having a guy who has been in a winning atmosphere in your clubhouse.

For the sake of this article, I won’t dive in too deep to the O’s prospects they would look to ship out to acquire this package deal. I will leave it up to the Front Office to make those decisions. One thing would be evident: the O’s would not have to risk trading potential significant prospects for the future to acquire 35 and 36 year old veterans. However, they need to make some sort of moves if they want to continue this phrase I have heard thrown out this year called “Orioles Magic.”

I believe the next verse of the chorus of the song “Slippin” by DMX goes something like this: “Ay yo I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I gots to get up, Get me back on my feet so I can tear sh*t up!” If Dan Duquette does in fact share the same enjoyment from rap music as I do, he should listen to this song and get the O’s back on their feet by calling Epstein not at the trade deadline, but right now.

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