A look at the trade, revisited 2017

November 16, 2017 · Posted in Sports · Comments Off on A look at the trade, revisited 2017 

Last year I did a five-part series that studied the legacy of Orioles general manager Dan Duquette. You have likely figured out I’m a baseball fan, and although my big league team of choice is my home region’s Detroit Tigers I follow the Orioles as well because that’s where a lot of my Delmarva Shorebirds end up – if Duquette doesn’t trade them away. At the end of last season fans were bitterly frustrated that the Orioles couldn’t get past the wild card game, and this season they really fumed as players they dealt away for guys who never panned out or simply dismissed in cash deals succeeded for other teams.

So I decided to go ahead after this season’s debacle and follow up on this series, which uses the statistic of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as a way to compare player worth. (Of course, cash has no player worth.) But I have also added a new wrinkle in that I went through the Baseball America archives to find all the minor league deals Duquette completed as well, creating a spreadsheet of all the deals and who’s still involved – players involved in trades can make deals live on if they are traded again by the new team, and this has happened a few times.

But thanks to catcher Gabriel Lino signing a minor league pact with the Cardinals last offseason, I could close the book on the entire 2012 Duquette season. Lino was the last remaining piece the Phillies received when they sent us Jim Thome for the playoff push, and in four subsequent seasons Lino bounced around the Phillies’ system without making the big club.

2012 was, as you may expect, a winning year for Dan, but not overwhelmingly so: his nine deals netted a total of 5.1 WAR while the players he gave up realized a cumulative (-1.3) WAR for their teams. Oddly enough, in strictly WAR terms Duquette’s worst trade was his very first as he acquired backup catcher Taylor Teagarden for two minor leaguers, Randy Henry and Greg Miclat. Neither Henry nor Miclat ever made the Show, but Teagarden had a (-0.6) WAR in two sparsely-used Oriole seasons before leaving as a free agent after the 2013 season.

The best deal he made paid dividends for awhile: acquiring pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom from the Rockies for “ace” Jeremy Guthrie. Hammel provided 3 Wins Above Replacement in two seasons before leaving, while Lindstrom (0.7 WAR) was the bait to later bring in Arizona pitcher Joe Saunders (0.8 WAR as a 2012 rental.) That total of 4.5 WAR was most of Dan’s seasonal success; meanwhile, not only did the Rockies strike out with Guthrie’s (-0.7) WAR as a member of the Rockies, they flipped him to the Royals for Jonathan Sanchez and another (-0.5) WAR. That accounted for most of the overall failure among all teams. (Guthrie was far more successful with Kansas City, so the Rockies were really burned.)

I can’t close the book quite yet on 2013, although a significant part of the Duquette nightmare may soon stop haunting him. If, as most experts expect, Jake Arrieta decides to move on from the Cubs as a prized free agent, that meter of 21.3 WAR he’s accrued with them will stop running. While that’s by far the worst offense of the 29.3 WAR that Duquette gave up (compared to receiving just 2.4 WAR in a staggering 21 deals, mostly on a minor league level) there are still a number of players who are working both for and against him as a result.

The Arrieta deal also included relief pitcher Pedro Strop, who has put up 5.4 WAR of his own and remains Cubs property. Also working against Duquette is a player he could not have known about, but one who will be sporting a World Series ring. As part of the trade with Houston that brought pitcher Bud Norris, the Orioles sent the Astros their “Competitive Balance” draft pick, and the Astros used it in the 2014 Draft to select outfielder Derek Fisher and his 0.4 WAR as a raw rookie this season. Also adding 0.7 WAR to that total against Duquette is Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who was originally the property of the Milwaukee Brewers but came to Houston with another since-released player in a trade where the Brewers received (among others) then-minor league pitcher Josh Hader, who was also part of the Norris deal.

So if you assume all these players except Arrieta stay put, this will leave the Cubs’ Strop and the Astros’ Fiers and Fisher as active remnants of 2013 trades against Duquette. But Dan has three on his side as well.

In the Arrieta trade, Dan picked up the Pride of Pigtown, Steve Clevenger. While Steve only had a 0.3 WAR with Baltimore, his best asset was being part of the trade with Seattle to bring Mark Trumbo. Barring a trade, they will have two more seasons of Mark to add value to the 1.1 WAR he’s already brought on. (The best way to do so: play him strictly as a DH because his defensive WAR is horribly negative.)

A much lesser known trade is the other wildcard. In early 2013 the Orioles unloaded veteran pitcher Luis Ayala to Atlanta and got a minor league pitcher back in Chris Jones. There was a little talk about Jones as a prospect, but three fruitless seasons later he was shipped to the Angels for two minor leaguers, outfielder Natanael Delgado and infielder Erick Salcedo. Delgado was a fringe prospect who last played with Delmarva and missed all of 2017 with an injury, but Salcedo has moved up the system to Bowie.

When your most successful trade in terms of net WAR comes because the player you got never left Norfolk (Trayvon Robinson) but the guy you gave up was brutal – Robert Andino and a (-0.3) WAR in a few months with Seattle – that’s a year worth forgetting.

Analyzing the 2014 season is much simpler: just 11 trades, which Duquette has won by so far a count of 8.4 WAR to 2.6 WAR.

Perhaps the best trade of the Duquette era was the one that brought Brad Brach (6.4 WAR and counting) from San Diego for a minor league pitcher who returned here a season later to retire, Devin Jones. Devin never got past AA, but Brach piles on the WAR.

The only player remaining against Duquette from his deals that season is from the second-most reviled deal behind Arrieta – the trade with Boston where rental pitcher Andrew Miller came in exchange for Eduardo Rodriguez (4.7 WAR). Unless Rodriguez has a long Boston career, though, 2014 looks like it may be Duquette’s best showing as these trades were his best and worst, respectively.

2015 was another step backward for Duquette. It seems sometimes that the more trades he makes, the bigger hole he digs, and this was the case here. In the case of the 2015 season, 11 of the 16 deals were cash transactions one way or the other, including a new and unique transaction where pitcher Chris Lee was acquired from Houston for two international bonus slots, assigned piles of money granted by Major League Baseball for teams to use to sign international talent (or deal away, as the Orioles did.) Lee is still in the Orioles organization so this is a trade which could pan out (there’s really no way of knowing who Houston acquired with their money), but by and large most of these trades were made to bolster the minor leagues. Six of the eleven cash deals closed out with no WAR acquired as the player never made the big leagues.

As the time period is more recent, several of these deals are still open and the Orioles have a combined 0.3 WAR on their side against 10.0 WAR for their opponents. The bad news is that the prospects for improvement on Baltimore’s side are relatively slim, and could decline further as three players in question – catchers Chris O’Brien and Audry Perez (neither of whom have played for the Orioles) and pitcher Richard Rodriguez [lit up for a (-0.3) WAR this season] are all minor league free agents. Besides the aforementioned Lee, the only player who could add value to Baltimore is pitcher Daniel Rodriguez, who has been loaned to the Mexican League for the last three seasons.

On the other hand, the list of players Duquette parted with (and were acquired in subsequent trades by the new teams) may give fans even more heartburn in coming seasons. In order of their departure, they include Stephen Tarpley, a pitcher who the Pirates later flipped to the Yankees for pitcher Ivan Nova (3.5 WAR) and pitcher Steven Brault and his (-0.3) WAR for Pittsburgh. Tarpley and Brault were the price for the Travis Snider (1 WAR) outfield experiment that lasted less than a season.

Another player who has a chance to hurt the Orioles someday is a minor league pitcher for the Dodgers named Josh Sborz – yet another “Competitive Balance” draft pick Duquette dealt away for 2015 (in this case for Chris O’Brien and another departed player.)

When once again the best trade you make is offloading a player [in this case, infielder Steve Lombardozzi and (-0.3) WAR to the Pirates for cash] you know it’s a bad year. The worst trade from 2015 could get a whole lot more bad before it’s finished as the long-departed rental outfielder from Milwaukee Gerardo Parra [(-1.1) WAR] cost the Orioles promising pitcher Zach Davies (6 WAR and counting – he’s under team control until 2022.) It could be another Arrieta in the making.

A more subdued Duquette limited the damage in 2016, making only 13 trades and just 4 for cash. He also picked up pitcher Edgar Olmos from the Cubs for nothing – originally this was for a player to be named later, but no one was ever named. Olmos filled a minor league slot for a season before leaving.

Surprisingly few players are still active from the 2016 deals. I told you earlier about Mark Trumbo, who is adding to the 2016 composite WAR of 0.3, as well as Natanael Delgado and Erick Salcedo. The other player who could add to the Orioles meager total is minor league pitcher Brandon Barker, who the Orioles received as part of a salary (pitcher Brian Matusz) and 2016 “Competitive Balance” draft choice (minor league catcher Brett Cumberland, who is still active) dump deal with the Braves. Cumberland could add to the 2.0 WAR so far compiled by opponents, but it’s more likely short-term that pitcher Ariel Miranda [1.8 WAR, sent to Seattle for pitcher Wade Miley and his (-0.6) WAR] will stockpile Wins Above Replacement. Others who could haunt the Orioles are farmhand pitcher Jean Cosme [sent to San Diego for pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne (-0.2) WAR before being waived at the tail end of 2016] and a rental of utility man and repeat Oriole Steve Pearce (0.1 WAR) that netted Tampa Bay minor league catcher Jonah Heim.

So going forward it’s Trumbo, Delgado, Salcedo, and Barker against Cumberland, Miranda, Cosme, and Heim. Only two of them are currently in the bigs, so the totals may not move much in future seasons.

Adding up the first five seasons of Duquette’s legacy, he’s accrued a total WAR of 16.5, or about 3.3 per season. However, opponents have collectively gained a total of 42.6 WAR – roughly 8.5 per season.

This brings us to 2017, which was an extremely busy season for Duquette because he had a new weapon at his disposal.

Where teams could previously only trade international bonus slots, changes to the rules eliminated the slots and created a free pool of money teams could parcel out as they wished – and Duquette really wished! Eight different minor league players were acquired with the international bonus pool cash, and eight others were standard cash deals. I’ll pick up where I left off last season.

  • Trade 42 (November 30, 2016) – Orioles purchase the contract of P Logan Verrett from New York Mets.

The Orioles tried to get Verrett before as a Rule 5 pick in 2014 but ended up waiving him, losing him to the Texas Rangers before they returned him to the Mets a month into the season. When the Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes as a free agent, it made Verrett available and Baltimore jumped at the chance. But Verrett only made four appearances for the Orioles, compiling no WAR before being outrighted in September and allowed to become a free agent at season’s end.

  • Trade 43 (January 6, 2017) – Orioles trade P Yovani Gallardo and cash to Seattle Mariners for OF Seth Smith.

In an effort to shore up their outfield, the Orioles traded from what they thought was their strength as Gallardo was a sixth member of what was figured to be a five-man rotation of Tillman, Gausman, Bundy, Miley, and Jimenez. Instead, Smith (0.3 WAR) became a fourth outfielder with the ascension of Trey Mancini and figures to leave as a free agent. Gallardo, though, was even worse for Seattle as he put up a (-0.1) WAR and he’s a free agent, too.

  • Trade 44 (February 9, 2017) – Orioles trade minor league P Ryan Moseley to Los Angeles Dodgers for P Vidal Nuno.

Moseley spent the season in the low reaches of the Dodgers’ system, while Nuno made 12 relatively brutal appearances for the Orioles for a (-0.5) WAR. Outrighted in August, Nuno elected free agency at season’s end and was one of the first to sign elsewhere, inking a deal with the Rays.

  • Trade 45 (February 10, 2017) – Orioles purchase the contract of P Gabriel Ynoa from New York Mets.

A solid acquisition so far as Ynoa gave the Orioles a WAR of 0.5 in nine appearances and is under team control for several seasons to come. He’s being discussed as a rotation candidate for 2018.

  • Trade 46 (February 21, 2017) – Orioles trade cash or a player to be named later to New York Yankees for P Richard Bleier.

This turned out to be one of the best trades Duquette made in terms of net WAR as Bleier put up a 1.3 WAR for the season for cash. Again, Duquette snagged a controllable piece of his bullpen for very little cost after the Yankees designated him for assignment a few days earlier.

  • Trade 47 (March 28, 2017) – Orioles trade cash or a player to be named later to Philadelphia Phillies for P Alec Asher.

Asher fits the profile of the other pitchers acquired in this time period – controllable with a lot of potential and coming at little risk. He wasn’t as successful as the others since he put up a 0.0 WAR in 24 appearances for the Orioles.

  • Trade 48 (April 6, 2017) – Orioles purchase the contract of P Andrew Faulkner from Texas Rangers.

Faulkner, who spent parts of the previous two seasons with Texas, didn’t make it to the Orioles and was outrighted to the minors at season’s end, becoming a free agent shortly afterward.

  • Trade 49 (April 7, 2017) – Orioles acquire P Miguel Castro from Colorado Rockies for player to be named later. Minor league P Jon Keller was sent to Rockies to complete the trade on September 7.

Another refugee of being designated for assignment by his former team, Castro was a prized member of the Orioles bullpen during the season, making 39 appearances and compiling a 0.9 WAR. He has five seasons of team control left. Keller was once a prospect mentioned frequently by Orioles’ brass but he’s had back-to-back poor seasons and may have needed a change of scenery.

  • Trade 50 (April 10, 2017) – Orioles trade minor league P Joe Gunkel to Los Angeles Dodgers for cash.

This trade is noteworthy because it closed the book on a trade from 2015 (Trade 29) that sent Alejandro De Aza to Boston. Gunkel, who had been designated for assignment three days earlier, once was thought to have a chance to make the Orioles’ staff, but he never grabbed the brass ring. So that trade went down as a loss. As for the Dodgers, they tried to sneak Gunkel through waivers 2 1/2 weeks later but lost him to Miami, where he finished the season with a demotion to AA Jacksonville.

  • Trade 51 (April 13, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to Milwaukee Brewers for P Damian Magnifico.

The first of several trades involving the Orioles’ bonus pool, Magnifico (another DFA) didn’t stay long in the Orioles’ minor league system as you’ll see.

  • Trade 52 (April 14, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to Seattle Mariners for minor league P Paul Fry.

Fry managed to spend two days in April on the Orioles’ active roster but still awaits his major league debut. If you haven’t noticed a pattern, Fry was also a DFA by the Mariners. Dan Duquette was becoming adept at scouring the waiver wire.

  • Trade 53 (April 14, 2017) – Orioles trade P Oliver Drake to Milwaukee Brewers for cash.

Having designated Drake for assignment the day before, the Orioles got what they could for the longtime farmhand who worked his way up the system. Drake turned out to be a nice pickup for Milwaukee as he chipped in 0.2 WAR for them as a setup man.

  • Trade 54 (April 17, 2017) – Orioles trade P Parker Bridwell to Los Angeles Angels for cash.

Another player Dan Duquette had to DFA, shipping Bridwell off turned out to be the worst trade Duquette made as Bridwell came up with a WAR of 2.0 in part of a season.

  • Trade 55 (May 4, 2017) – Orioles purchase the contract of minor league C Armando Araiza from Atlanta Braves.

After making 13 trades in a row involving pitching, Dan worked on the other side of the battery in this minor league deal. Araiza spent most of his season with Frederick but also stopped with Bowie and Norfolk.

  • Trade 56 (May 6, 2017) – Orioles trade P Damian Magnifico to Los Angeles Angels for minor league P Jordan Kipper.

It turned out that Magnifico made one appearance for the Angels and put no WAR up, while Kipper started out with Norfolk and was demoted to Bowie.

  • Trade 57 (May 20, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to Chicago White Sox for minor league P Alex Katz.

Katz spent the remaining season in Frederick, which was a promotion from where the White Sox had him – but the results were pedestrian at best.

  • Trade 58 (June 4, 2017) – Orioles purchase the contract of IF Ruben Tejada from the New York Yankees.

Looking for a backup infielder with experience, the acquisition came in handy for a time when J.J. Hardy broke his wrist a couple weeks later. But Tejada wasn’t the answer, putting up a WAR of 0.0 and eventually being outrighted in August. He was granted free agency in October.

  • Trade 59 (July 2, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to New York Yankees for minor league P Matt Wotherspoon.

Matt simply switched International League franchises in the deal and put up reasonably good numbers for Norfolk. With another couple seasons to go before he hits minor league free agency, he has an outside chance of making it to the Orioles’ bullpen in the next season or two as a late bloomer.

  • Trade 60 (July 2, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to Los Angeles Dodgers for P Jason Wheeler.

For Wheeler this was his second cash deal in less than a month as the Dodgers had similarly acquired him from the Twins, for whom he had debuted and made 2 appearances in May. The Dodgers had already outrighted Jason to AAA, so the Orioles made a modest enough offer to them to take Wheeler off their hands. For the Orioles he never left Norfolk and was granted free agency in October.

  • Trade 61 (July 5, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to New York Mets for minor league IF Milton Ramos.

Local fans are quite familiar with this deal because Ramos went from the SAL’s Columbia Fireflies (who had played here in May) to the Shorebirds. While Milton was a top-30 prospect with the Mets his stock had fallen off in the previous year, making him expendable and perhaps in need of a scenery change. If this ever accrues to the Orioles’ side of the ledger it won’t likely be before the start of the next decade.

  • Trade 62 (July 7, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to Milwaukee Brewers for minor league P Aaron Myers.

Another trade to help the Shorebirds, Myers was effective here albeit in limited time due to injuries. Like Ramos, it’s at least two to three seasons before Myers would even be considered big league help so this was another trade to bolster a weak area of the organization.

  • Trade 63 (July 29, 2017) – Orioles trade OF Hyun-Soo Kim, minor league P Garrett Cleavinger, and international bonus pool cash to Philadelphia Phillies for P Jeremy Hellickson and cash.

This was a trade that attempted to send a message that the Orioles weren’t sellers. Because Trey Mancini had taken so well to the outfield and Kim was never proven against left-handed pitching, the Korean import was glued to the bench. Moving to Philadelphia wasn’t a favor to Kim in that regard as he had a (-0.9) WAR and is now a free agent, having completed his initial two-year pact coming over from Korea. Cleavinger moved laterally at the AA level but wasn’t very good; however, he has a decent track record to build from and will likely be the last piece standing from this deal. Hellickson bombed with the Orioles as he also put up a (-0.9) WAR and is also a free agent.

  • Trade 64 (July 31, 2017) – Orioles purchase the contract of minor league P Yefry Ramirez from New York Yankees.

Originally an infielder in the Diamondbacks’ system, a position conversion and different organization saw Ramirez rocket from rookie league at the end of 2015 to AA to begin 2017. There are some who believe he may be a possible September callup in 2018, if not sooner, as their successful pilfering of the Yankee treasure trove of minor league pitching continues.

  • Trade 65 (July 31, 2017) – Orioles trade minor league P Tobias Myers to Tampa Bay Rays for IF Tim Beckham.

It will be awhile before we know the impact of Myers, who was traded off the short-season Aberdeen roster, but Beckham was an immediate hit after hit for the Orioles and compiled a WAR of 2.0 in just 2 months, making it the best trade Duquette has made to date for 2017. With the departure of J.J. Hardy the shortstop position is now Beckham’s.

  • Trade 66 (August 5, 2017) – Orioles trade international bonus pool cash to Texas Rangers for minor league IF Brallan Perez.

Another trade to boost the low minors, Perez moved laterally as he spent most of his season in the Carolina League with either the Rangers’ Down East Wood Ducks affiliate or the Frederick Keys. He had great numbers with Frederick so maybe the change did Perez good.

  • Trade 67 (August 9, 2017) – Orioles trade P Steve Johnson to Chicago White Sox for cash.

Johnson, who many fondly remember from his first go-round in the organization – he pitched for the Orioles from 2012-13 and again in 2015 – came back after spending time in the Texas and Seattle organizations but did not escape AAA this season. Once again he will be a free agent this winter – an anti-climactic trade to finish the trading season for Duquette, who so far is winning the WAR war 3.6 to 1.2 thanks to all those cash deals.

And Dan may have hit upon a winning strategy when it comes to his international bonus pool money because the Orioles’ Dominican program is terrible. Why spend thousands of dollars trying to develop two teams’ worth of players who rarely make it past the low minors and haven’t sent a player to the big leagues since 2010? Eduardo Rodriguez is the last DSL Oriole player to make the big leagues and that’s when he pitched there. This season they cut it down to one team and perhaps spent the money saved in selectively acquiring guys who already have a track record or could fill a need. Because the 2015 and 2016 draft classes seem weak in depth (meaning Delmarva and Frederick weren’t very good) Dan shored the teams up with a handful of players from other clubs. They may never make the major leagues but they stand a little better chance than a typical overseas player.

Time will tell whether these trades will pan out, but I think this will turn out to be Duquette’s best year because he doesn’t really have any scary good players out against him (except perhaps the mercurial Parker Bridwell.) Yet if a couple of these sleeper picks turn out to be good or if Beckham is a long-term solution at short, he will have some winners this time to brighten up an otherwise subpar season.

 

 

 

A look at the trade (part 5)

October 27, 2016 · Posted in Sports · Comments Off on A look at the trade (part 5) 

Things will be a little different for the 2016 evaluation because, simply put, we have a long way to go in determining winners and losers. Guys who are in A or AA ball now may need another three to four seasons to pan out, so in this instance it’s likely I won’t determine a winner or loser – just the deal and how it’s gone so far.

  • Trade 32 (December 2, 2015) – Orioles trade catcher Steve Clevenger to Seattle Mariners for pitcher C. J. Riefenhauser and outfielder Mark Trumbo.

Clevenger was the Orioles’ remnant of the disastrous Jake Arrieta deal (Trade 13) with the Cubs but he was enough to get Trumbo, who was being traded for the third time in two years. But 2016 has been a lost year for Steve, who broke his hand in June and was suspended indefinitely by the Mariners for comments made on Twitter in September. If Clevenger is through in Seattle and cannot be traded (chances are he won’t, because no one will take him in this PC climate) the 0.0 WAR Seattle gets makes Riefenhauser, a pitcher who pitched in the bigs for Tampa Bay but was waived shortly after his acquisition, a cipher in the deal. (Riefenhauser was eventually released from the Cubs organization in August.) My surprise is that Trumbo, the MLB home run leader, only has a 1.6 WAR for the season. But this good 2016 trade also accrues on the Orioles’ side of the Arrieta ledger, and, if they can keep the pending free agent Trumbo, makes that deal a little less bitter.

  • Trade 33 (February 4, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Jean Cosme to San Diego Padres for pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne.

Cosme is at least two to three seasons away from making a major league impact, as he pitched at Class A ball with Fort Wayne – essentially the Padres’ version of Delmarva. Despaigne was largely ineffective for the Orioles, compiling an (-0.2) WAR before being lost on a September waiver claim to Miami. So the best the Orioles can do on this one is a push.

  • Trade 34 (March 24, 2016) – Orioles trade player to be named to Chicago Cubs for pitcher Edgar Olmos.

Olmos, who had big league time with Miami and Seattle, was the subject of a waiver wire tug-of-war between the Cubs and Orioles in December, 2015 before Baltimore finally broke down and made this trade. Edgar pitched in Norfolk all season, so this may become a trade for no one or a cash deal.

  • Trade 35 (March 29, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Chris Jones to Los Angeles Angels for minor league outfielder Natanael Delgado and minor league infielder Erick Salcedo.

This trade was strictly a minor league deal but I include it to close the loop on Jones, who was acquired in a 2013 trade (Trade 10) and spent three seasons in the Orioles organization. He had a mediocre AAA season for the Angels, basically on par with the season Delgado had here in Delmarva. Salcedo, on the other hand, did well with Frederick and may be the best prospect going forward.

  • Trade 36 (April 18, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league outfielder Alfredo Marte to Philadelphia Phillies for player to be named.

There was actually a cash option to this deal as well, and given the fact Marte only lasted two months in the Phillies organization before his release, that’s the most likely outcome. Prior to that, he spent time in MLB with the Diamondbacks and Angels.

  • Trade 37 (May 23, 2016) – Orioles trade pitcher Brian Matusz and their 2016 Competitive Balance Round B draft choice to Atlanta Braves for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves selected catcher Brett Cumberland with the draft pick, June 9, 2016.

Matusz was only the property of the Braves for a week before his release, which eventually led him to the Cubs organization. (Shades of Jake Arrieta!) Meanwhile, their draft pick Cumberland did not burn up the Appalachian League, although he still is with the organization – as a high draft pick Cumberland will be given a lot of leeway for awhile. For the Orioles side, Barker had a decent, but not great, remainder of the season with Bowie while Belicek struggled with a promotion to Frederick – he was pitching for the SAL Rome Braves to start the year. It’s more likely the Orioles do well with this one, besides dumping Matusz. It’s also interesting to note the Orioles have traded away their last 3 CB picks, which are the only draft choices teams are allowed to trade. The only one they have used was to draft outfielder Josh Hart in 2013, the first year the feature was added to assist small-market and struggling clubs. Hart played this season for advanced-A Frederick since being drafted out of a Georgia high school.

  • Trade 38 (July 31, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Ariel Miranda to Seattle Mariners for pitcher Wade Miley.

While this was an effort to upgrade the starting rotation, a key difference in this deadline deal was that Miley is under team control through 2017, so the Mariners received a prospect closer to major-league ready – in fact, Miranda debuted with the Orioles earlier that month. Since then Ariel has been plugged into the Mariners’ starting rotation and put up a 0.9 WAR in his brief Seattle stint. Meanwhile, Miley is responsible for a (-0.3) WAR after a slow start with the Orioles – however, over his career he has been good for a WAR of 1 to 2 a year. It’s possible this could be a winner for both teams, although Miley’s team made the postseason in 2016 over Seattle.

  • Trade 39 (August 1, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league catcher Jonah Heim to Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Steve Pearce.

The jury is obviously out on how successful the heretofore light-hitting but defensive-minded Heim will end up being as he’s only playing in advanced-A ball. But the latest go-round for Pearce in Baltimore has been less than successful as he battled injuries the entire time before finally giving in and having season-ending surgery. An 0.1 WAR with the Orioles in 2016 is a far cry from the (team-leading) 5.9 he put up in 2014. But the Orioles may be willing to sign him once again in 2017.

  • Trade 40 (August 31, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich to Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Michael Bourn.

It’s way too early to speculate what sort of player Heinrich will be given that he’s never played beyond short-season ball, so we won’t know for awhile what sort of price was paid for Bourn, who’s often been used as a defensive replacement and has put up a WAR of 0.1 since the deal. Considering teams have picked Bourn off the scrap heap twice this year, Arizona could be in line for a good return.

  • Trade 41 (August 31, 2016) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Zach Phillips to Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Kyle Lobstein.

The final trade this series will cover, it took a player who made his debut with the Orioles in 2011 (but had bounced around two organizations since and hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2013) and sent him off for a pitcher who didn’t seem to fit into Pittsburgh’s plans. Phillips pitched a little for the Pirates this September, putting up a 0.2 WAR. Lobstein made one single-inning appearance for Norfolk but was not called up in September.

At this early juncture, the jury is still out on Duquette’s 2016 trading success – thus far he is slightly ahead in WAR, but that is mainly on the strength of Trumbo and if he walks away from the Orioles it may be a losing season in the market for Dan. This would be a bit of a contrast: throughout the series I have tallied up the results and they tend to closely follow the results on the field. Since Baltimore had a regular season that was the third-best of the five-season Duquette era – the Orioles won 93 games in 2012 and 96 in 2014 compared to 89 this season – it’s likely this season will end up as a modest success, with a few hits and some misses.

In 2012, the players Baltimore acquired in trades put up a collective 4.6 WAR for the team, while those going to the various trading partners [Texas, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado, Arizona (twice), Philadelphia, and Cleveland] actually lost a WAR of (-1.1). One player still has potential to add to the opponents’ total, but it’s unlikely he will tip the scale away from Baltimore in this group of trades.

The story was different in 2013, as Baltimore received just a combined WAR of 3.9 for players who have provided the partners [Seattle (three times), Pittsburgh (twice), Atlanta, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs (particularly), Milwaukee, and Houston] a combined 25.5 WAR. Toss out the Arrieta deal, though, and it’s almost even (1.3 vs. 1.7). Unfortunately, the one player Baltimore has that accrues to their side of the bargains is up against six who combine for the opposition ledger.

On the other hand, 2014 was beneficial overall to the club as they have gained 7.1 Wins Above Replacement for their acquisitions while giving up just 0.9 to the partners [San Diego (twice), Oakland, Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston (twice), and the Chicago White Sox]. There are three players on the Orioles side who will help their cause while two still play against them.

The comparatively quiet year of 2015 has so far netted Baltimore a (-0.6) WAR while partners (Pittsburgh, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston, Chicago Cubs, and Milwaukee) have accrued a total of 4.8 WAR so far. Three players can still net gains for Baltimore right now while four players work against them.

In 2016, the Orioles picked up 1.3 WAR in its trades while opponents [Seattle (twice), San Diego, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Pittsburgh] have picked up 1.1 WAR. Of course, much is still to be determined when 10 players involved for these deals are still in the Orioles organization while 8 play with the various partners.

Duquette seems to be most willing to swing a deal with Seattle, trading with them five times. (Obviously they haven’t learned from the Eric Bedard deal.) Pittsburgh is also another willing dealer with four trades, while he’s not afraid to stay in the division with Boston, risk another disaster with the Cubs, or try and pry more folks out of Arizona or San Diego – each of them have made three deals with Duquette. So far he has avoided Cincinnati, Miami, Minnesota, both the Yankees and Mets, St. Louis, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington.

But to answer the lament of the person who started all of this, it appears that the trades have done more harm than good overall. Duquette has gained just 16.3 Wins Above Replacement over five seasons while giving up 31.2 WAR. And even if you toss out the Arrieta trade as an outlier – which puts the advantage back on Dan’s side – you have to figure that several of those he has given up (like the young pitchers Rodriguez, Brault, Davies, and Miranda) will be useful to their new clubs long after those he got in return are gone.

That’s the risk you run, though, and the Orioles haven’t been slouches on the field as they have the most wins in the American League since Duquette took over. In the end, that is an important statistic, but there’s also the aspect of player development to look at and, to succeed, the Orioles have to develop players both for their needs and as trade bait. Since Delmarva was the only team in the Orioles’ system to have a winning record this season, that prospect may hurt Duquette’s ability to secure pieces for his teams in the future.

This has been an enjoyable series to put together over a couple weeks as the season came to a close. Next on the sports docket for me will be updating the SotW Tracker in the next couple weeks and the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame in early December.

A look at the trade (part 4)

October 20, 2016 · Posted in Sports · Comments Off on A look at the trade (part 4) 

With the Orioles having a successful 2014 season – and having only one loss from a “rental” to deal with in replacing relief pitcher Andrew Miller – Dan Duquette actually waited until the beginning of 2015 to spring his next trade in an effort to replace departing outfielder Nick Markakis.

  • Trade 27 (January 27, 2015) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Stephen Tarpley and a player named later to Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Travis Snider. Minor league pitcher Steven Brault was added on February 20.

The Pirates obviously believed Tarpley, who had not pitched beyond short-season A ball with Aberdeen, would be a valuable future pitcher. But his value turned out to be that of being a part of the August 2016 trade that brought pitcher Ivan Nova to Pittsburgh from the Yankees, with Nova adding a WAR of 1.4 in his brief tenure with the Pirates. At times Nova’s rotation-mate has been Brault, who worked his way up the Pirates’ minor league chain to debut for the Bucs this season. Thus far Brault has a WAR of (-0.4) with Pittsburgh, but both players involved from the Orioles can pay dividends in their own way for seasons to come. Snider wasn’t the answer to replace Nick Markakis, posting a WAR of 0.9 before being released in August 2015 (and going back to Pittsburgh.) He tried to latch on with Kansas City in 2016 but did not make the club, spending the season at AAA. Slight loss for Baltimore now, but could get much worse.

  • Trade 28 (April 9, 2015) – Orioles trade minor league catcher Brian Ward, pitcher Ryan Webb, and their 2015 Competitive Balance Round B draft choice to Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league catcher Chris O’Brien and pitcher Ben Rowen. The Dodgers selected pitcher Josh Sborz with the draft pick on June 8, 2015.

Ward was a catcher who the Orioles liked for defense, but never hit enough to make the big club. That remained the case with Los Angeles, who released him after a half-season at AAA in his final baseball stop. And with Webb lasting just four days (!) with the Dodgers before his release (he has since pitched for Cleveland and Tampa Bay), it seems like they wanted the draft pick. Sborz has advanced to AA in his 1 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers organization. O’Brien is the only player of the two remaining active in the Orioles organization, as Rowen – who had debuted with Texas the season before – was released in July, 2015. He’s now pitching for the Brewers. A push, with the greater potential for an Orioles loss.

  • Trade 29 (June 3, 2015) – Orioles trade outfielder Alejandro De Aza to Boston Red Sox for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel.

While the Orioles weren’t sellers at this point of the season, this was a reverse of the usual Duquette method of using minor leaguers to fill big league holes. De Aza, who came in a August, 2014 deal (Trade 25) was struggling at the plate for the Orioles so they decided to scoop up a prospect for him. It turned out the De Aza was a good fit for Boston, putting up a 1.3 WAR in a couple months before he was traded again to San Francisco for Luis Ysla. Since then De Aza has moved on to the Mets, but Ysla could still help the Red Sox end of the ledger in this one. Meanwhile, Gunkel has also climbed the ladder to AAA, meaning this will eventually be a battle of 2 AAA pitchers to determine the winner of this deal. Slight loss for Baltimore, but could go either way.

  • Trade 30 (July 31, 2015) – Orioles trade pitcher Tommy Hunter to Chicago Cubs for outfielder Junior Lake.

Hunter was a popular presence in the Orioles’ clubhouse and was pitching relatively well, so it was a shock to see this deal go down. It turned out that neither player succeeded in their new home – Hunter had a (-0.2) WAR for the Cubs before signing with Cleveland as a free agent and eventually coming full circle back to Baltimore this August. Lake was even worse, posting a (-0.4) WAR in just 8 Baltimore games before being waived during the offseason. He played a little for Toronto this season, but was not a September callup. I’ll call this one a push.

  • Trade 31 (July 31, 2015) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Zach Davies to Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Gerardo Parra.

In what seemed like a never-ending effort to shore up the Oriole outfield, they got the hot-hitting Parra from Milwaukee for yet another draft choice made under Duquette predecessor Andy McPhail. Unfortunately for the Orioles, Davies was almost a finished product and a month later he debuted with Milwaukee. So far he has a 2.7 WAR and should get consideration as the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year. The rental Parra was not the hitter they expected and put up a (-1.1) WAR for Baltimore before departing for Colorado as a free agent. Clear loss for Baltimore.

That sour note ended the 2015 trading season for Duquette, who was comparatively quiet in his fourth season with the Orioles. And as has been the case throughout, the result of the trades he made was reflective of the season’s result, as Baltimore tumbled to an 81-81 finish after three straight winning seasons under Duquette. Would 2016 continue the trend?

A look at the trade (part 3)

October 13, 2016 · Posted in Sports · 1 Comment 

After the disappointment to Oriole fans that was the 2013 season, it was up to management to address the deficiencies. Three of the players Dan Duquette traded for in 2013 (pitchers Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez as well as outfielder Mike Morse) departed at season’s end for greener pastures, so he had some holes to fill from within or elsewhere. Fortunately, this was the point that some of the young prospects were beginning to develop so needs weren’t as great. We start with a trade that’s a clear win for Duquette.

  • Trade 18 (November 25, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Devin Jones to San Diego Padres for pitcher Brad Brach.

Devin Jones was a high draft pick in Andy McPhail’s final draft (2011) and one of the last dealt away by Duquette. All San Diego got out of him was 9 minor league appearances before an injury ended his season. The Orioles actually got him back as a minor league free agent a year later but Jones voluntarily retired just days after joining Frederick. On the other side, Brach has blossomed into an elite setup man, made the All-Star team in 2016, and has contributed a composite 5.1 WAR in three seasons (including 2.6 this year.) Clear win for Baltimore.

  • Trade 19 (December 2, 2013) – Orioles trade pitcher Jim Johnson to Oakland Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks and a player named later. Minor league catcher David Freitas was added December 12.

This was truly a contract move to free up some money, although it turned out well for Baltimore. Johnson was a complete bust for Oakland, garnering a (-1.3) WAR before being released that August. He similarly failed that season for Detroit and the next for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has somehow been a serviceable closer this season for the woeful Atlanta Braves. Weeks managed to put up a 0.1 WAR in three games with Baltimore before being traded to Boston later in the 2014 season (Trade 26.) The return for that later trade (Kelly Johnson) wiped out Weeks’s 0.1 WAR back to zero for scoring this deal but there is still one minor league player involved on Baltimore’s side, as you will see. Freitas spent two seasons between Bowie and Norfolk before moving on to the Cubs organization. Slight win for Baltimore, with a bit of potential for more.

  • Trade 20 (December 18, 2013) – Orioles trade infielder Danny Valencia to Kansas City Royals for outfielder David Lough.

Valencia was only on the Royals through the trading deadline, posting up a composite 0.0 WAR in 36 games and netting the Royals two players (Liam Hendriks and Eric Kratz) in a trade with Toronto that actually lost (-0.2) WAR between the two in their time with Kansas City. However, Hendriks went back to Toronto a year later in a trade involving minor leaguer Santiago Nessy, who eventually was waived. So the total balance for the Royals in all this dealing was a (-0.2) WAR, which makes the total 1.6 WAR Lough put up in two seasons with the Orioles look fabulous. Lough signed later as a free agent with the Phillies. On a side note, Liam Hendriks was an Oriole for a brief period himself, picked up on waivers from the Cubs days after the Valencia trade and lost to the Blue Jays just as spring training started. Clear win for Baltimore.

  • Trade 21 (March 24, 2014) – Orioles trade infielder Alex Gonzalez to Detroit Tigers for infielder Steve Lombardozzi.

This was a trade made out of desperation by Detroit, who had seen their starting shortstop Jose Iglesias go down with a serious injury in spring training. The longtime veteran Gonzalez, who the Orioles picked up as a free agent, wasn’t the answer as he put up a (-0.5) WAR in just nine games with the Tigers before being released. However, that (-0.5) WAR was the same Lombardozzi put up in 20 Oriole games, spending the bulk of the season in the minors before Pittsburgh purchased his contract for 2015, his last big league stop. Since then Steve spent time in independent league baseball as well as Washington’s AAA team. A push.

  • Trade 22 (April 7, 2014) – Orioles trade minor league infielder Torsten Boss to Cleveland Indians for minor league pitcher Preston Guilmet.

Boss was an infielder who had just played for Delmarva the season before (and was the second Duquette draft selection to be dealt away from the 2012 draft), but in splitting time between two Cleveland Class A teams he hit poorly and was let go at season’s end. Guillmet made 10 appearances for Baltimore with a (-0.1) WAR before going on to Pittsburgh the next season. It’s almost a push but Guilmet did help the Oriole bullpen. Slight win for Baltimore.

  • Trade 23 (May 24, 2014) – Orioles trade pitcher Troy Patton to San Diego Padres for catcher Nick Hundley.

The struggling Patton, who had been a fairly effective reliever for several seasons but was demoted to AAA to start 2014 before being recalled, only lasted seven appearances with San Diego (with an 0.1 WAR) before injury claimed him. He signed with the Royals organization the next season and Marlins for 2016, but was let go before the season started. Conversely, Hundley was the best backup catcher Duquette acquired in several tries, making it to 50 games for the Orioles and at least compiling an 0.0 WAR before signing with the Colorado Rockies for 2015, where he remains and has played well. A push.

  • Trade 24 (July 31, 2014) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to Boston Red Sox for pitcher Andrew Miller.

Every time Boston plays the Orioles, the Baltimore faithful wail and gnash their teeth about this deal. Although injuries have taken a bit of a toll on Rodriguez, since his 2015 promotion he has provided Boston a 2.9 WAR. (He was also another minor leaguer signed during the McPhail years, in 2010.) As we all know, Miller was a rental player for 2014, and was effective enough in Baltimore’s stretch run to receive an 0.9 WAR in the short time he was here. A more recent deal involving Miller may invoke similar future heartburn for Cleveland fans, as the Yankee team that signed him away from the Orioles got four Cleveland Indian minor leaguers in return for Andrew this season. But the Rodriguez deal could break Oriole hearts for another decade. Clear loss for Baltimore.

  • Trade 25 (August 30, 2014) – Orioles trade minor league pitchers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas to Chicago White Sox for outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

Another deadline deal for postseason rosters, the Orioles went to shore up their outfield. Since the minor league season was about over, Blackmar didn’t make his White Sox organizational debut until 2015, lasting one season in their system before retreating to independent league baseball long enough to secure a deal with the Washington organization, where he ended the 2016 season. Chalas pitched at AAA for the White Sox in 2015, but missed the whole 2016 season with an injury. Once again, both were acquired originally under Andy McPhail. De Aza spent the rest of the 2014 season and part of 2015 with Baltimore, playing well in the 2014 postseason but only compiling an 0.2 WAR before leaving in another trade made with Boston (Trade 29) a year later for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel. Most likely this will eventually pan out in the Orioles’ favor. Slight win for Baltimore, but could eventually go either way.

  • Trade 26 (August 30, 2014) – Orioles trade minor league infielders Ivan De Jesus and Jemile Weeks to Boston Red Sox for minor league infielder Michael Almanzar and infielder Kelly Johnson.

Weeks was one of the players acquired from Oakland for Jim Johnson (Trade 19) but didn’t make the Orioles out of spring training, so both he and De Jesus (minor league players with a little MLB experience) were spare parts that Boston could perhaps find a place for – in parts of two seasons there Weeks accrued the same 0.1 WAR it took him 3 games with Baltimore to get; meanwhile De Jesus was involved in a trade with Boston for the third time as he was traded from Los Angeles in the Carl Crawford deal and to Pittsburgh a few months later in the Joel Hanrahan trade. This time De Jesus never played a game with Boston as he was allowed to become a free agent – the Reds signed him and he’s become an everyday infielder for them. Weeks also got back to the majors eventually with San Diego after two seasons back and forth between the Red Sox and AAA. Baltimore had acquired Almanzar once before, selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft from Boston but forced to return him after sheltering him as long as possible from an early-season injury. He’s become a Norfolk mainstay since the trade but has yet to play a big league game. The veteran Johnson had a (-0.1) WAR for Baltimore in 19 games before leaving via free agency. In the two seasons since he has been signed as a free agent twice by Atlanta and traded twice from the Braves to the Mets mid-season. A push, but could eventually be a Baltimore win.

That was the last trade Duquette made in 2014, beginning an eerily quiet period for him. Granted, he could rest on his laurels after the Orioles’ most successful season in a generation. Aside from the Rodriguez trade, his 2014 deals were generally favorable to the team. It was a trend they hoped would continue for the team in 2015.

A look at the trade (part 2)

October 6, 2016 · Posted in Sports · Comments Off on A look at the trade (part 2) 

I’m going to pick up on this saga where I left off last week. The 2012 season brought Oriole magic back to the minds of Charm City fans who, for over a decade, had little to cheer about between football seasons. But a loss in the ALCS meant there were improvements to be made, so Dan Duquette quickly set to work during the Hot Stove League season.

  • Trade 8 (November 20, 2012) – Orioles trade infielder Robert Andino to Seattle Mariners for outfielder Trayvon Robinson.

Andino is still remembered in Baltimore for the last day of the 2011 season, when his base hit defeated the hated Boston Red Sox and, coupled with a stunning comeback by the Tampa Bay Rays against the Yankees, knocked the BoSox out of the playoffs. Some consider it the birth of the Orioles’ recent renaissance. But Robert slumped in 2012 (although he played well in the postseason) so Duquette shipped him off to Seattle. Andino would spend barely a half-season there, compiling a (-0.3) WAR before being traded to Pittsburgh for a player to be named that never was. Andino resurfaced in the big leagues briefly last month with the Miami Marlins, the team Baltimore got him from back in 2009. It’s more than Robinson can say – he spent one season between Bowie and Norfolk before being allowed to sign with the Dodgers as a minor league free agent. Since then Robinson has played with four organizations and split time between two independent league teams this year. I’ll call this one a push.

  • Trade 9 (November 30, 2012) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Jhondaniel Medina to Pittsburgh Pirates for infielder Yamaico Navarro.

Apparently Duquette was looking for infield depth, but Navarro didn’t stick long with the Orioles – most of his time with the organization was with Norfolk, although he compiled 0.1 WAR in 8 games with the O’s before latching on with teams in Korea and Japan over the last three seasons. On the other hand, the 23-year-old Medina has worked his way up to the AAA level with the Pirates, meaning they could still get a return on the deal four years later. In this respect it is similar to the Jim Thome deal (Trade 5.) A push, but could still be a Baltimore loss.

  • Trade 10 (April 10, 2013) – Orioles trade pitcher Luis Ayala to Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Chris Jones.

This was sort of a head-scratcher at the time – Ayala was a solid veteran pitcher who had a good season for Baltimore in 2012 but struggled in his first two outings in 2013. Luis pitched the rest of the season with the Braves, picking up an 0.4 WAR for the campaign before signing for the next season as a free agent with the Washington Nationals. An attempt at a 2014 reunion with the Orioles fell flat as Ayala pitched briefly at Bowie, but he was still active in the Mexican League this season. Jones pitched mainly in Norfolk for three seasons before being dealt to the Los Angeles Angels in a 2016 spring training deal (Trade 35.) Slight loss for Baltimore, but could eventually be a push or better thanks to the later trade.

  • Trade 11 (April 28, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Rob Delaney to Los Angeles Angels for catcher Chris Snyder.

Delaney was a “just in case” pitcher the Orioles had signed for minor league camp, although he had brief stints with Minnesota and Tampa Bay in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Once the season began at Norfolk, he was lit up and didn’t fare much better at AAA for the Angels, pitching his final game by mid-June. Delaney replaced Snyder on the Salt Lake roster, where he was the starting catcher. For the Orioles, though, Snyder played in just 9 games in two different stints as backup (for a WAR of 0.0) and spent most of his lone season in the organization at Norfolk. The next season he was signed and released by the Nationals before a short run as a AAA catcher with Texas led to Snyder voluntarily retiring in April 2014. A push.

  • Trade 12 (June 30, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league infielder Ty Kelly to Seattle Mariners for outfielder Eric Thames.

Believe it or not, this trade is still an active one in terms of value. While Kelly never made it to Seattle, after the 2014 season he was traded again to St. Louis for minor league pitcher Sam Gaviglio, who is still active with Seattle’s AAA farm club in Tacoma. So they can still score from this deal. (Kelly eventually made his MLB debut this season for the New York Mets.) Meanwhile, Thames languished in the Gulf Coast League for a rehab stint before a forgettable 36 games with Norfolk. He was lost on waivers to Houston after the minor league season ended but has spent the last three seasons playing professionally in Korea. A push, but could still be a Baltimore loss.

  • Trade 13 (July 2, 2013) – Orioles trade pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to Chicago Cubs for catcher Steve Clevenger and pitcher Scott Feldman.

Jake Arrieta was a prospect for whom the Orioles ran out of patience. As his ERA climbed with each season in Baltimore, the team decided it needed a more reliable starter and sent Jake off to Chicago for the rental of pending free agent Scott Feldman. Pedro Strop was a decent relief pitcher who sweetened the deal for the Cubs as a return if Arrieta was a bust, while the Baltimore native Clevenger was Duquette’s third try at trading for a backup catcher. Of course, no one knew that Arrieta would blossom to be a Cy Young winner for the Cubs, racking up an aggregate 19.4 WAR in four seasons in Chicago (compared to 0.3 WAR in four Baltimore seasons) while Strop has chipped in with 4.4 more Wins Above Replacement in his seasons with Chicago. For Baltimore, Feldman had an 0.7 WAR but they couldn’t sign him to a deal – he eventually went to the Houston Astros as a free agent and now pitches in the AL East in Toronto’s bullpen. Clevenger had just an 0.3 WAR for Baltimore in three seasons. So the deal looks like a huge loss for Baltimore, but there is a potential silver lining in a later trade (Trade 32) since Clevenger was the price the Orioles paid to get Mark Trumbo (and his 1.6 WAR in 2016). Overwhelming loss for Baltimore, but may even out some over time.

  • Trade 14 (July 12, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league outfielder Russ Canzler to Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league pitcher Tim Alderson.

This turned out to be a strictly minor league deal. While Canzler had a modest amount of MLB time with Tampa Bay and Cleveland, by this point he was bouncing on and off 40-man rosters with regularity. Canzler only played in the Pirates organization through the end of the 2013 season, later on trying to grab a spot with the Yankees and Phillies before his career closed in 2015. Alderson spent about one full season in Norfolk before being released, moving on to minor league stints with Oakland and Washington then independent baseball in 2016. A push if there ever was one.

  • Trade 15 (July 23, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league infielder Nick Delmonico to Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Francisco Rodriguez.

Looking for that elusive shutdown reliever, Baltimore sent a decent prospect out for the veteran closer “K-Rod” – and promptly used him mostly as a setup guy. Their reward? An 0.1 WAR and watching him return to Milwaukee in free agency, where he would be an All-Star for the next two seasons before being traded to Detroit for this year. However, Milwaukee only had Delmonico for a season before a suspension for amphetamine use led them to release him after the 2014 campaign. He’s now playing in the White Sox organization. Slight win for Baltimore.

  • Trade 16 (July 31, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Josh Hader, outfielder L.J. Hoes, and their 2014 Competitive Balance Round A draft choice to Houston Astros for pitcher Bud Norris. The Astros selected outfielder Derek Fisher with the draft pick on June 5, 2014.

Hoes had just been called up to the Orioles when he was sent across the stadium for Norris, as the Astros were in town when the trade occurred. It led to the unique situation of Hoes getting his first MLB hit off Norris, the player he was traded for, the next day. In three seasons bouncing between the Astros and AAA, Hoes compiled a WAR of 0.2. He ended up coming back to Baltimore in a cash deal last November but spent the season in Norfolk. For his part, Norris gave the Orioles a great 2014 season (15 wins plus another in the playoffs and 1.9 WAR) but in roughly 2 seasons with the Orioles only compiled an aggregate 0.7 WAR. After a disastrous start to 2015 Norris was let go in August and has gone on to pitch with San Diego, Atlanta, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who released him last month. If the trade were straight-up Hoes for Norris, it would be almost even. But the fact that Fisher has smartly rocketed up to AAA in 2 1/2 seasons for Houston means the strong potential for this trade to be a significant loser. And then you have Hader, the first draft pick in a Duquette draft to be traded away, who was involved in a six-player deadline deal with Milwaukee in 2015 that netted the Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers. While Gomez contributed a net WAR of 0.0 in about a season with Houston (he was released and signed with the Texas Rangers in August) Fiers has put up a WAR of 1.3 in a little over a season with the Astros, where he remains active. Clear loss for Baltimore.

  • Trade 17 (August 30, 2013) – Orioles trade minor league outfielder Xavier Avery to Seattle Mariners for outfielder Mike Morse.

The final trade of the 2013 season sent Avery, who had played sparingly for the Orioles in 2012 but was in Norfolk at the time, for the pending free agent Morse. Avery would play one season in the Mariners’ chain before leaving for AAA stints with three different teams in 2015. The Orioles re-signed him for 2016 but he never got out of Norfolk. Only the fact that Avery never panned out makes this deal a slight loser since Morse managed to accrue a (-0.5) WAR in just 12 Oriole games before an injury ended his season. Morse went on to have a decent season for San Francisco in 2014, but fared worse for Miami and Pittsburgh before his career ended the next season. Slight loss for Baltimore.

As you can tell, the 2013 trading season was not Duquette’s shining moment. In ten trades Duquette only won one and was significantly burned on at least two others. Most of the rest had little effect, and it may be why Baltimore slumped to an 85-win season. So it was back to the drawing board for Dan, who had plenty up his sleeve to begin 2014.

A look at the trade (part 1)

September 29, 2016 · Posted in Sports · 1 Comment 

As you likely are aware, Thursday evenings during the summer were reserved for my Shorebird of the Week feature. But tonight, and ongoing for a few weeks anyway, I’m going to resume baseball coverage.

A few days ago I saw the lament of an Orioles fan who pondered what could have been. Given the team’s pitching woes over the course of the season, he wailed, could they have been better with a starting rotation that included Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Davies, or other pitchers the team traded away to help themselves during a pennant chase several years ago?

As a Tigers fan, I feel his pain. In 1987 they were victimized by what is considered to be one of the greatest thefts in baseball trade history.

In the thick of the AL East race (at the time, each league had just two divisions rather than the current three), on August 12 the Detroit nine found themselves 1 1/2 games behind Toronto for the division title. They decided Doyle Alexander, who was pitching for a Braves team that was enduring another mediocre season near the bottom of the National League, would be an upgrade over longtime Tiger Dan Petry in the rotation. Alexander was a 36-year-old veteran righthander that was in his seventeenth big league season and was a valued commodity – the Tigers trade would be the sixth and final trade involving him during his lengthy career.

Doyle indeed helped the Tigers overcome their deficit by going 9-0 the rest of the way during the regular season, but folded like a cheap suit in the 1987 AL playoffs, losing both his starts as Detroit lost to an 85-win Minnesota team that would have placed 5th in the then 7-team AL East. In two-plus seasons Alexander finished just 29-29 with Detroit – including a 6-18 mark in 1989, his final season. That 1989 season marked the sudden end to a great Tiger run during the 1980s that netted two division titles, a pennant, and a world championship. A veteran team went from seasoned to past its prime.

In return for Alexander the Tigers sent the Braves a former 22nd round draft choice who was languishing at the AA level with a 4-10 record and hefty 5.68 ERA; a pitcher who would walk more batters than he struck out in that 1987 campaign. But this pitcher righted the ship the next season enough to reach the big leagues at the age of 21, and the Tigers had no clue whatsoever that John Smoltz would end up being a linchpin of the dominant Braves pitching staff of the 1990s as well as a Hall of Famer. It seems like a extraordinary price to pay for an average pitcher, doesn’t it? But that’s the fun and uncertainty baseball fans enjoy in that regard, perhaps more than any other sport because each team has such a vast minor league system of developing players to choose from, and for every John Smoltz a team acquires it may get 100 guys who never sniff AA ball.

So I decided to spend a few Thursdays as the hot stove season gears up for those non-playoff teams evaluating just how the Orioles have done with their trades in recent years. In their case, it’s doubtful anyone will soon top the Eric Bedard deal with Seattle that brought the Orioles two of their current stars (Adam Jones and Chris Tillman) as well as two others who spent time with the Orioles. Only one of the five players the Orioles got back in return for Bedard did not play for the team – Tony Butler (a onetime Shorebird and a 3rd round pick by Seattle) didn’t make the majors thanks to injuries derailing his career. But at the time of the trade the most renowned player coming to Baltimore was George Sherrill, a workhorse relief pitcher who the Orioles flipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers a year later to acquire two players, including pitcher Steve Johnson. Jones was a young player with a .230 lifetime batting average and .627 OPS in 73 games for Seattle over the previous two seasons, while Tillman and pitcher Kam Mickolio would make their MLB debuts with Baltimore. Mickolio would pay dividends later on as part of the deal to get slugging infielder Mark Reynolds from Arizona, with Reynolds playing a significant role on the 2012 Orioles playoff team.

As you can see, trades can take on a life of their own. So over the next few weeks I’ll consider the Dan Duquette era and his penchant for raiding the minor league system to fill big league needs, as well as other trades he’s made. Is he doing the team good or getting fleeced?

Perhaps the best direct measuring stick of how a trade benefitted a team is the statistic known as WAR (wins above replacement.) This is a complex calculation designed to show how many wins a player provides compared to an average replacement player from the minor leagues. As I write this, the leading MLB player in that category is Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, who has compiled a WAR of 10.5 this season. In other words, if the Angels had played the season with a replacement-level player, they would have won 10.5 fewer games. (Considering the Angels are well under .500, they would really be lost without him.) Using the Alexander-for-Smoltz trade as an example, Detroit got a aggregate WAR of 6.4 in three seasons with Alexander, but Atlanta had a total of 67 wins above replacement with 20 seasons of Smoltz – so the Braves were an obvious winner in that regard, never mind the 13 playoff appearances, five pennants, and one world championship Smoltz helped the Braves to win vs. one division title for Detroit with Alexander.

So there will be a easy way to compare players as I work through these trades in the Duquette era. This week I will review his first season, which will cover Duquette from his hiring in November, 2011 through the conclusion of the 2012 season – a season where Baltimore made the playoffs as a wild card for their first postseason in 15 years.

  •  Trade 1 (December 1, 2011) – Orioles trade minor league pitcher Randy Henry to Texas Rangers for catcher Taylor Teagarden. Also included in that deal as a player named later was minor league infielder Greg Miclat, who was added December 8.

This is an interesting trade to dissect. It was one of the first steps in a housecleaning of the minor league system built by previous GM Andy McPhail and it gave Duquette a reliable veteran backup to Matt Wieters. But in Teagarden the Orioles received a WAR of (-0.6) in two seasons, meaning Teagarden was theoretically losing the Orioles games. On the other hand, neither Henry nor Miclat ever made the major leagues, as both topped out at the AAA level in the next three seasons. Miclat was eventually lost by Texas in minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft to St. Louis, where he spent his final season in their system. In this case, a negative WAR is better than no WAR at all, and Teagarden did his job for the Orioles. Slight winner: Baltimore.

  • Trade 2 (December 8, 2011) – Orioles trade minor league infielder Tyler Henson and minor league pitcher Jarret Martin to Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Dana Eveland.

Eveland was (and is) the embodiment of the 4A-type guy who hangs on because he pitches with his left arm. The Orioles were Dana’s seventh MLB team in eight seasons, and he still soldiers on five teams later (including a short stint with the Orioles’ AAA Norfolk affiliate in 2015) as 2016 draws to a close. In one season with the Orioles he compiled a WAR of 0.2 before sitting out the 2013 season and resurfacing with the Mets organization in 2014. Henson lasted one season in the Dodgers system before signing a series of minor league deals with the Philadelphia Phillies, retiring after the 2015 season without appearing in the big leagues. Martin spent three seasons as a fringe prospect in the Dodger chain before washing out, playing briefly in Milwaukee’s system last season and rattling around the independent Can-Am League this season. It wasn’t much, but Eveland did his job for a short time. Slight winner: Baltimore.

  • Trade 3 (February 6, 2012) – Orioles trade pitcher Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado Rockies for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.

This was a rare Duquette trade involving all major league players. Guthrie was arguably the “ace” of the Orioles, but that didn’t say much for a team mired in mediocrity as he led the AL in losses in 2011. He only lasted a half-season with the Rockies before being traded to Kansas City for Jonathan Sanchez, who finished out the season with the Rockies before being let go. So the overall WAR for the Rockies was (-1.0), with Guthrie posting a (-0.6) and Sanchez an (-0.4). Guthrie was a solid back-of-the-rotation starter for the Royals until 2015. On the other hand, Hammel put in two decent seasons for the Orioles (compiling a 2.9 WAR) before signing with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent, while Lindstrom would be flipped later on in 2012 for Joe Saunders (see Trade 7 below.) Lindstrom contributed a 0.7 WAR in his stint with the Orioles, while Saunders added another 0.8 WAR – and won the wild card game against Texas. Clear winner: Baltimore.

  • Trade 4 (April 21, 2012) – Orioles trade minor league infielder Josh Bell to Arizona Diamondbacks for a player named later. Minor league pitcher Mike Belfiore was that player, added May 12.

Bell was acquired by the Orioles in the aforementioned trade involving George Sherrill, and had appeared in 78 games at the major league level. Most of his time with Arizona was spent at the AAA level but he got into 21 games with the big club, compiling a WAR of (-0.4). Bell left as a minor league free agent and has played for four MLB organizations, in Mexico and Korea, and in independent league baseball (in 2016) since. Belfiore climbed the ladder over the next two seasons, making his one and only MLB appearance at the end of the 2013 season. He then pitched in the Tigers organization for two more years. Mike ended up with a WAR of (-0.1). A push.

  • Trade 5 (June 30, 2012) – Orioles trade minor league catcher Gabriel Lino and minor league pitcher Kyle Simon to Philadelphia Phillies for designated hitter Jim Thome.

This is the first of those classic deadline deals where the Orioles were the buyer and Phillies the seller. As of this date, Lino (who is still only 23) has advanced in the Phillies system as far as AAA, but spent 2016 at the AA level. Simon briefly made it to AAA in three seasons in the Philadelphia system but has pitched the last two seasons in the independent Atlantic League. Thome, meanwhile, spent the final 32 games of his (potentially Hall of Fame) career with Baltimore as their DH, going 2-for-15 in the playoffs and compiling a 0.0 WAR. Unless Lino breaks into the big leagues for more than a cup of coffee for Philadelphia, this trade is about even. A push, but could still be a Baltimore loss.

  • Trade 6 (August 13, 2012) – Orioles trade minor league infielder Carlos Rojas to Cleveland Indians for minor league pitcher J.C. Romero.

Obviously the Orioles hoped the veteran lefthander (who made his name a decade earlier with the Twins) had a little more in the tank, but what they got was four mediocre innings of work for a (-0.1) WAR while the Indians got the final 10 games (in 16 days) of a career minor leaguer’s playing. Romero was still active until last winter, but the Orioles were his last MLB stop. A push.

  • Trade 7 (August 26, 2012) – Orioles trade pitcher Matt Lindstrom to Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Joe Saunders.

I noted Lindstrom was part of the Jeremy Guthrie deal with Colorado but he was sent out to Arizona for another starter in Saunders, who would turn out to be a rental. However, while the WAR differential was rather small (0.8 WAR for Saunders vs. 0.3 WAR for Lindstrom) the importance of Saunders’ contribution in terms of playoff pitching makes the deal worthwhile – as well as accruing to the Orioles’ side of the ledger in the earlier Guthrie trade. Clear winner: Baltimore.

So through the 2012 postseason not only was Duquette’s team a winner on the field but also in terms of trading with 2 clear wins, 2 slight wins, and 2 pushes, with one still to be determined. Next week we will look at the runup to the 2013 season, which would finish in a disappointing manner. Did the trades help create the situation?

Pricing themselves out of the market?

March 4, 2016 · Posted in Business and industry, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Pricing themselves out of the market? 

Class envy comes once again to the sports world.

I was perusing my browser when I came upon an article from AP writer Paul Newberry, one which whines about baseball sending the wrong message to its fans. This is a good example of its tone:

Given that many struggling Americans haven’t had a raise in years, their frustration epitomized by a tumultuous presidential race, perhaps it wasn’t the best time for (MLB player Yoenis) Cespedes to arrive at New York Mets camp in a different ride six days in a row.

The flashy outfielder pulled up in a Ford F-250, Lamborghini Aventador, Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, Jeep Wrangler and a pair of Polaris Slingshot three-wheel motorcycles — all of them customized to the tune of about $80,000. Of course, that’s a pittance compared to the cost of the actual vehicles, with the Lamborghini alone going for more than $300,000.

Cespedes signed a three-year deal over the winter for $75 million, so he has the coin to spend on these cars. Yes, to most it would seem excessive to have so many cars but then how many people make $25 million a year to play a game? This is nothing new: back in the early days of the Depression, Babe Ruth held out for a contract that exceeded the amount President Hoover was paid at the time. His reasoning? “I had a better year than he did.”

The point is that these athletes are participating in a relatively free market, so the owners of the teams are willing to pay $25 million a year or more to the most elite players, those who have played long enough to earn the right to be free agents. (By comparison, the Orioles’ Manny Machado had an outstanding season last year for the bargain basement price of $548,ooo. This season he will make a cool $5 million, and that will likely increase again next year when he becomes arbitration-eligible. Machado can become a free agent after the 2019 season.)

Perhaps it’s a function of having the most games in a season (and most opportunities to create revenue) but baseball is still a cheap ticket in comparison to other sports. The average ticket price for MLB runs about $30, but one can go to anywhere between 4 and 14 MLB games for the price of one average NFL ticket.

Nor does this consider the plethora of minor league teams out there, where the average ticket price may be less than $10 a pop. That’s still more than you’ll pay to see a AP writer bang out a column complaining about how much pro baseball players make.

You see, when people complain about how much money others earn – particularly when they do these comparisons of how much CEOs make compared to workers on the assembly line or checkout lane – they fail to comprehend the skill level and hard work required to be that successful. In the case of pro sports players, there is also the relatively brief length of career to consider. (Some players have accounted for this – for example, Chris Davis of the Orioles will have $42 million of the $161 million he signed for in a seven-season deal deferred over 15 years after the playing contract expires. Davis turns 30 later this month, so he will be paid under this contract until he is 51 years old.)

Similarly, there is only one CEO of a company and perhaps just a few thousand individuals who have the talent and experience to perform the tasks required. On the other hand, the job description of most of those on the low end of the pay scale is generally unskilled or semi-skilled. Granted, some of these tasks require a good face to the public but in general they aren’t adding a tremendous amount to the bottom line on an individual basis.

So pardon me if I think the writer is a whiner. If you don’t want to watch a baseball game, don’t go. But you’ll find me at my Shorebird games, which are still really affordable.

A city’s black eye

April 28, 2015 · Posted in All politics is local, Business and industry, Campaign 2016, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on A city’s black eye 

All of us in Maryland, whether we were born here like my better half’s family or came here as I did, have been glued to news and social media over the last few days as the rioting in the city of Baltimore reached its peak yesterday, the day before the Maryland National Guard arrived in force and a citywide curfew took effect. While it seems like strong medicine to some, sometimes the role of government is to restore order in a crisis and here’s hoping the MNG’s stay is short and uneventful.

But there is another side of this which I think will last far longer. In the coming months and years, much discussion will occur about how Baltimore can bounce back from this crisis. There are the immediate effects in certain neighborhoods which have suffered the brunt of the damage and whether these business owners will reopen, but few outside the neighborhoods or city at large will know. Even the facts the Orioles had to postpone two games, will play a third in an eerily quiet stadium closed to the public, and will have to become the St. Petersburg Orioles for a weekend as they play scheduled home games in their opponent’s stadium will eventually become a historical oddity, particularly if the Orioles advance in the playoffs.

Some have already touched on how things appear looking forward, whether at the tourism angle as Rick Manning does or just the absolute disgust with the situation expressed by Joe Steffen. However, I tend to look at things from the political side and there are a number of effects this recent unrest will create.

Fortunately for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a 2012 law change changed the Baltimore City elections from 2015 to 2016; otherwise, this unrest would have been a more current campaign issue. But it still should be a topic of campaign contention, and it’s likely several aspirants may spring up seeking to take the Mayor’s chair from Rawlings-Blake. Certainly her actions in this crisis don’t add to her resume for another term should she seek one.

But the problem is that most of these contenders will be the same politicians who got the city into the situation to begin with. In Baltimore City, based on recent results, the real election will take place in April when the Democratic primary is held. 2011’s election featured just eleven Republican candidates in total, with the only two contested elections being two-person GOP primaries for mayor and city council president. (Only 7 of 14 Council districts had a Republican running.) GOP mayoral candidate Alfred Griffin got just 13% of the vote in that election. Republicans can pay lip service to reaching out to the minority community, but this is a process that could take several elections and change is needed now.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that in 2011 the real big winner was apathy – Rawlings-Blake received 40,125 votes but 324,885 voters didn’t show up so the task may not be as Herculean as imagined. Just get some of those who were disinterested to show up and vote for real change.

Yet the politics of the problem extends far beyond who actually votes for whom. It’s easy to complain about lack of opportunities and blame problems on those officials at the state and federal levels – particularly if they happen to be of the opposite political party. But this rioting was years in the making; it just needed the right series of events to occur to touch things off and the death of Freddie Gray was the spark.

One of the Baltimore images that’s etched on the minds of many was a scene where a young rioter was berated by his parent. Yet my question is this: where was mom during the previous 16 years? And what about dad? Most boys raised in two-parent families would have faced the wrath of both their mom and dad if they even breathed in the direction of that riot, but Baltimore is a city of single mothers who have to enlist help from their own parents to raise their children because, in many cases, the fathers are absent. In a city that’s roughly 2/3 black, and at a time when over 7 of 10 black births are to unmarried women, the odds are pretty good that a Baltimore City child is raised in a single-parent household and that government does more to support these children than the father does.

To be perfectly blunt, Baltimore doesn’t change until that statistic changes. To me the best way to change that is for the upcoming generation to stay in school, go to church on Sunday, and keep things zipped up until marriage. But what did the black generations pre-Great Society know, anyway?

Another way to help is to try and create job opportunities for blue-collar workers. Former gubernatorial candidate Ron George said it first, but it should be on the mind of Larry Hogan as well: “I want to build a tax base in Baltimore.” I realize it’s not that simple – particularly given an entitlement mentality exhibited by some in that community – but if the right conditions can be created the rebuilding can be permanent, and we won’t be revisiting this situation in a dozen years or so.

Needless to say, my perspective on Baltimore is definitely that of an outsider: I live 2 1/2 hours away on the other side of a significant body of water in a place where the culture is far different. But common sense is common sense, and the lack of it over the last few days is doing significant damage to Maryland’s flagship city. Maryland doesn’t need to have the reputation as a real-life version of “The Wire,” so those citizens who really want to help improve Baltimore (as opposed to those who want to enhance their political and/or criminal empires) need to step up their games and show some of the leadership that has been sadly lacking.

On the O’s: guarded optimism

February 14, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Detroit Tigers, Polling, Sports · 3 Comments 

As spring training begins for the local hometown teams, it appears fans are cautiously optimistic about the Orioles’ chances – at least that’s how they polled here.

Let’s do a quick review: since losing the 1997 ALCS to Cleveland, the Orioles have been among the most mediocre of franchises as they’ve endured 13 straight losing seasons – in fact, the 70-win mark has eluded them the last four. But the majority of those responding thought the revamped Orioles, who have added power bats like Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, and perhaps Vladimir Guerrero (assuming he passes a physical) would eclipse that number and maybe – just maybe – break that string of losing seasons.

But the optimism stopped there, as no one expected the team to win 90 games or make the playoffs. Perhaps that’s more due to the reputation of the American League East than actual talent level.

And there were a few who chose to be pessimistic, as 1/6 of those voting foresaw the moves blowing up in Andy McPhail’s face. They figured a 100-loss season wasn’t out of the question, and if neither Derrek Lee nor Mark Reynolds adjusts well to the American League, Vladimir is indeed in the coda of his career, and the pitching fails us it could happen. But I fall into the camp of thinking 81 or more wins is indeed possible. (Over 80% believed Baltimore should win at least 75 games.)

With the season now just around the corner, optimism is king and all 30 teams might fancy themselves World Series contenders. (Okay, maybe not the woeful – as in 57-105 last season – Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ve actually gone nearly two decades without a winning season, which is too bad because they play in a nice ballpark. And to think these two franchises tangled for a World Series crown twice back in the 1970’s – I remember the ’79 Series well although O’s fans might prefer to forget.)

Hopefully an improved major league teams pays dividends down the chain as well since the Shorebirds fans are overdue for a playoff team. I’ve seen one playoff game in six seasons here so consider me one who thinks it’s time!

The Orioles’ season starts on April 1 at Tampa Bay, with the home opener April 4 against Detroit. (Sorry about that home opening sweep by the Tigers; things will look up from there.)

Poll results:

  • 62.5% believe the Orioles could finish with a .500 season (81-81)
  • 20.83% foresee a 75-win season
  • 12.5% think they’ll lose 100 games
  • 4.17% believe they’ll only match the 66-96 mark last year’s team produced
  • No one saw the Orioles win 90 games, make the playoffs, or win the World Series

Two former SotW players garner camp invites

February 5, 2011 · Posted in Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Two former SotW players garner camp invites 

Well, it’s about time. For some reason it seemed like the Orioles took forever to determine who was being invited to spring training – maybe it’s because of the question of signing Vladimir Guerrero. But Thursday they selected a total of 16 non-roster invitees and a pair of 2008 Shorebirds of the Week – picked just two weeks apart – were among them.

While Ryan Adams was an error-making machine in his season here, the guy could hit and that seems to be his ticket to the big leagues. Baseball America named him the 8th best prospect in the Orioles’ chain this year so apparently the fielding questions have been answered – of course, if nothing else the American League has the designated hitter.

On the other hand, I liked Tyler Henson‘s style of play when he was with Delmarva so I’m happy to see him latch onto the invite. He’s retreated a bit from the 20/20 I predicted he could have (just 12 homers and 7 steals at Bowie last year) but he gets his chance to shine nonetheless.

With the two additions to those already on the 40-man roster, there are ten players who at one time were Shorebirds of the Week in the Orioles’ big league camp this spring. Something tells me I may have more than one inductee to the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame next fall.

In the meantime, spring training starts on Valentine’s Day with the first exhibition game on February 28. Damn, I can’t wait!

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