25 January 2012
Os Pitchers, Option Years, and Cuts
Posted by Jon Shepherd
For this article, I used the information collected by this poster and filling in where I see holes (such as Dana Eveland's absence). I have yet to find a good resource on the internet to figure these things out. However, it appears for the time being that Tom Peace will be working with us at the Depot and providing us transaction information news. We are happy to have him on board and quite happy to more fully cover the Orioles.
I have not compared this year's 40 man roster heading into Spring Training to any other year's, but it feels as if there is a great deal of roster inflexibility this year. This post is to run down the current stable of arms and try to determine how many spots on the team are actually up for competition, who that competition is, and who is most certainly going to be placed on waivers.
Players with Three Options
Jake Arrieta RHP
Arrieta on first glance did not have an incredibly impressive season, but his peripherals look good. Also, if the bone spurs in his arm were hampering him then we may be able to expect even more from him. I do think even though he would be an excellent late inning arm, if he does not earn a spot in the rotation then he is going to Norfolk.
Zach Britton LHP
I cannot imagine Britton not starting with Baltimore in their rotation.
Dylan Bundy RHP
Bundy signed a major league deal at the signing deadline last August. He actually has four options due to signing that deal as an amateur and will use the first of those this season. He is at least two years away from the parent club.
Oliver Drake RHP
Drake was placed on the 40 man roster this past fall to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He faces long odds breaking camp with the Orioles, but he may see some time in Baltimore this year as the season drags on and players are demoted, released, or injured.
Jason Berken RHP
Berken was on the Scott Garceau Show the other day and mentioned that he feels strong and ready for Spring Training. I could see him breaking camp in Baltimore.
Brian Matusz LHP
Matusz has two options left and he is certainly fighting for a spot in the rotation this Spring whereas last year he was merely working on a few minor things. Unless he finds where his lost 2 mph went, then he will likely break the year in Norfolk.
Darren O'Day RHP
O'Day amazingly still has an option left according the link above. Plagued with injuries of late, he might need more time to get himself in order to perform well in the majors. He is certainly one of the pitchers on the bubble.
Zach Phillips LHP
Phillips is another player I was surprised as having another option year left. He is another player on the bubble as he has shown to be effective as a lefty in the pen.
Pedro Strop RHP (edit: Strop has no options left, he was optioned once by Colorado)
Strop came over to the Orioles in the Mike Gonzalez deal with Texas last year. At the time, Nick wrote a brief scouting review on Strop. He looked good in a short cup of coffee last year.
Chris Tillman RHP
Tillman is another pitcher who has lost some velocity as well. When the Bedard trade went down, Tillman had another 4 mph to his fastball. As that velocity decreased, so have expectations. Tillman could help out in the pen, but with an option left he is going to AAA again.
Brad Bergesen RHP
Bergesen may be able to benefit from the Peterson Pitching Lab. He has flashed moments of very good-ness, but if he loses his command he becomes quite hittable. It appears that his best fit would be as a reliever, so that the team could protect him from left handed batters. It would surprise me to see him DFA'd.
Wei-Yin Chen LHP
Chen should have three options left, but I imagine his contract prevents him from being optioned similar to what most star Japanese players sign. Chen also was likely promised an opportunity to start, which will narrow things down for the club.
Dana Eveland LHP
Eveland has enticed and disappointed many teams over his career. He is now without options. The Orioles gave up minimal talent to acquire him, but that effort probably means that he would have to completely fall apart to not break with the team.
Kevin Gregg RHP
"Proven" closer Kevin Gregg cannot be optioned and will be sticking with the club in some capacity.
Jeremy Guthrie RHP
Guthrie is the dependable veteran hand and, by default, the ace of the team. Unless dealt, he will break with the club. His value takes a dramatic downward turn once the season begins because players dealt during the season no longer qualify for free agent compensation.
Tommy Hunter RHP
I am fairly confidant that Hunter is a Buck Showalter player. However, I just do not see much there worthwhile in him starting. He will likely start in the pen and will almost certainly break camp with Baltimore.
Jim Johnson RHP
Is he a reliever or a starter? It really does not matter. He will be in Baltimore.
Troy Patton LHP
Patton was the major piece in the first Tejada deal (as opposed to Luke Scott). He was very impressive last year in Baltimore over 30 IP with a 3.00 ERA. His peripherals looked solid as well. I am thinking he has earned himself a trip past the Potomac as well.
Clay Rapada LHP
Rapada kills lefties. He outright kills them. Righties outright kill Rapada. They kill him. Does the team have space for a true LOOGY?
Alfredo Simon RHP
Simon is a fringe player. He has good velocity in his fastball, but is generally inconsistent. He has flashed some hope as a starter and a closer, but has ultimately disappointed in both roles. My guess is that with his law troubles over, he will be dealt to an NL team for a low ceiling B level minor leaguer or a low probability slightly higher ceiling low minors player.
Rick Vandenhurk RHP
Vandenhurk is a shade below Simon. Simon having been able to show his abilities at the MLB level while Vandenhurk is caught more as someone who does quite well at AAA. I think the market for him is less than that for Simon. Vandenhurk will likely be DFA'd at the end of camp. I would not be surprised if he heads back to the Marlins.
Tsuyoshi Wada LHP
Like Chen, Wada probably has two elements in his contract that limit opportunity for others: (1) he cannot be optioned without his permission and (2) he was likely promised a starting rotation job to being the season.
Sure Bets: Guthrie, Britton, Chen, Wada
Competition: Arrieta, Matusz, Tillman, Bergesen, Eveland, Hunter, Simon, VandenHurk
I think the first four slots have been filled. I also think the competition will really be between Arrieta, Eveland, and Hunter. For Arrieta, it will be the rotation or Norfolk. For Eveland and Hunter, it will be the rotation or bullpen. I cannot see either of them being released. Matusz is the main wildcard here. He has the potential to be a very solid 2 slot pitcher on a first division team. His loss of velocity last year was quite concerning. If better conditioning improves things, he will secure that fifth slot. However, it would also not be surprising if we learn this year that he is suffering from an injury. I also suspect that Simon and Vandenhurk will not be with the club when they break.
Sure Bets: Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson
Competition: Berken, O'Day, Phillips, Strop, Patton, Rapada, Simon, Vandenhurk
Assuming there is a thirteen man pen, Gregg, Johnson, and perhaps Eveland and Hunter means that there are four slots remaining. Under competition, the Orioles have eight pitchers competing for four slots (this does not include MiL contracts with Spring Training invites). Eveland would be the only lefty in that group. I see Patton in the pen along with the winner of the Phillips/Rapada competition. For the other two slots, I think Strop and O'Day make it, but that Berken or Simon has a decent chance to displace O'Day due to their ability to eat up innings.
Spring Training Invites
Willie Eyre RHP, Dennys Reyes LHP, Oscar Villareal RHP, Armando Galarraga RHP (I hear he signed)
I would be surprised if any of these pitchers are able to push the players in front of them out of the way. Eyre depends on getting outs on batted balls. I think we could see him later in the year, but not in April. Reyes fell apart last year. I do not know exactly what happened to him, but I see no evidence that he played past the spring. He has the ability to push Phillips and Rapada for a spot. I do not believe in Villareal. He only has a couple good seasons and last pitched in 2008. Galarraga has always appeared to be a better pitcher than he really was. I have a hard time seeing him contributing in a substantial way for a MLB club.
Offseason Not Over
There have been some rumblings that the Orioles have interest in acquiring another pitcher. The two names mentioned are Francisco Cordero who would come in an close or Luis Ayala who would be another rightie in the pen. I think the former allows Johnson to stay in a late inning setup role while the latter supposedly solidifies the late inning work and permits Johnson to close out games. In either of those circumstances, I think it weakens the chances for Strop, O'Day, Berken, and Simon to make the roster.
SP: Guthrie, Britton, Chen, Wada, Arrieta
RP: Johnson, Gregg, Patton, Reyes, Eveland, Hunter, Strop, and O'Day