10 July 2014

Duquette's Trades in 20/20 (2012 Season)

Dan Duquette has been pretty active on the trade market since taking over the helm.  Most of those trades have been for rather minor pieces with Duquette giving up fringe prospects.  This series of articles is trying to illustrate exactly what the Orioles have lost and acquired in their deals during the Duquette era.  Perhaps by doing this exercise, we can see how well he has performed in the past and maybe what it means for any deals that may go down in the coming weeks.  I will be splitting them into the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons.

December 1, 2011
C Taylor Teagarden for RHRP Randy Henry and INF Greg Miclat
The Orioles were in need of a backup catchers after years of organizational neglect.  The Rangers wanted to reorganize their resources, had Yorvit Torrealba and Geovanny Soto as backups, and were willing to dangle the once promising Teagarden.  The Rangers agreed on receiving a promising relief arm in Henry and a Rule 5 survivor in Miclat.

The result has been somewhat inconsequential on both sides.  Teagarden was often injured and a poor performer when healthy although he did occaisionally come through with a much needed hit now and then.  Henry followed solid minor league relief campaigns in 2012 and 2013 with a horrible beginning to 2014.  Miclat has had injuries and poor performance chase him.  He is currently doing poorly in AA for the Cardinals.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: I would prefer John Hester backing up Wieters and keeping both Henry and Miclat.  I may disagree with the deal, but it is not worth making much fuss over.
Conclusion: -0.7 bWAR; Push.

December 8, 2011
LHP Dana Eveland for INF Tyler Henson and LHSP Jarret Martin
The Orioles were in need for starting pitching and their new scouting talent supposedly noted that Eveland had developed into a different pitcher.  The Dodgers had an abundance of starting pitchers and knew they could not hold onto him, so he was dealt Henson, organizational filler, and an interesting southpaw in Martin.

Eveland did not become the new pitcher that the Orioles hoped he would be.  He spot started a couple times and moved into relief where he was not particularly effective.  He then went to Korea.  This year, he has appeared out of the Mets' bullpen and has done well in middle relief.  For the Dodgers, Henson provided good organizational depth in AAA.  For the past two years, he has done the same for the Phillies.  He has yet to see the Majors.  Jarret Martin still remains an interesting pitcher, but he has almost no control of his pitches and hopes are faint that he ever will.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: I am not particularly impressed with Eveland and find it rare that players all of a sudden break out.  That said, the value being exchanged here between these teams is minimal.
Conclusion: 0.2 bWAR; Push.

February 6, 2012
Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom
The Orioles were falling out with Guthrie and wanted to spend the 8.2 MM he would get in arbitration in other ways.  The Rockies wanted a proven veteran in their rotation to be a capstone piece and we were to deal a marginal backend arm and a good reliever.  In other words, it was a quantity for quality deal with some savings for Baltimore.

What happened was that Guthrie completely fell apart for the Rockies and was eventually dealt to Kansas City for Jonathan Sanchez, who also exploded in Colorado.  In Kansas City, Guthrie found himself again and has strung two of his best seasons in the Majors.  For the Orioles, Jason Hammel was a revelation when healthy.  He found another level with his two seamer and was often dominant on the mound.  Although injured through the stretch run, he was a major reason why the Orioles made the playoffs.  Lindstrom was rather dominant in the pen as well and was a decent enough chip for the Orioles to secure Joe Saunders in August as a replacement for Hammel.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: If you take the above to heart and find Hammel and Guthrie equivalent then a second control year of Hammel and Matt Lindstrom are just gravy. 
and for the Saunders deal...
This is certainly not a game changing trade.  Few deals in August are game changers.  However, the Orioles have been able to convert their abundance of relief talent into improving the talent available for starting pitching.  As long as the player to be named later is no one of great importance, this is a solid deal looking to go as deep as possible this year. 
Conclusion: 5.4 bWAR; Orioles

April 21, 2012
Josh Bell for Mike Belfiore

By April 2012, Josh Bell was no longer viewed as the future of third base for the Orioles.  The promise he showed the summer he was traded for with George Sherrill had not be duplicated in the two following seasons.  His ability to tee off of left handed pitchers in AAA did not translate to the Majors and he could never tough right handers.  Add to that some questionable defense and there really was not much for him to offer the club.  The Orioles cashed him in for the Diamondback's low minors relief arm, Mike Belfiore.

After the trade went through, Bell continued to be decent in AAA play and horrendous in the Majors.  Mike Belfiore made one appearance in the Majors and pitched admirably for the club in the minors.  Faced with a roster crunch in April 2014, the Orioles designated him for assignment and the Detroit Tigers picked him up.  In Toledo, the strikeouts have decreased and the walked have inched upwards, but few batters are crossing the plate.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: No comment or, at least, none that I could find.
Conclusion: 0.3; Push

June 30, 2012
Jim Thome for Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon

At the time, the Orioles needed some help when Nick Markakis went down and Chris Davis had to trot out to right field.  The team was underwhelmed with what Nick Johnson was doing at the plate.  The fading Phillies had Jim Thome.  Thome turned heads in June after smashing the Orioles in an interleague series.  The Orioles, amazingly in the playoff conversation, pulled the trigger and handed the Phillies a relief pitcher with an interesting arm (Kyle Simon) and a defensive catcher with some pop (Gabriel Lino).

Jim Thome was largely a non-factor with the Orioles as he was a substandard DH who played in only 28 games over the final three months of the season.  On the Phillies side, Simon was put into a relief role and has had trouble achieving success at the AA level.  That is better than Lino, who still has some defense, but his bat is incapable of hitting HiA pitchers.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: In all likelihood, I see this as happening.  Thome hits pretty well and leaves the team at the end of the year.  The Orioles will likely finish in fourth or fifth place, but with a record that is about 15th to 18th best in the league.  Kyle Simon will fade out in AAA at some point.  Gabriel Lino will eventually get a cup of coffee, impressing people on his defense and making them wish he could square up more.
Conclusion: 0.0; Push

August 13, 2012
Carlos Rojas for JC Romero

With conversations about to result in Matt Lindstrom being sent away, the Orioles needed more depth in their pen.  The Orioles added to their pen a lefty who had once been successful, but was struggling with the Indians.  The cost was a career minor league infielder who was essentially organization filler.  It was a minor deal with a minor outcome.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: No comment.
Conclusion: 0.0; Push

Final Tally
5.2 bWAR

Almost all of the value Dan Duquette acquired in his deals were the products of his trades for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom and the later deal for Joe Saunders.  These acquisitions, somewhat arguably, are the reason why the Orioles made the playoffs.  It could be argued as well that someone not named Duquette would have kept Jeremy Guthrie and not acquired Wei-Yin Chen, who was a free agent.  Perhaps someone not named Duquette also would not have signed Nate McLouth.  These were the final strokes that brought this club over the top.

The cost has been for a large number of players who are either no longer in baseball or may be able to pull out a couple years middle relievers.  In other words, he gave up pretty much nothing.  Ignore the release of Alfredo Simon and the signing of Tsuyoshi Wada, Duquette was flawless.


Anonymous said...

I don't think you have to ignore the Simon release. Everyone knew he had talent - but no one knew whether or not he would figure out his personal issues. He has been in trouble over the last few years with the exception of ths year, so I think the O's released him for the right reasons.

Anonymous said...

fascinating article, Jon. I wonder if you've considered Wada's renaissance with the Cubs? its early, but promising enough to suggest maybe the Birds gave up on him too soon.

There are many additional variables involved in such a suggestion, but could you do the same kind of article regarding Duquette's free agent moves?
Dan seems very reluctant to sign a major FA(Jiminez being the major exception) so most of them seem to be inexpensive shots in the dark, such as Peguero or Maclouth. some pay off, most miss, but without too much fuss or money lost.
That would be another fascinating read, and revealing of how Duquette thinks and what he's willng to spend money on(I question whether he was the major impetus behind the Ubaldo signing)

Liam said...

One thing about the Orioles under the DD reign is that they seem to drastically outperform the sabrmetric community's expectations for them (+24, +6, on track for +7). The Expos went from 71 wins to 87 the first year DD was in charge, and had the best record in baseball in 1994. The Red Sox went from 80 wins in 1993 to 86 in 1995 (not so great in 1994 but DD took over as GM in February and they only played 2/3 of a season).

I think its hard to assign a GM credit for beating expectations because as stat nerds we think we know the EXPECTED values of each player, and therefore assume any deviation within a season is mostly luck (or managerial talent, per your article earlier this year).

In reality, though, most GMs aren't looking at the FanGraphs projections page and marveling over the genius of ZiPs. They've got systems based on superior qualitative and quantitative inputs which drive their decision making.

In short, I think front offices probably have a better idea of whats going to happen than fans do. The ones that consistently do better than expected are probably playing a slightly different game than the rest of us.

Liam said...

I'd be interested to see more work done on trying to figure out what game the best GMs are playing - Why have the Orioles outperformed under DD (and mostly Buck)? What about the A's (+17, +10, on pace for +15 depending who's preseason projections you use)? I saw an interesting article on ESPN of all places about how John Henry used his background as a commodities trader to build a baseball team, placing special emphasis on certain stats.

Has home run hitting somehow become an undervalued skill? Are strikeouts overvalued? How much is defense worth, and is it priced into the market? Moreover, how do you measure defense, and which positions are the most important? How valuable are relievers relative to starters? What about pitches per plate appearance? Is hitting a lot of foul balls a skill, and if so is it valuable? How about that weird organization philosophy of not throwing cutters? Are prospects now overvalued in the trade market? How much is a good scout worth, and why don't the best ones make millions? How does an organization even go about attracting the best scouts? Who scouts the scouts?