August 28 – Orioles recall INF Jimmy Paredes
Paredes essentially takes the roster spot of Cord Phelps, who was designated for assignment and later outrighted to the minors. Paredes is a slightly better player than Phelps in basically all aspects of the game, and has experience playing the outfield as well, giving the team a little more positional flexibility. Having said that, they’re both replacement level, so this move doesn’t really change much.
August 31 – Orioles trade 2B Jemile Weeks and 2B Ivan De Jesus Jr. to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for 3B Kelly Johnson and 3B Michael Almanzar
|Kelly Johnson (photo via Keith Allison)|
The inclusion of Almanzar is interesting, as the Orioles get him back after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft and returning him to the Red Sox. I’m not exactly sure what Baltimore sees in him, but he’s more of a prospect than Weeks or De Jesus Jr, so it’s good that the team was able to pick him up again, especially without having to keep him on the 40-man roster this time around.
August 31 – Orioles trade RHP Mark Blackmar and RHP Miguel Chalas to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for OF Alejandro De Aza
|Alejandro De Aza (photo via Keith Allison)|
Meanwhile, De Aza adds outfield depth. He has played mostly center field in his career, and grades out as a slightly above average outfielder according to UZR/150 (although DRS has him at -13). So while he won’t be supplanting David Lough as a defensive replacement, he will be taking away some of his at-bats, especially against right handed pitching, where his career wRC+ of 102 looks much better than Lough’s, which currently sits at 90. As an added bonus, De Aza is under club control next year as well, which could soften the blow should Nelson Cruz and/or Nick Markakis not return in 2015.
These two were most likely recalled to soak up some innings in September and make sure the regular bullpen arms are rested when the playoffs start. We’ll always remember Saunders from those two magical starts in the 2012 playoffs where he allowed 2 runs in 11.1 innings, but he’ll reside in the bullpen now, waiting for the opportunity to mop things up.
Clevenger will likely be the emergency catcher, and has the potential to start a couple of times against right handed pitching.
Despite being Baltimore’s 3rd best reliever at the time, Webb was sent down to the minors with the acquisition of Andrew Miller, a move that confused me at the time (and still does actually). In the end, it didn’t matter much, as the bullpen has been doing just fine without him. Webb could see higher leverage situations (at least more than Meek and Saunders), but if I’m reading the postseason roster rules correctly, he won’t be eligible for the playoffs. Consider me still confused.
September 2 – Orioles purchase the contract of OF Quintin Berry
Berry won’t be eligible for the playoffs either, but he’s on the September roster to do one thing, and that’s steal bases. He’s a perfect 24 for 24 in stolen base attempts in his major league career. It’s a little surprising that they didn’t find a way to add him in time to be playoff eligible, as it’s something the team doesn’t do much (or well). They are 36 for 52 (69%) this season, which ranks 23rd in MLB (their 36 SB’s rank last by a healthy margin). However, Berry doesn’t provide much value elsewhere, so it’s not much of a surprise they wouldn’t want to use a playoff roster spot on him.
As Roch Kubatko of MASN reported, the Orioles appear to be done with September call-ups barring injury, so the final 2014 roster appears set. Having said that, take the month of September to watch the Orioles with a relaxed mind, because come October, that won’t be an option anymore.