27 May 2015

Outfield Reinforcements Won't Be Coming From the Minors

The play of Baltimore’s corner outfielders has been a hot topic lately. Last week, our own Matt Kremnitzer wrote about their struggles in an article for MASN, while Matt Perez followed that up with a piece that looked at potentially swapping Bud Norris and Tommy Hunter for the Red Sox's Shane Victorino. Yes, the non-Adam Jones outfielders currently on the Orioles roster are not performing, both offensively and defensively. Here’s how they stack up against the rest of the league in terms of wRC+ and DRS.


OK, so they actually haven’t been playing bad defense, it just seems like it after seeing Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza, and Travis Snider out there on a regular basis. Matt Perez’s suggestion to trade for Victorino is certainly an interesting one. And while we’re almost 2 months into the 2015 season, it’s probably a little too early to expect any sort of trade that would bring back a major upgrade to the ballclub in one of the outfield corners. Furthermore, despite rumblings that Chris Parmelee may be called up from AAA to provide some offense in the outfield, an upgrade is unlikely to be found in the Orioles minor league system. Let’s take a look at what’s available.

Outfielders on the 40-Man Roster

All of them are actually already on the major league roster. I could end this section right there, but that would be lazy. Just because a player isn’t listed as an outfielder on the 40-man roster doesn’t mean that he can’t play the outfield. However, even taking that broader view, that still doesn’t leave the team with many options. Other than the obvious candidates, there is Jimmy Paredes and Henry Urrutia. We know that Paredes can hit (at least he has this year), but he’s only logged just over 400 innings in the outfield during his major league career, producing -4 DRS (-7.7 UZR/150). As for Urrutia, I don’t think Baltimore views him as an outfield option anymore (on the 40-man roster, he’s listed as a DH).

Outfielders Not on the 40-Man Roster

The table below shows how the options at Norfolk are performing so far in 2015.


As you can see, no one is exactly lighting the world on fire down there, except for maybe Parmelee, and he’s not even listed as an outfielder on the Orioles website. As Matt Kremnitzer noted, it’s not as if Parmelee would even be an upgrade, as he owns a career 97 wRC+ in the major leagues (901 PAs) and has been -7 DRS in just over 1,050 innings in the outfield.

Let’s take a look at how the outfielders in Bowie are hitting.


The stat lines of these players look slightly better, but they’re also another level further from the major leagues. Quincy Latimore is a former Pirates prospect who is now 26 years old and has never played above AA. Glynn Davis is having a promising season, but he is only in his first full year of AA, and is not considered a prospect (MLB.com left him off their top 30 list prior to the season). The best of this bunch is Mike Yastrzemski, who was ranked the 10th best prospect in the Orioles system before the season by both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com (Baseball America had him 9th and he didn’t make the cut on Keith Law’s list). Still, both MLB.com and BP see Yastrzemski as a slightly below average player at his peak, so it’s unlikely he’d be a difference maker, especially in 2015.

Purchasing the contract of one of the players not on the 40-man roster shouldn’t be an obstacle. But if that’s the route the team decides to take, they’ll need to clear a spot to make room for Matt Wieters when he comes off the 60-day disabled list (he’s currently rehabbing in Bowie). At that point, they’ll risk losing whoever they remove from the 40-man roster to any of the other 29 teams on waivers.

With no help down in the minors and the trade market still in its earliest stages of development, the Orioles best option in the corner outfield positions may be to just stand pat. The return of Jonathan Schoop and/or Ryan Flaherty should allow Steve Pearce to return to an outfield position, where hopefully his batted ball luck will regress in the positive direction, providing some much needed production. Sometimes the best course of action one can take is to wait.

18 comments:

Joe Reisel said...

For what it's worth, Nolan Reimold has been hitting much better over the last couple of weeks. And it's not just results - he's been making harder contact during that span than he was earlier in the year. You're right - no one at Norfolk is going to solve the problem, but it's worth keeping an eye on Reimold.

Anonymous said...

Just another example of the ineptness of Oriole player procurement and development.

Nate Delong said...

Joe, that's good to know, thanks. Other than Parmelee, Reimold was the only other person that I thought could POSSIBLY come up and produce, but that was based mostly on the non-injured portion of his previous time in the majors, not what he was currently doing at AAA. But you're right that it's definitely worth keeping an eye on him

Anonymous said...

I doubt that many teams have a stable of outfielders in AAA that should be in the Majors. Typically, you have to have drafted those guys because guys who deserve to be MLBers tend to be MLBers.

Pat Holden said...

I still think the best plan is to stick with the guys we have. I'd like to Snider get more playing time, at the expense of Young. If our infield can get healthy, Pearce can jump into the picture too. While none of those guys have been knocking the cover off of the ball, their track records suggest they are better than any internal options, and likely better than any realistic external option.

Matt Perez said...

The problem is that the Orioles have a number of outfielders that can play LF but considerably fewer that can play RF. Snider is unlikely to receive more playing time at the expense of Young because Young is used at right field and Snider is proving he can't play that position in Camden Yards. That's why I would ignore their UZR results and just measure their performance based on the fact that they've been sent to the bench.

Adding someone like Reimold or Parmalee would allow the Os to put De Aza in RF while putting the new player in LF. But it's questionable whether the Os would rather have De Aza, Davis(!) or Young in right field and it's certainly clear that neither are known for having good defense.

Steve said...

Duquette gets a lot of praise for finding fringe talent that produces big like Paredes. What gets lost is that he brings in a load of crap to find those hidden desirable nuggets. Probability worked against him here because all he has in corner outfield production so far this year is crap. That means loading off pieces either by trade or simply releasing them to see if anyone else can produce better than the crap so far. Problem is that I think he is caught in between guys with no options and no one looking all that interesting at Norfolk. In such a situation, GMs tend to cling to guys with the most veteran experience.

Michael said...

The outfield has not been spectacular, but the real offensive "black hole" seems to be the production from first base, second base, and shortstop. It seems all the available options there (Davis, Pearce, Cabrera, Hardy) are either south of or just north of the Mendoza line. No surprise the team is having trouble scoring runs when one-third of the lineup are consistently making outs. This goes up to almost one-half of the lineup when in an NL park and losing the DH.

Old Dude said...

Holy smokes. Why would someone use batting average as the go to stat? 1B and 2B have been in the 700s for OPS while LF is in the 500s.

tony2302 said...

once again the other blaring evidence is free agents would rather play elsewhere than Baltimore, at least the 1st tier ones. i still say Duquette was distracted with all the Toronto talk and didn't do due diligence for the Orioles in getting the help the team needed. also i'm really happy that they let Cruz go to Seattle because it was "highly" unlikely he would duplicate his HR total of 40. with his 18th today i'd say he's on a pace to hit more than 40. wonder how that would factor in to the outfield situation this year?

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Free agents go where the money is. And for high-priced free agents, for the most part, that isn't Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it sure was easy to replace the replaceable Nick Markakis

Anonymous said...

For 11 million a year...Markakis has kind of been underwhelming. He has a handful of doubles and nothing else. Cesar Izturis probably has more power.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about how much power he has, you don't think we could use a 0.311 leadoff hitter? Please, DD took a risk and it backfired.

Anonymous said...

If batting average was the only Stat that mattered, but baseball is more than a number. it might help to watch a game or two. A lot more happens on that field.

Nate Delong said...

Power aside (there is none), Markakis is having a decent start to the season, especially by posting his best walk rate since 2008. His average is good, but it's also due to a career high (so far) BABIP. The high LD% may support that BABIP, but he's making virtually the same amount of "hard" contact as he did last year, so I'd expect that average to com down. Personally, I'd rather be in the Orioles situation this year than be tied to Markakis at $11 million for the next 3 years.

Anonymous said...

Another option to consider is moving Wieters to 1B when he comes back... so that Davis can play in the outfield in lieu of one of Snider / Young / Pearce. This makes sense for the following reasons:

1. You get to keep Joseph in the lineup (he's hitting better than Snider / Young / Pearce in terms of OPS).

2. Shifting Wieters away from the catcher position can keep him healthy and possibly increase offensive production.

3. If the Orioles start the process of moving Wieters to 1B early, they would have the option of penciling him in as the starting 1B for 2016 if it would cost less to re-sign Wieters than Davis.

Anonymous said...

Wieters' value is greatly attached to him being able to catch and do it quite well.