July 31stAs was discussed last week, the Orioles were on the fence with respect to attempting to make the playoffs. A week ago, they were generally projected as having a 1 in 8 shot of making the playoffs. A successful homestand later, they find themselves today with a 1 in 4 chance. My general rule of thumb is anything above 20% you go for it and anything below you sell off impending free agents. In other words, I probably would have been selling off items even though the club was only a couple games behind the play-in wild card. That is how it is when a club is on the threshold, the needle can certainly slide in either direction.
Zach Davies (RHP) traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Gerardo Parra (RF)
Tommy Hunter (RHP) traded to the Chicago Cubs for Junior Lake (LF/DH)
Bud Norris (RHP) designated for assignment
Chris Parmalee (1B/COF) designated for assignment
Mychal Givens (RHP) recalled from Bowie
Mike Wright (RHP) recalled from Norfolk
Mike Wright (RHP) placed on the 15 day DL
Sean Bierman (LHP) signed to a minor league contract
Jorge Rondon (RHP) recalled from Norfolk
Jorge Rondon (RHP) optioned to Norfolk
Tyler Wilson (RHP) recalled from Norfolk
Anyway, the Parra addition slightly strengthens the corner outfield. The initial look has the Orioles putting Parra in left, which does not solve the outfield's main problem: range. Parra has lost a few steps and would benefit by having Adam Jones range into left. However, pushing Chris Davis into right field means that Jones has himself occupied by giving Davis some coverage. The club would be better off with Davis at first, Parra in right, and then maybe Lough in left. I still believe in Lough's value in his defense, but that candle certainly burns less bright than it used to.
The Hunter-for-Lake deal was a ledger move. By dealing Hunter, the money taken on with the Parra deal is almost completely cancelled out. From what I have been told, this was not the original plan. The hope was that another club would be interested enough in the Orioles' fringe second tier prospect pool to throw money in. From what I can tell, that did not happen. Concurrently, the club was entertaining several teams on potential deals for Tommy Hunter, a serviceable 7th inning righthander. The team eventually found itself deep in talks with the Cubs and managed to squeeze out Junior Lake. A past-prospect who keeps sliding off the defensive spectrum and has yet learned how to put himself into good counts at the MLB level. I hate to use the term failed prospect, but it is safe to say that the Cubs no longer planned on him providing much of anything to their future success. It is likely that the Orioles feel somewhat the same with Lake immediately transferred into the farm system. In the end, the Orioles saved some money and, along with Bud Norris' DFA, are now able to run a Norfolk shuttle to help keep the bullpen fresh with optionable arms.
The other name that popped up these past couple days is Sean Bierman. Bierman was a 10th round selection by the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2012 out of the University of Tampa (his college career was derailed a bit by needing Tommy John surgery). Perennially old for his leagues, Bierman used a high 80s two seamer to induce groundballs and perform rather well by pitching to contact. He was enough of a fringe prospect to be included in a deal where the Rays acquired the ailing Jesse Crain in 2013. After half a season with the White Sox, Bierman was let go and found himself playing in the CanAm independent league. He dominated over 16 starts as polished lefties are wont to do in those leagues and found himself in the service of the Atlanta Braves. After the season, the Braves let him go and Bierman signed with the Atlantic League which he also dominated, allowing 23 earned runs over a 115 IP. The Orioles signed him and he will likely provide some depth in the Minors with the entire system being bumped up two with the departures of Hunter and Norris.
Below is the current 40 man roster with options: