11 July 2016

First-Place Orioles Obviously Aren't Sellers, But Should They Buy?

If you're a glass-half-full type of person, then, at best, you may view the Orioles' trade deadline deals of the past few years as a mixed bag. If you're not, then surely you hated many of them. There are a couple of players who helped the O's -- Andrew Miller, Bud Norris, Scott Feldman -- and also a bunch of guys who didn't. And when you look back at the price to acquire them, it doesn't look so great.

July Trade Players Of Note In The Duquette Era

O’s get: Jim Thome, Omar Quintanilla, Scott Feldman, Steve Clevenger, Francisco Rodriguez, Bud Norris, Andrew Miller, Gerardo Parra, Junior Lake

O’s gave up: Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, Nick Delmonico, Josh Hader, L.J. Hoes, 2014 comp. balance pick, Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Davies, Tommy Hunter, Gabriel Lino, Kyle Simon

I might have left a couple out, but it's clear that the O's didn't get many bargains. The O's pulled off a cream-of-the-crop addition one time: Andrew Miller. Regardless of what you think of the Miller trade, he was very good in an O's uniform.

The rest of the time, Duquette aimed for the middle, or for relatively minor or moderate upgrades, and those moves mostly did not pay off. If the Orioles wanted to go after another reliever -- clearly Buck Showalter craves another left-hander in the bullpen -- they could put together a trade package for that. But many teams desperately need starting pitching upgrades, and nearly all of them will be able to assemble more enticing groups of prospects than what the O's can cobble together. That could lead the Orioles again shooting for a fringe starter.

So how should the Orioles proceed? It's not an easy question to answer. The way I see it, the Orioles could do one of three things. They could do nothing, rolling the dice with what they have and hoping it somehow works out. Second, they could target a few low-risk, high-variance players who wouldn't cost much. That could keep the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Wright, and/or Tyler Wilson out of the starting rotation, even if there's no guarantee the new additions pitch any better. Or third, they could go after a legitimate starting rotation upgrade, whether that's Julio Teheran, Jake Odorizzi, Sonny Gray, Matt Moore, Rich Hill, Drew Pomeranz, Jeremy Hellickson, Ervin Santana, or someone else. Maybe some of those guys aren't on the market. Most likely, the O's would struggle to put together an enticing package for many of those names. And maybe they'd struggle to outbid other teams in the hunt for rotation upgrades. But at least some of those names are within reach.

I've been going back and forth about this. For a while I was in the do-nothing camp, but it's extremely difficult to talk yourself into riding things out with this group of starters. It's just too painful for a core that has a chance to win something significant right now.

The Orioles clearly want to add a left-handed starter. My guess is they would prefer to add two starters to go along with Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Yovani Gallardo. Maybe it would be easier to do that by adding someone like Jon Niese instead of Rich Hill. Either way, you're rolling the dice. These guys aren't aces.

You'd figure it wouldn't take a whole lot to acquire Niese. And again, Niese is just one example. There don't appear to be any slam-dunk starters in this market, or anything similar to the skill level the O's acquired when they picked up Miller to improve their bullpen a couple years ago. Maybe the O's could similarly acquire an add-on to a powerhouse bullpen to aid a bad rotation, but it's unlikely they go for a top-shelf reliever again. The O's also probably view Darren O'Day's impending return as the shot in the arm the bullpen needs.

At the minimum, I think the O's need to pursue a starting pitcher of some kind and a left-handed reliever. But no matter what, I won't feel great about it. The O's have the opportunity to make a decent move or two and improve their chances of getting into the playoffs, but in order to do that, they'd hurt an already weak farm system. Just because the Orioles have a low-rated minor league system doesn't mean it's completely devoid of talent. Whether the O's would be able to get the most out of those prospects is a fair question to ask, but that that's even a question is pretty sad for the state of the O's prospect development system currently in place.

This is what can happen when you both refuse to pay top dollar for starting pitching but are also terrible at developing your own pitching prospects. And yet, the O's are still, somehow, two games up in the American League East.

Being a GM is hard. The Orioles need starting rotation help. They also routinely need prospect help. Who's ready for the trade deadline?

38 comments:

Roger said...

Didn't you guys just put up a post last week that the rotation is "not so bad"? Titled "Orioles Rotation is Fine or The Rotation is Falling, The Rotation is Falling." OK, so it is not the best in baseball but the Orioles have other assets (power and bullpen) that are the best in baseball. So we do not NEED an ace just someone better than Ubaldo, Wilson, and Wright. One trade that we should focus on is the Bud Norris trade. That trade helped at the end of one year and propelled the O's the next year. Yes, Norris ultimately fell apart (note that the Braves fixed him pretty well this year by just having him change his mix of pitches), but he helped more than just half a season. That is the best kind of upgrade. That is where I think a Brad Hand can fit in. He's young; he's LH; he was a disappointment at MIA; he's pitching well as a LOOGY; he's controllable; and he has great stuff (potential starter for next year). He would not be as expensive as an ace or even a Pomeranz. He's young enough that trading a prospect or two would not bring down the farm system because he is nearly still a prospect. Also, another type of player to consider would be Lucas Harrell, a deep reclamation project. He has not shown enough to warrant a big return but he's cheap, experienced, and pitching well. The Dodgers didn't have to pay much for Norris and the O's wouldn't have to pay much for Harrell. He's not as old as Rich Hill but would be an upgrade over Ubaldo. Both Wilson and Wright have shown good ability as swingmen but not solid rotation pieces. Bringing in Hand and Harrell would leave a good mix in the middle along with Worley and Bundy creating a real possibility of using the "3-inning start" approach discussed here a few posts ago. The O's could and should release Ubaldo at that point. Plus, one might add Aquino and Jason Garcia to that mix. Aquino looks like the best, most ready prospect in the org right now and he's left handed too. Just like the Red Sox getting Zeigler, the O's can do some tweaking and get better without having to give up the farm so to speak.

Roger said...

Here's a trade for you. Trade Ubaldo, Reimold, Walker, Wright (or Wilson) for Hand and Upton and the O's pay all the salaries. The Pads get salary relief, one major leaguer, and two nearly major league ready prospects. The O's get a defense/bench upgrade and a LOOGY with future potential.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

That post was written by Jon, not me. I believe his point was that the rotation has not been the complete disaster that many have made it out to be, but he still noted the clear need for improvement. And the greatest room for an upgrade is the starting rotation.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

You lost me at "the O's pay all the salaries." I can't imagine that happening.

Joe Reisel said...

The Pirates' recent hot streak has left them only 1 1/2 games behind in the wild-card race. Unless they drop significantly, I don't think they'll be trading Niese.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yeah, maybe. But unlike the Orioles, they actually have quality starting rotation depth in the minors. They could deal Niese, get a prospect or two, and it wouldn't hurt the major league squad much.

robotosan said...

Put together a trade package for a decent, not totally retread starter using Chance Sisco as the main bait, wait for O'Day to come back, pull Bundy out of the bull pen, and ride what you have to a playoff position. Make the fire starters do another round at AAA; watching the Birds the last two weeks has been... unsettling.

Joe in Joe, TX

Jon Shepherd said...

Right, the rotation is not a disaster, but could certainly use improvement.

That said, other writers might think differently and present evidence why their thoughts differ.

One thing to note with clubs is that all fringe clubs are talking and getting groundwork set in case they wind up as buyers or sellers.

Pip said...

That problem isn't what we need but what we can pay.
"Who bells the cat?"
Dan infuriates me with his scorched-earth X approach to the Farm and his incredibly stupid moves. That some are lucky(Brach) and others work for a time(De Aza, Norris) doesn't change the basic fact that his approach got us to this point.
Whew, thanks for your patience:
Anyway, what CAN we get? Walker/Mancini have little value, Sisco has only marginally more, and Harvey won't bring anything substantial by himself, if he's even on the block at all.
Would Dan be willing to move someone off the 25-man?
If not, then making a move at all would probably cause more problems without solving any.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I think it's odd to call some of Duquette's moves lucky but then not label the bad ones as unlucky. He's made some good moves and bad ones, but I think he's been more good than bad as the team's GM. But in terms of just July deals? Yeah, they aren't great.

Sisco is the team's only prospect in Baseball America's midseason top 100 list, but I'm not sure he can get anyone significant by himself. The O's may have to opt to deal more quantity than quality, and everyone isn't going to go for that. But someone might. It's all about who they view as expendable, for the right price.

Roger said...

Matt, here's the point. I laughed when I read your comment about O's paying all the salaries. Yes, I know that seems improbable/illogical but the O's did increase payroll this year more than expected. Also, if you don't have bodies to trade then cash comes in. You have to part with one or the other. Pads want to dump Upton's salary even if he is playing better. And the fact that he's playing better makes him a decent bench piece. If the O's will part with some bucks then they could make that trade. You could also just drop Ubaldo off and do the same trade. I figure Reimold and Upton are comparable performance wise and Hand and Wright are comparable bullpen pieces only differing in handedness. The gives the Pads, Walker and money as their incentive.

To others..... the O's cannot trade either Mancini or Sisco. They are the replacement pieces for Trumbo and Wieters who will be lost in the offseason (for comp picks, hopefullly). The O's could part with prospects in the lower minors - DJ Stewart comes to mind. I tried to post to the roster payroll post yesterday but couldn't get in.

The O's will sign Machado and probably Tillman and Britton. And Jones will end his career in Baltimore. They will have Davis, Schoop, Machado, Jones, Joseph, Rickard, Kim, and Alvarez (3B) as a base for the next two years. Mancini and Sisco will replace Trumbo and Wieters. They will need a utility IF (better than Flaherty) and one slugging OF. DD has consistently been able to pick up a cheap slugger (Cruz/Trumbo). The pitching will be Tillman, Gausman, Gallardo, Bundy with O'Day, Brach, Givens, Britton at the back end. That leaves one SP and a LOOGY to find. Maybe Aquino or Donnie Hart or Jason Garcia can help. That team plus a couple of cheap middle relievers will be affordable and competitive. Hopefully, the farm will be more productive after a 2-3 more years and even more talent will come up. Walker, Wilson, Wright are obvious trade pieces along with a few from the low minors.

Pip said...

Alvarez at 3b would be laughable. He was a useless pickup and may not even survive the entire season. No way will he be back.

Pip said...

Matt, I look at the logic of a transaction and the risk involved. The Jones-Brach trade was one of countless trades every GM makes; a prospect for a prospect, or a prospect for a failed or falling player with remaining upside. They are all gambles and most don't work out but some do. But they are all low risk. The Brach trade netted a wonderful return, so it was a lucky gamble that turned out well for the team. The De Aza trade was as well. We gave up nothing substantive for him and got a good return. The Norris trade was much more involved and expensive, but it also worked out well.
The problem is Dan's basic philosophy is flawed, so when he does well it is inspire of his philosophy and his bad acquisitions confirm it. Alvarez, Gallardo, Jiminez, Keeping Hunter and Matusz, and paying them too much, but dumping Gonzalez and Webb(and Matusz too a bit later) just to save a little money and dumping draft picks in order to save it, all smacks of random moves with no underlying plan. The Parra trade was foolish in the extreme, and even if Davies had not turned out as well as he has, that move reveals a dangerous attitude.
In an interview earlier this season, Dan said he doesn't care for the future, only the present, which explains his casual attitude towards drafting and the farm in general.
I guess I'm just worried about what he's going to do, and God knows I e reason to.

Dustin said...

I think that the biggest 'blockbuster' move out there for the Orioles this trade deadline probably lies with San Deigo, and it probably involves the Orioles taking on some money. The farm system is thin, and the Orioles could further deplete it, but if they're willing to take a financial hit to make a real push for a title, then they'd benefit short-term (by adding talent) and long-term (not giving up any future assets).

I'm not sure just how close this is, but the skeleton of the deal would involve the Orioles sending Ubaldo Jiminez to the Padres while the Padres send the Orioles Pomeranz, Cashner, and the deadly Matt Kemp contract. Other things could be potentially added into the deal to make it work, but that's the general idea of it. Cashner/Pomeranz would instantly push up the floor of that rotation, while Kemp would be able to slide into a DH platoon role along with Alvarez, and would be around for the next 3 years (ugh, still 3 years on that contract?) in that role. For all of Kemp's warts, hitting a baseball isn't one of them.

So, you'd be taking on (something close to) an extra 8 million (Kemp-Ubaldo) next year and 20 million in 2018/19. Is it worth it? Like I mentioned before, Kemp's not totally worthless, and DH would be the best place to put him, so... An overpay, yes, but perhaps that is fair payment for Cashner (making 7mil this year, FA to be) and Pomeranz (1.5mil this year, FA to be) and upgrading almost half of your disaster pitching staff.

This feels like a deal the Orioles would never make, because of the money involved, but there would be a lot to be gained in the short term. Too much? Yea, sure, maybe. Would love a more analytic opinion on whether this is an interesting idea or completely bananas.

Anonymous said...

"In an interview earlier this season, Dan said he doesn't care for the future, only the present, which explains his casual attitude towards drafting and the farm in general."

In that case, here's a trade idea that could fix two issues at one: Send Duquette to Toronto for a starting pitcher! (/s)

David W said...

I am find with staying put. I would to see them go to Dylan Bundy. He has learn to pitch in the big leagues and we can use our bullpen to pick up the extra inning. KC won with average at best pitching, great bullpen,defense, and timely hitting. I think our starting staff is better then the KC staff and we score more runs then the KC offense.

Anonymous said...

Why would the Padres do that???
They get rid of a terrible contract and a producing player( not producing much but a bit) and take on a horrible but smaller contract ties to a complete fiasco of a player. None of it makes sense for the Padres.

Brian Dziwulski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Dziwulski said...

We open up against the Rays and I wouldn't leave Tampa without Matt Moore. He controlled thru 2019 and I would trade Drew Dooch, Wright, and one more late prospect. By trading Drew to them it's leaves them open to trade Evan to let's say the Dodgers. Saves them money and could get a lot of prospects in return. The Rays are in a rebuild mode and this trade could help both parties. Honestly the best players to use in order to get Moore would be Drew, Chris Lee, and either Wright or Wilson. That way we could dump Jimenez and plug in a 5th starter somewhere

Brian Dziwulski said...

Sorry not Drew Jomar Reyes was who I was thinking

20robinson said...

Matt Moore would be ideal and he's signed through 2019. He would put us over the top for this year. The cost? The pickings are slim in the organization and we would be giving up the few quality youngsters we have. I believe Bundy will be a top line starter next year, however, we must find a left handed starter.

Anonymous said...

I think all of the current Orioles pitchers would do better if Matt Wieters would present a good target for them with the glove. He uses a black and brown catchers mitt and he rarely shows a good target for two or three seconds before the pitcher throws. Caleb is much better at this than Matt, but Russell Martin of Toronto does a good job and I think gets the most out of his pitching staff. Wieters HAS to present a better target....plus Rich Hill or Pomeranz would be good.

Ken Everett said...

The fact is the Orioles don't have anyone to sell that would yield a quality starter unless they are willing to move Trumbo which reeks of the A's trading Cespedes a few years ago when Billy Bean outsmarted himself.

Dylan Bundy is your back half rotation help. He can make 12+ starts for them down the stretch and probably give them quality starts.

Bottom line is if they can get to the postseason Tillman, Gallardo, and Gausman are your rotation.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anonymous...Not only does Weiters present a poor target, but looks to me like the dugout calls the pitches which is insane. Are they the catcher, do they feel they have better view or idea than Weiters or Joseph!
Why is Weiters not calling the pitches or location? We make way too many mistakes in pitcher' counts. Why throw a breaking ball to weak hitters, why are they not going up and in more, at least up where it is very hard for batter to get good wood on fastball, let alone a lefty. I agrre we have only 1 starter with strikeout stuff [Gausman] but his games could be called better.
Only trade I would make is trade prospect or 2 for a minior league Pitching cooridinator from any of MLB organization that consistently grows there arms [Tampa, St. Louis, Pitt.].Our system has no idea how to - none of our guys have improved a lick up here, last good one was Mussina and that friends is the truth.

Anonymous said...

One more thing about Wieters is that he is a big catcher and he's 30. So it may benefit the Orioles if they DH him two or three times a week. He's a better hitter than Alvarez and Caleb could get the at bats to regain hitting confidence. Wieters would stay fresh for the post season and Caleb is a better defensive catcher anyway. Except that Matt has a cannon for an arm.
As far as the pitches called.....it sometimes puzzles me when they don't just throw gas to a batter who is hitting under .200.

Anonymous said...

Since he is unwilling to go other way and seems not to listen to a coach or watch Kim when he hits [most of our team could learn from him] --get rid of Davis and his ballerina swings...he could get us some kind of better 2nd or 3rd starter we have currently. Tired of watching this steamer carry the bat back to dugout without moving a runner.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

That's a lot of criticism of Wieters, although him getting dinged for framing is nothing new. Joseph is probably the better overall defender when factoring in framing, but it doesn't matter when he's hitting like he is. So I'm not sure of the rationale to get Joseph extra at-bats. I also don't think Wieters is a better hitter than Alvarez. Besides, this team is set up to give Alvarez and Trumbo the DH at-bats.

Get rid of Davis? That's pretty funny.

vilnius b. said...

I have to agree with that. You're not going to get rid of Davis with that contract, even if much of the money is deferred.
And that's too bad. Trumbo has been a revelation this season in large part because he's chasing fewer pitches outside of the strike zone. In other words, even though his walk rate still is poor, he's a more selective hitter now than he's ever been. And since he has demonstrated in the past that he's a decent defensive first baseman, he wouldn't hurt the Orioles there defensively as much as he does playing right field.
But hindsight is 20/20 and I don't think the Orioles realized they were getting such a productive bat.
As for the Joseph/Wieters debate: Joseph is indeed a better pitch framer; that's clear to the naked eye. And he too has a cannon for an arm. But you have to play Wieters because he's the better bat and it appears that the Orioles are going to have to slug their way (with enormous contributions from the bullpen) to the playoffs.
Now that Pomeranz has been traded to the Red Sox, thus effectively ending any wild speculation about his ending up in Baltimore, the question is: whom should the Orioles target? Rich Hill? Hellickson? And what would the cost be?

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Basically nothing has changed between now and when the Orioles re-signed Chris Davis for a dump truck full of money in the offseason. He's not having an amazing season, but he's certainly having a productive one. It looked like an overpay then, and it still does now. But he's helping the Orioles win now, which I guess was the main goal of keeping him around.

Ken Everett said...

Two things. First, I don't understand the criticism of Wieters, he is known for his ability to handle pitchers and call games. Buck has praised him as such. Tillman and Gausman are having good years with Wieters catching. Joseph was catching Ubaldo because he is the better defensive catcher and on any given Ubaldo night you have no idea where that ball is going but to act like Wieters is the inferior handler is ridiculous.

In terms of Davis, the guy is what he is. He is a plus defender, a low average hitter, and one of the few guys in the post-roid era who can hit 40+ home runs. You overpay because he is a 40+ home run threat and a plus defender.

What Trumbo is doing is exceeding anybody's wildest expectations. But to try and bet long-term on this is the equivalent of buying high. Trumbo's typical numbers are 20-30 home runs. He and Davis are almost exactly the same age, so if you want to follow the age curve, you'd rather bet on Davis at this point starting from the higher peak.

Jon Shepherd said...

Let's all take a deep breath and remember that the Detroit owner wanted to throw about 30 million more at Davis before his baseball ops implored him to sign Justin Upton instead.

vilnius b. said...

That's amazing; I had no idea that Detroit was interested in him. I thought that with Davis the Orioles were essentially bidding against themselves.

briankgreen said...

I'm scared of Bundy in the rotation. Only because the team has put an innings cap on him. I don't want to lose him down the stretch or in the playoffs because he has reached his innings. He didn't throw terrible today. Made a couple bad pitches that were hit for home runs. Arcia's home run was about 6 inches outside the strike zone low and away. Liked seeing his velocity back up.

However, we still need another arm. My #1 target would be Matt Moore. He is under contract for a couple more years and gives us a lefty in the rotation. Tampa Bay said they would't trade in division with Boston so I'm not sure that would change with us. If we can't get him then everyone else available is pretty much the same, outside of Sonny Gray- but I doubt we have what it takes to get him. The O's have to do something though. If we can add another good arm and Gausman/Gallardo can become consistent then the O's move to the head of the pack in the AL.

Ken Everett said...

I don't think the O's have enough to give up to land Moore or any other quality starter. I think Bundy is their best bet. He needs a little more movement on his fastball, but he gave them 70 quality pitches today. Another 2-3 starts and he should be able to give them 6 innings an outing. But heck, going 3 1/3 is better than Ubaldo.

Get 7 from Gausman today and a win and everything is fine. This team is going to be living on the edge the rest of the way.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the ticket to the World Series this year is to bring Andrew Miller back and get Brach Givens and Miller to pitch 2 innings twice a week. There is too much risk with Hill, Moore, or Erwin Santana. O'Day and Brittan would be the closing tandem.

briankgreen said...

I would talk to the Angels about Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago. Shoemaker has been lights out the last month or so and he is under contract for a few more years. Santiago would isn't great but also not terrible. Plus he would give us a lefty. Not sure what Shoemaker's value would be.

Roger said...

Looks like the O's are going to make the trade I suggested and they won't even have to include Reimold. Looks like Upton and Jimenez are the center pieces. They are speculating Cashner but I bet it ends in Hand. And I bet the O's put in Wright and Walker and a fairly highly considered lower minors prospect (Bridwell? Kline? Connaughton? Leyva?). Ha! Good guess, huh?

Anonymous said...

Kim and a minor league pitcher for Cam Bedrosian, or Addison Reed......otherwise the Blue Jays will pick up a shut down middle reliever and make it a tough contest....two cents worth.