02 August 2016

Arrivals and Departures: Miley and Pearce Coming to Town

During the Dan Duquette era, July and August are a time of player arrivals.  The Orioles' barren farm system tends to restrict the club to finding second and third tier additions with the lone exception of 2014 when elite relief arms were cheaper.  2016 was not like 2014, it was more like other seasons where a B or C level prospect was dispensed for a potentially useful player.  The two coming in this year were LHSP Wade Miley and UTL Steve Pearce.

Matt Perez and Matt Kremnitzer addressed the Miley addition yesterday.  My only addition would be to note that Miley has had a rather up and down season, but has strung together a series of adequate games.  I believe Ryan Romano will dive into that for us on MASN.  Miley certainly is not a pitcher you expect great things from,  His main issue this year has been leaving the ball up a few times and getting it punished.  The Orioles tend to emphasize pitching low in the zone and rising with high four seamers, so maybe Miley can escape the home run bug or at limit it to bases empty scenarios.  One would think most teams disagree as the cost was rather low: an older prospect who one day hopes to be Wade Miley.

The second piece the Orioles added was a replacement of their earlier target: Melvin Upton, Jr.  The Orioles were looking for a bat to deliver more production against left handed starters, which their end of season schedule is likely to be chock full of.  The replacement is a name common to Orioles fans and was perhaps the player who strongly pushed the Orioles into a 2014 runaway season: Steve Pearce.

Pearce is a right handed hitter who, when on, is the living embodiment of a professional hitter and, when off, is the guy you want to shuttle back to Norfolk.  2015 saw the guy who should be in Norfolk, but who still inspired many of the writers here to advocate for him to be re-signed during our October blueprint series.  Pearce wanted immensely to return to Baltimore and basically put himself in stasis until it was painfully obvious that the Orioles had zero interest in him.  He decided to go home on a one year deal at 4.75 MM and, at age 33, be the oldest player on the Rays by two years.

Although, in all too typical fashion, Pearce has experienced some injuries this season, he has also rediscovered his 2014 glory.  He is slashing 389/484/741 (227 wRC+) against southpaws and a more modest 280/351/440 (118 wRC+) against right handers.  Although he played often in the outfield for Baltimore, Pearce's time in Tampa has been spent at first base, second based, designated hitter, and a splash at third base.  In Pearce, the Orioles appear to have found all of their needs answered except for someone who can backup Adam Jones.  All in all, he fits.

The cost for Pearce may at first glance not appear to be much, but it was more than Ariel Miranda, the pitcher exchanged for Wade Miley.  The Orioles gave the Rays, arguably, their only true catcher in the system: Jonah Heim.  Heim is known as a defensive first catcher whose bat has lagged, but who is still young enough for him to figure out enough offensively.  Defensively, he is a gem.  Good footwork, short arm path, short pop times, gets out in front of the plate with ease, solid receiving skills, and decent blocking.  These are important skills to have as a catcher because history has shown that catchers who lack defensive adequacy almost never acquire it.  It is a rule that a few organizations take as gospel in that they never draft defense-suspect catchers.

Heim is not an elite prospect.  He profiles more as a backup catcher and is one who I am fairly confident will reach the majors and put in at least a few years.  I have great doubt that Chance Sisco can figure out what he needs to do behind the plate and have similar concerns about Alex Murphy.  Sisco, though, has enough of a bat that he might be able to hit enough for second base and has the athleticism for it.  Though, like Schoop, he appears to lack the reflexes and agility to be a good defensive second baseman.  Anyway, the point being that Heim was actually unique in the Orioles system: a likely MLBer who actually could catch.  Sure, getting someone like Pearce will cost something of value, but we should be aware that just because a number of people are playing catcher in this organization that it does not mean the club has actual depth at catcher.

In the end, Heim is probably worth the one win that Pearce will be worth.  Pearce shores up the bench and gives a solid starting option against left handers.  He makes for a more compelling platoon partner with Hyun Soo Kim, and those extra runs will help make up for problems with the starting rotation that Wade Miley may not be able to fix.


Roger said...

The main thing Duquette failed to accomplish was getting something for Jimenez's contract. Seems like every other bad contract changed hands except Ubaldo. The Upton deal would have been good for that and Upton would have provided CF defense. But Pearce is a good fill for everything else. I guess Julio Borbon will be the backup CF (or Joey Rickard when he returns). Did anyone expect the O's to make any pickups that would let them run away with the American League title? No. Ondrusek is a gem, though, and Miley/Pearce are incremental improvements. Donnie Hart should eventually solve the LOOGY problem (note: Matusz is available ..... LOL).

As for next year, Dan was smart to get a guy like Miley that's got another year of control. That worked out quite well with Norris. Cisco will be part of the catching rotation next year - hopefully he can at least learn pitch framing from Caleb. You describe him like a Craig Biggio candidate. I can live with that. For all the crap you guys give Schoop, he has a great arm and turns a mean double play. Maybe Cisco could play 3B when Hardy leaves. Also, Bundy will grow. Next year the rotation is already set with Tillman, Gausman, Bundy, Gallardo, and Miley. Mancini will replace Trumbo (either Davis or Mancini will play RF) and the O's will be competitive again. My guess is that the O's do not make any significant moves in the offseason except trying to sign Manny long term. Maybe they drop Gallardo and try to sign someone else to eat innings. The O's play one or two significant rookies every year. This year it was Kim and Rickard (and Bundy, who is a special case). Next year it will be Cisco and Mancini. And with any luck we get a Comp pick for both Wieters and Trumbo and the farm starts to look better. Cody Sedlock seems to have helped.

Anonymous said...

A non-chicken little post. How refreshing.

AKS said...

"Though, like Schoop, he appears to lack the reflexes and agility to be a good defensive second baseman".

Schoop has been brilliant so far at second base. Solid range, ability to make highlight reel plays, commits few errors and has superior arm strength. So what if he doesn't have great reflexes like say Roberto Alomar; that shouldn't exclude him from being a 'good' defensive player. By the way, he may have the strongest arm combined with the quickest exchange throw on double plays in the game. How many runs has he potentially saved this season on near impossible double play turns?

Other than that nice article

Jon Shepherd said...

Jonathan Sohoop having poor range and reflexes should not be news to anyone following the team. Reflex issue was why team had major concerns when his play at third base was awful. Range issues are why scouts think my suggested idea of shifting him to right field last fall was silly.

This is not news nor particularly an isolated opinion.

Look at his positioning, where he stands, and how he comes to the ball. His whole setup is to diminish issues related to reflexes and range. It is why he has trouble with slow rolling ground balls.

Right now his range is considered poor, but largely covered by positioning. The concern is what his abilities will be as he gets closer to 30.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Trumbo is still getting all this playing time in RF. Don't you think Pearce should more start RF against a LHSP, Trumbo DH, and Alvarez ride the bench? Why platoon with Kim?

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I would think the plan is to keep Trumbo in right field against right-handed pitching and then DH him against lefties (with both Reimold and Pearce in corner outfield spots). The Orioles are reluctant to give Kim an extended stint against left-handed pitching, though I agree that I'd rather him get a chance against LHP than Reimold. You would think Reimold is close to being DFA worthy.

Roger said...

Hey Anonymous, Alvarez is currently one of the few O's actually hitting. Two HR's last night. He must play against all RHP. Pearce will play either RF or DH against LHP. Hopefully, against Hamels, he will bash a few. Pearce is actually taking Reimold's slot as he hasn't hit LHPs as well as expected. Kim and Alvarez don't play against LHP so it will be Pearce and Reimold. That's the norm.

Anonymous said...

Anymous again here- thanks for the great responses. I agree Alvarez has been heating up here recently, and his performance last night was great. I was a bit surprised Reimold is still around. Duquette specifically said Pearce's versatility meant the club could carry more pitching (which I read as basically Reimold was going to get axed). I was a little surprised we optioned a bullpen piece to make room for him. But I guess the O's brass is crossing there fingers they can shuttle Despairange (sp) et al back and forth to Norfolk and keep Reimold until September roster expands.

And then there is Rickard who needs to stay on the club. My guess is that his finger magically is healed September 1st.