01 August 2012

Trade deadline recap

So, the pre-waiver trade deadline passed with little fanfare.  Rumors circulated regarding Chase Headley (3b, San Diego Padres) and Joe Blanton (rhp, Philadelphia Phillies), but come 4:01p.m. (Eastern) nothing materialized.  There were some common themes running through the Twitter account of fans yesterday -- here are some thoughts on those items:

Issue #1 As buyers Baltimore should have beat offers for Francisco Liriano (traded by Twins to White Sox), Shane Victorino (traded by Phillies to Dodgers), or Travis Snider (traded by Blue Jays to Pirates)

The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to "why didn't they beat Team X's package for Player Y?" is that all teams are not afforded the same opportunity when it comes to trade talks.  That is, when a team is looking for a particular return on Player Y, it is not uncommon for that team to find a package they like and are comfortable with, then shift to fleece mode.

The simple example would be the Phillies being content with the Dodgers deal for Victorino, then upping the request from other teams moving forward.  Any talks with Baltimore start with one of Arrieta or Matusz or Delmonico simply because the effort required to work out a package comparable to, or slightly better than, the Dodgers' offer isn't worth the time investment for the limited gain in value. 

Finally, relationships matter.  While it is unlikely that any teams are bending over backwards to "help" another org, a good relationship between front offices serves as ample lubrication for trade talks -- particularly smaller deals.  Part of the issue with Baltimore's convoluted decision-making tree in the past is that many teams are reluctant to start serious talks with Baltimore on a "sell to all" basis because, historically, it has not been likely that Baltimore will be able to give you that comfortable deal in a timely fashion, such that you can quickly shop around for the "higher priced" deals with others.

Item #2 As buyers, how does Baltimore not get a deal done for Chase Headley if they were asking for Jake Arrieta, Nicky Delmonico and Eduardo Rodriguez, as reported?! 

Let's assume this reported offer was true -- there are two ways to interpret this, with both interpretations ultimately arriving at the same point.

The first is that Baltimore was smart not to sell low on Arrieta and not to give up Delmonico and Rodriguez before they break out.  Headly is just one player solving an issue at third base and Baltimore is better off trying to find free agent help in the area than trading valuable prospects.

The counter is that Baltimore dropped the ball by not getting a clear upgrade in Headley, who would give them a middle-of-the-order bat, a solid defensive third baseman, and some cost certainty and stability over the next 2.5 years.  Arrieta has struggled to establish himself as a Major League starter and both Delmonico and Rodriguez are years away from being factors in Baltimore.

It is reasonable to have feelings for and against inaction on this front, but inaction in and of itself really isn't reducible to "right" or "wrong" in this context -- at least not yet.  In fact, Orioles fans would be best off if the reported offer were true, as it would be an excellent measuring stick for the organization's current valuation process.

Inaction in any form at the deadline is essentially "doubling down" on what you currently have -- be it for 2012 or future seasons.  In the instant case, Baltimore would be quite clearly standing behind Arrieta, Delmonico and Rodriguez, giving fans three players to watch closely. How do these players develop and how do they fit into the team's future?  Will Arrieta be re-made under the tutelage of Rick Peterson?  Will Delmonico and/or Rodriguez blossom into potential impact talents?  Will any of these players be packaged in a larger or more Baltimore-friendly move this off-season?

Assuming the reported trade package was true, Baltimore fans have a window into the decision making process in the Orioles front office.  At minimum, the progress of these three players should provide bloggers and fans with a lot to talk about over the coming 24-months or so.

And just so that we cover all bases, we should all keep in mind that "rumored" trade packages, even from the most connected of sources, tend to be incomplete. 

Item #3 Baltimore is not talented enough to stick with the pack in 2012 so it's best to play out the season and look to get better for 2013 and beyond
I had the start of this conversation with some readers in the comment section of yesterday's "What 'Going for it' would mean..." piece.  Generally, Jon and I have been holders of the above opinion in some form or another throughout the season.  I do think it is worth discussing the counter argument, which yesterday's piece did, albeit in a tangential manner.

Baltimore finds itself in striking distance of a wild-card spot at the beginning of August.  Much of this can be attributed to occurrences analysts would generally attribute to luck (e.g extra inning win percentage, win percentage in one-run games, etc.).  It can be argued that the team outplaying its actual talent level in 2012 has placed the Orioles in a competitive position that might not be obtainable in 2013, and accordingly Baltimore needs to strike while they have the opportunity to sneak into the playoffs.

Payroll limitations are likely to limit Baltimore's options on the free agency market.  2013's payroll will include another year of $10 MM to Brian Roberts, a raise to $15 MM for Nick Markakis, and another $4 MM to Tsuyoshi Wada. That's around $30 MM dedicated to three players who, in the aggregate, have produced about 0 Wins Above Replacement in 2012. Put another way, based upon 2012 performances, Baltimore has about one-third of their upper-limit payroll allotment for 2013 tied-up in fungible assets.

Now, that is a little disingenuous in that Markakis has been more productive as of late, and looping him in with Roberts and Wada simply serves to make the "wasted money" pile look bigger than it is.  The same, the most productive Markakis has been in the last four years was his 2010 2.6 fWAR (WAR as computed by Fangraphs.com) and 2009 2.9 rWAR (WAR as computed by Baseball-reference.com).  Even the rosiest of projections for 2013 have to reasonably keep Markakis at around a 3.5 WAR player, equal to about $15 MM of production on the free market.

Sure there is an outside shot that the 2008 breakout Markakis still exists somewhere within the right fielder, but at this point, Baltimore probably has to proceed with the expectation that they will be fortunate to get just about what they are paying for in 2013 and 2014 when it comes to Markakis -- that means they need surplus value elsewhere or they need to pay a premium to get that value on the free agency market.

Totaling the remaining amounts owed for 2013 and including raises for arbitration-eligible players, Baltimore looks to be on the hook for around $67 to 70 MM, leaving about $15 to 20 MM to spend in the free agent marketplace.  Translation?  In order to compete in 2013, Baltimore needs stark improvement of their baseline in-house talent and another multi-month run of outperforming their peripherals.

Now, maybe that simply means that Baltimore should be building to 2014, at which point they hope to have more payroll flexibility (but also more holes to fill).  That is probably the most prudent approach, and might end-up a successful approach with some shrewd roster management and some luck in Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop all developing quickly into productive Major Leaguers.

A front office person, however, has to at least consider that the 2012 Orioles, regardless of how they got to this point, may very well represent the best chance the organization will have at a playoff appearance over the next three years.  That is a scary call to make, and a big reason the thirty men in charge of these calls receive the compensation they do.

Final thoughts on prospects

Feel free to stop reading here if you don't like preachy vibes.  These last few sentences are just a reminder that Machado, Bundy, Gausman and Schoop are not saviors for this organization.  They will hopefully play a part in Baltimore's eventual return to the post-season, but that's all they can play -- a part.  Further, while prospects need to be viewed on a case-by-case basis, history tells us that it is unlikely that an organization will have four top 100-ish prospects all reach their upper-tier projections, let alone all reach those projections at the same time.

The same, the likes of Parker Bridwell, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nicky Delmonico, LJ Hoes, and Xavier Avery are more likely to fall somewhere on the spectrum of "up-and-down guy" to fringe regular than they are to blossom into true impact talents.  That's not to say they are without value, but hording Tier 2 talents because you don't have many to begin with is not a viable approach to amassing Major League talent, and it's not an advisable approach for strengthening the system.  As is always the case, your process will reveal itself as effective or not effective.  If things aren't working, you are either drafting/signing the wrong players or you are failing to properly develop them once in-house.

Baltimore has continued to lag behind its contemporaries in stocking their system with talent, and then developing that talent.  In order for the Orioles to be a competitive team, be it in 2013 or 2023, they need to improve in their acquisition and development of amateur talent.  I know this isn't a new message, but it is one that bears repeating.


Matt P said...

The question I'd ask about Headley is whether the Orioles think his value will drop considerably in the offseason.

The other thing is that Tillman is out of options and Matusz only has one remaining. Arrieta and Britton have two and Bundy has three.

First of all, there's an awful lot of young pitchers here and not enough room for all of them. Second, these young pitchers are running out of time. It makes sense to trade one or two in the offseason and get some value for them. Third, they have enough service time that they're getting expensive.

I have the Orioles on the hook for 90 million for 2013 and things don't get better in the future.

Hammel, Jones and Hardy take up roughly about 25 million. JJ, Lindstrom, Chen and O'Day should take 14 million. Wieters, Davis, Andino, Matusz, Patton and Reimold all hit arbitration. Most of them will get modest increases, but their price tag should double.

PA is going to need to spend money.

Bret said...

I'm not really disagreeing with the substance of anything you are saying but I feel like we are looking at the same painting and interpreting it very differently.

1. Instead of looking at their commitments, lets look at what they currently have. LF - negative .4 WAR. 1B - .1 WAR 3B -.1 WAR 2B - negative .8 WAR. DH - negative .1 if you include Davis at 1B as I did. Total that is 5 positions, negative 1.1 WAR.

2. How much money do those players make combined and how much better would LJ Hoes and Manny Machado have to play at the ML minimum to be an improvement? LJ Hoes is really going to be worse than Endy Chavez? Why do we need someone labeled FA to feel good about ourselves?

3. Reynolds makes 8 million. Gone. Chavez makes 1.5, gone. Gregg makes 6. Gone. Nick Johnson, Thome gone - another mill.

4. You don't need huge FA to fill those positions and replacing their production doesn't require climbing Mount Everest. 3B/LF/DH can give you much more production just by a healthy Reimold,Hoes and Machado for very cheap. Even if they had tons of money there are no good free agents. I think it is sink or swim, maybe go after Napoli or one player if you can keep the years down but superstars don't exist this offseason.

Every other AL East team has issues just as big and the 189 mill threshold in 14 is going to totally neutralize Boston and NY. You can't win through FA any longer with the CBA, it will require development, smart drafts and cheap talent. The O's haven't been perfect but 2 of the top 3 prospects plus some other nice potential is better than anyone else in the division that I can see. Plus O's don't have age and long term commitment issues that NY and Boston do.

Nick J Faleris said...


Per Cotts (https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=t50_b9iaARDxOK6TPjab3gQ&output=html) Baltimore is on the hook for about $54 MM not including arb bumps. Eyeballing the arb eligibles, I don't think there are $36 MM in additional contracts likely to be owed. I fully admit I may be missing something here -- just took a quick look.

This larger discussion is a big reason Jon and I were generally against signing Jones long term, as we saw him as more of a 3 WAR player that will essentially be worth his contract but won't be giving Baltimore surplus value.

You are absolutely right that Baltimore will need to increase payroll -- otherwise, they will need to move some contracts and hope for surplus value production from other avenues.

PTcello said...

I agree with you, and enjoy your articles quite a bit.
i still can't wrap my head around most modern stats, though. WAR seems the most useless and arbitrary stat ever created.

Why are Matusz and Arietta so desirable?
Each has had a long time to prove himself, and just hasn't...why keep them, especially if other teams are possibly interested?

Nick J Faleris said...


See Matt's comment. The issue is that Baltimore simply runs out of payroll room before their talent level has been adequately increased.

You are right in that someone like Hoes should be able to replicate a negative 0.4 WAR, and do it cheaply. But Baltimore doesn't need replication, it needs improvement.

If all Baltimore does is replicate production, they need to count on pulling off the same magic trick that has landed them their current record in spite of being heavily outscored thus far this season.

I think there are certain holes that can be filled internally, but the degree to which those fillers can bridge the gap between current talent level and talent level needed to make a legit run at the playoffs is a huge question mark.

Essentially, Baltimore needs for Machado, Schoop and Bundy to step in and be impact players on day 1, and even then it only really helps them come 2014.

Solutions don't have to be from free agency, but Baltimore has to figure out a way to improve the baseline of talent, be it free agency or trade, because the internal options simply aren't enough.

Nick J Faleris said...


Thanks for the kind words! First, I think WAR is useful for what it is, a single number that gives us an approximation for a player's contribution level towards a winning team. That said, it's a flawed stat, both as calculated by BR and Fangraphs, and forward-thinking organizations actually have their own valuation calculations, which are of course proprietary. We should still use it as an anchor for general discussions involving player value, but it is not a trump card to be thrown down to win a point.

As for Matusz/Arrieta, both are talented arms that evaluators can look at and find a lot to like. Add to that the fact that the Orioles are not generally not well regarded in the industry as relates to development, and teams see potential to "remake" these guys the right way.

Now, I have long been a supporter of Matusz, and continue to be, but at some point, yes, he needs to produce. This year has been much more disappointing than last. Arrieta can be frustrating, but there are aspects of his game that can at least give evaluators a heads-up that it will rarely be "neat and tidy" with Jake on the mound.

Matusz SHOULD be much better. Baltimore electing not to move him or Arrieta is a bet that they can fix these guys up. As noted above, I think it's a great opportunity for the organization to show its evaluation/developmental chops.

Turn these soon-to-be-former-kids into useful pieces and it's a big feather in the cap of the front office. Continue to watch them sputter and it's tough to remain confident in the decisioning process up top.

Bret said...

If you don't tender Gregg or Lindstrom and replace them with say Pomerantz and Scolovich you lose nothing, probably improve and save 10 mill.

Because of Hammel and Jones Wieters Markakis going up that probably evens out the savings but elsewhere the payroll doesn't need to jump. And I'm sure PA doesn't mind going up 5 mill after the attendance/ratings spike this year.

Right now the Yankees are 13 offensive WAR better than the O's. How do we get there? Hoes becomes a 2 win player, net gain 2.4 WAR. Machado is a 3 win player, net gain 3 WAR. Hardy plays like he did 2 years ago and BABIP normalizes, extra 2 WAR. Just get replacement level out of 2B - .8 WAR more. Davis gives you 2WAR as full time 1B - net gain of 2. Markakis stays healthy - say 1 WAR. Reimold hits like he was before getting hurt 2-3 WAR. Wieters gets better and starts looking like a #1 prospect. 1-2 WAR. Oh, and with age the Yankees are almost sure to be worse.

None of those things are crazy. The deadweight is killing the team. Get rid of it and Dylan Bundy/Hammel/Chen sounds like a winning combination to me. Yeah, Bundy has to be good. Machado has to be good. No team can survive long term if prospects, especially top 10 ones don't pan out. Not asking for the moon and stars.

Matt P said...

I loved the Jones signing. The Orioles have shown willingness to spend 15 million dollars per year on relievers in FA. If they don't spend money on Jones, that money would go to Vlad II and Gregg II. Or is that Atkins III and Miguel Gonzalez III? Or Jay Patton\Ramon Hernandez IV and Jamie Walker/Bradford IV? Or Huff V\Baez V?

At least Uehara did well.

I have...

Hammel @ 8 million (from 4.75 million)
Lindstrom @ 4 million (assuming the Os exercise the option)
Jim Johnson @ 4 million (from 2.625million)
Matusz @ 2 million (from 1.45 million)
O'Day @ 2 million (from 1.35)
==== This is 20 million right here. I may be off by a few million on Hammel due to his injury, but I can't be off by that much. I also presume that the Os will keep O'Day and Lindstrom.
Andino @ 2 million (from 1.3)
Ayala @ 1 million (assuming the option is exercised)
Wieters @ 4.5 million (Mauer got 3.75 in what would have been his first arbitration year in a long term contract)
Davis @ 1.5 million (first year arb)
Teagarden, Reimold and Patton all hit first year arb. I have them @ 3million total.

That's 32 million for the 12 arb/option guys. I could be over-estimating how much Wieters gets but I should be within a million.

Given that Roberts won't be playing and Wada is a question mark, they still need to play 8 or so at the minimum. That's another 4million.

Even if I'm completely wrong and Wieters and Hammel get less than I think, we're talking an extra 30 million in arbitration/options/pre-arb guys or 85 million minimum.

Nick J Faleris said...

Bret, I believe those to be perfect world scenarios for a number of those players. As far as Bundy/Machado, are those estimates for next year or 2014?

Nick J Faleris said...

Matt, in a vacuum, I liked the Jones signing okay. As part of the team as now constructed, I think Baltimore might have been better served moving him for talent more likely to give Baltimore surplus value in 2014-2016.

In any event, I think we agree that Baltimore will need to get creative or increase payroll if it hopes to bridge the talent gap with the AL East. That, or continue to outdistance their talent-based projections.

Bret said...

32 mill for those arb guys includes Lindstrom. Take him away you got 28. Reynolds, Gregg, Chavez, Thome, Johnson, clears you about 16-17. Additionally you aren't factoring in what they are making now. I only care how much they go up. The increase over this year - that is probably more like the 16-17 they get rid of which means assuming no Lindstrom, Gregg, Reynolds, Chavez new big FA Hoes, Reimold, Machado etc. you are around breakeven. You aren't factoring in Jones, Markakis who get non-arm raises so say it goes up 5 mill. Not the end of the world. Plus, if Matusz sucks you can trade his salary probably or Andino if Roberts miraculously recovers. There is flexibility and no need for a spike as many people are saying. Angelos is not going to care about 5-10 mill given how much marginal revenue as compared to past years he has made this year with attendance and Masn viewership. Drop in the bucket.

Matt P said...

If I thought the Os would use the surplus resources in a Jones trade efficiently, I'd agree. I just think we'd get another pitching prospect who we fail to develop and spend money on Vlad II.

I agree that the Os need to increase payroll to compete. But if they spend it on pitching which is available in FA this year... why not trade Arrieta? Does it really make sense to trade Hammel or Chen when they're doing well? If you don't, where do you put Arrieta, Matusz, Tillman, Britton and Bundy? They're all burning options and you can't keep them forever. If they spend it on hitting who is a better fit than Headley?

The Os have to gamble on Bundy, Machado and Schoop because they're highly rated. But the other guys - meh. If the Headley for Arrieta, Delmonico, Rodriguez and Bridwell trade was for real and the Os rejected it, then the Os missed a great chance to cut their losses.

Matt P said...

Dumping Reynolds will save 7.3 million. Dumping Gregg will save 5.8 million. Chavez, Johnson, Eveland and Thome will save 4 or so million. Figure 17 million in savings?

Jones, Kakes and Chen will cost an extra 6 million total. Betemit and Ayala cost an extra million. Before the arbitration guys, we've saved 10 million.

The arbitration guys should jump from about 13 million to about 28 if my numbers are right. It's 25 minimum.

This team can keep the status quo going at least until 2015. It's adding that's the problem.

Jon Shepherd said...

Team is looking at about 85 to 95 MM depending on how they choose options. They are unlikely to be a big player for any first tier free agents.

Bret said...

I don't have a problem keeping guys that are developed in house.

FA is not an efficient way to build a team long term, even for rich payroll teams. Look at the Phillies.

The reason the payroll was low the past few years is attendance got worse and worse. This year it is spiking. Plus the Nats are getting huge viewership and the O's are Karl Marxing them. Angelos can easily let the payroll expand some without feeling it. I'm not saying sign top tier free agents, but even if they could what top tier free agents? Hamilton or Napoli? Adam LaRoche? There aren't any true top tier free agents and if someone wants to give a 30+ year old relapsing drug addict outfielder 200 million be my guest. That is not a pool I want to swim in. They can keep Wieters and they can keep the pitching but right now what young non-Hammel and Chen pitchers are worth keeping at the MLB level? They have to prove something consistenly first and Tillman/Britton aren't eligible for arb yet. If they draft well salary will not be an issue the next few years and Roberts will provide a big relief in 14. Prospects have to come through, but there is no other way.

Jon Shepherd said...

Phillies had 10 years above .500 with the first five in second place in the NL East and the last five in first place in the NL East. They certainly built a long term winner utilizing internal talent and then adding solid free agent pitching or trading for them. The next five years might be rough on them, but you certainly trade those five years for the amazing run they have had.

So, yes, if you do not have the internal core level of players to build around...free agency is overly expensive to acquire enough talent to be competitive. There will be talent to supplement the Orioles if you think they truly have a core of players that can be built around for the next three or so years. Zach Grienke will be much sought after. So will Melky Cabrera. There also appears to be a somewhat lively trade market developing.

Internally, there certainly are some options, but it is painfully optimistic to think Hoes, Schoop, Machado, and Bundy will all pan out and be successful major leaguers. The Orioles will be fortunate if half of them become long term average players. That is just how things go with prospects. Baseball is a very hard sport.

I mean, look at the 2007 top ten for Baseball America:
1. Alex Gordan
2. Delmon Young
3. Philip Hughes
4. Homer Bailey
5. Cameron Maybin
6. Evan Longoria
7. Brandon Wood
8. Justin Upton
9. Andrew Miller
10. Tim Lincecum
Three of those guys have become real stars (Lincecum, Upton, Longoria). Wood and Miller have washed out. The other five have had difficulty providing average performance. This just covers Machado and Bundy. Going deeper down, the performance rates are less optimistic.

I think we need to have a harder, more realistic view as to what we can expect from the Orioles minor league system and what it all means. This team is severely lacking in star performance players. I think for them to be honestly competitive...they need to find another 10-15 WAR somewhere. That will be through internal options and external ones.

Bret said...

Actually I think if you look at the 2008 Phillies you won't see much free agency, you will see a ton of guys drafted (Utley, Rollins, Howard, Burrell, Ruiz, Hamels, Brett Myers), 2 brilliant trades (Werth, Victorino) a fill in non-expensive FA or two (Moyer). Like the Roman Empire, you can trace their downfall very easily. They got away from what made them a winning team, started giving up prospects in trades, started getting expensive (Halladay an example of both, so is Pence) and started overpaying the heck out of their own players (Howard, Hamels) and others (Lee). In 5 years if the Phillies are still in a drought which I fully expect them to be you think their fans will care about the good stretch? You need to be built to win consistently for the long term, not mortgage the future. The Phillies were winning my way, then they switched methodologies and gradually deteriorated even if the record didn't show it for a couple years.

I don't know where I have all this optimism about prospects. There are going to be growing pains, however if the choice is watching Wilson Betemit or Manny Machado while also speeding up a learning curve I'll choose B.

What is the baseline we are up against. A 2 win player is not a star player, it is basically an average big leaguer if that. The problem is we have deadweight right now that isn't close to being average. I'm not saying Hoes is Barry Bonds, but he walks and is 22 at AAA. Don't see why he can't be average. Machado is 20at AA, he isn't better than Betemit replacement level next year? Reynolds and Roberts were awful all year, Hardy is having a bad luck BABIP year. DH is something they have to improve. There is plenty of room to improve in many areas.

Just because a guy has FA by his name doesn't mean it solves things. Vlad had that, Michael Gonzalez had that, Kevin Gregg had that, Kevin Millwood and on and on. What about those busts, because they aren't on a prospect list they don't count? And when those guys busts it costs a heck of a lot more money than when a prospect busts.

It is like what Churchill said about Democracy, it is the worst form of government except for all others that have been tried. Integrating prospects isn't easy and there are stops and starts but FA has been flat out proven to fail long term.

Jon Shepherd said...

Eh, baseball is hard. A lot of guys look good in the minors and it can be difficult to see who can hit Major League pitching and who cannot sometimes. Bundy and Machado are elite prospects and elite prospects are not something you can project as performance you can count on.

The Phillies made deals, but those deals were often essentially creative signings. 5 years of 1st place is simply something I cannot fault. They used free agency to keep that window open. Signing free agents did not hurt them and likely had little effect on them making the playoffs in the next 5 years. You have that window...you try to exploit it.

The free agents you mention were not major signings. In fact, we came down against the Orioles in each of them. There is a difference between signing or trading for a name vs making good baseball decisions, which is also hard.

We here at the Depot are big fans of LJ Hoes...always been. However, we simply need to be realistic about player development. If you go into next year expecting a playoff team with Hoes in left...you better be compensating elsewhere because he has a very good chance of putting up a performance as poor as this year. The wins the team has gotten this year have been with luck on the team's side. Maintaining performance levels will not ne acceptable if you are choosing to make a playoff run.

Bret said...

I 100% agree that they are getting tremendous luck this year. I 100% agree that in order to be competitive next year and going forward they need much more production and much more WAR.

However, the reason they are so far short on WAR and production is because they are so awful now in 5 offensive spots. It isn't because they don't have Zach Grienke or Josh Johnson.

You cannot say any of their 9 starters are playing over their heads. Jones has a normal BABIP. Wieters and Hardy and Markakis should be better than this, part of that is Markakis missing a month. Combine the other 5 spots and you have negative replacement level. All it would take would be 2 WAR out of each of those 5 positions (hardly Ruthian numbers) and some modest improvement from SS, C, RF and that closes the gap almost completely.

2 WAR should be eminently doable. Chris Davis if he plays 1st everyday is probably a 2 win player. Andino was 1.8 WAR last year, don't need Rogers Hornsby. Reimold was almost a 2 win player in 2011 in 87 games.

The point is the O's don't need to sign a superstar. They need to go from being positively awful in quite a few spots to being average. I think they have the guys to be average next year on the cheap and I don't think the potential superstar exists anyway. 2013 is probably too early to expect much, 2014 should be a very solid team not dependent on luck with a nice long window ahead. If Machado and Bundy bust FA is not going to matter anyway so we might as well hope for the best.

John said...

In Bret's defense, I don't believe he said he expects the O's to incorporate Hoes, Machado and Bundy next year and also be a playoff contender.

I think we all agree to some extent that the current team is over-performing, and isn't really a playoff caliber team. While the good fortune has skewed the timeline for many fans, I'm comfortable that there are more pieces in place for 2014 and beyond than there were at this time a year ago.

I'd rather have a "set-back" year in 2013, that involves getting Machado, Hoes and Bundy onto the Major League roster (though certainly not all of them right out of spring training) and beginning the major league development for these players.

I prefer to remain optimistic that DD and company also recognize this, and were unwilling to make a trade that didn't help longer term. Almost every trade that occurred in July involved players who were soon to be free agents, or would be after 2013.

I'm enjoying the improbably success this season, but I am more optimistic for the future than I have been in many years. It's actually enjoyable being an O's fan again, rather than the punchline to a sad joke.

Bret said...

Last post was very well stated.

The one ongoing theme that I guess I have to disagree with is the state of the O's system.

Any minor league player is unproven, understand that and is there a chance everyone sucks - yes. I understand that.

However, where are these great systems where O's are getting lapped? The Yankees have 3 true prospects, none are above A ball. The Red Sox have 3 true prospects, 2 are in A, the other plays the same position as Ellsbury. TB's system is really lagging. Toronto is interesting but they have also had some big time prospect busts (Drabek, Snider) and have plenty of issues.

The O's have 2 Rolls Royce prospects (Machado, Bundy), a Lincoln Town Car (Gausman), 2-3 very solid Audis (Delmonico, Schoop, Hoes). Those are 6 legit guys who should be anywhere between big league regular and superstar. I'm not going to get into Tyler Wilson or some other interesting guys but there are a few there. Find me another system that can currently legitimately say the have 6 probable big league regulars. Of course I wish they drafted Mike Trout over Hobgood but they have done a lot of things right and I the thought that everyone else has all these toys we don't in the minors is a flawed one.

Jon Shepherd said...

Bret...those prospects...you are giving ceilings. Maybe one or two hit those ceilings. Half of them probably will not be very useful as starters. I mean, remember the calvary? Remember the litany of solid prospects who have come and gone? It is a hard game.

The Orioles have arguably the two best prospects in the AL east. The other teams have amazing depth. The Orioles are probably better off than the Yankees and have a lot of value tied into two guys which might make them mid-level in AL East with value, bit it really is not an incredible farm system. Combine that with greater revenue streams and more active international presence of New York, Boston, and even Toronto...its is a difficult division and other teams have better revenue streams to fill in where they do poorly in development.

John said...

Jon ~

Would you swap complete farm systems with another AL East organization? For this moment, I'm asking you to ignore the revenue disparities, and strictly consider farm talent.

Would you rather have the broad base of talent like TB or Tor, or the high end prospects like Bal?

Looking forward to your response.

Jon Shepherd said...

I prefer the Blue Jays and Red Sox systems. If revenue was higher, I'd prefer the Orioles.

Bret said...

Will do this one at a time.

1. Every organization has overhyped prospects. Jesus Montero anyone? The fact is even the Yankees admit they have nothing at AAA and AA at the moment.

2. I think it is too early to say the cavalry is completely over, Britton and Tillman are 24 - Arrieta has a very good X FIP this year. Anyone who expected all 5 to be Sandy Koufax was smoking crack. I admit, it ain't looking great but none of those 5 ever had near Bundy's stuff. Pitching is often times a roulette wheel.

3. Mason Williams. Nice prospect, but he is 18 months younger than Hoes and has barely played above the Sally League. Jackie Bradley - nice prospect but has is one month younger than Hoes and has barely played above the Carolina League. Important that all these things be put in context.

4. Let's say Mason Williams turns out to be a very good player. Guess what? They already have a very good center fielder. How about Jackie Bradley? Ditto. If Machado turns out to be a star he isn't replacing Mike Schmidt. He is replacing a guy that strikes out 30% of the time and can't field. Schoop would be replacing negative WAR, so would Hoes.

5. I think the O's have as much depth as anyone, much more star power but most importantly the holes that if filled would totally transform the team.

As far as revenue streams, they are tied to 189 million in 14 now and there are caps on international signings and slotted drafts. The old model is not going to work and if NY keeps Cano and Granderson they will have less payroll to work with than the 14 O's even if the O's payroll stays flat.

Bret said...

Who is the Blue Jays savior? The catcher is out all year I think, turns 24 before next season and has a K/BB ratio of 3-1 in AAA.

Drabek couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat and has had 2 TJ surgeries.

Marisnick isn't hitting at all in AA.

They traded Snider.

I don't see any cavalry there. And TB's system has fallen apart.

Jon Shepherd said...

I will try to write me when I am at a computer, but I think your review of minor league prospects is Baltimore-centric.

Bret said...

Mine may be Baltimore centric but the national media is anti-Baltimore and about hyping guys in major markets. Betances and Banuelos and Montero were supposed to be no doubt stars. Middlebrooks has been annointed as great even though he has 62Ks and 10 walks. Keith Law is more intimate with Toronto than I was with my wife while dating yet every year all their prospects fail to materialize. Just looking at numbers the O's have 2 guys under 21 in AA that are holding their own. Hoes is holding his own in AAA. Look, I have no problem ripping the O's when warranted. I think Betemit was a bad signing and Reynolds was a horrible trade. They have done a lot of dumb things. If Schoop, Machado and Hoes weren't hitting or were 26 years old I'd have no problem throwing cold water on it. But you have to recognize and appreciate some of the good moves they have made. Schoop hit his 13th homer today, Bundy has been dominant, Hoes stats don't lie. Could they all bust? Of course, martians could all invade tomorrow but right now their overall system I would take over any team in the AL East and it isn't close.

Nick J Faleris said...


First, if there are two people higher on Hoes than Jon and I have been since the day he was drafted, I'd like to meet them.

It's good to be optimistic. Fans SHOULD be optimistic about Bundy/Machado/Schoop, and should feel confident that Hoes and Avery can play a role on future O's teams.

I think Jon is simply pointing out that, in order for this collection of prospects to have the impact necessary to carry the lion's share of the talent increase needed to make the playoffs, they'd essentially all have to come in and, right away, perform to their upper-tier levels.

It could happen. I like all of those players well enough that I can see them all being productive. But in game planning on the front office level, I don't think you can hang your hat on that happening. Or, to be more precise, it's dangerous to hang your hat on that happening.

As has been noted by posters in these comment sections, we'll get to see how this all plays out and, hopefully, enjoy some lively conversation in the process!

As always, I appreciate your thoughts. You're clearly well read on the topic, and if the worst I can say is that you may lean a little home-team friendly, well that's definitely okay on this site!


Bret said...

Agree. I do not think they are a 2013 playoff team. But if they do things right I think they have an excellent chance to win the division in 14.

I guess I look at it like someone who has climbed 75% up the Eiger. It is not going to be easy to summit, but if you don't you die.
Teams are locking up more and more of their own players and the CBA has made it very difficult to go on spending binges. There is low supply of good FA players and Baltimore has never been a wanted destination for top tier free agents even if we could go that route which we shouldn't. Plus steroids have stopped a lot of the aging into late 30's early 40's contracts as teams realize that won't work.

If the O's are going to win it is going to require these guys (Schoop, Machado, Bundy) to come through. If they don't, we are screwed. There is no plan B and no way to work around that. So all we can do is hope for the best.

Jon Shepherd said...

Nick thanks for eloquently writing in line with my thoughts. Phone typing is not my best medium.

Walker Brown said...


I think, more than anything, it's just important to remember that this is sort of the way it goes in baseball. The Orioles have hung their hats on a Bundy/Machado/Schoop threesome, and rightly so. If you continue exxpecting your prospects to fail, and attempt to compensate in other ways, you've simply spread your resources too thin. The O's must believe that their prospects will succeed and go forward from there. Frankly, looking at the orioles most gaping holes, they line up perfectly with their most top-tier prospects, and I think that is partially by design. Of course, prospects require lots of projection, but i think the only course of action is to prepare your team for 2013/14 and beyond around a core of your current productive major leaguers and the projected involvement of your best prospects. Even if you put Machado and Bundy at a very conservative level of success in the major leagues in 2014 in say, their first year, the O's are probably a better team.

Things must go right, as always. But preparing yourself too much that they wont doesn't neccesarily always line you up for success. If you have to go for it with your prospects and improve your team cheaply and probably maginally in other areas while you wait on your farm to spit up impact major leaguers then so be it. Having two of the top three prospects in baseball is an impressive feat. I cant remember the last time it was done. You've got to go for it with these guys, give them a chance, have expecatations high because if you arent shooting for their ceilings than you arent doing it right.

Sometimes the O's make bad choices (Vlad, etc.) and sometimes they make good ones (the Hammel/Lindstrom trade). You keep trying to make good choices and it is far from unreasonable to expect the Orioles to be right back here in 2014, 2015 with a team of young players gradually improving as major league pieces.

Do I make sense?