23 July 2014

Dan Duquette's Trades in 20/20 (2013)

The last post covered Duquette's deals during the 2012 season and found that five of his seven deals were simply parts with minimal value dealt for other parts with minimal value.  The two deals that differed were very much in his favor: (1) Jeremy Guthrie for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom and (2) Matt Lindstrom for Joe Saunders.  Five pushes and two pluses are a track record that any first year General Manager would enjoy having.

In this post, we progress to the 2012 season and see how things shake out.

November 20, 2012
INF Robert Andino for OF Trayvon Robinson

This was one of those deals where each team wants to check out an uninspiring piece the other team owns to fill a place of organizational need.  Andino's four years in baseball hate some highlights, such as a game winning hit that knock the Red Sox out of the 2011 playoffs, but largely was a long trial that showed that Andino was a Norfolk shuttle type of player who had no options.  Seattle gave Trayvon Robinson two extended shots in a pretty meager outfield, but his free swinging and marginal defense were poor fits in SafeCo (and likely everywhere else).  So, the clubs exchanged pieces they were quite willing to simply release.

Robinson wound up playing well in Bowie last season and was then granted free agency status where he quickly returned to his first club, the Los Angelos Dodgers.  Andino had a miserable stint with the Mariners and is now organizational filler for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: The Orioles didn't give up much in Andino or probably get much in Robinson.
Conclusion: 0.2 bWAR, Push

November 30, 2012
RHP Jhondaniel Medina for INF Yamaico Navarro

Second base has been a sore subject for the Orioles ever since Brian Roberts's extension became an albatross of medical calamities.  Each season, some hope was placed on Roberts to fulfill his annual 10 MM salary with some useful play at second, but age and conclusions can be cruel.  To provide a bit of a cushion the Orioles tried to use players like Robert Andino and Ryan Flaherty in 2012 to varying success.  They now looked for a new collection of second basemen to provide a safety net for Roberts.

Navarro was an interesting prospect who was continually not living up to expectations and frustrating clubs with his behavior.  However, it was clear to see there was talent there and that keeps a guy employed.  After a season in Pittsburgh where he dominated AAA and was dominated in the Majors, the Pirates saw him as a commodity they no longer saw as part of their future.  They were willing to ship him to the Orioles for a hard throwing pitcher in rookie ball named Medina.  It was a commodity that most teams have in spades, a hard throwing pitcher in the low minors.  However, it is a commodity that the Orioles largely lack.  That said, these guys rarely pan out, so losing one is not a big loss.  Though, having no stable full of hard throwing relief arms in the low minors is an issue, but that article is for another day.

What happened?  Navarro appeared in a couple games for the Orioles while performing well in AAA.  He is now toiling in the Yankees system.  Medina has moved up to HiA ball where his stuff plays well against the hitters, but he has little clue where his pitches are going.  He does not look destined for the big league club yet.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: The Orioles find themselves with a player who used to be an interesting prospect and has failed multiple times at the major league level, but gives them more options for filling second base.  The Pirates get more flexibility in their 40 man roster by dealing a guy two other teams had given up on in the past two seasons along with acquiring an slightly interesting, but certainly not unique, arm.
Conclusion: 0.2 bWAR; Push

April 10, 2013
RHP Luis Ayala for LHP Chris Jones

Luis Ayala is one of the pitchers who seems to always find himself gainfully employed as the third or fourth righthander out of the pen or as someone who is earning some money in AAA, waiting for a spot to open up.  After a strong 2012 season where he prevented his own baserunners from scoring, but not others, he was a someone extra arm in the pen for the 2013 squad.  The Braves, however, needed another decent and cheap arm in the pen.  They offered a talented and erratic southpaw reliever by the name of Chris Jones.

Ayala proceeded to produce well for the Braves, making the Orioles kind of wish that Pedro Strop was dealt instead and led to more dealing that now looks somewhat poor now to make up for a lack of right handed bullpen depth.  Jones has been strong in AAA and is on target this year to throw more innings in season than he ever has.  Ayala returned to the Orioles this year, but was released and was most recently throwing for the Blue Jays in their minor league system.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: No comment was made.
Conclusion: -0.4bWAR; Arguably the Braves benefited.

April 28, 2013
RHP Rob Delaney for C Chris Snyder

This was a deal done simply for depth and a chance to see if a player could regain former glow at a position of need while dealing out a player who did not fit the organization.  That sentence could be written for the Orioles' side as well as the Angels'.  Delaney was a smart right handed pitcher who succeeded everywhere in the minors except AAA where his stuff came across as average.  Two short stints in the Majors were largely full of trouble.  Chris Snyder used to be the future of the Diamondbacks organization with a profile of being an exceptional offense first talent.  However, by the time the Angels got him, the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Astros, and Nationals had given up on him.

This deal also wound up being a lot of nothing.  Delaney struggled to finish his year and is no longer with any organization.  Chris Snyder played in nine games for the Orioles and held his own, but it was nothing special.  He retired after the season.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: Chris Snyder has operated long under the guise of being an offensive catcher.  He does have a little pop, but that was more present his first few years in the league.  Since 2009 though, he has had issues with power, contact, or both.  This, combined with slightly below average skills behind the plate and you wind up with a veteran playing in AAA without a MLB contract.  You can say that Snyder is no worse than Teagarden, which is largely true.  Both are essentially replacement level players.  Exposito caused concerns because his offensive calling card simply has not shown up and his defense is worse than Teagarden’s or Snyder’s.  For the Orioles to only have to give up a fringe MiL relief pitcher, it was a good move.  You should expect Snyder to be DFA’d upon Teagarden’s return.
Conclusion: 0.1 bWAR; Push

July 2, 2013
RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Pedro Strop, and international money for RHP Scott Feldman, C Steve Clevenger

As July opened up, the Orioles were clearly in trouble.  Their starting pitching was a bit in shambles.  This was particularly true with Jason Hammel's regression and the imploding of Jake Arrieta whenever he took the mound.  The bullpen was also on shaky ground with Pedro Strop looking more like his Rangers' enigmatic self as opposed to the often dominating form he showed for the Orioles in 2012.  Yes, the talent was there, but they were not productively using it and the team was seeing their playoff opportunity fade.

On the Cubs' side, Scott Feldman was emerging with one of the better pitching performances in the National League.  With a 3.46 ERA, he looked to some to be a decent option as a front end or middle rotation starter on a playoff club.  It was a performance that was not wholly unexpected, but one that certainly was not especially exceptional.  Still, h appeared to be one of the shining arms available on the market.

What happened is that the Cubs wound up running away with this deal.  The international money helped them avoid penalties for their amateur spending.  Strop has put in very good 2013 and 2014 campaigns.  Arrieta has emerged as a good starter who could a no hitter when the moment strikes him.  For the Orioles, Scott Feldman produced below average production for the rest of the season and Clevenger has performed at a replacement player level.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: This deal is about the Orioles giving up on a good international prospect or two along with two pitchers full of promise and irritation in exchange for more catcher fodder and a backend rotation arm.  It is an improvement as it means no more Freddy Garcia, but not a great one that will change the fortune of this club.  They would be better off using Strop in mopup duty and giving Arrieta more time to sort himself out whether it being in Baltimore or in Norfolk.
Conclusion: -4.2 bWAR; Cubs

July 12, 2013
INF Russ Canzler for RHP Tim Alderson

There is not much to say about this trade.  Canzler was a bit redundant in the Orioles organization with the club already employing marginal right handed bats without much fielding acumen in Steve Pearce and Danny Valencia.  The Pirates however wanted more depth there in case they needed a bat for their bench.  Alderson was more or less a decent organizational bullpen arm.  The Orioles had been shuttling pitchers through Norfolk trying to catch lightning in a bottle ever since saying goodbye to Pedro Strop and maybe something would click with Alderson.

Neither player played in the Majors for the other club.  Canzler is currently being a professional hitter with the Phillies on their AAA squad while Alderson has struggled greatly this year in Norfolk before being given his release.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: No comment.
Conclusion: 0 bWAR; Push

July 23, 2013
INF Nick Delmonico for RHP Francisco Rodriguez

Salt was in the wound.  The Orioles dealt out Strop as part of the package for Scott Feldman.  At this point, Feldman was struggling and Strop had found his form again.  More so, the Orioles had trouble with their bullpen options.  Their fourth right handed option was largely Jairo Ascencio and that was not working out well.  Meanwhile, the postseason hopes of the Brewers fanbase had been dashed and the club was looking to deal out pieces.  Francisco Rodriguez was enjoying a stellar two months after being promoted to the Majors just before his opt out clause would go into effect.  He had had a rough go of it the year before with the Brewers and had issues with violence toward teammates and his family.  That said, he was effectively performing at a low cost and that is what baseball teams like to see.

Delmonico has been a bit shaky with the Brewers and has yet to escape HiA ball.  He is not bad, but the odds grow longer each day of him being a meaningful big leaguer.  Rodriguez wound up being wholely less than average for the Orioles, giving up the long ball a bit too often.  He did not meaningfully impact the Orioles', which was to be expected because they were simply upgrading their fourth righthander in the pen.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: Delmonico does not need to be a meaningful prospect to have value.  I’d suggest that his ability to augment a trade package is probably worth more than him being traded straight up for a reliever who at best makes the 2013 Orioles a +1 win team.  It is difficult to ever know what is possible in trades and it is an illness in the brain that us followers of the game tend to want to believe in an abundance of trade opportunities, but I do think that a package of Delmonico plus one would likely bring back to the Orioles a player of greater importance than Rodriguez.  Of course, this contention is somewhat unfair.  It is difficult for the addition of Rodriguez to stand up against a comparison of something that does not exist.  The vagueness of the unknown is certainly a draw for many to embrace and questioning Oriole front office authority has been a talent that has been thoroughly developed over the past decade and a half.  That said, I maintain that the health of the franchise is better served when second tier prospects are stacked instead of being doled out one at a time. 
Conclusion: 0.1 bWAR; Push

July 31, 2013
Josh Hader, LJ Hoes and competitive draft pick for Bud Norris

The Orioles at this point were still in a discussion for the playoffs and still needed rotation help.  Feldman was a sure starter every five days, but had not been putting the team in a position to win.  The Astros were an awful team and had an expensive player in Bud Norris who was also in his arbitration years.  He had broken out somewhat to be considered a mid-rotation arm on a playoff team.  Their original asking price of a top 25 prospect was steadily depreciating as the deadline neared.  The Orioles offered MLB filler in LJ Hoes, a highly valued competitive draft pick, and a low probability, high upside arm in Josh Hader.

Norris would up pitching rather poorly for the Orioles in 2013 and has really been only been somewhat average this year with some disconcerting peripherals.  For the Astros, Hoes has been a useful stand-in as an outfielder and the competitive draft pick helped buffer the team's misplay of not signing major pieces of their draft.  That said, the low probability high upside arm of Josh Hader has been all upside this summer.  Some scouts are thinking he has established himself as a top 100 pitching prospect.  Maybe that is a worthwhile cost for being able to employ Bud Norris, but it would be possible to imagine that Hader might be off limits in a deal now.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: This is a team in need of a push and the play of Norris is unlikely to be much better than what a random collection of arms from Norfolk could produce.  You could argue that these moves are for stability and to shore up against potential injuries in the stretch run.  I would argue that would make sense for a team that sat slightly comfortably in first place. That team is not the Orioles.  Maybe that is the new inefficiency and Duquette figured it out before everyone else.  To me, it looks like a Dutch boy sticking a finger in the dike when doing nothing probably has the same result.
Conclusion: 0.6 bWAR; Push

August 30, 2013
OF Xavier Avery for UTL Mike Morse

The Orioles had about a 1 in 7 chance to make the playoffs as August drew to a close.  They were in need of a pick-me-up to improve their chances, but that was a hard thing to find past the unrestricted trade deadline.  They now had to sort through various broken and overpaid pieces to find something.  That thing was Mike Morse, a player who had made a living off of one good year.  At that point in time, he was terrible with the Mariners as he had a known leg injury that sidelined him, but was hiding a wrist injury.  The Orioles held a speedy potential fourth outfielder piece in Xavier Avery that the Mariners could use in their cavernous park.

Morse wound up hurt the Orioles' chances by about a game.  It was a poor move to make and giving him time to show how bad he would be ate into the ability of other right handers on the club who had already shown they could hit.  Avery had a decent time finishing the year in Tacoma, was designated for assignment without anyone claiming him, and now has been on a month long tear at Tacoma.  Interestingly enough, he has actually been mentioned in trade rumors as a complimentary piece in the Mariners' attempts to get into the playoffs.

Depot Thoughts at the Time: I think this is a meh deal, but that it was a marginally bad deal in a greater context.  Right handed hitting opportunities were available for cheaper in terms of money and prospects than what the Orioles wound up paying.  They gave up on a marginal prospect (of which they have very few in their system) in exchange for a player who does not seem to be an upgrade over what they already have.  I am not a fan of movement for the sake of movement.  I understand that with the team's playoff chances so low that a bet was a good idea to make.  I simply do not see Morse as the bet I would like to make.
Conclusion: -0.4 bWAR; Push, but -0.4 bWAR is awful in less than a month's play.

Final Tally
-3.8 bWAR

Costing your team four wins is pretty awful, but that margin would not have gotten the club into the playoffs.  It was good to see Duquette move pieces around and try too make things work, but the team basically got Bud Norris for Josh Hader, Pedro Strop, Jake Arrieta, a first round pick, a decent international amateur prospect, and maybe even a more emergent Xavier Avery.  That is quite a difference from the previous season when Duquette squeezed blood from stones.  Of course, 20/20 hindsight makes it easy to see that these moves hurt the Orioles and that the team perhaps could have figured out another way to spell Bud Norris' 0.3 bWAR in 2014.  That said, at the Depot, I certainly was not in favor of any of these deals.  They seemed like deck chair shuffling to me and that has been borne out to be true.

One thing that has amazed me was how much the success of Duquette's first season has created this halo of him in many a fan's eyes.  Yes, it is difficult and I have no idea if a year is a proper sample size to judge how successful a general manager is, but with a sunny 2012 and a stormy 2013 on the trade front it appears that Duquette might be more run of the mill.


Erik said...

The whole of that result depends on the fate of one player: Arietta. And it is just guessing to say that he would have turned it around in Baltimore just like he did in Chicago. Sometimes it is the change in scenery, coaches, teammates, etc. It is not like we compete against the Cubs (that their wins hurt us).

All-in-all, I think we also have to keep in mind that putting too much on one fairly random result in judging how someone is doing his job can be putting too much stress on one factor. The large run of results is many small moves with not much result.

And how many of these moves were to appease the "do something!" fans?

Jon Shepherd said...

I would not ignore Strop's 138 ERA+ and the Cub's ability to sign better international amateurs. Bud Norris has been worth 0.1 bWAR during his time here and has cost about 4 MM to do that.

Yes, the greater story is that most movement means nothing, which probably means that movement should be either better considered or that there is no way of knowing whether movement will be useful or not. However, it is interesting to note that both Feldman and Norris did for Baltimore exactly what their pre-season projections said they would do as opposed to their remarkable first half performances.

Matt said...

It should be acknowledged that while Duquette made good moves in his first year he also benefitted heavily from previous deals done by Andy McPhail. McPhail brought in Adam Jones, who has always been a solid player, Chris Tillman, who happened to figure things out the year Duquette started, Tommy Hunter who has found a place in the bullpen, Chris Davis, who like Tillman seemed to figure things out under Duquette (not so much this year), while Duquette has been up and down. He brought in Wei YIn Chen, who has been solid, but seems destined to be a fourth or fifth starter, and have around a 4.00 ERA, Ubaldo Jimenez, who...well you know, and a few other guys who gave the team something in the short term, but not the long term, such as Jason Hammel. This is not to say that Duquette has done a bad job, but rather to point out that he hasn't been the amazing GM that some fans make him out to be, a point made in this article.

Rick said...

It also seems worth noting why we had to trade Ayala--to keep TJ McFarland, who was our Rule 5 pick. TJ hasn't been great or anything but, unlike Ayala, he is still delivering some value to a big league club. He also delivered some slightly above value to our pen over the past couple seasons and has eaten up some garbage innings in long relief to save our other arms when we've fallen behind early.

And like Matt said, and what Jon hinted at a bit, I agree that Duquette has benefitted greatly from MacPhail's previous moves. MacPhail was brought in to rebuild the club and set it in the right direction, and it appears he was successful as Buck has carried us with those pieces since then. It probably is too early to judge Duquette but he also hasn't screwed anything up either. Only time will tell.

abullrun said...


Thought your post was most excellent. Did you ever think of doing a comparison with Dan Duquette's moves of 2013 with another team that was close to the Orioles in 2012 with wins and finished with a better record than the Orioles of 2013.

I was thinking of the Oakland Athletics. The 2012 A's finished with 94 wins, the 2012 Orioles with 93 wins. The 2013 Athletics finished with 96 wins, while the 2013 Orioles finished with 85 wins. What did Billy Beane do that was different?

Anyway just a thought. Again great post.


Unknown said...

In the context of the season, the Orioles were trying to reach the playoffs last year. They simply could not afford to have Arrieta and Strop pitching many innings if they wanted to consistently win games, but both players were out of options. They had no choice but to trade them. Whether or not the Feldman/Clevenger package was the best available is another question.

Erik said...


I would ignore Strop's ERA+ where his FIP lessens the story and we are talking about a whopping 33 inning sample size. A 1 run difference is +/- a quarter point of ERA or so at that point, so it is easy to get carried away with that hundreds point of precision. Meanwhile Arietta's FIP and ERA match almost exactly and he has almost 3 times the innings with an ERA+ of 1.86. In terms of magnitude and certainty, we ought to be talking about Arietta, and not much about Strop. Just because there are two players does not mean that each is equally important.

Quite frankly Arietta, Norris, etc., were fairly obviously not going to accomplish anything that luck would not accomplish without them. If we get really lucky, we make the playoffs, otherwise we revert to the somewhat-above 0.500 club that we fundamentally are.

That is why you want players that give you a chance to get lucky year after year, not one-year rentals. If Gausman or Bundy turn into a true #2 and the other into a solid #3, then we will have a chance to stabilize the pitching. Until then, we need magic-bean years to hit the playoffs.

Not that I am knocking Nelson Cruz. If Ubaldo turns into a magic bean too, who knows what might happen.

Jon Shepherd said...

Drew -- If I have time at some point, I would like to do something much grander. That said I am not happy with any of the methodology I have come up with.

Jon Shepherd said...

Unknown -- Arrieta was not out of options.

Jon Shepherd said...

Erik -- I used ERA+ as a simplistic metric here. His WAR accumulation is pretty amazing for a relief pitcher, so I would not neglect his performance for the Cubs. I agree with the rest.

Philip said...

this is a fascinating article and I enjoyed it very much. Dan Duquette is a dumpster diver. He looks for cheap value and sometimes, such as with Nate Mclouth or Miguel Gonzalez, he finds it.
More often, we end up with guys who offer nothing.
However, his trade history is pretty lousy(although I like Bud Norris a lot more than you apparently do)
but without a frame of reference, we don't know whether Dan is average or not. Every team makes good and bad trades.
Dan's all seem to be a wash or negative, but where does that place him in the grand hierarchy?

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this post Jon and will be sure to look at your post before it. That being said, I caught a few typos and considering this was circulated by mlbtraderumors, you may want to clean it up a little. Here are the ones I caught.

1. "In this post, we progress to the 2012 season and see how things shake out. "- You actually progressed to the 2013* season.

2."Andino's four years in baseball hate some highlights,"- had* some highlights.

3."such as a game winning hit that knock the Red Sox out"- knocked*

4."but his free swinging"- free-swinging*

5."his first club, the Los Angelos Dodgers."- Angeles*

6."he was a someone extra arm in the pen for the 2013 squad."- Poor wording.

7."Still, h appeared to be one of the shining arms available on the market."- he*

8."Arrieta has emerged as a good starter who could a no hitter when the moment strikes him."- could get* a no-hitter

9."Norris would up pitching rather poorly"- end up*

10."Morse wound up hurt the Orioles' chances by about a game."-hurting*

Bororiole said...

The article is basically how well Duquette has done in the trade market. But most of the people here are taking this one aspect of his job and determining that he is not a good GM. If you look at the whole of what he has done for the Orioles, free agents, development and signing of international players, draft selections, development and training of players, depth in the system, better talent in the farm system, contract negotiations. I feel that we are in a completely different league then we were before he took over. Do I wish he could pull off a couple of Pat Riley type moves? That would be great but at what cost to the long term?

Ben said...

As an earlier poster said, this thing was riddled with errors. Great concept and good piece, but couldn't get past the need for a proof read.

Jon Shepherd said...

Signing of international players? Team has spent the least of any club every year he has overseen as GM.

Jon Shepherd said...

Eh, proofreading will not get better. Between my work as a toxicologist and raising a one year old kid, it is either the occasional rough edit job or no articles at all. I hope the ideas get out there enough. If not, such is life. I prefer hanging out with my kid rather than reading my articles backwards during tough weeks. I do understand how poor writing can be disruptive to some. All I can ask is for tolerance.

Dave said...

I, too, am amazed at "Trust in DD" sentimentality. However, i think most fans blindly think so because of the teams overall better performance not DD's specific talent acquisition.

And i think that is a faulty direct correlation.

However, i have noticed that there have been no red elephants in my neighborhood since i have been wearing suspenders.