31 July 2018

Let's Get This Orioles Rebuild Started!

Dan Duquette and the Orioles brass are saying all of the right things. They are even doing the right things, so far. Expiring contracts that can be moved, have been. The club is collecting international signing money, and they have been credibly connected, in some way shape or form, to some of the top Latin players available. They even seem to be making an effort at being proactive by taking calls on the players that are under control beyond 2018. It's really something.

But the rebuild has not fully taken effect until those thoughts and words become tangible actions.

It's nice to be "interested" in a player like Victor Victor Mesa. It would be much better if he were signed to an Orioles contract. It's encouraging to know they are open to trading Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop and Mychal Givens. It would be glorious to see them negotiate a massive return of prospects for that trio that sets the team up for future success.

Things have been going well so far, but this has not be a flawless trade window. Maybe the deals won't there for the taking by July 31. That's fine. It's reasonable to extend the benefit of the doubt through the winter, but if the Spring Training 2019 roster looks a lot like the roster on the final day of the 2018 season, we have a huge problem on our hands.

*This episode of the podcast was recorded on Monday, July 30, prior to the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline.*

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Brad Brach Was Traded for the Equivalent of a 7th Rounder

Brad Brach was traded for permission, the permission to spend an extra 250k on international prospects.  No, this does not mean that the Braves sent the Orioles 250k to spend.  It means that the Braves reduced their allowed expenditure on foreign amateur talent under 23 years of age and the Orioles increased theirs.  This concept hopefully is familiar as the Orioles have discharged themselves of this permission to the tune of about 10 MM these past two years.

That leaves the question: What does 250k get you on the international market.  Back in the day (2011), I wrote a column for ESPN.  To save you the trouble of reading it, I was inspired to write it after thinking about how the Orioles under MacPhail explicitly noted that the market in Latin America was overpriced and was a foolish way to spend money.  Of course, that was a silly conclusion as available talent and access to that talent really meant that domestic amateurs were simply artificially compromised with their earning potential and that talent was less limited elsewhere.  Anyway, I came to the conclusion that 61 cents spent at home was equivalent to a dollar spent abroad.

So let us consider Miguel Sano from back then.  He signed for 3.15 MM.  My model conclusion would suggest that the same talent would be available then on the domestic front for 1.92 MM.  When Sano signed in 2009, selections were not assigned suggested values.  However if you extrapolate backwards from this current era of assigned value, you get Sano being worth about a mid first round pick.  Which is about what he was considered as at the time.

A comparison to now would be a player with the talent of Victor Victor Mesa.  He is considered being valuable in the same range, but his expected signing bonus is for 3.5 MM.  The cost per win during this last decade has more than doubled, suggesting that in a market without a bonus cap that Mesa should be looking for something in the neighborhood of 7 MM.  This evidences how much the cap has altered the landscape and that the 61 cent to one dollar comparison has narrow quite a bit.

In today's domestic draft, the level of talent we see in the draft that compares to Mesa may be as high as Travis Swaggerty (a 10th pick) or low as Trevor Larnach (a 20th pick), they came out as 4.4 and 2.5 MM respectively.  To expect Mesa to earn 3.5 MM, then we are expecting him to basically make what he would if he was in the draft.  A one to one comparison.

If that comparison holds true that somehow there is not much cost difference between domestic and international signing bonuses, then we might well assume that 250k would get the Orioles something on the level of a 7th round domestic pick talent.  Typically, that kind of prospect does not provide much return.  The last Oriole to see himself drafted there and making it to the big show is Caleb Joseph who was drafted back in 2008.  And, of course, the all time player the Orioles drafted in that round was Mike Flanagan in 1973.

All in all, it likely won't move the needle much, but it does help provide the Orioles with more opportunity to find a diamond in the rough.  After all, Jonathan Schoop cost less than 250k.

30 July 2018

The Value Of #4/#5 Starters Has Skyrocketed

Most fans hope for the best for their team. They hope that their major league players will show improvement from their past performance and that their top prospects (regardless of overall rank) will end up being successful in the majors. This divide between optimism and reality becomes clearer when looking at starting pitching. People hope that their top pitching prospects can become successful in the majors at the same time that starting pitching is becoming hard to find. As a result, fans undervalue legitimate backend starters and overvalue unranked pitching prospects. This came to light last week when Jon talked about the value of Kevin Gausman.

For starters, the performance of starting pitching has changed significantly recently. This chart shows the count of qualified pitchers, their average ERA (not waited by innings pitched), their average FIP and their average WAR.

It’s pretty simple, there are 30 teams in the majors and each team historically has five starters in the rotation, meaning there are 150 starters that have a shot to be qualified. From 2010-2014, roughly 90 starters threw over 160 innings, or on average each team had three qualified starters. In 2017 that dropped to 56 starters, or on average each team had only two qualified starters. However, despite the drop in qualified starting pitchers, their performance hasn’t improved. The average ERA and FIP have gotten worse over time, suggesting that finding qualified pitchers is harder in this new age. That’s one reason why only 25% of qualified starters were worth 2 WAR or less in 2017. Starters that can give their team 160 innings with a decent ERA and FIP have become much more valuable than they were even two years ago.

Unsurprisingly, the number of starters used in a year has gone from 273 in 2010 to 315 in 2017. Part of this is because teams received on average 970 innings from their starters in 2010 but only 890 innings from their starters in 2017. But part of it is that the average starter has gone from throwing 106 innings in 2010 to only 85 in 2017. As a result, teams have gone from using 9 starters on average to using 10.5 starters on average. As more starters are used, the average ERA and FIP has also gotten worse. Things are somewhat better this year, but not by much. According to TruMedia, there are 79 qualified starters in 2018 compared to 73 at this point in 2017. Expect a small increase of qualified pitchers from last year, but probably not a large one. Here's how the numbers look for all starters.

The value of backend starters that can give you a large amount of innings without having terrible results has skyrocketed due to their scarcity. Teams only have so much starting pitching depth. The more starters that they’re forced to use, the more likely that they’re going to get an atrocious performance from somebody. The teams with the best starting pitching are those like the Indians who made it through 2017 using just seven starting pitchers. Having guys like Bundy and Gausman on your roster helps keep the bullpen fresh and ensure teams don’t need to use their AAAA guys as starters.

It’s possible to use FIP to rank starting pitchers from 2010-2017. For each year, we know how many starters each team used on average, so it makes sense to put starters in groups based on the average number of starters used by a team. For example, in 2010, teams used 9.1 starters per year, so we can rank starters from 1 (best) to 10 (worst) based on their FIP. In 2017, teams used 10.5 starters per year, so we can rank starters from 1 (best) to 11 (worst).

When using this method, it becomes pretty clear that there’s a big difference between aces (average FIP of 2.59) and #2 starters (average FIP of 3.28), the second worst starters (average FIP of 5.27) and the worst starters (average FIP of 8.12) and the third worst starters (average FIP of 4.72) and the second worst starters. Aside from those groups there’s roughly a .2 or .3 FIP difference between ranks. Over 180 innings, this is equivalent to roughly 5 runs or half a win. A decent-sized distinction, but not a huge one. Here's how the groupings look.

Using this method, Kevin Gausman consistently (2015-2017) appears to be a #5-6 starter while Dylan Bundy looks to be an outright #6 or even worse. That stated, FIP probably isn’t particularly fair to Orioles starters. FIP presumes that pitchers are fully responsible for all home runs that they allow, but it’s a lot easier to hit a home run in Camden Yards than in the Oakland Coliseum. Fangraphs WAR uses a park factor to take this into account, but FIP does not. So, it probably makes sense to consider Gausman a #4-5 starter. Likewise, Sonny Gray was a 3-4 starter in 2014 and 2015 using this metric, while he dropped to a #8 starter in 2016. But due to pitching in a pitcher friendly stadium, it’s likely he should also have been treated as a #4-5 starter. In other words, these two pitchers are probably closer in value than just looking at their FIPs or ERAs would indicate.

At any given time, there are typically around 40 pitching prospects on top 100 prospect lists. Not all of these pitchers graduate in a given year, but if top prospects had a high success rate, then there would be a lot more than 60 qualified starters. The fact is that the likelihood of a top prospect being successful isn’t great, and therefore the value of a prospect that is successful is high. If top pitching prospects that are ranked struggle to be successful, then pitching prospects that aren’t ranked struggle even more often. It’s highly unlikely that unranked pitching prospects will be successful in the majors. They’ll get a shot because teams need to rely on their minor league system for starters, but they’re probably not going to succeed. Unfortunately, fans don’t remember failed prospects.

Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are likely going to be nothing more than #4-5 starters on the Orioles. It’s possible that another team could successfully develop them and turn them into top of the rotation pitchers. But even #4-5 starters that can pitch a full season have significant value. Their performance may not be great, but these guys can solidify a rotation, ensure that teams don’t need to rely on minor league pitchers with minimal talent and preserve a bullpen. The value of that has skyrocketed over the past few years.

27 July 2018

Kevin Gausman is Sonny Gray

Last winter, I was talking to an executive from another team.  I was noting that maybe Kevin Gausman, with his fastball/breaking ball mix, was better suited for the role of a closer.  I thought that perhaps his days starting should end and just emphasize what he really does well.  The executive chuckled and asked whether what I was saying was done without looking at what Gausman has actually done.  After a pause, he continued.  He said I was Wieters-ing Gausman.

What does it mean to Wieters someone?  It means that the expectations you have for someone are so great that when the player fails to meet those expectations, you are unable to appreciate what they have actually accomplished.  For those not all that long in the tooth on the local Orioles scene, you will remember the fierce debate over whether or not Matt Wieters was a bust.  The debate was frustrating because Matt Wieters had the third best bWAR in Orioles history as a catcher with 18.  Rick Dempsey and Chris Hoiles come in front of him with 21.2 and 23.5, respectively, but played slightly long than Wieters in an Orioles uniform.  So, yeah, perhaps he was not the best catcher in Orioles history, but he was quite good.

Gausman will not reach the third most bWAR for an Oriole starting pitcher, but it is actually possible.  The current third highet bWAR belongs to Dave McNally at 25.5.  Gausman sits at 10.3.  If you look at what he can do over the remaining 2.5 years of control, you are looking at something in the neighborhood of seven or eight more WAR, which would put him around 8th.  If he wound up signing long term with the Orioles, he probably would pass Dave McNally.  To consider such a pitcher a failure is downright foolish.

Of course, the Orioles are in a tailspin and it makes one wonder if Gausman should really be on the team any longer or if he should be dealt and his value turned into prospects.  What exactly would the prospect haul be.  Matt Perez visited this a few days ago, but I want to dive into this a bit more.

What kind of surplus value does Gausman have?
We are going to take a conservative route.  We will ignore the scarcity of talent on the starting pitching front at this deadline.  That scarcity probably would help a seller.  Additionally, we will ignore that many teams view the Orioles as poorly helping their pitchers and think that Gausman has a couple extra gears.  Instead, we will only look at what he has done and what that suggests for his future.

If you project Gausman forward, you can expect him to tack on about 1.2 bWar the rest of this year, 3.1 bWAR in 2019, and 2.8 bWAR (these projections are simply looking at past performance and how things look moving forward).  That is a total of 7.1 bWAR, which has a value of around 71.7 MM at 10.1 MM a win.  He has about 2.5 MM left in salary and is expected to see 8 MM in 2019 and 11 MM in 2020 for a total of 21.5 MM.  Split the difference and you see Gausman's surplus value at 50.2 MM, which is about what the Machado package was worth.

The Machado package include one strong prospect in Diaz and then a collection of interesting prospects of different values.  However, what if we concentrated that value into three players.  Based on historical value of prospects, that would be equal to one position prospect in the 75-100 range of baseball's top 100 prospects in addition to two pitchers in that range.  The total value of those players would come to 50.4 MM.

Now, if you follow my Twitter account, you know I mentioned this value the other day.  You will also probably know that people were astounded.  Gausman for three top 100 prospects seems extreme especially for a pitcher who often is compared with the struggles of Jake Arrieta (0.1 bWAR in his 3.5 years of service time for the Orioles) or Bud Norris (4.3 bWAR in his 3.5 years of service time for the Astros).  Remember, Gausman currently has 10.3 bWAR over those 3.5 years of service time.

Now, have we seen a pitcher of this level traded at the deadline recently?  Why, yes, of course. Last year, Sonny Grey was dealt to the Yankees.  You might be confused about that.  Sonny Gray is an elite starting pitcher and Kevin Gausman has his troubles.  Well, let us take a look.
3.5 yrs
As you can see, Gausman and Gray rate out fairly evenly.  Gray may have had one shining year early in his career, but by and large he has been a bit underwhelming.  Gausman on the other hand has been fairly consistently good.  This is true for bWAR (which says the pitcher is responsible for a lot of his runs), fWAR (which says the pitcher depends on his defense a lot), and WARP (which uses DRA to provide one of the more sophisticated ways to assess value in a pitcher).

How about near term value?
1.5 yrs
Gausman looks much stronger than Gray here.  It should be noted that Gausman has a 4.22 DRA this year, which is good for 1.4 WARP.  Gray, when he was traded, held a 4.26 DRA and a 1.4 WARP.  DRA tends to be the best measure of performance moving forward with a small sample size.  Anyway, we get very similar numbers for the immediate season, one and a half seasons, and for their entire first 3.5 years of control.  You may feel Gray is elite and you may feel Gausman is a struggling pitcher, but the numbers think you should re-explore your feelings.

So what did the Athletics get for Gray?
The Athletics got two position players and a pitcher.  In James Kaprielian, the Athletics got a pitcher who had begun 2017 as a top 100 prospect (87th Baseball America, 58th MLB Pipeline, 58th Baseball Prospectus), but who required Tommy John surgery before the trade.  That disrupted his value and caused him to fall off the top 100 list.  In a way, you could say this compares to someone like Hunter Harvey.  The Athletics also received Jorge Mateo who was a 2017 top 100 prospect (85th Baseball America, 47th MLB Pipeline, 43rd Baseball Prospectus) and a 2018 top 100 prospect (64th Baseball America, 72nd MLB Pipeline, 79th Baseball Prospectus) and an injured Dustin Fowler who was rising on prospect lists and made two top 100 lists in 2018 (88th Baseball America, 98th Baseball Prospectus).  The prospect value for someone like Kaprielian would be around 10 MM, Mateo would be 24 MM, and Fowler came in around, conservatively, at 15 MM.  That is a 49 MM deal for Sonny Gray.

Now that we have established Gausman's value and brought up a recent historical comparison for a trade that is also in agreement with a purely numerical evaluation of value, what kind of packages would be similar gets from other clubs?  For this, I will focus on three teams who have been most attached to Kevin Gausman: the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, and the Atlanta Braves.  If a player is a fringe top 100 prospect, I simply considered them a back end top 100, which inflates their value a bit.  In other words, this is a conservative estimate on the take.

The Milwaukee Brewers are a club that has checked in on all of the starting pitchers around the league that may be available, including Gausman.  They also have the prospects to acquire him without completely gutting their system.  Headlining the deal would be Corbin Burnes.  MLB Pipeline considers him to be the 53rd overall prospect in baseball which carries a 19.7 MM estimate value.  He has struggled this year at AAA and has done well in a few relief appearances for the MLB squad.  Burnes is the Brewers #2 prospect.  Behind him would be a choice between Corey Ray, an outfielder and fourth overall prospect, and Lucas Erceg, a thirdbaseman and sixth overall prospect.  Both players are fringe top 100 talents.  Ray has a bit of helium attached to him, but would crowd a currently crowded part of the Orioles minor league system.  Erceg makes a little more sense, but his competition comes from Ryan Mountcastle within the Orioles system. Erceg has also had his struggles this year, which has caused his perceived value to slip a bit.  As a backend top 100 talent (again they are not listed), they would represent 20.2 MM.  Finishing out the package is Luis Ortiz, a right handed pitcher who is Milwaukee's 7th best prospect, who before this season was a top 100 prospect, but whose struggles last year lost some of that shine.  Again, he is not in the top 100, but let us just assume back end value of 15.1 MM.  In his second trip through AA, he has gotten a little bit of hope back into his ceiling.  All in all, this package comes in around 55 MM.  Again, though, I think that is probably a shade too high, but lets go with that instead of what I think is more realistic (~45 MM).  The Brewers deal would provide the Orioles with a new number one prospect, dethroning Yusniel Diaz by a shade.  Corey Ray or Lucas Erceg would tussle with Austin Hays for fifth overall.  Luis Ortiz would be found around Grayson Rodriguez and Dillon Tate around seventh or eighth overall.

The Colorado Rockies have long been interested in Gausman.  Their people adore him and have coveted him since his amateur days.  The package here comes in at 50.4 MM.  Peter Lambert, RHSP, is the prize.  He is the Rockies' second best prospect and sits a bit further behind Burnes at 89th overall, which provides a value of 15.1 MM.  I would pair him with one of the darlings of Jeff Passan's the Arm, Riley Pint.  The right handed starting pitcher what the fourth overall selection in 2016, but has suffered a variety of arm and core injuries.  He has a top of the rotation ceiling, but high variability of what he actually becomes.  Pint is the Rockies fifth overall prospect and is a strong comparison to Hunter Harvey and James Kaprielien.  As a fringe top 100 talent, I assigned him a 15.1 MM value.  This package would be topped off with middle infielder Garrett Hampson who is the Rockies fourth overall prospect and is a fringe top 100 talent, so we will assume a 20.2 MM value.  This deal would give the Orioles a new number three in Lambert.  Pint and Hampson would be found around five or six in competition with Austin Hays.

The Atlanta Braves have the right pieces to make a strong deal.  The Orioles could take in several strong prospects without even touching the Braves' top five prospects.  Standing as the prize of the package is the kind of big bodied pitcher that the Orioles have been targeting in many of their low minors acquisitions.  In this case, the pitcher has a few uneasy MLB innings.  Luiz Gohara is a left handed pitcher with a strong fastball/slider mix.  He is the 63rd prospect in baseball (with a 19.7 value) and is the Braves 6th overall prospect.  Touki Toussaint, a right handed starting pitcher has often been more about expectations than actual performance as he learns how to pitch.  He is the 78th best prospect in baseball and worth 15.1 MM.  Finally, also coming in at 15.1 MM in value is left handed started pitcher Kolby Allard, who is the 93rd overall prospect and the 8th prospect in the Braves system.  He too like the other two is in AAA and doing fine.  The final total package value is 49.9 MM.  Unlike the other two deals, the values are direct values and not hedge ups.  This group would be a major improvement in the Orioles' pitching.  Gohara would become the Orioles second best prospect.  Toussaint and Allard would fall in behind Mountcastle to be the fourth and fifth best prospects in the organization.

One clear take away is that none of these deals depletes any of these systems.  The Brewers would lose their 2nd, 4th, and 6th prospects.  The Rockies would lose their 2nd, 4th, and 5th prospects.  The Braves would lose their 6th, 7th, and 8th.  Meanwhile, these deals would vastly improve the Orioles system with prospects who should be able to prove themselves soon.  Yes, backend top 100 prospects fail and fail often.  It is probable that any of these packages will not produce a starting pitcher as valuable as Gausman has been, but they delay the clock and give the Orioles more cheap, controllable talent that may be of consequence when the club finally rights itself.

Again, maybe this is all too much.  Maybe the Yankees, one of the most statistically inclined organizations in baseball, somehow got stars in their eyes and overpaid for Sonny Gray.  Maybe Sonny Gray's dominating year in his youth when he threw 3 mph harder means something.  Regardless, I think it is an apt comparison between Gray, the package he was dealt for, and Gausman.  Gausman and Gray had similar careers of similar worth at the same point in time.  And maybe New York thought they could unlock Gray again just like a lot of teams think they can reach a new level for Gausman by de-Oriole-ing him.

It is Hard to See Adam Jones in Baltimore in 2019

Sometimes, letting go is a challenge.  To see Adam Jones leave Baltimore and be welcomed into another franchise may seem impossible to comprehend.  To see him depart may feel like an extra bag of salt spilled onto a wound inflicted by the departure of Manny Machado and festered by Zach Britton's trip to the Bronx.  Adam Jones heralded in the build up to a magical 2012 and a strong dynasty during the Duquette years.  Jones embraced the community of Baltimore, married locally, spoke commandingly of social issues, and assumed the face of this franchise.  His void may not statistically match Machado's, but the essence of the club will receive a swift kick to the gut after he lays down the orange and black uniform for good.

Recently, a thought has emerged within the local scene that perhaps Adam Jones could be dealt away to another team in the next week to try to get that elusive ring and then come back to Baltimore to finish out his career, being an example to the next wave of Orioles.  This was bolstered by him buying Cal Ripken's Jr's old house and the word that his family has moved into it (to my knowledge, Jones summers in Baltimore and winters in San Diego) even though Jones has said that the house is simply part of his real estate dealings.  Additionally, Jones dinnered with John Angelos last week in Toronto where one wondered what exactly could they have discussed with the trade deadline looming.  Maybe Jones has talked to his idol Torii Hunter, who has expressed that he wished he could have stayed in Minnesota the whole time instead of taking his few year jaunt to Anaheim.

However, it is difficult to see how exactly Adam Jones fits in on a team supposedly going into a rebuild whose major minor league strength is found in the outfield.  While many think the long expected transition from center to right field is in store for Jones, the club actually has several right field options ready to break through in 2019.  Actually, Jones' transition to a corner position may be problematic, regardless.  While Jones does have a plus arm that plays in any field, his range may well be an issue. 

Out of 51 qualifying centerfielders, Jones' sprint speed is measured as 26.7 ft/s, the slowest of any centerfielder in baseball.  As a right fielder, 47 players are faster than him.  As a left fielder, 49 players are faster than him.  Of course, speed is not all.  Jones will be able to make up for that lack of speed with potentially good routes and that strong arm may prevent some extra bases to offset those extra bases gained from a lack of range.  That said, it is possible that the improvement of defense seen from a shift from center to a corner still may not overcome what appears to be a diminishing of returns with his bat.

For a competitive club, the risk may be worth it.  Jones is proven.  He is known as a strong teammate who can balance the need for focus with levity.  While baseball data science scoffed at that importance a decade or more ago, teams value it and it appears that there is probably good reason why they value a strong clubhouse.  For a rebuilding team, that need is a bit less.  Young players still can benefit from go-betweens with coaches and good examples of clubhouse behavior, but, again, a guy like Jones who is at worst a dependable playoff quality role player is not really the kind of guy you want.  You really want an elder statesman type of player who needs time off and is not as feverishly competitive.

When one thinks of players like that, Jones is probably a good three years from that.  Possibilities could include players like Rajai Davis, Denard Span, Curtis Granderson, Hunter Pence, Brett Gardner, or maybe even Nick Markakis (but his bat coming online this year probably lets him kick the can on that).  Markakis would probably be the fan favorite ideal.  He is about five years from getting his 3,000th hit and was a fan favorite.  One wonders if he really should be in the outfield anymore and the club already is bogged down in the near term with Chris Davis at 1B or DH.

Regardless, the Orioles, in a rebuild state, can provide plate appearances to a bevy of potentially really good young outfield talents.  Not only does this mean to get time for guys like Cedric Mullins (LF, CF, ~RF, 23 yo; 127 wRC+) and DJ Stewart (LF, ~RF), 24 yo, 113 wRC+) who are currently in Norfolk, but also to get longer looks at older players like Joey Rickard (LF, ~CF, ~RF, 27 yo; 145 wRC+) and Mike Yastremski (LF, ~CF, ~RF, 27 yo; 133 wRC+) before they are fully supplanted by Yusniel Diaz (LF, ~CF, RF, 21 yo, 147 wRC+), Austin Hays (LF, ~CF, RF, 23 yo, 70 wRC+), and maybe Ryan Mountcastle if he cannot handle third base.  Behind them, you have players like Ryan McKenna (LF, CF, 21 yo, 104 wRC+), Anthony Santander (LF, RF, 23 yo, 90 wRC+), and Ademar Rifaela (LF, RF, 23 yo, 86 wRC+).

Without a veteran that needs frequent game time, you can create a laboratory where you can expose your young talent to Major League pitching and see where the true value is.  It gives you the opportunity to bear slumps and let players experience failure and resiliency without a veteran looking on and seeing how much more capable he is currently in the moment than they are.

It is true that the beginning of the year may not present itself with a true outfield with MLB ready competency, but, again, a rebuilding club does not need to worry about that.  A rebuilding club does not need to worry about re-signing a Mark Trumbo because you question whether Trey Mancini can cut it.  A rebuilding club does not need to corner the market on well tread, but potentially viable bats when wins and losses quickly become unimportant.

Really what makes the most sense is for the club to send off Adam Jones with affection.  Let him find a competitive club where he can try to get that ring for another few years before a homecoming as a part-time player.  Or maybe, he finds the market to his dislike this winter.  Then maybe, he pulls a Moustakas, takes a small one year deal where the club agrees to try to place him on a contender next July.

Jones certainly is a player who has earned our respect and has earned his right to do with his career whatever he chooses to do.  For him and the Orioles, the best thing is probably for the relationship between them to end, for now.

26 July 2018

As Britton Left the Clubhouse, so Ended the Flanagan Era

As I noted when the Zach Britton deal was going down, that the remnants of a past era were being swept from the Orioles franchise.  Britton was the last Oriole signed during Mike Flanagan's time as General Manager to be on the club's 40 man roster.

Britton was drafted in the third round of the 2006 draft out of Wetherford High School in Texas.  It was his first time away from home.  Britton was part of Flanagan's grand plan of developing young pitching and strong defense while supplementing that roster with high profile talent like Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez.  Young talent, like Britton, were not only evaluated on their physical ability, but also on novel (yet misguided) psychological tests.  Flanagan was unceremoniously replaced by Peter Angelos right after the draft in 2007 with Andy MacPhail.  To those who knew Flanagan, this was both shocking and deeply embarrassing.  It, supposedly, was something he had difficulty dealing with for the rest of his life.

With that, there is not much to say.  The sun comes it.  It goes down.  Life and death continue.

We will not be writing up a Zach Britton trade piece.  I will wait until a couple other expected deals come together into next week and take a more global look.  The short of this though is that the Orioles were able to beef up their ranks.  This was something that was depleted by trades in earlier seasons that saw arms like Zach Davies and Josh Hader depart.  It also helps introduce talent, especially the live arms of Carroll and Pop, that a respectable international amateur system would have developed.  Dillon Tate is an interesting arm that has rotation potential, but he does not exactly look like a difference maker.  Basically, the trades have all been solid and mark the Orioles getting back to average.

Now, one caveat to the above with Britton, if we expand beyond the 40 man roster, then there still is one   Technically, there is still one player left in the entire organization that still hails from that times, Garabez Rosa.  Rosa was signed in 2007 before leadership was handed over to Andy MacPhail.  Rosa outlasts Camden Depot's existence by three weeks.

25 July 2018

The Orioles Should Trade Gausman To The Rockies

It’s nearly the trade deadline, so of course there are rumors about the Rockies interest in trading for Kevin Gausman. The Rockies have had an interest for Kevin Gausman for a long time, at one point even requesting him for a trade for De La Rosa. However, at this point, there may be a real chance for a deal.  It’s safe to say that Gausman has failed to have the breakout season that Orioles fans were hoping to get from him, and the Orioles only control his rights for two more years. The Orioles need to ask themselves whether it makes sense to offer him an extension. If they don’t, his value is only going to decrease as time goes on. What would a potential trade to the Rockies look like?

Jon has suggested that Gausman is worth $40-50 million, almost as much as Machado was worth. If one thinks that Gausman will continue performing like a 3-4 starter then this valuation makes reasonable sense. It would make sense to value him at 5-6 WAR over his remaining 2+ years as an Orioles and presume he’ll cost roughly $20M. If you value a win at $10M, then we’re talking $30-40M but teams usually pay a premium for talent at the trade deadline. In addition, teams probably remember Jake Arrieta and may be willing to pay a slight premium to see if they can fix another Orioles pitcher with great talent who couldn’t figure it out in Baltimore.

The Rockies rotation has been atrocious. Kyle Freeland and Tyler Anderson have been solid for the Rockies, but have FIPs in the low 4 range. Jon Gray has had an excellent 3.05 FIP but also has a 5.44 ERA and was sent to the minors earlier this year. Their other starters have struggled. The Rockies could use at least two starting pitchers if they want to challenge for the playoffs and there aren’t very many available avenues for them to get it.

The Orioles could try to get prospects for Gausman. The Orioles wouldn’t be able to get the Rockies top prospect, but could reasonably hope to get one of their top prospects. It wouldn’t be terrible to build a deal around Lambert or Welker. But in this case, it makes sense for the Orioles to consider a challenge trade.

That’s why the Orioles should ask for Jon Gray. Jon Gray had what was thought to be a breakout 2017, but has had a tough 2018 season with an excellent FIP but a terrible ERA. If you believe the advanced statistics, then Jon Gray is probably an ace. If you believe your lying eyes, then he’s legitimately struggling.

According to TruMedia, Jon Gray boasts a tough fastball, curveball and slider repertoire that makes him tough against opposing batters and allows him to pick up strikeouts. The problem is that he has a bad case of Porcello-itis. Opposing batters have a .306 wOBA against him when the bases are empty, but a .386 wOBA when a runner is on base. It appears that opposing batters are more aggressive with men on base, and put more balls into play. Betrayed by a poor defense, opposing batters have an OPS of over 1 and a BABIP over .370 when they put the ball into play against him, regardless of whether men are on base or not. Like most pitchers, Gray would benefit from leaving Colorado.

It’s rumored that the Rockies are beginning to lose patience with him and are discussing moving him to the bullpen. If this is true, then it’s very reasonable that they’d be willing to part with Gray to get Gausman. The problem is that Gray is one of those players that’s hard to value. As a bullpen piece, he’s probably worth $10-$20M and the Os could ask for a C+ prospect in addition. If Gray is seen as a starter, then he could well be worth considerably more than Gausman. Like Gausman, Gray is another pitcher that hasn’t met his potential. Unlike Gausman, he’s shown more signs of being able to turn the corner. With a strong 2019, the Orioles could probably flip Gray to another team in return for elite talent or alternatively he’d be an interesting piece to offer an extension.

A Gausman for Gray trade would make sense in and of itself, but the teams could possibly expand a potential trade. The Rockies haven’t gotten much production from first base. Ian Desmond has been a failure on the Rockies. He has a decent bat for a middle infielder or center fielder, but the Rockies already have players blocking him at these positions. Instead, he plays first base, and he simply doesn’t have a good enough bat to be successful there. It turns out that signing a middle infielder/center fielder to play first base for an exorbitant amount of money isn’t a good strategy. Nor have the Rockies had much success with their top former prospect Ryan McMahon. McMahon has struggled in the majors, combining an inability to hit for power or average with a tendency of striking out frequently. With 3 yrs remaining on his deal after this one at $40M, plus another $9M on the books for the remainder of 2018, the Rockies should have interest in trading him elsewhere.

Yet, Ian Desmond was a decent center fielder for the Rangers in 2016, and his Statcast sprint speed of 27.8 ft/s suggests he is fast enough to play second base or center field. He’s a player that’s more valuable to another team than he is to the Rockies. And he isn’t so valuable that the Rockies would have much leverage in a trade. I mean, he has more value to another team than the Rockies, but with such a large contract he still likely has negative value. The Rockies would almost certainly have to give back another $30 million in value in order to include him in the trade.

On the other hand, Trumbo has proven to be a terrible DH, but has had a decent offensive 2018 season when playing either 1B or RF with a line of .309/.347/.559. Put him full time at 1B in Colorado, and they should have a pretty good bat. Trumbo is definitely a player that could benefit from a change of scenery.  When taking his contract into account, his value should probably be somewhere in the 0 to -$5M range.

Adding Trumbo and Desmond to the deal would mean that the Rockies would have to part with one of their better prospects. It’s questionable whether they would. A pitcher like Lambert or a hitter like Wilker would interest the Orioles, but it depends on how the Rockies view him. If they think of him as a top fifty prospect, as does Keith Law, then he’s not to be considered. On the other hand, if he’s a fringe top hundred prospect as ranked per MLB pipeline then perhaps he could be included. It also depends on how much value Gray still has. The thing is that the Rockies have a number of interesting 2B/SS/3B and pitching prospects and could afford to trade two or three in a deal. If the Orioles could get a package of Gray, Lambert, Hampson and Desmond in return for Gausman and Trumbo, then that would be a deal they'd have to take. 

If the Orioles do decide it’s time to trade Gausman, then the Rockies would definitely have some interesting pieces to trade in return. 

24 July 2018

Moving on From Manny Machado

It happened. It took a long time, but the Orioles finally traded Manny Machado. Most people seem to agree that the return from the Los Angeles Dodgers was fair. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. The "winner" of the deal won't be revealed for a few years, perhaps well after Machado has left Hollywood for a big contract elsewhere.

For the Orioles, the future is what's most important. But the success of that future depends greatly upon what the front office decides to do in the present. Zach Britton is expected to move soon. Brad Brach as well, and maybe even Adam Jones. There is a lot of work to do and little time to get it done.

On top of those expiring contracts, it's time for the Birds brass to think long and hard about the players that are under contract for 2019 and beyond. Years of control are worth a pretty penny on the trade market. Should they stay or should they go? We discuss on this week's episode of The Warehouse Podcast.

Plus, we break down the Machado trade, complain about who will be on the souvenir sodas next year and reminisce on some of the best parts of the Manny era in Baltimore.

You can subscribe or listen to the podcast on iTunes/Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbeanTuneIn and a few other places as well. If you are into social media, we can be found on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube. Wherever you go, give us a five-star review or a "Like". It helps us out a ton! Thanks for the support!

23 July 2018

Cup of jO's: We'll Always Have the Memories (no, the good ones)

Updating how this season's win total has gone in comparison to a few other notable losing seasons in Baltimore.

Book Review: The Pitcher and the Dictator

The lens through which we understand baseball is history.  The feats of today are automatically compared to those that came before.  The accumulation of home runs or strike outs are placed within a spectrum of greats that have played between those white lines.  History, the numbers, all of it is sacred.  Within that, we try to ignore, sometimes quite successfully, that our history is incomplete.  Our concept of greatness is stained with institutional prejudice.  When we think of the greats, we say Babe Ruth, but he certainly was an incomplete great.  His performance was against competition that was intentionally watered down due to concepts of white supremacy.  Baseball is tainted and that is why we does not reverentially whisper Josh Gibson's name.

And, yes, there were others who were among the best baseball had to offer, but were kept out of the game because baseball was racist.  You probably do not know about Luis Tiant (no, his father).  You probably do not fully understand Cool Papa Bell's brilliance.  You have been robbed of Tetelo.  You probably are unaware of the real Shohei Ohtani, the great Martin Dihigo.  Averell Smith mentions them and highlights Satchel Paige in his book "The Pitcher and the Dictator: Satchel Paige's Unlikely Season in the Dominican Republic."

To improve the optics of a future re-election of the ruthless dictator Rafael Trujillo, the esteemed members of Trujillo's political apparatus decided to throw a country-wide championship in Trujillo's honor with one club bearing his name.  To ensure the team named after Ciudad Trujillo (at the time, the new name for Santo Domingo), the two existing teams were merged into one.  However, they soon realized that with other teams stocking up on Cuban and Puerto Rican stars that the Trujillo team needed their own foreign talent.

The Negro Leagues were full of poorly paid talent that should have been showcased at the MLB level.  Trujillo's team was able to swoop in and throw silly money at Satchel Paige, who decided to jump off his current club and head to the island.  There, effectively as a VIP, he experienced life that was stunningly different from the United States where he suffered through extreme prejudice.  In the Dominican, all seemed welcome.  Whereas, in the States, Paige has to use special books, word of mouth, and sometimes suffer through empty stomachs or sleeping in abandoned box cars while on the road.

As the season wore on, Trujillo's team still floundered.  The club resorted to a full on raid of the Negro Leagues to develop what effectively was an All Star team that could have challenged for the World Series in the States.  The players were also now watched over by Trujillo's death squads to ensure they remained focused on winning.

The book is a fascinating exploration into the life of Trujillo as well as for life of black players in the 1930s.  The book dries up at times, but does well to not so much focus on every ball and strike, but to look at the context of the events.

The Pitcher and the Dictator
by Averell Smith
University of Nebraska Press
212 pp.

19 July 2018

Something New

At the end of 2012, Jon invited me to write for Camden Depot. It was the first time anyone had invited me to post anywhere other than my own bare-bones sports blog, and I jumped at the chance. Considering my affinity for fringe outfielders, utility players, and mysterious relievers, it seems fitting that my first post on Camden Depot was about Nolan Reimold. Maybe this one, my last, should have been about Steve Pearce.

Over the years, contributing to Camden Depot allowed me the opportunity to do some things I never thought possible. I wrote about Kevin Gausman's major league debut on ESPN SweetSpot, and about Manny Machado the year after that. I helped with write-ups for ESPN.com's weekly MLB power rankings. I contributed to MASNsports.com. I've also appeared on a few podcasts and managed to not completely embarrass myself.

Most importantly, I was able to talk baseball with other talented writers on a daily basis and find my voice. Jon, in particular, pushed me to think about the game in different ways and challenged me to do better work. He was available to answer questions, even simple ones, and offer ideas and direction. There's no question that he's been a tremendous help, and I'm extremely thankful.

By now, you may be aware that Camden Depot will be shutting things down soon and that Jon is moving on from analytical baseball writing. While I'm not sure if the other Depot writers will be continuing on elsewhere, starting today, I'm happy to announce that I'll be contributing to The Athletic Baltimore and writing about the Orioles. The plan, for now, is for me to contribute weekly, and it may grow into something more. You can read my first article, on Mark Trumbo, here.

Writing for Camden Depot has been a rewarding experience, but it’s time for something new. I’m thrilled that Jon provided the larger stage for more people to read what I had to offer, and I’m appreciative to anyone who read my work over the years - especially those of you who enjoyed it. I hope you continue to do so.

The Next 1,000 Wins After Machado

The Orioles finally found their franchise player that they had been long waiting for.  In his short time in Baltimore, he dazzled.  People literally would tune in to see what sort of feats he could accomplish next.  Yes, there were injuries.  Yes, his demeanor and contribution was less than some of the other players on the team, but he was in his team control years and, typically, a player waits for his first long term contract before setting down roots.  And, yeah, the trade process was excruciatingly long with a great deal of frustration on whether or not it would ever happen, whether he would just walk, or maybe, just maybe, the Orioles would offer a real long term contract.  In the end, Erik Bedard was traded for centerfield prospect Adam Jones, fringe MLB reliever George Sherrill, promising Chris Tillman, fireballer Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler, a pitcher who was defying the odds.

Adam Jones is the face of the that trade that launched 1,000 wins.  He became the franchise as he grew more settled into Baltimore and as the franchise dedicated themselves to him.  That deal led to the opportunity for the Orioles to go deep into the post-season and almost bring back that great prize.  Although the first few years looked a bit rough, it is hard to say anything other than that trade was a smashing success.  In fact, the main opinion outside of Baltimore was that the Mariners absolutely blew that trade.  The Orioles fleeced them.

Ten years later, well, things are different and, yet, still, kind of the same.  Erik Bedard looked (and was at times) otherworldly, but Manny Machado literally is.  No, Machado has not reached the heights of someone like Mike Trout, but Machado is at worst the second coming of Scott Rolen which is a very good thing.  But, I am more interested in the prospect packages.  Let us take a look.\

Adam of San Diego, 2006
Adam Jones vs. Yusniel Diaz
Coming into their age 21 seasons, Adam Jones was seen as a fringe-y centerfielder.  He had begun his career at shortstop, but he had difficulty fitting in there.  The Mariners instead put him out into centerfield the year before and you could see that his pure athleticism was making up for a lot of mistakes.  Baseball Prospectus had him then as the 44th best prospect before he lost his prospect status that year with the Mariners.  Baseball America was a little rosier, calling him the 28th best prospect.  Jones had very good speed, obvious power, and an arm that would let him settle into right field if center field did not work out.  Jones wound up hitting his ceiling projection as a multiple All Star centerfielder.

Yusniel Diaz strangely looks similar.  While Jones trumps him in pure athleticism, what happens between the lines is roughly the same.  Diaz has been a bit shaky in the field at times, but looks like he can probably handle centerfield.  If that fails, then he should easily settle into right field.  FanGraphs is the lone publication who claims he is a definitive left fielder, but that seems to be a minority opinion not only among the media but also among the actual scouts I talk to.  He also has good speed and power, but those do not play all that well in-game.  That was also a knock on Jones who was able to translate his power eventually, but never could figure out how to get his speed to work on the basepaths.  Diaz gets more out of his skills, but has a more limited upside here.  To see a frequent 20+ home run bat, he would need to make major changes to his swing and for those changes to actually work, which is unlikely because his approach already works well.

When you look to how the industry at large sees him, it is one where there is a mixed view.  Diaz, a Cuban defector, has had a magnifying glass on him since the Dodgers signed him for 31 MM.  That magnifying glass usually means that teams know him well and that his troubles are highly magnified.  Diaz came into this season, his age 21 season, as the 73rd best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus, which is a fairly common placement from that part of the season.  Helium has attached to Diaz as he has begun to actual work well at the plate.  Mid-season rankings put him at 47th for Baseball America, 31st for Baseball Prospectus, and 43rd for 2080 Baseball.

I think if you want to think of things on a 20-80 scale.  Jones seemed to be someone who would fall into a 50-65 range.  With Diaz, he looks much more like a 45-60.  Diaz will get his cup of coffee.  He will get several hundred plate appearances.  He might settled into being a backup outfielder at all three positions or he could well be a first division centerfielder who finds himself once or twice as a representative of Baltimore in the All Star game.

Chris Tillman vs. Dean Kremer
Tillman was an attractive player going into his draft class, which is shown by his second round selection.  Kremer, not so much, as he was not taken until 14th round, but it should be noted he was an overslot signing there.  Still, he was not given all that much attention as he seemed to be a fastball pitcher with some poor secondary offerings.  Tillman on the other hand could touch the upper 90s and had a dizzying curveball that he could not control for the life of him.  Tillman's first two years saw him hit very, very hard, but he handled it well and his stuff flashed great potential.  It earned him a 67th ranking by Baseball America before he was dealt to the Orioles.

Kremer is several years older than Tillman was at the time, but Kremer is finding himself.  The Dodgers analytics team reconfigured Kremer and turned him from being a sinker/slider mix pitcher to a four seam/curve mix due to some indications provided by spin rates and other metrics.  he has taken off with 13.1 k/9 strikeout rate over hiA and AA competition.  He works in the mid to low 90s, but can reach up to a high 90s fastball.  That reach gives him some projection as a reliever if things fall apart.  As it stands, he looks to me to be a fringe top 100 arm depending on how his season plays out at Bowie.  He certainly does not have that 2 slot potential Tillman had as a prospect, but he could reach Tillman's actual height as a 3 slot starter.

As you can see, there seems to be a bit of a similarity where the players kind of match each other, but the Bedard package had more upside so far.

George Sherrill vs. Breyvic Valera
Let us take a breather for a moment and discuss the throw in pieces.  These guys both had value, but not exceptionally so.  Sherrill was a guy to scratched and clawed his way up from the Indy leagues.  He eeked out a few seasons with the Mariners as a decent middle reliever.  Nothing particularly special and the Orioles wanted him to beef up their relief core and letting him challenge for the closer position.  Meanwhile, Breyvic Valera is a utility infielder type whose advanced approach in the minors has taken a beating at the MLB level where pitchers can more effectively nibble corners and challenge his hitting.  Valera could potentially become a regular, but he and, really, Sherrill too are more about collecting bodies than finding diamonds.

Kam Mickolio vs. Zach Pop
Mickolio was an after thought in his draft. No one paid much attention to him coming out of Montana and he went through his college career without much fanfare.  The Mariners drafted him in the 18th round and minor league hitters could not figure him out.  As he went to Baltimore, he had finished up at AAA Tacoma on a high note and was ready to battle it out in the Orioles' pen.  Pop is similar, yet different.  Pop also has an awesome name for a baseball player.  Pop comes with a bit more prestige.  Pop got a bonus similar to Kremer's.  What Pop has done is show a style and performance quite similar to Mychal Givens with almost as much ease.  It took Givens three seasons to really break out with his pitching, maybe Pop has another gear.  That all said, I think these two pieces come across as similar, but I think Pop has the higher upside here.

Tony Butler vs. Rylan Bannon
Butler was a 19yo pitcher with low 90s fastbal and curveball pitcher.  There was hope that he would mature and would grow into his projection.  The performance was not their and before their last seasons together in the Mariners system, some thought Butler might be the better pitcher.  However, Butler continued to struggle and Tillman flashed some incredible work in his last year there before being dealt to the Orioles.

Bannon is not your typical infield prospect.  The undersized infielder uses an extreme uppercut to tap into all the power he can muster, which has flourished into a 20 home run first half this year.  However, that uppercut swing tends to mean you have to have your timing just right, so he also has put up a strikeout rate of about 30% in high A ball.  That is a little alarming for a player who should be fairly polished in his approach as a 22 year old who went through college.  That said, he has positional flexibility at 2B and 3B and, if any of his offensive productivity survives as he is challenged against better competition, he might well be a solid second division starter in Baltimore.  That was also the hope with Butler, a second division-ish starter ceiling (read: 4th/5th slot starter).

The primary take away should be this: Bill Bavasi and the Mariners made a terrible deal that was not comparable to the talent they were acquiring while the Dodgers made a deal that was more in line with what one should expect when you are acquiring a difference maker.  In comparison, I think the deals are similar.  Jones is a slight upgrade as a prospect from Diaz.  Tillman is an upgrade from Diaz in that he possessed obvious carrying tools at a younger age.  The rest are all pushes.  Perhaps what was most stunning about that Bedard deal was that Jones hit his ceiling and Tillman almost did.  That rarely happens.

There is about a 22% chance that someone with Jones' or Diaz' ranking would turn into a player with star quality seasons.  There is an 18% chance that Tillman turned out to be a solid starting pitcher.  The odds of both things happening were 5%.  In other words, the outcome that the Orioles saw from the Bedard trade would have been expected to occur one out of 20 times.  The Mariners got fleeced, yes, but that obvious fleecing still faced a 95% chance of something worse happening than what happened.

This is sobering.  The deal that launched a 1,000 wins should have wound up dashed upon a rocky outcropping not far from where the deal was made.  Likewise, as solid as this current deal looks, it probably will end in failure.  For the Orioles to see something similar, they are probably looking at a 1 in 50 opportunity just looking at Diaz and Kremer.

18 July 2018

A Farewell to Machado

There was a time, last December, when it felt as if the time was near for Manny Machado's departure.  Matt Kremnitzer at the time compiled some amazing defensive highlights over Machado's career.  Given how his time at shortstop has gone this year, we do not need to update that.  You should give it a view. Maybe play Sarah McLaughlin's I Will Remember You in the background.

What I want to discuss here is not the best of Machado or the end of Machado.  Not yet, do I wish to talk about the prospects the Orioles are seeing coming back to the team.  What I wish to ponder on for a moment was about the excitement we felt when Machado came up to the majors and was shifted to third base in the wake of Wilson Betemit.

A concern at the time was that not only was Machado being rushed from Bowie, but that he was also being pushed into a new position.  The shift from shortstop to third base was not to be taken likely as Cal Ripken Jr. famously said that it took him a year to re-learn third base after spending him MLB career almost entirely at shortstop.

Manny's first game on August 9, 2012 was decent, but uneventful.  He managed to sneak in a couple singles.  He seemed to have some trouble at third base, but did manage to make two assists and a putout.  In all honesty, it was not all that great.  He looked a little overmatched, but it was better than what Betemit or Mark Reynolds had showed.  The bat looked far more promising than what Robert Andino had become.

August 10, 2012 was otherworldly.  Machado looked like he belonged.  He had four putouts and three assists.  He made several difficult plays.  And the bat?  The bat.  Below is the box score from that night.

Baltimore Orioles Table
Batting AB R H RBI BB SO A Details
Nick Markakis RF4000100
J.J. Hardy SS4010002
Chris Davis DH400003
Adam Jones CF3010011CS,HBP
Matt Wieters C3100101
Wilson Betemit 1B32100002B,HBP
Nate McLouth LF41210002B
Manny Machado 3B42240042·HR
Omar Quintanilla 2B4132012HR
Team Totals3371072511
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/17/2018.

I can still remember his first home run in an Orioles uniform.  It happened in the bottom of the fifth on a 3-2, 83 mph slider from Luke Hochevar.  That is old school baseball.  In the minors, an offspeed 3-2 pitch is a rarity, so the Royals probably thought that Machado would be aggressive on an expected fastball.  He was not.  The ball hung inside at belt level and Machado lifted the solo shot out over the left field fence about six rows deep.

The next inning, Hochevar was in a bit of trouble.  The score was now 4-1 after Nate McLouth doubled, leaving him at second and Betemit at third base.  Hochevar came at Machado with three 94 mph fastballs to earn himself a 1-2 count.  He then mixed it up with a 78 mph curveball right over the plate.

The game was 7-1. Joy spread over the stadium and the Orioles had their second coming.  It was a remarkable time and there was so much hope.

That September, I lucked into a couple of tickets for Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees.  Machado struggled against much better pitching that the Yankees offered.  A couple days later, the Orioles 2012 would end.  Yet, it felt like it was the beginning of so much more.  It felt as if Machado would be seeing a few more post-seasons in an Orioles uniform and provide the fan base with such joy as he developed into one of the best baseball players of our generation.

One of those happened. Machado displayed amazing defense at third base.  His performance there was truly the most impressive play I have ever seen.  His bat required more seasoning, but has become one of the top twenty bats in the game and he probably still has another gear or two left.  With respect to the playoffs, a knee injury ended the dream 2014 season and severely hurt the Orioles chances of making the World Series that year.  His only other taste of the playoffs was a poorly managed play in game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

He will be missed and, hopefully, it will not hurt too much seeing him in another uniform.

17 July 2018

The Manny Machado Sadness Extravaganza

Well, here we are. Based on all of the different reports flying around the Web, it sure sounds like Manny Machado has played his final game for the Baltimore Orioles. The latest news indicates that Philadelphia is the likely landing spot as the Phillies have upped their offer to include their number two overall prospect, and one of the top 100 youngsters in the game, 21-year-old pitcher Adonis Medina.

Nothing is final, but the finish line is rapidly approaching. Now what? Should we be happy? Are we relieved? Or is this all just so, so terrible? Perhaps it is a cop-out to say that it is a mix of everything, but that is the most honest answer.

A full reaction to Machado's exit won't be possible until after the trade is completed. That is when the analysis of who the Orioles have acquired can truly begin. Even then, we won't know who "won" the deal until several years down the road.

For now, let's enjoy watching Machado pull on the Orioles uniform one last time at tonight's All-Star Game and see where all the chips fall. Unfortunately, we don't have any other options.

You can subscribe or listen to the podcast on iTunes/Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbeanTuneIn and a few other places as well. If you are into social media, we can be found on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube. Wherever you go, give us a five-star review or a "Like". It helps us out a ton! Thanks for the support!