28 August 2018

Cup of jO's: Jack Zoellner is Not the End of the World

Last night, we remembered a time when the Orioles seem fated to win with the contribution of unlikely players.  It cemented into a 7-0 victory behind a pitcher, David Hess, who in previous seasons would have been a prime arm to have been dealt out in a deadline trade for a half a season of a player to address a positional need for the club.  However, we also were reminded of how the club has repeatedly traded away international signing bonus money when the Orioles sent 750k of their overall 8.25 MM pool to the Phillies for 1B (generously 3B) Jack Zoellner, a 23 year old who passed his time in the Gulf Coast League for the second year in a row.

Jack Zoellner Batting
Year AgeDif Lev BA OBP SLG
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/28/2018.

The minor league season is effectively done and Zoellner plays first base.  What that tells us is that the Orioles do not see Zoellner as a short term need for organizational need.  The clubs simply do not have a drastic short coming and need a player to stabilize a club as we saw with the Milton Ramos deal last year.  Instead, the Orioles saw something of value in Zoellner and I am not sure what.  Whatever they see in him, whether it be upside or makeup, he cost effectively nothing.

Nothing.  That is how this deal impacts the Orioles ability to acquire a talent like Victor Victor Mesa, the top international amateur who has yet to be cleared by Major League Baseball.  Currently, Mesa is tied to three teams: Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Baltimore Orioles.  The Marlins and the Rays are currently sitting around 4 to 4.5 MM in money to spend.  Meanwhile, the Orioles are now down to 6 to 7 MM.  Much of the outcry on Twitter about this deal is based on the idea that by dealing away 750k that the Orioles are shortarming themselves for Mesa.  In other words, a lot of public chatter is imploring the Orioles to bid against themselves when they still have a commanding sum of money to offer Mesa.

As I noted a month ago, that the Orioles holding 8.25 MM was somewhat absurd.  The way the international amateur scene works is that teams break the rules and arrange contracts before the July 2nd signing date.  Once that date arrives, all of the top prospects sign.  What remains are the occasional Cuban immigrant, the rare Asian signing, and then a bevy of overlooked older players inking low money contracts.  By not being players on July 2nd, it was confusing to see how the money could shake out for the Orioles in any way other than securing Mesa.

If you felt confused by all of this, do not worry.  Established writers also lost gravity.  I saw some suggest that the Orioles stored up all this money and then found out that nothing was left in the Dominican Republic.  That is a somewhat shocking level of ignorance for a long-tenured writer to state.  The Orioles have boots on the ground.  They have guys in the Dominican and throughout Latin America.  They have guys in Europe.  They have guys in Asia and the Pacific islands.  You can certainly argue they need more people out there, but international scouting is long past the days of driving eight hours into the mountains and finding some 16 year old hitting homemade balls with a broken broom stick.  Everyone knows everyone.  It is all about how well can you project a player and often how well you have ingratiated yourself to family.  This is known.  Everyone knows this.  In absolutely no way would this be a surprise for the Orioles.  It is only a surprise to those who do not really follow the game (all aspects of the game) closely.

So while it is kind of funny and humorous to note the dread of seasons past, it is not really weird to see the Orioles deal out these allotments.  They have too much.  They see guys they like.  They deal what they have for what they want and still have a commanding sum to offer Mesa.

There is nothing to see here.  Move on.

Keep your powder dry for when they screw up because, you know, the organization is still a mess.  This event though is not indicative of that.


Unknown said...

This is probably your most well-written piece, Jon. Bravo. I hope you keep writing after CD shuts its doors. Or write a book.

Pip said...

I echo that comment. I came here wondering if you had any thoughts about our new debut pitcher from last night. It was only five innings but did you see anything that evoked hope or worry?
BTW I will echo again the other comment. You write well, you’re knowledgeable, and you have something to express. The three needs of writing.
George Bernard Shaw said, of Brahms, That he would be one of our leading geniuses if only he had anything particular to say. You have quite a lot to say and you say it very well I hope you will do so.

Jon Shepherd said...

Thanks, both.

Rogers? He has a very narrow range for error. All his pitches are fairly hittable and he does not surprise much. He is fine for a club like this to eat innings, but I would not expect much more. He was actually fairly lucky last night as some balls should have been squared up a little bit better and he was able to leave some runners on base.

Pip said...

Jon, If that is true, and he was the headliner in the Zack Britain trade, doesn’t it indicate that it was a bad trade? We’ve already seen some miserable performances by the pitching that we acquired, it doesn’t seem as if this guy is anything significant either.

Jon Shepherd said...

Dillon Tate was the headliner. Carroll was the second piece. Rogers was the third piece.

Tate looks good. Carroll has some promise as a middle inning reliever.