In my previous blog before writing for Birds Watcher, I wrote a post about two months ago I called “Mission Impossible” … as that seemed to be the task facing newly hired Dan Duquette.
There were/are three major points to be made about the Orioles’ situation:
1. There isn’t enough money available for high profile / high risk free agents (even if they want to come to Baltimore).
2. There are few pieces to trade that would not set the team back rather quickly into a total near-term rebuild.
3. The harvest potential at the top end of the farm system is very slim.
So, what’s a GM sort of guy to do?
Let’s think this through logically …
A. We have 4 fixture pieces of high quality – catcher, shortstop, centerfield, and rightfield.
B. 1st base and 3rd base can be held down by Davis and Reynolds, 2nd base is going to be Roberts or Andino, or perhaps one of the other new acquisitions like Antonelli or Betemit.
C. Leftfield should, in my opinion, go to Reimold from day one – do this, and he’ll perform.
D. DH may be covered by a combination of players above, along with new subs Chavez or Miller. As well, Wieters may be given a reasonable number of days off from catching with a quality defensive back-up in Teagarden, and remain in the line-up as DH.
Offensive Summary: The Orioles were a better than average offense with good power. Back-up players have been found for the outfield and infield and catcher – guys who are at least decent offensive threats. Though the offense failed the team last season more often than is generally thought (since the pitching was so bad), there is every reason to believe the offense should be reasonably strong.
E. Starting Pitching: Arrieta appears healthy and is solid and Guthrie remains an innings-eater. Britton will be a part of the rotation. Hopefully Matusz or Tillman or Bergesen can regain form, but no bets can be made on any of them. Chen and Wada are good potential candidates. Hunter, Eveland, Simon, et.al. are (I fear) temporary solutions at best (or long relief). There remains a scarcity of free agent or otherwise available starting pitchers – after all, everyone needs the same thing!
F. Relief Pitching: We have a few good arms … especially Jim Johnson – another fixture piece. I still believe Berken can be a force (perhaps my most arguable point of the day), and Pedro Strop is a definite keeper. Gregg is another keeper – unfortunately … just please don’t let him close. O’Day has good stats. Patton can be effective, with Rapada as a specialist if the roster room permits.
Pitching Summary (Here is what I wrote 8 weeks ago): The starting pitching is a critical problem – why the young arms flamed out, I cannot understand. But we are left with merely hopes for resurrection, and to my knowledge, that only really happened ONCE. So, since there is little hope of getting much help outside the organization, THEREFORE, it is necessary to move Jim Johnson into the starting rotation. The domino effect of this is a major bullpen depletion – already depleted by Uehara and Gonzo being traded (probable good deals, I confess). But the good news is that there are a substantial number of decent relief arms out there to be secured, and this seems to me to be the best option and course of action given the three major problems stated at the front. So, move Johnson to the starting rotation, and spend what dollars there are to bring in a number of relief arms.
(Back to today) Well, that didn’t happen; starting pitching has been brought in from the outside, and Johnson is staying in the bullpen. I’d not be against the Birds finding a way to get another high quality reliever with money not spent in any big way on expensive free agents.
Overall Summary: Returning to my previous post of 8 weeks ago and reworking it was a positive experience. Honestly, a lot of moves were made that did not break the bank, yet have reasonable upside potential. I can be content with going into the season even with where we stand right now and take our chances on it … and begin to fix the farm and international programs for the future.
Dan Duquette – call me if you need any more advice.