Oct 12, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (25) steals second base ahead of the tag by Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) in the 5th inning during game five of the 2012 ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Takes two to tango

On Friday I wrote about the possibility of the Baltimore Orioles trading for Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello. It’s unclear what level of interest the Orioles have, however the two sides have sat down and talked. As reported yesterday by Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News tweeted that perhaps Detroit and the Orioles could consummate a trade that would send Porcello and infielder Jhonny Peralta to the O’s in exchange for J.J. Hardy. So, Orioles fans…how would YOU feel about that?!

Speaking for myself, I think the Orioles would be crazy to trade Hardy. Notice that I said they’d be crazy to trade Hardy; what I didn’t say is that they’d be crazy to take that deal. Most people are going to say that Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, Adam Jones, and probably Matt Wieters are untouchable with regard to trades. I’d throw Hardy into a category just below that. Are there trades out there whereby Hardy could be involved? I suppose so; for instance if Detroit wanted to send the Orioles Prince Fielder for Hardy I’d pull the trigger. However that’s not on the table right now. Hardy for Peralta and Porcello would not even be remotely close to being a fair deal for the Orioles.

Courtesy of William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

That leads me into my real point in this: it takes two to tango. Many fans appear to be dismayed at seeing teams like the Boston Red Sox consummating trades and so forth, while the Orioles appear to be standing pat. (First off keep in mind that based on 2012 Boston has a lot more to build up than do the Orioles.) The above-mentioned trade proposition came from a reporter, however it’s probably safe to assume that those names were thrown around in conversations between the Orioles and Detroit. So assuming that most people are going to agree that wouldn’t benefit the O’s too much, this is an example of why trades aren’t as clean cut as people want to believe. Again, assuming that the likes of Machado, Bundy, Jones, Wieters, and Hardy are untouchable, it’s also safe to assume that other teams have inquired about them.

My point in this is that Dan Duquette isn’t just sitting in his office waiting for the phone to ring. However if people really want a move to be made for the sake of making a move, then I suppose Dan Duquette’s answer of no when the Tigers called and said “…hey Dan, we’ll send you Peralta and Porcello for your gold glove shortstop Hardy” was the wrong move. However if you agree that wouldn’t be a fair trade, you should also accept the fact that many lopsided trades of that nature have been offered to Dan Duquette over time.

Regardless of any of that, I do feel that Porcello COULD possibly be a fit with the Orioles. I just don’t feel J.J. Hardy’s the guy that the Orioles should consider surrendering to obtain Porcello’s services. I think that Detroit’s vision was that the Orioles would get Porcello, Peralta could play third base, and Machado could shift over to his natural position of shortstop. How nice of them to have everything worked out for the Orioles.

Obviously if you’re trading for a major leaguer(s) you probably aren’t going to be able to get away with dealing low-level prospects. So the Orioles do have to have some guys in mind that they could send to Detroit if they were to get Porcello. Jim Johnson‘s name was floated, and while that would be a huge loss to the pen he’s also expendable due to some of the other names out there. Whether or not Porcello comes to Baltimore remains to be seen, but keep in mind that plenty of deals are always on the table for the O’s. However whether or not those deals would benefit or harm the franchise is another story.

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  • turn2

    Jim Johnson for Porcello would also be one-sided favoring the Tigers. Short of Duquette being slipped some mind-altering drug, I can’t see this ever happening. Why give up one of the game’s top closers, who’s a hurler with three plus pitches and easily could be converted to starter, for someone who hasn’t risen past being so-so?

    • Domenic Vadala

      It wouldn’t be ideal, but odds are Detroit won’t accept the likes of Troy Patton or Pedro Strop. Having said that, the Orioles have depth in that pen, and in Strop you might have a future closer. Ultimately, you’d be trading a reliever for a starter; innings wise, that might be a decent swap. Ultimately keep in mind that we’re talking about a trade between two teams that were contenders in 2012…neither side is going to accept pennies on the dollar for their goods.

      • turn2

        I can’t see the O’s ever going for a trade that has the Tigers saying, in effect: Well, give you innings for quality. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Buck and DD simply have no interest in making a deal if it means someone undervaluing their players and trying to get them on the cheap. This is what happened in some years past, when the Orioles were awful and at other clubs’ mercy. No longer.

        I do concede your point about Strop being a potential closer, but the way he looked much of the second half, there’s no assurance that he’d be particularly good at it. He certainly has the arm for it, but I’m not sure about the intestinal fortitude (or command).

        Johnson has that toughness in spades. I recall after one of his few really horrendous appearances (for some reason Buck let him absorb a six-run inning). Afterwards, when J.J. met with reporters, he basically shrugged as if it was nothing, calling the outing an “anomaly”. And so it was, he bounced back and rattled off I think it was 16 or so straight dominant performances. (The same thing happened in the playoffs: He blew a save, but Buck didn’t hesitate to call his number the next game, and he got the save.)

        Like Miguel Gonzalez, nothing seems to faze him, an attribute that’s so important to being successful on the mound and one that I don’t think can be taught.

        • Domenic Vadala

          I really wish that other GM’s were as stupid as Bill Bavasi, the former GM of Seattle. He allowed Andy MacPhail to strong arm Adam Jones (and Chris Tillman) away from the Mariners in return for Erik Bedard. My point is that the Orioles are smarter than that, as are most other teams. If you want to get something you have to give something in return. I would prefer that someone along the lines of Strop or Patton be on the table in this case, and I believe that’s probably still possible. However i’d give them Johnson before I’d give them Hardy. Regardless of anything, I wouldn’t expect them to do anything before January at this point.

          • turn2

            It’s interesting you value Johnson, who many considered the Oriole MVP, less than Hardy. I think it’s a tough call between those two, and agree that I’d much rather it be Patton or Strop, if that deal need be made at all.

            As for Bavasi, your characterization of him as “stupid” is the standard one, but I think his reputation is hit a bit too hard. I’m not saying that the five-for-one trade was a work of genius by any means, but so far only Jones has really established himself as a year in, year out sort of star, though Tillman looks to be on the verge of something special. As for the other three players who came over from Seattle, two of them provided the O’s with some value: Sherrill both on the mound, and later by being spun off for Steve Johnson, and Mickolio, who never reached his potential, but was traded with David Hernandez to Arizona for Reynolds. (Only Butler, who never got past his injuries and most recently has pitched in the Independent League, can be viewed as a total bust for the Birds.)

            All in all, it was a move that solidified Andy MacPhail’s reputation as a savvy executive, but which proved the embarrassment of Bavasi’s. So, why do I think people are too tough with their assessment of the latter?

            Well, when the trade was made, Bedard was for the world looking like he was on the verge of superstardom. It’s really a testament to just how highly thought of he was the O’s could get anywhere near what they did for him (more, in fact, than they were able to get in another deal, for a former MVP, Tejada). Surely, Bavasi had to be thinking that by getting him it would give the Mariners rotation two aces, to potential Cy Young winners (Felix Hernandez being the other, of course). That would have been as formidable a righty-lefty combo as any team in baseball.

            Bavasi had no way of knowing that Bedard’s arm would go out on him so quickly, and he can’t really be faulted if there were no danger signs when the physical was conducted. In reality, getting Bedard was potentially a great move for Seattle, the only problem being what they had to give up in return.

            Even in that it was a crap shoot for Bavasi. If you look at who went east, there was only one major league veteran, Sherrill, and he was one of the throw-ins (the others being Butler and Mickolio).

            Jones had just played a handful of games in the bigs, and though tabbed a “can’t miss” prospect, he still was a prospect, and of course we know the history of baseball has been littered with “can’t miss” players who DID miss. Tillman was highly regarded, but at only 19 and having never pitching above high A ball at the time of the trade, he still had much to prove.

            Bavari gambled and lost. The deal went against him when Bedard’s Mariner career crashed and burned, but also in seeing how the Orioles got so much in return. Had Bedard been able to be the pitcher Seattle thought they were getting, or had the O’s not made out so much like bandits, I think posterity would be a little kinder to Bavasi.

            Unfortunately, he rolled the dice and they came up snake eyes.

          • Domenic Vadala

            Injuries aren’t anything that can be predicted for the most part. Granted some players are probably prone to them, but at the time there was no way of knowing that Bedard’s health would go so far south so quickly. The reason that was a stupid move on Bavasi’s part was because Bedard made it very well known during the season and after that he didn’t want to be in Baltimore. Granted the Orioles’ clubhouse might not have been the happiest or most chipper place on earth at the time, however making it so well known you don’t want to be there gives you the label of “clubhouse cancer.” Granted you could argue that MacPhail gave him exactly what he wanted, but that should have set off warning bells in Seattle’s minds. Furthermore, it was also well-known at the time that Seattle was hot on Bedard, and MacPhail wasn’t willing to pull the trigger unless Adam Jones was involved in the trade. Bavasi offered five or six different deals that didn’t include Adam Jones, and MacPhail politely smiled and shook his head. At one point he said that he was willing to hold onto Bedard unless he got the deal he wanted, and that deal would have to include Adam Jones. Eventually he wore Bavasi down (in private and in the media) and he relented. He traded away Jones for a malcontent like Bedard, and in the process allowed himself to be publically owned by another GM. (A lot of that trade was hashed out in the media.) That trade helped cost Bavasi his job, and so far as I know his phone hasn’t rung since then. The only thing I would say in his defense is that a trade of that magnitude – a five for one swap – would probably have to be signed off on by ownership in most franchises. So IF that happened and the owner agreed, it’s a bit of a “punk move” for him to allow Bavasi to take the fall on that. However he probably told Bavasi that his job hinged on this trade being successful.,,

          • turn2

            Merry Christmas, Domenic! Bedard made it “very well known” that he wanted out of Baltimore? I hope you can back that one up with some hard evidence, because I was (and still am, if the truth be known) a big fan of Erik’s, and followed his career pretty closely, especially with the Orioles. (Here’s an excellent Seattle Times article on him right after the trade, with many good quotes from those in the know back in Charm City at the time–Palmer, Perlozzo, Mazzone, Beattie, Buck Martinez, Roch Kubatko–and no one even so much as suggests he desperately wanted out: http://seattletimes.com/html/highschoolsports/2004174633_bedard100.html )

            I don’t ever recall him expressing such a sentiment (I’m not saying he didn’t, but I don’t recall it if he did). Quite honestly, O’s reporters were lucky to pry more than a few words out of him. He was probably their least favorite player to interview during his years with the team, because of all his “yes,” “no,” “I’m not sure” answers.

            So for him to be so expansive in his comments that he’d reveal his inner most thoughts about the team–and negative ones, at that–would be totally out of character for him, at least back then (he’s mellowed a lot since then with the media).

            How tight-lipped was Bedard? Well, I recall watching a video of him meeting Seattle reporters for the first time in spring of 2008. He immediately laid the ground rules by saying he would only be taking three questions. When one of them asked him why he was limiting it to just three, Bedard tersely shot back (I’m paraphrasing, but it’s pretty close), “Okay, that’s one! Next question?”

            I really think Erik’s bad reputation was (and is, to the extent people are still buying into it) mostly unfair and a result of him getting slammed in the press for supposedly not being a gamer Even if there’s some truth to that charge (and I’m not saying there is), it remained the perception and was a source of friction Bedard and certain reporters covering the O’s. The claim was that he preferred to pitch, say, only 6.2 innings–which can still be a quality start–rather than 7.2. I think that was more speculation than anything else, because on at least on one such occasion there was an injury that forced him out of the game early, and there was snickering by some that he was faking it (but I’ve heard similar allegations of malingering made against Brian Roberts, which I don’t believe either). Worst case scenario, even if Erik was “soft”, that still doesn’t make him a villain.

            For sure, Bedard didn’t get along well with some O’s reporters, and didn’t want to be around them, and who could blame him if they were maliciously floating around the falsehood that he was a “clubhouse cancer.” I recall reading a quote from Brian Roberts after deal saying he’d miss him, and I believe there was also a similar one from Nick Markakis. It was also B-Rob, I believe, who talked about how Erik liked to go fishing with a few other players during spring training. Also, the quotes in the above article from Perlozzo and Mazzone, who were also in the same clubhouse with him, don’t give that impression, either, but that he’s a just a very reserved person. It sounds like he was the victim of character assassination to me, and that’s wrong when it happens to anyone.

            So, in no way do I think this was MacPhail dumping a “malcontent,” though ultimately the motive isn’t relevant to the quality of the trade. (And let’s not be naive enough to think that if Bedard was a terrible teammate, that that somehow wouldn’t have made it back to Seattle.) Don’t forget that he was negotiating with Bavasi from a position of strength, because the Orioles were also listening to trade offers from the Mets, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, along with the Mariners, and discussions with Los Angeles were fairly intense. As I mentioned in the previous post, Bavasi was the victim of some extremely bad luck, as pretty much everything broke the O’s way in the Bedard deal.

            Let’s turn the tables for a moment and consider a couple of other possible scenarios:

            How would posterity view the trade had Bedard stayed healthy and excelled, while the other player arcs remained the same? We’d say it still favored the Orioles, but not by nearly as much.

            Or, what if Bedard helped lead the Mariners to a World Championship, while Jones had a serious injury and never achieved star status, Tillman’s progress remained the way it’s been, just now starting to show some serious signs of developing into a quality starter, and the other three careers also played out in the same way they ended up doing?

            Then, we’d be saying Bavasi’s gamble really paid off for him and Seattle. I seriously doubt that anyone would be using “stupid” and Bavasi in the same sentence. We might still say he gave away an awful lot, but if Bedard had won a Cy Young Award and the Mariners developed into a mini-dynasty in large part because of the trade, even his harshest critics would be forced that it turned out to be worth it. It a reminder of how there’s always an element of uncertainty in these dealings, more than we sometimes imagine.

          • Domenic Vadala

            The fact is that Bavasi’s telephone hasn’t rung since he was let go from the Mariners. Most of these GM’s get recycled in some way or another; that hasn’t happened with him. Therefore that should tell you that he’s not well thought of in his own industry. I’m not sure it was so much the trade itself as it was the manner in which he allowed himself to be strong-armed publically by MacPhail. Who knows, but one thing is certain and that’s the fact that he’s not and hasn’t been a GM since being let go by Seattle (he’s currently a “special asst. to the GM of the Reds). Forbes Magazine ranked Bavasi 87th out of 98 sports GM’s with three years plus of experience in 2007, which is a pretty harsh conviction.

            You can google stuff all day long about Erik Bedard’s various attitude problems over time. I’m not saying that the guy had the worst attitude of all time either, however it seemed to me that he just didn’t want to be in Baltimore. If you want to interpret that as just being tight-lipped, be my guest. But he got a lot less tight-lipped when he was traded, and suddenly he started smiling in front of cameras as opposed to giving one word answers and so forth.

          • turn2

            I think we’ve run this thread into the ground and would both prefer talking about the Orioles bright future, so I’ll keep it short. Bavasi didn’t get fire solely over the Bedard trade, it was just the rancid icing on the cake that sealed the deal for him. Bottom line for me: Although he gave up too much, had Bedard not broken down, but rather made key contributions towards turning the Mariners into a contender, the deal would be viewed totally different today, and Bavasi’s reputation wouldn’t be nearly as bad as it is.

            As for Bedard, I think the question that really needs to be asked is: How much did he really want out of town and how much of it was that he just wanted certain reporters to get out of town? [LOLs] There’s no evidence at all that he was a clubhouse cancer; on the contrary, he interacted well (if a bit standoffish) with his coaches and teammates. The only reason, then, that I can see him wanting out is to play on a winning team, which the O’s weren’t close to being then. It was with this need to rebuild in mind that MacPhail made the greatest trade of his tenure with the Birds, dealing Bedard at peak value for great return. Oriole fans owe him a huge debt of gratitude to him for playing hardball with Bavasi, and wringing from him every little bit he could get. Bottom line:MacPhail’s decision to make the trade had far less to do with what Bedard did or didn’t want, than the long term needs of the Baltimore Orioles.

          • Domenic Vadala

            Perhaps so, but keep in mind that standoffish attitudes generally don’t indicate getting along well with your teammates/coaches. Plus again…if he wanted various reporters out that would generally indicate someone with an attitude problem. I suppose you can look at it however you want to, but in my opinion someone that’s somewhat standoffish and doesn’t get along well with reporters could be construed as having an attitude problem.

            As for Bavasi, he showed an incredibly weak will in his dealings with MacPhail. If I had been ownership, that would have sealed it for me. As you pointed out, MacPhail showed great strength in that case. In doing so, he publically used Bill Bavasi; could people see Dan Duquette making that kind of mistake? Probably not. MacPhail wore Bavasi down eventually, and got what he wanted. If I were in the business of being a baseball executive I wouldn’t want that kind of perception. Sure MacPhail did what was best for the franchise, however had Bedard showed a willingness to stay in Baltimore it wouldn’t have been an issue or question. (At the time there were rumors he wanted to be in Toronto since he’s a native Canadian.)

  • Lysander

    I realize the importance of being journalistically provocative, but the notion that a Porcello & Peralta for Hardy trade would be unfavorable for the O’s goes way beyond provocative comment to the point of being absurd. Both Peralta and Hardy are age 30, both have a lifetime SLG of .422 and if you take stock in such things they have similar WAR at 2.8 for Hardy and 2.6 for Peralta. Hardy has a slight advantage in range at 11.4 to 9.9, but if Peralta moved back to third, that stat is
    not as relevant. So even if the trade was even up, the Tiger’s probable gain would be statistically insignificant, so they would be including Porcello basically for free, which is not only not going to happen, but it’s irrational to even broach the prospect of such a deal.