I was very interested to read this column last night by CBS’ John Heyman regarding the Baltimore Orioles. This is in effect a positive piece about the franchise and how it seems that nobody’s picking them to do much of anything this year. However buried in the middle of the article is a glimpse into an aspect of the Orioles’ off season to which we referred on numerous occasions here at Birds Watcher. Many fans were angry that the Orioles didn’t seem to make any moves in the off season to improve themselves, and many even deemed this due to a directive from ownership not to spend money.
The fact is that off season moves can often be expensive, especially for a team that’s looking to move up in the grand scheme of things. However the fact is that the O’s had every intention of spending this past off season. It was the price that was being asked of the Orioles that caused them not to pull the trigger. According to Heyman:
However, word is the Mets sought top pitching prospect Kevin Gausman and third-base stud Manny Machado for Dickey. And the Royals wanted Gausman or big-time pitching prospect Dylan Bundy plus another for Myers.”
So let me get this straight, the New York Mets wanted Kevin Gausman (a top pitching prospect in MLB) AND Manny Machado (a stud that got his feet wet – complete with playoff experience – last year and played a darned good third base) in exchange for a 39-year old knuckleballer? To the most ardent of Orioles’ critics (those who are angered by the lack of moves): would you really want them to have pulled the trigger on that deal? In almost all of their off season discussions with other teams regarding trades, those were the kinds of demands that were made of Dan Duquette. Let me be clear in that R.A. Dickey is a guy that would have been a great fit with the Orioles. However…at that price?
As I said throughout the off season, there’s an audacity on the part of other teams (the Mets in this case) to ask about making deals like that. In most cases I do believe in the premise you never know until you ask. However that would be like going up to a friend and asking him to give (not lend…give) you $1 million; it’s an audacious request for sure, but you never know until you ask…right?!
Putting the stupidity of these potential deals aside, let’s look at the psychology of them for a moment. When I say that, I mean from the opposite perspective. First off, teams see a team that finally saw success after 14 years in 2012, and they knew that the Orioles would want to build on that in the off season. So people’s attitudes are that “it’s going to come at a price.” Secondly, many other teams such as Kansas City, the NY Mets, etc. are where the Orioles were a few years ago. Just as the Orioles knew this at the time, those franchises know that the only way they’re going to get back to a competitive level again is by re-stocking their farm systems with young prospects. So why not ask for the creme de la creme of the Orioles’ organization? Bill Bavasi had Adam Jones strong armed away from him in Seattle by Andy McPhail, so they might as well try.
That’s looking at it from their perspective; in reality, demands such as those do come across as audacious. Unfortunately the reality is that Dickey ended up going to one of the Orioles’ division rivals, however he also took the loss and gave up four runs in Toronto’s opening day game. Toronto also gave up some good prospects for Dickey…a 39-year old pitcher. However for the sake of conversation let’s say that Duquette had allowed himself to risk playing the fool and bit on that “generous” offer from the Mets. Gausman probably would have been pitching for someone in their farm system right now, and Machado would have probably replaced Ruben Tejada as the Mets’ starting shortstop. (They’re probably set at the hot corner with David Wright.) Whether Dickey would have started for the O’s yesterday, today, etc. is another story, however Orioles fans would have had the pleasure of seeing him retire in two years or so all while Machado and Gausman would probably be flourishing for the New York Mets.
Let’s go a step further; taking that trade would have been a very short-sighted move by Duquette. But it all other things being equal, odds are that Wilson Betemit would have been the starting third baseman. And where’s Wilson Betemit right now? That’s why trading top prospects is such a risky move.
Keep in mind that this is just one trade that was proposed for the Orioles; according to multiple reports every team to whom they spoke asked about some combination of Machado, Gausman, and Dylan Bundy. I suppose that if you really feel the Orioles should have made a deal just for the sake of making a deal, you’re entitled to your opinion. However keep in mind that a deal isn’t necessarily a good deal simply because it’s a deal.