Baltimore Orioles: To trade or not to trade in the AL East


Current MASN analyst Rick Dempsey is probably one of the most beloved Orioles of all time. Dempsey’s career stat line is as follows: .233 average, 96 HR’s, 471 RBI, and 592 BB’s. Those aren’t earth-shattering numbers by any means, however Dempsey represented so much more to Oriole fans than numbers. He was the heart of every team on which he played, and he still very much represents that same persona on MASN’s O’s Xtra pre/post-game show that he does with Jim Hunter or Amber Theoharis. I always thought it was very telling that in 1991 Dempsey was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, who granted him permission to miss the final game of the season to return to Baltimore for the closing ceremony at Memorial Stadium. They knew what Dempsey meant to the fans of Baltimore, and they even allowed him to don his full Oriole uniform that day. Here’s another fact about Rick Dempsey that some people might not know or have conveniently forgotten: he came to the Orioles via trade…from the NY Yankees.

During the 1976 season the O’s traded Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson to the Yankees in return for Tippy Martinez, Rick Dempsey, Rudy May, Scott McGregor and Dave Pagan. (Along with Dempsey, Martinez and McGregor are probably the most most recognizable names on that list.) With this in mind, I came across and article on NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk this week about Dan Duquette, Peter Angelos, and trading within the division. Basically the gist of the article is that Angelos has always been opposed to trading within the American League East, but Duquette tends to see no issue with it (if the trade is something that improves the Orioles). In effect, this might be an issue on which the two disagree later this summer IF the O’s are in a position to make sure trades for whatever reason.

Speaking for myself, I’m really torn on this. On this issue, I actually tend to agree with Angelos. Let’s use Adam Jones as an example given that he always seems to be the subject of trade rumors. Would the O’s really want to put themselves in a position where they might have to face Jones 18 times a year? Furthermore, do they really want to send one of their most beloved current players to play for a division rival? That’s kind of where I come from for the most part. However let’s also keep in mind that the Orioles wouldn’t be “gifting” Adam Jones (or anyone else for that matter) to a rival; they’d be getting something in return as well. So I do see Duquette’s point when it comes to improving the team. If another team (whether they were in the division or not) offered a decent pitcher or perhaps even a pitching prospect in exchange for an Oriole, they might be foolish to say no.

I suppose I would say that my unwritten rule is that it’s a bad idea to trade within your own division. However while I’d certainly look good and hard at a proposed trade with a division rival and I’d have a heck of a vetting process in terms of the return I’d be getting, I’m not sure I’d totally shut the door on it. Here’s the other thing; that other team might know something that you don’t. In using the NFL as an example, Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins (for draft picks) in 2010. Speaking for myself I thought it was a good trade at the time, however apparently Reid was getting increasingly frustrated with McNabb’s practice habbits. Reid also thought McNabb was reaching the end of the line, and in fact he was. (He did had some good games with the Redskins before being traded to the Vikings where he really bottomed out.) That’s kind of how most trades within divisions tend to go in my opinion.

I would submit that the trade involving Rick Dempsey is an anamolous situation in that it worked out so good for the Orioles. (As a commenter on that article pointed out, a year later the Birds traded Rudy May to the Montreal Expos for Gary Roenicke, Joe Kerrigan and Don Stanhouse.) However the fact remains that Oriole history might be starkly different if not for that trade. So as the summer progresses if Dan Duquette goes to Peter Angelos with a trade proposition involving an AL East rival, I suppose I would say that I hope he at least considers it a bit more than he has in the past. However I also hope he’s careful in making that consideration, because if an Oriole goes to a division rival the Orioles will have to live with the aftermath.

FYI/Off-topic – The Orioles announced yesterday that right fielder Nick Markakis will appear in his first Spring Training game of 2012 next Wednesday (March 14th). Markakis, who’s coming off of abdominal surgery in January, will serve as the DH.

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