Feldman (not from across the hall) comes to Baltimore


Scott Feldman, the newest Oriole, pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers last Wednesday. Photo: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

A quiet day and a half after this weekend’s emotional sweep of the New York Yankees gave way to another crest of emotion in the form of the season’s first big trade. When you think Scott Feldman, whom the Baltimore Orioles acquired this afternoon from the Chicago Cubs, think infield defense.

The Orioles’ gloves will improve whatever type of pitcher he is, which is 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 15 starts this season. Part of the problem was that it had become clear nothing could improve the type of pitcher Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop were. The book is closed on them, and it has been said perhaps a change of scenery would help Arrieta, and the reduced pressure of not being in a pennant race will help Strop. Nolan Reimold has been recalled from Norfolk to replace Strop on the roster and will be in left field against the White Sox tonight.

The other piece of the trade, 27-year-old catcher Steve Clevenger, is a Mount St. Joseph’s product and Baltimore native who lives in Linthicum. At least until Feldman wins his first game as an Oriole, Clevenger is the feel-good angle of the trade. The club assigned him to Norfolk. He is hitting .199 in 79 career major league games and gives the team minor league catching depth, as Matt Wieters has been described by scouts as the one player the Orioles can’t lose.

There is a financial piece of the puzzle, as well, with the team giving the Cubs international signing bonus slots three and four.

The timing of the trade is also key, coming almost a month before the July 31 trading deadline. Feldman’s first start for the Orioles is Wednesday night against the White Sox. Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Dan Duquette wasted no time, giving him at least two starts before the All Start Break and leaving time for possible further player movement by July 31.

Not to put a damper on the situation, but there is a caveat to the trade.  It is the fact that this is Scott Feldman. He’s not Nolan Ryan, but he’s not Feldman from across the hall, either (Seinfeld reference). If he were a higher echelon of pitcher, the Orioles would have had to sacrifice better pitchers than Arrieta and Strop to pull it off. But sacrificing them in and of itself helps the organization. 

He has the Buck Showalter connection of having pitched for Texas the first eight years of his career, from 2005 to 2012. He was 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 34 games and went 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in nine playoff appearances in 2011, the Rangers’ World Series season. Word from the scouting business is that he has become a ground ball pitcher, the reason the Orioles’ infield should work to his benefit.

Getting back to the weekend sweep of the Yankees, it was pure gravy in the minds of most, including the always candid Adam Jones, who accurately called it “sweet.” From Saturday’s two-home run performance by Chris Davis (and one from Ryan Flaherty), to Sunday’s close win featuring the return of Brian Roberts.

The White Sox are 15 games under .500, and Paul Konerko is injured. But Adam Dunn and eight other hitters are in the lineup, and the games have to be played. The Orioles, 2 1/2 games behind Boston and heading to Yankee Stadium for the weekend after playing Chicago, would like to start closing the gap over the two weeks leading into the Break.