Baltimore Orioles: Will they or won’t they get in on trades? They should.

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 14: Kevin Gausman
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 14: Kevin Gausman /

The Baltimore Orioles front office is sending mixed messages about whether or not they are actively involved in trade deadline talks.

One day the Baltimore Orioles reveal they are in talks and the next day, they claim to be out.

The latest news from Birdland is that Dan Duquette is saying no trades at the non-waiver deadline.

Duquette’s latest words about potential trades are (from CBS Baltimore):

"“The Orioles have had better ballclubs at this stage of the season, but I still have hope for this year’s club. I’ve got a lot of confidence that the guys that we have can put it together.”"

Duquette made this announcement at the season ticket holders’ State of the Orioles address on July 22. The meeting included a speech from Duquette and Buck Showalter as well as a Q & A session.

There is certainly a nugget of truth in his statement. There have been seriously better teams and it is difficult to imagine that the pitching in 2017 could get any worse. But, hedging all bets on a single Wild Card game just doesn’t seem like the wisest thing to do. Especially with a handful of other teams trying to do the exact same thing.

While the Orioles have a powerful offense, their starting pitching will not carry them through the playoffs.

The Wild Card standings are tight

The other teams that are currently in contention for a Wild Card spot include teams with consistently good pitching. Unfortunately for the Orioles, a few of these teams with solid pitching are in their divisions: Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. And, to get anywhere close to a Wild Card game, the Birds would have to get through the Kansas City Royals.

The Birds have already proven they can get through the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins. The Rangers are one game ahead of the O’s and the Twins are 2.5 games ahead. The O’s would need to rely on other American League teams to get a few more wins over the Rangers and the Twins.

Until the O’s can get their rotation in order, the losses will continue to pile up. It is difficult to win games when the rotation gives up an average of more than five runs per game. Yes, the bullpen is generally lights-out in all situations, but that is only three innings per game. The first six need help.

Comparing O’s pitching to other AL hurlers

MILWAUKEE, WI – JULY 03: Wade Miley
MILWAUKEE, WI – JULY 03: Wade Miley /

When looking at the O’s pitching in comparison to other AL pitchers, it becomes crystal clear just how bad the pitching is. On a list of 35 AL pitchers, the best ERA in the MLB belongs to Chris Sale, who has a ERA of 2.48. Dylan Bundy is ranked 21st with an ERA of 4.53. Wade Miley comes in at #31 with an ERA of 5.58 and at #35 is Kevin Gausman with his 6.11 ERA.

The competition comes in significantly higher. Three Red Sox pitchers come in at #20, #9 and #1. The Yankees pitchers are ranked at #29, #16, and #5. Marcus Stroman is ranked #3 and Alex Cobb is #10. Four of the AL east teams have pitchers in the Top 10. The O’s don’t show up on the list until #21. That’s how much the pitching needs to be retooled.

Wins above replacement (WAR) tells another story. This sabermetrics stat has become a popular option for analyzing the value of players. The higher the number, the better it is. And negative numbers are bad – it means that a player’s performance is actually harming the team and causes more losses than wins.

How bad is it really?

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So, how many O’s pitchers have positive WAR numbers? Mychal Givens (2.1), Dylan Bundy (1.7), Brad Brach (1.2.), Donnie Hart (0.9), Richard Bleier (0.8),  Zach Britton (0.5), Miguel Castro (0.5), and Gabriel Ynoa (0.1). That’s it. Only one starter actually contributes to wins. ONE.

What would really help the team is to try to trade away a few starters, but their stats are so bad no one would want them. Since a few of them are entering free agency in 2018, the O’s will most likely let them walk. Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman are free agents at the end of this season. Wade Miley has an option for 2018. Gausman is still under team control while Dylan Bundy has yet to even get to arbitration.

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What would be helpful is to get something for Jimenez and Tillman prior to them walking at the end of the season. But, this most likely will not happen. So, if Duquette is standing by his latest word, the O’s are what they are.