Evaluating The Orioles After The MLB Trade Deadline
Each week, PressBox baseball writers weigh in on a different question. This week, Jim Henneman and Matt Palmer evaluate the Orioles after the MLB trade deadline and share their thoughts about some of the deadline deals other MLB teams made.
Did the Orioles do the right thing by standing pat the day of the trading deadline? Plus, who were the biggest winners and losers of this year's trading deadline?
|Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter
By Jim Henneman
Whether the Orioles did the right thing at the trading deadline depends entirely on how much value one places on Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton, and what he might have contributed the rest of this season. At best, he would appear to be a clone of a pitcher they already have, Tommy Hunter, who has bounced between the major league team and the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
Both are so-called "innings eaters," both are susceptible to giving up home runs in cozy ballparks, both are stingy when it comes to giving up walks, both sport hefty ERAs and both fall into the back-end-of-the-rotation category. The major differences are in Hunter's favor -- he makes a lot less money and is five years younger. Given all that, the best deal for both sides would've been a straight-up swap of those two right-handers.
Blanton probably would've taken Hunter's spot in the rotation -- which in effect would have been like shuffling the furniture. The room would've looked a little different, but the contents would've been the same.
One of the great misconceptions leading up to the deadline was the thought that the Orioles didn't have sufficient prospects, besides their "untouchable duo" of Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy, to make an impact trade. For instance, general manager Dan Duquette made a smart move in holding on to Jonathan Schoop when the middle infielder's name came up in discussions with the Phillies. Had the Orioles been willing to part with Schoop, money wouldn't have been an issue. The Phillies would've absorbed a big part of Blanton's salary if Schoop had been in the package.
In addition, had they been willing to sell low, the Orioles could've also used Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, both currently pitching at Norfolk, as bargaining chips. They also could've made a bigger splash if they were willing to put L.J. Hoes into a potential deal. I agree with Duquette's earlier observation that fans would rather see a team make moves to win now than hear about prospects, but it's been so long since the O's were in this position that they really couldn't afford to gamble on what would at best be a long shot for a one-and-done playoff spot. It just wouldn't be worth it.
As for which teams are winners or losers, it depends on what you believe, and we won't know for sure until after the one-and-done playoff games are over in October. Right now, there are multiple teams eligible for either category. Had the Yankees' last-ditch effort to land Ryan Dempster succeeded, I would've been tempted to call them big winners, because frankly that starting rotation needs help, and if Andy Pettitte can't make a strong comeback, New York could be in trouble. For sure, the Yankees will qualify as biggest loser if they don't at least make it to the World Series.
The Angels made the big splurge to land Zack Greinke. If they don't sign him to a long-term deal, they will be losers unless they can parlay that move into a World Series appearance. The Rangers won the Dempster sweepstakes, but their task is the toughest in baseball. They've lost the last two World Series. Merely getting there won't cut it anymore. They have to win it all.
On the surface, the offensively challenged Giants (where have we heard that term before?) trumped the Dodgers' acquisition of Shane Victorino (on top of their deal for Hanley Ramirez) with the addition of Hunter Pence. But who came out on top will probably be decided by which team wins the NL West, though that is hardly a World Series guarantee.
With the Phillies having given up both of those outfielders as they close out a strong five-year run atop the NL East, how they made out won't be determined for another couple of years as they try to regroup. The only thing we know for sure is this: a one-and-done appearance does not qualify as a trade-deadline winner.
The biggest winner? That's easy. It'll be the team hoisting the trophy at the end of October. But the stage will be crowded with contenders for the biggest-loser crown.
By Matt Palmer
The Orioles made the right move, in the short term, by not making any moves the day of the trade deadline. For weeks, I've been saying the Orioles need to come to terms with who they are. That's a difficult thing for any club, particularly one that's six games better than a .500 record heading into August. Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton was not going to make the Orioles a better team.
The Orioles are, in theory, in the playoff hunt -- 5.5 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and 1.5 in the wild-card chase. They're also a club that is 15-17 during the last two months and 30-30 during the last three. They're a .500 club, possibly even less than that.
The Birds have several answers across the board and not many legitimate chips to trade away. Yes, they have highly touted prospects such as Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado. Everyone wants them, and the Orioles can't afford to part ways with either of them. Pitchers Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz still have value outside of Baltimore, despite their struggles during the last two seasons. The problem is the Orioles don't have answers should either be dealt. The Orioles need pitching, and for both players to reach their potential in a Baltimore uniform.
The Orioles are a growing team with upside. We saw much of that upside earlier this season, but it's hard to pretend the team is a great one and legitimate playoff contender.
The time for building up talent is this offseason. General manager Dan Duquette made a wise move today. He needs to make several during the winter.
The O's saw real American League contenders -- such as the Yankees, Rangers, Angels and Tigers -- make moves that make sense for them and make them better. The Rangers landing Ryan Dempster will position them for a nice push to hold off the Angels and Athletics in the ultra-competitive AL West.
The Orioles aren't competing for the AL East this summer. They're competing with the AL West, and those teams are simply deeper. Tuesday was a day to realize that.
Next year could be a different story if the Orioles continue to mature.
Posted Aug. 1, 2012