GM for the Day: Baltimore Orioles

Well, we finally made it to the American League.  Thanks for your patience and if you’re a Baltimore Orioles fan, I know you have some.  Baltimore finished in last place in the AL East for the 4th straight season and completed their season with a 69-93 record, their 14th straight losing season.  New management and another rebuilding effort is in the works, as the O’s look for a way to get back to the glory of the…70’s…which seems like forever ago to their fans because it was.  Who are the 25-men on the current roster?

2 Catchers: Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden

1B: Mark Reynolds

2B: Brian Roberts

3B: Josh Bell

SS: J.J. Hardy

LF: Nolan Reimold

CF: Adam Jones

RF: Nick Markakis

DH: Chris Davis

Bench: Endy Chavez (OF), Robert Andino (INF), Matt Angle (OF)

Starting Pitchers: Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada

Relief Pitchers: Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton, Alfredo Simon, Darren O’Day and Brad Bergeson

The O’s didn’t have the success that they hoped to with the young arms that they were stockpiling.  Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz have been total flops, while Arrieta and Britton seem to look like solid arms, but not really the top of the rotation guys that all four were hoped to become.  Britton still has a shot, though.  Adam Jones finally reached his potential last year, and at age 25, he is either someone to build around or someone to deal.  It sounds like Dan Duquette is in the middle of deciding what that is going to be.  Markakis is solid and average at the same time.  J.J. Hardy looks like a great piece to keep until Manny Machado is ready, and the O’s have some talent in the pipeline to look forward to until they matter again.  If only they moved to the NL Central, they could contend now.

They should probably look to deal Adam Jones.  At 25, Jones is under team control until 2014.  He would be an asset for a team that wants to contend.  He would fit perfectly in the Braves outfield, they could trade Prado and put Jones or Bourn in LF, and he could get one or two of the Braves arms back in return.  But you have to wonder if taking on arms is what the O’s need to do.  They’ve added a couple of arms from Asia this offseason in Chen and Wada, basically eliminating rotation spots for Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Chris Tillman…if they even wanted them there in the first place…and their system hasn’t had much luck with developing arms.  Luckily, the Braves have Minor, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino ready.  Packaging one of those arms with Edward Salcedo, a highly ranked 3B prospect, would be an excellent package for Jones.

The O’s aren’t going to contend in 2012.  They won’t contend for a few more years.  They need to come to grips with that and start looking at the next wave of talent.  Manny Machado at SS, Dylan and Robert Bundy at starting pitcher, and Jonathan Schoop look like top to above average prospects.  Because of their future being two years out, they shouldn’t be starting anyone over 30.  No more Derrek Lee’s or Vladimir Guerrero’s, even if they sign on the cheap.  This team needs to invest in the draft, international signings, and player development.  With the talent in the AL East, they have no choice but to build a little and THEN start signing talent via Free Agency.  They have to have more key pieces on the field before they start filing holes.  So they should waste their money on signing guys like Edwin Jackson or even spend time checking in on Prince Fielder.  Let other teams spend now.  Trade Nick Markakis to the Red Sox for Ryan Lavarnway and Anthony Renaudo, even though he is young (28 in 2012), you aren’t going to win with him.  J.J. Hardy can help you win some games, but he could also get you a nice return from, say, the Reds, at the trade deadline in 2012 if Zack Cozart doesn’t work out.  Trade Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Roberts to the Rockies for Seth Smith and Hector Gomez, giving the Rockies the solid arm they need to contend now, while the O’s get a spot for a young arm to try to prove themselves again.

There are a lot of things that the Orioles can do in 2012, but winning isn’t one of them.  They have an interesting lineup with Jones, Markakis, Reimold, Hardy and Wieters, but they just don’t have enough consistency out of those guys to win, plus the pitching is just as questionable.  Wada is a Japanese clone of Jamie Moyer, hitting 87-88 with his fastball.  Chen can throw some heat, but he also has had some shoulder issues.  We know that their young arms haven’t been consistent…or good…as Tillman and Matusz have been busts.  But they are young enough to keep getting chances, especially when your team isn’t going to be good.

If you trade Jones, Markakis and Guthrie, it makes for an ugly roster, but after going 69-93 with them and not seeing an end to the losing with four solid teams in front of you in the AL East, you’ve got nothing to lose.  Matt Angle, Reimold, Smith, and Endy Chavez would be your outfielders.  You’ve got a 2B of the future in Gomez on the way (he spent all of 2011 in Double-A), with Machado coming up at SS, and Schoop at 3B.  Lavarnway can play 1B or DH, Reimold could do the same thing.  Draft college players early, high ceiling guys later, maybe get in on Yoennis Cespedes, the CF from Cuba and get him now.  Why not?  He’s someone to plug-in now.  How would that change the roster for 2012:

2 Catchers: Matt Wieters and Taylor Teagarden

1B: Nolan Reimold

2B: Ryan Adams (.284/.341/.454, 28 2B, 10 HR in 94 games at Triple-A in ’11)

3B: Mark Reynolds

SS: J.J. Hardy

LF: Seth Smith

CF: Yoennis Cespedes

RF: Endy Chavez

DH: Ryan Lavarnway

Bench: Robert Andino (INF), Matt Angle (OF) and Chris Davis (1B/3B)

Starting Pitching: Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Chen/Wada (whoever looks best in Spring)

Relief Pitchers:  Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop, Troy Patton, Alfredo Simon, Darren O’Day and Brad Bergeson

The fake deals that I made would make Hector Gomez (2B in 2013?), Anthony Renaudo (#3 pitcher in 2013?), Randall Delgado/Arodys Vizcaino/Mike Minor (#2 pitcher in 2013?), and Edward Salcedo (3B in 2014) a part of the organization.  They’re solid guys who could force the O’s to move other players around, like Schoop to 2B or Salcedo to 1B (as his defense is still weak/raw).  It is all made up and some of the deals may not be possible, but it is worth a shot.  The O’s won’t win again until they build from within to create their own talent.  See the Blue Jays, Rangers and Rays for current examples of this type of development.



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