Saturday, December 18, 2010

Projecting the 25 Man Roster (Part 2)

And now for my projections on the Pitching staff. This was a lot harder for me to do since there could be significant changes to the roster depending on who they sign via free agency.

I'll start with the Rotation (The easy part):
Zachary Britton

Jeremy Guthrie
Brian Matusz
Jake Arrietta
Brad Bergesen
Chris Tillman

-I expect this to be the obvious rotation for next season (barring any veterans signed before the season starts) Apparently there was a rumor we were interested in Freddy Garcia, which was hopefully not true.
-It should be an improved rotation solely on the fact that pitchers 2-5 should have improved from last season with the experience they gained. The O's are really depending on the young pitchers to succeed. This is the route that McPhail has chosen to take, and our success will rely on how they turn their prospect status into major league talent. I understand some people may think Zachary Britton should get a shot at the rotation, but I believe he will start in AAA. He should not be rushed this season when there is no need for it. He could easily be an early call-up though.

Now onto the Bullpen...

Michael Gonzalez
Koji Uehara
Jason Berken
Jeremy Accardo
Alfredo Simon
Rick Vandenhurk

-As of now, this is what the bullpen looks like. Gonzo, Koji, and Berken are locks to start the season. Accardo and Simon will have to work for their spots, but as of now they can be penciled in. Vandenhurk will most likely be the long reliever, as he is capable of starting in a pitch as well as being a formidable lefty out of the pen. I suspect that Koji has the closers role as of now, but that could change if they signed someone like Kevin Gregg.

-The Orioles are still in the mix for a few free agent relievers, like Kevin Gregg. I would expect they sign at least one more, thus making one of Simon and Accardo expendable. They could be sent to the minors.
-I would still like the Orioles to sign another lefty for the bullpen. Will Ohman reunion anyone?
-The loss of David Hernandez does indeed hurt the bullpen, but it was necessary to improve our offense.
-I think the bullpen will be about the same as last year in all honesty. There should be more consistency from it however, if Koji and Gonzo can stay healthy, and Berken can come back healthy from the season ending injury he experience last year.

Projecting the 25 Man Roster (Part 1)

As the off-season still goes on, it would seem the Orioles roster is almost set, with the obvious needs of another reliever and 1st basemen still there (they should and probably will sign one of Derek Lee or Adam Laroche, and are going to end up signing another reliever).


I'm going to break down the projected pitching staff and lineup/bench and see what the Orioles have improved from last year. I'll start with the Offense, and will write about the pitching staff in a separate piece.

Catcher- Matt Wieters
Mark Reynolds meeting up with his new manager Buck Showalter
1st - ???
2nd- Brian Roberts
SS- JJ Hardy
3rd- Mark Reynolds
LF- Felix Pie
CF- Adam Jones
RF- Nick Markakis
DH- Luke Scott

Bench-
Nolan Reimold
Cesar Izturis
Jake Fox
Brent Harris/Craig Tatum/Robert Andino


Our lineup for the most part is completed, minus the obvious 1st base hole that we will assume Derek Lee or Adam Laroche will fill. The offense has obviously improved from last year.
-The left side of the infield may hit 40-50 more home runs than the entire left side did all of last year. That is an obvious improvement. Also the defense has slightly improved, although very slightly. Reynolds is maybe a little better than a learning Tejada and Rookie Josh Bell were last year. Hardy is a great fielder actually, and can make the flashier plays better than Izzy can, although Izzy is very consistent and solid, hardly ever missing the routine play. But on the positive side, we still have Izzy on our bench, thus our defense as a team is obviously better (of course that is one less pinch hitter we will have).
-As of now the Orioles will most likely plan to go into spring training with the thoughts of a platoon in LF. Reimold will need to rebound back from last year in order to steal any playing time away from Pie, who was consistently good at the end of the year. I am perfectly fine with a healthy competition in LF, especially from two talented players. Do not be surprised is Pie gets the most playing time, as his defense is well above the levels of Nolan, and Buck loves defense.

-Most of the other positions are obviously solidified, and I expect much more improvement out of Jones, Wieters, and even Markakis. They have no excuses now, with the arrival of Hardy and Reynolds, and a possible 1st basemen. They will have the protection in the lineup that was needed.

-For the bench, we can all expect to see the platoon partner of LF and Izzy. I would expect Jake Fox grabs the 3rd spot due to his ability to play C, 1st, 3rd, and OF in a pinch. The club could also decide to have him become the Backup Catcher, thus making Tatum irrelevant again. This would mean Andino or Harris would grab the final spot over Tatum.

As for now, it is clear that the Orioles have Improved on the Offensive side. But it still is not enough to compete in the AL East. Maybe they have a shot at 3rd this year, who knows. Regardless, an improvement still happened, and that's all we can ask for...

I'll write up on the pitching later on today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Latest Moves and Rumors

The O's have continued their aggressive (and surprising) approach this off-season with the signings of Jeremy Accardo and Cesar Izturis.
Career: 3.95 ERA1.335 WHIP 1.99 K/BB

My thoughts on these two signings:
    Jeremy Accardo's stock has really fallen since he was the closer for the Jays in 2007 (He compiled 30 saves that year). But he did put together a solid season last year for the Jays in AAA and looks to rebound. for a salary around 1mil, I am fine with this signing. He most likely will battle out for the last spot in the bullpen.
   Cesar Izturis is back, but this time as our Utility Infielder. It will be interesting to see how they use Izzy, and whether he will get much playing time or not. I expect him to play short at least 2 times per week, to keep Hardy rested and healthy throughout the season. I like the signing, although there has been scrutiny that we should of been putting our resources in other areas rather than Util. I disagree, as every position is important, and Izzy will provide depth at our middle infield positions for two players (Hardy, Roberts) that have had injury problems the past couple years.



-Also the Orioles have and still are negotiating with Kevin Gregg. The speculated deal is for 8-10 mil over 2 years. I personally think this is an overpay, but all teams have been overpaying for relievers this off-season. If we do indeed sign him, he would most likely become our closer over Koji (not a fan of taking someone out of closer who was so great). It will certainly add bullpen depth though.
We do have to remember that we lost David Hernandez in the Reynolds trade.

-Another side note: The Red Sox have signed Matt Albers to a deal. Good luck Sox, be prepared to deal with the skewed numbers he will put up. Albers is the king of pitching in non-pressure situations and doing well, while succumbing to pressure when it exists. I am glad the Orioles let him walk.
-Also the Orioles are still in talks with Adam Laroche and Derek Lee. The Padres and Nationals are also interested, with Arizona falling out with the signing of Xavier Nady.


EDIT: The Orioles are now closing in on a deal with Adam Laroche. I'll write more on this later if it goes official.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Orioles Trade for Hardy, Lose 2 players in Rule 5 Draft

It's official, Cesar Izturis is most likely not returning to the Orioles next year. The Orioles acquired JJ Hardy and Brendan Harris from the Minnesota Twins for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Check off another solid trade in the Andy McPhail era.

Hardy hit .268 with 6HR and a .320 OBP last
 year
JJ Hardy is a unique SS. He has power and plays above
average defense. Although he has had some rough seasons the 2 past years, he is still an EXTREME upgrade over Izturis. The Orioles should of already had Hardy on their team, when they had the chance to trade for him years before.
Another reason this trade is solid for the Orioles is the throw-in of Brendan Harris. He may have struggled last year in minimal play (only had 120 AB) but he is already the best Utility player we have on our team, and most likely will either take the role Wiggington had or push out Andino. We also are receiving 500K in cash.

The best part about this trade is what the Orioles had to give up. Brett Jacobson was the RP the Orioles acquired in the Aubrey Huff trade years ago to the Detroit Tigers. He has a solid arm, and could eventually grow into a strong set-up type pitcher. He currently ranks as the 16th best prospect in the Orioles Minor league system. Jim Hoey has been up and down his entire career, and was just recently put back on our 40 man roster after struggling since 2007. Overall, these are two players the Orioles should have made expendable and did.


RULE 5 DRAFT

The Orioles lost out on 2 players in the Rule 5 Draft. Relievers Pat Egan and Pedro Beato were selected by the Brewers and Mets.

This means that in order for those organizations to keep these pitchers, they will need to be on the teams' 25 man roster the entire year. This most likely won't happen, so these players could return to the Orioles roster (Just like what happened last year with Steve Johnson). This is the gamble you take though by not protecting your players on the 40 man roster. I kind of hoped they would have put Egan on the 40 man, so lets hope he returns.

The Orioles selected RP Adrian Rosario from the Brewers with the 4th overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft. He is a 21 year old pitcher who has not pitched above Single A. I highly doubt he cracks our roster and most likely will be sent back to the Brewers, unless he is a trade candidate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Examining the remaining first base market

Derek Lee Batted .260 with a .347 OBP and 19 HR
The first base market is beginning to dwindle with:

-Carlos Pena to the Cubs
-Adam Dunn & Paul Konerko signing with the Whitesox
-Ty Wigginington signing with the Rockies
-Aubrey Huff Re-signing with the Giants
-Victor Martinez signing with the Tigers
-Adrian Gonzalez traded to the Red Sox.

The names left out there on free agency are as followed (I am only naming starter-worthy players):

-Adam Laroche                             -Derek Lee                  -Prince Fielder (Trade)
-Troy Glaus                                   -Russel Branyan           -Chris Davis (Trade)
-Nick Johnson                               -Lyle Overbay

The Orioles seem to be very interested in Derek Lee, and he seems to be one of the better options for the Orioles at this point of the off-season winter meetings. earlier sources said that the Nationals were close to signing Laroche, but talks are apparently not imminent now. If the Orioles cannot get one of Laroche or Lee, then this off-season will be a disappointment to myself, as well as most other Orioles fans. I also doubt that Andy McPhail would be willing to trade for Fielder, although Davis is a possibility. First Base is by far one of the biggest needs for the Orioles, and it needs to be addressed soon, before the best players available are off the market.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

O's close to trading Reimold for Bartlett

As the Winter Meetings continue, the O's continue to be surprisingly very active. Apparently they are in serious talks with the Rays to send OF/1B Nolan Reimold for SS Jason Bartlett. This would certainly solve the Orioles SS problem for this year, but will open a hole up in the OF. Here is my take on this potential trade:

Horrible... I am astonished that Andy McPhail is willing to trade a young power hitting corner OF with plenty of upside for an aging above average SS with only 1 year left on his deal... These kind of trades are what contenders make, not teams currently sitting in last place who are building a young core of players with the potential to compete in the future. Obviously Reimold had a rough season last year, but we have to remember he battled an Achilles injury all year, and also had some personal problems. I simply just do not understand this.

The only things that would make a trade like this acceptable would be if the Orioles do indeed have plans to bring in another piece. I know we have kicked the tires on players such as Prince Fielder and Josh Willingham (Both are possibilities, but the Brewers are certainly asking the world, and the Nats always ask for too much when it comes to trades. Both teams would want pitching). Overall, I guess we will have to withhold judgment on this deal until we fully see the plans Andy McPhail has.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What Reynolds Means for the O's

As most have already heard, The Orioles have officially acquired Mark Reynolds today for David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. I'll talk a little about what this means for the Orioles and what future moves may happen due to the trade.

First off, The Orioles have finally solidified the 3rd base gaping hole. I Already discussed what Reynolds brings to the table in my last post, so i'm going to discuss how the losses of Hernandez and Mickolio effect us.

Mickolio - One of the pieces from the Bedard trade (the infamous trade that keeps on replenishing our system). Kam has a strong arm, and a lot of ability. But he is still very raw and inconsistent. He also has been battling injuries and seemed to fall out of favor in the Orioles Organization. This is the exact type of player the Orioles should be glad they can get a return for.
Hernandez - Okay as a starter until the 5th / 6th inning before he got tired and would get shelled. Great reliever throwing 98-100mph. DH is going to be a force in the NL. I honestly am upset that he is gone, but in order to gain in one area, you need to give up in another (at least in a trade aspect).

Overall I really like this trade, and I can see us benefiting from it, but only if a few things happen.
We will need to sign another reliever or two now that we traded two. I expect us to go after Kevin Gregg and/or go after a few others such as Brian Fuentes, Jesse Crain and Grant Balfour. A George Sherrill reunion is also a possibility. We also will need to sign a 1st basemen. Trading for Reynolds is basically pointless if they decide to not upgrade 1st. They still should be looking for a SS, although I am a little worried that they are being too passive in that area. Either that, or the twins and rays are asking too much for Hardy and Bartlett.

Also,Josh Bell may be available now that Reynolds has 3rd locked down for the next 2+ years. I expect they hold onto him, as I do not see any trades that could be made to significantly strengthen our team, unless he is put into a package.

As the winter meetings have started, the Orioles have actually awakened from their slumber. They apparently are deep in talks with Derek Lee and Paul Konerko (doubtful he would sign here), and have even talked to the Nats about a Josh Willingham trade. We shall see what happens, but expect the Orioles to make a few more moves this offseason.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Talk of Tillman for Reynolds

As most people know by now, the Orioles are targeting Mark Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Apparently Arizona asked for Chris Tillman in return. From what I have heard, it was originally thought that Reynolds could be had for marginal prospects or a few bullpen arms. Maybe the Dbacks are intentionally asking for a significant prospect because they believe Reynolds is worth that much, but I am going to assume that they are just seeing if any GM will bite the bullet and trade a significant prospect.

I think that Reynolds could realistically be acquired for a player such as David Hernandez and another low end prospect (C level prospect). His stock is really low after only hitting around .200 last year with over 200 strikeouts. He still hit over 30 Home-runs, and still gets on base at a relatively healthy rate(low to mid .300 OBP for a power hitter is not terrible). It also seems that the Diamondbacks are set on blowing up their team and starting fresh. Reynolds is still an above average third basemen in terms of offense. Defense, well...not so much.

In summary, I would be somewhat disappointed if they did trade Tillman for Reynolds, as Tillman has not proven anything at the major league level, but has so much ability and is still only 22. I would love for the Orioles and Diamondbacks to work a deal out, and who knows, maybe they make a blockbuster and trade Stephen Drew as well.