Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Matos/Walker Deal?

Posted by Mike on March 15, 2006

The Orioles are looking to trade Luis Matos for Todd Walker.  According to this article, talks “have intensified the past couple of days”, so expect this trade to either happen or fizzle in the next few days.  Incidentally, the author of that article (Childs Walker) occasionally offers some nuggets of non-traditional baseball wisdom (He even previewed the internet baseball community in this piece).  It will be interesting to see how much the Sun lets him get away with as the season goes on. 

Back to the point, the article gives a glimpse into the minds of the O’s brass:

The holdup appears to be the Orioles’ unwillingness to pick up the entire $2.5 million contract for the Cubs second baseman, who makes about $900,000 more than Matos.

Walker, 32, who is competing for Chicago’s starting second base job, hit .305 last season with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. Orioles officials view the left-handed hitter mostly as a designated hitter who could give Perlozzo another good bat off the bench. Walker also could provide some infield insurance if Roberts isn’t ready for Opening Day.

Matos, currently playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, is behind Corey Patterson in the duel to win the club’s starting center-field job.

Reading that quote, it seems like the O’s want some sort of DH/bench player.  Then, it occurred to them that they have an injured second baseman and could use this guy there.  I suspect that they are just posturing for the cameras, pretending all is well with Roberts’ elbow.  In baseball, though, actions speak louder than words, and there is clearly some growing concern over the injury.

As for Walker, it’s true that he is a butcher defensively, but it’s pretty difficult to come up with a scenario where I’d rather have Chris Gomez starting over him.  And as much as I’d like to see Eddy Garabito get a shot at some playing time, the fact is that he is behind Gomez on the depth charts. 

Let’s take a look at how Walker has hit over the last few years:

Year  Ag Tm  Lg  G     AB    R     H   2B 3B  HR  RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG

2002 29 CIN  NL 155  612   79  183  42  3  11   64   8   5     50   81  .299  .353  .431    

2003 30 BOS AL 144  587   92  166  38  4  13   85   1   1     48   54  .283  .333  .428 

2004 31 CHC NL 129  372   60  102  19  4  15   50   0   3     43   52  .274  .352  .468 

2005 32 CHC NL 110  397   50  121  25  3  12   40   1   1     31   40  .305  .355  .474

 

I’m certainly having a difficult time wrapping my mind around what the Cubs are thinking.  To me, it seems like the $900,000 difference in salaries is nothing when you consider it will be used to keep Neifi Perez as far away from the starting lineup as possible.  And for what?  To have Matos sit behind Marquis Grissom as the Cubs’ 5th outfielder?

On the other side of the coin, Luis Matos’ value to the Orioles is not something you can completely disregard.  He’s a solid defensive centerfielder and makes an ideal situational player.  Let’s look at his past few years:

Year  Ag Tm  Lg  G    AB     R    H    2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG

2003 24 BAL AL 109  439   70  133  23  3  13   45    15  7   28   90  .303  .353  .458  

2004 25 BAL AL  89   330   36   74   18  0   6    28    12  4   19   60  .224  .275  .333  

2005 26 BAL AL 121  389   53  109  20  2   4    32     17  9   27   58  .280  .340  .373 

 

Clearly, Matos has no place starting on a contending team, but he would make nice insurance against a non-reversal of fortunes for Corey Patterson.  The Orioles seem inclined to give Patterson at least a month or two to top his Neifi-riffic 2005 and by then, should he still be struggling, they are banking on the fact that Nick Markakis will have passed Matos on the depth chart anyhow.  This certainly seems like the sort of logical anticipation that I have not become accustomed to in recent years.

To sum it all up, the Orioles would be giving up a 27 year old defensive replacement/pinch-runner/spot starter who is, at most, a few months away from being rendered useless by minor league incumbents.  The Orioles would be adding a 33 year old championship-caliber bench player/insurance for Brian Roberts/league-average DH and $900,000 to the payroll. 

Another interesting scenario that this trade could present is shifting Walker to 3B.  He’s only played there 60 games in the major leagues and none since 1997, but it might be worth it to see if he has the chops for it.  That way, the Orioles might be more inclined to get a decent return on Melvin Mora come the trading deadline, since his negotiations aren’t going as well as he anticipated.

I, for one, did not expect Luis Matos to fetch this much in return.  I’m scoring this as a clear win for the Birds (should it happen).

  • In other news, the Orioles sent Franklyn Gracesqui down to the minors.  He was reported to throw in the upper 90’s from the left side.  After failing to crack 90 mph thus far in sping training, Sam Perlozzo offered:

We were looking for a real power arm out of him.  I’m just going to guess his arm strength is not up to where he should be yet.

  • OTT’s spring training correspondent, the secretly fat Nate Barker, just text messaged me that Markakis is starting in CF today- Corey Patterson is starting in RF.  This is yet another indication that the Orioles see Markakis as the best insurance against Patterson, not Matos.

Click Here to vote on whether or not you would make this deal.  The poll will open in a new window.

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4 Responses to “Matos/Walker Deal?”

  1. No Speakz said

    Nothing too exciting to report from Ft. Lauderdale stadium this week. A 3-2 win over the mets sunday which im sorry to say I left iwth 2 outs remaining in the ninth, down 2-1 with David Newhan up… and somehow we came back to win. Today however, Kris Benson looked in control on the hill and seemed to be spotting his fastball in tune with what Leo Mazzone was looking for. Melvin Mora went yard and Desi Relaford made an error. Other than that, not a whole lot to speak of… The tone of the spring down here (as I was able to speak to about 3 O’s fans in the midst of 3,000 Sox fans) is that Nick Markakis has gained quite a bit of popularity. And I must admit, I am sold. He carries himself with a big league demeanor and I personally wonder what the harm would be in letting him take Patterson’s spot. Unfortunately, Val Majewski was only in the game for one inning out of the 2 games i was here and i was unable to see him do anything really. If I were to say two things for sure after my trip to Lauderdale they would be this… Nick Markakis is our top prospect in the field for a reason, and who in the fuck decided to invite Ricky Bottalico to spring training. Also Eric DuBose had some pretty good stuff on Sunday and in my opinion would be a welcome southpaw in our bullpen in especially since Grasescqui has apparently failed to hit the numbers on the gun that he was supposed to. To sum up… nothing too eventful to speak of out of these two games… I also have been drinking the whole time Ive been here thus may not have been as thorough in my report as some would like. Thus, Mike… Feel free to give me a ring over the weekend or post any specific questions you think i may be able to answer and i will gladly respond. Yours truly,

    OTT correspondant Nate Barker

    P.S. The lopsidedness of Red Sox fans to O’s fans definitely held true even in Spring Training… needless to say there were several shouting matches… disgusting.

  2. Mike Boehm said

    I don’t get this. I’m all for a hitter like Walker, but we need neither a 2nd baseman nor another DH.

  3. Mike said

    Hey Mike,

    Nice site. To play devil’s advocate, a defensive specialist/4th OF isn’t exactly what is going to keep us out of the cellar either. Like I said in the post, I think the Orioles are intending to give C-Pat at least a month or two trial. If he’s still making an out 75% of the time at that point, they feel confident that Markakis will take his place- not Matos.

    Should we trade for Walker, he’ll get plenty of AB’s; be it at 1B, 2B, 3B, or DH. Even just coming off the bench, he’s a nice lefty bat- unless, of course, you’re inclined to go with David Newhan.

    We will also likely be losing Millar, Conine, and Javy after this season and may be shopping some of them as soon as July. I see your point but I think Todd Walker would have a larger role on this team than Matos.

  4. power chair walker holder…

    As always a good post 🙂 ….

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