Posted by Mike on July 12, 2006
I’m sure you’ve read your share of mid-season team recaps or mid-season grades type articles, so I’ll try not to be redundant. What I hope to show here is a very visual, if a bit cursory, argument of how the Orioles should proceed from now until July 31st (the non-waiver trading deadline).
OK, so a little explanation is in order… the basic premise of this chart is to map out who the O’s have targeted to play each position for the next three seasons. Obviously, the further out you get, the less uncertain the forecasting becomes. But, this should provide an adequate visual demonstration of my argument.
I did not address bench players and I left the bullpen’s assembly, beyond the many names jumbled together, to one’s own imagination. You should also note that my chart has been assembled while wearing some pretty heavily tinted orange colored glasses. I highlighted a few of the areas where plans are, shall we say, tenuous, but you might as well add almost every pitching slot to that group as well. For instance, by no means do I believe that Penn, Loewen, Cabrera, Olson, and Bedard will all be effective major league starters and pitching for the Orioles in 2009. But that is the plan as of now, July 2006. When financial restrictions, injuries, ineffectiveness, et al become realities, then the plan gets adjusted. At no time, however, is it excusable to have a gap on this chart that is not actively trying to be resolved. Take, for instance, the Ryan Shealy rumors. That would fill in a few gaps, but it would also open another one up, say, where Hayden Penn’s name used to be.
My intention is not to propose any specific trades or target any specific players but, with the trading deadline fast approaching, the Orioles have at least six guys on their active roster that are not at all in their plans for next year. If you accept the argument that competing in 2007 is not realistic, then there are even more guys to add to that list who aren’t in their plans for 2008. As many of them as possible should be moved.
The O’s have to accept the fact that Jeff Conine, Kevin Millar, LaTroy Hawkins, Javy Lopez, Rodrigo Lopez, etc. are all going to get paid the full amount of their contracts. If other teams refuse to take on payroll in a deal for any combination of them that would send back a player that might fill in any of the gaps, isn’t it in the best interest of future O’s teams to eat the salary? And shouldn’t that be the focus for a team in its 9th consecutive losing season?
To clarify my chart-
C, SS, and 3B are all covered through 2009 by existing contracts.
1B and at least one of the OF/DH slots are completely open after this year. Also, I belive that Gibbons, considering injuries and defensive prowess, is mostly a DH for the life of his contract.
Patterson can be an unrestricted free agent after next season but, if he continues to be effective, there is no reason he shouldn’t be resigned if possible. There is no one in the minor league system currently who profiles as an everyday CF.
Ditto for 2B and Brian Roberts.
We all hope the best for Markakis and Reimold. Let’s leave it at that for now.
My projected starters list speaks for itself. Cabrera will be eligible for arbitration after next season and under O’s control for three more years. Bedard is under control for three more years.
Chris Ray and Chris Britton could form a decent 1-2 punch for years to come. Projecting a relief core through 2009 beyond them is a tough business, but should be addressed on a year to year basis.
As for Miguel Tejada: Aside from the fact that he is rapidly gaining his share of detractors in Baltimore (even outside of this little realm of fandom), his defensive Rate2 has deteriorated from 113 to 103 to 100 the past three seasons. He might be able to stick at short through 2009 but he won’t be especially good. Of course, that hasn’t affected Derek Jeter, but I digress. Beyond that, he is playing in his age 30 season and I find it unlikely that he will ever surpass his current value. If the Orioles decide that they can compete no earlier than 2008 or 2009 (which is the correct conclusion, with or without Tejada, I might add), it makes sense to deal him for other players that will be ready to contribute by then. If we wait until 2008, his naturally declining production could make his contract the type the O’s wish they could move instead of the current company line that he is a guy we could build around. Basically, the O’s need to have a target year in mind and aim for everything coming together in that season. If that year is 2007, then keep Miguel. If it’s 2009, I’m not convinced he will still be the championship caliber player that he is today and he should be traded at his peak value.
I know this entry is filled with many topics and that none of them get too far in-depth, but perhaps I can expound on a point or two based on your feedback.
P.S. Check out Ted Cook’s new O’s blog, Cookin’ With Gas