Monday, May 28, 2012

2013 Free Agency Targets

Cost of Winning

To this point in the season, the Baltimore Orioles have spent $859,283.10 per victory.  This compares favorably to others in the AL East as you can see in the graphic below:
Only the Rays have paid less money per victory than the Orioles to this point in the season.  Expect those numbers to come down for the Red Sox and Yankees however, unless you expect them to finish right around .500 on the season.

2013 Free Agency

With that said, let's figure out how to spend more of the Orioles' money.  MLBTradeRumors assessed the O's 2013 contract situation, and we can see that there aren't a lot of core players that should be leaving the team, so there's definitely the opportunity to make the team better for 2013.  MLBTradeRumors has also supplied us with a list of 2013 free agents, so we have an idea of who is going to be available.  Remember that some players could be DFA'd by their teams resulting in a larger free agent pool.

Positions We Don't Need

Catcher, First Base, Shortstop, Center Field and Right Field are probably locks for 2013, meaning we will likely only potentially be targeting backups at those positions.  There are some intriguing names at those positions, so we shouldn't dismiss them off-hand given we still have almost 70% of the season left to go.

Second Base

Cano won't see the light of day as far as the free agent market goes, and there really aren't any other intriguing options outside of him.  The O's will go in-house for a second baseman if Brian Roberts can't play the positions full time next season.

Third Base

There are really only two interesting options here and they are Kevin Youkilis and Mark Reynolds.  Everyone else is either under-performing or on the wrong side of 35.  The O's will almost certainly decline Reynolds' option but could pursue him on a cheaper deal.  Similarly, the team could opt to use him almost exclusively as a DH, replcaing him at 3B with an internal option like Robert Andino.

Left Field

Interesting players here are (obviously) Hamilton, Bourn, Upton, Victorino, Sizemore, and Torii Hunter.  Hunter and Sizemore would be upside plays, while Victorino, Bourn and Upton are more known quantities that will require long-term commitments.  On the other side of the coin, Josh Hamilton is a superstar, and would likely require a commitment north of $100 Million.  Realistically I think Reimold might be the best value for us, and we could always let Xavier Avery get full time ABs in left field next season.


There are honestly too many targets to consider, especially since good pitching will always be in demand for the Orioles.  I just want to take a moment to bring up Brandon McCarthy, my favorite non-Oriole right now.  McCarthy has an ERA of 2.95 this season.  McCarthy has seen a career resurgence in Oakland, and seems to be aa generally good guy.  Just me being selfish here, but I defy you to tell me he can't help this team.  It should be noted that McCarthy is a ground ball pitcher, so he could be successful in Oriole Park, he isn't being buoyed by the massive confines in Oakland.

At some point in later in the season I'll break down specifically, by position the potential free agents the O's could pursue.  The point of this post is really to just get everyone to start thinking about the options on the market and the direction the birds could take.  We'd love to hear the players you think the O's should keep an eye on for the rest of the season.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This Is Birdland

If you're looking for the statistical analysis we usually try to do here at Warehouse Worthy, this isn't the post for you.  No, this post is on something that's been on my mind lately and really became obvious to me this evening.  Also, for those of you interested in the free agency post I promised on twitter - that will come later this weekend.

The story starts this past Wednesday, I was taking a late lunch at the Uno Pizzeria in Harbor Place downtown.  I specifically picked Uno because I knew they would have the game on and I wanted to catch some of it before heading back to work.  What did I notice?  Waiters, customers, managers, etc all stopped and stood and watched.  They just watched the Oriole's game instead of walking by it.  I know this seems silly, but that's new for me - I haven't seen people stop what they were doing to watch a game like that in a long time.

Tonight I decided to meet up with some friends at Camden Yards to check out the game.  I knew I wouldn't be able to go this weekend and then the O's have a 9-game roadstand so it seemed like a good choice.  I ended up watching the game from the CF bar until the 5th inning, before making my way to the real seats by the RF foul pole.

The Orioles announced in the 8th inning that tonight, against the Kansas City Royals, that game had the largest walk-up attendance in Oriole history.  It was a student night, high school just ended for many seniors, it's a holiday weekend, Adam Jones' deal is being finalized and the team is in first place.  These are all factors that helped create this, don't get me wrong - but there's something more here.

Oh, and fireworks.  Courtesy of: @BalSportsReport
There's a tangible buzz around the city right now.  People are talking oriole baseball, their going to games, and dammit they're excited.  People are excited about the current team, and the future possibilities.  More so than ever before, Baltimore is Birdland.

Oh, and I know what some of you are thinking - Baltimore has always been Birdland, just with Ravens instead of Orioles.  Let's get one thing clear here - Baltimore is a baseball town.  Always has been and always will be.  The Ravens benefitted from moving up while the O's were free-falling, but a winning O's team captures more hearts than a winning Ravens' team in my opinion.  I love the Ravens, but Boh knew baseball before he knew football.

It's the season of magic, perhaps of the Oriole variety.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Curious Case of Adam Jones

The Future meets The Present
First I want to apologize for my lack of posts recently.  I finally feel like I'm back in the groove, just over a week after getting back from China.  Yesterday was the first time since getting back that I could sit down and watch an entire O's game and chat with the good folks over at the Baltimore Sports and Life Forums.  That said, something hit me while discussing the dominance that is Adam Jones (or @SimplyAJ10) - is he really a top 5 player in the AL?

Dave Cameron wrote an interesting piece last week titled, "Is Adam Jones Pulling a Matt Kemp?" where he talked about the career trajectories of Kemp and Jones as well as his potential future payday.  It's funny because we heard Braves fans essentially bashing Jones all offseason, as they couldn't believe that the O's would balk at an offer of Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado for Jones.  The first note about that trade is that Prado has quietly crushed this season to a triple slash of .316/.392/.481 while putting up 2.3 WAR.  Jurrjens has been apocalyptically bad posting a -.5 WAR before being demoted.

This basis of Duquette's refusal was presumably the potential of Jones, knowing that any day now he had the ability to become one of the best in the game.  Well, Duquette (and those who panned the proposal) look pretty good now, given the emergence of Jones as a star.

I ran across one funny note yesterday.  Jones has produced 2.8 fWAR (WAR as calculated by fangraphs) so far this season, just .1 WAR below his career high.  He's currently on pace to put up a WAR figure above 8 to be conservative (assuming he keeps up similar production) which would have landed him among the top 10 hitters last season.  One reason for this tremendous turnaround in WAR production might be a result of Jones' UZR figures beginning to match the eye test for Jones' ability.  Jones has a career UZR of -9.2, but this season has put up a respectable 4.6 Ultimate Zone Rating.  I should note that quoting 43 games worth of UZR data is essentially useless as sample sizes need to be around 3 years for reliable figures.  However, UZR's evaluation of Jones as a well below average defender has never passed the sniff test for me.

Jones has benefited from an absurd HR/FB ratio of nearly 27%, almost double his career rate.  However, his Line Drive % is also a career low this year, so the HR numbers will likely slow (he's not a 50 HR guy) but not as much as we might think.  His K rate has also dropped a bit which means that he's making more contact as he's not swinging significantly less than before.  Adam has also stolen 6 bases, half way to his career high of 12.

What does it all mean?  Adam isn't going to keep slugging .602 this season, and won't threaten the 50 HR mark.  However, he does have the potential to hit .295 or so with 30+ HRs, 20 SBs and above average defense in CF.  That makes him mighty valuable to both the O's and other teams.  The question then becomes: do you trade Adam Jones while his value is high?  Or do you sign him to a long-term deal and hope he can be a cornerstone of the next playoff Oriole team.

As for me, I'd love to see Jones in Orange & Black for many years to come (and not just because I don't want the black Jones jersey I have go unused).  We'd love to hear your opinions in the comment section below about the future of the O's CF.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Impressive Orioles

As many of you knew, I was out of town for the beginning of this month travelling in China.  I had a great time, but I also missed some phenomenal Oriole baseball and my favorite thing in the baseball world - position players pitching.

Best. Thing. Ever.
Along those lines, I was reading Buster Olney's blog from today and saw a unique anecdote - the Orioles have made 22 roster changes since that game.  On May 6th the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox in a 17 inning contest where Chris Davis emerged with the victory throwing 2 phenomenal innings in relief.  Since then, the Orioles 25 man roster has been a revolving door with players moving up and down, hitting the DL and generally moving about the organization.

Olney also points out that the Texas Rangers have yet to make a roster move this season, riding a healthy roster to a AL-leading 23 wins.

The most impressive thing to me about the Orioles season thus far, is that they've gotten so far despite having to overcome countless hurdles.  Just in case you weren't keeping track, let's talk about a few of the hurdles they've jumped over:

The Orioles are 8th worst in BB%, 8th worst in K%, and currently have 7 guys on the DL.  Tsuyoshi Wada had Tommy John Surgery 4 days again and is out for the season, Taylor Teagarden was moved to the 60-Day DL 5 days ago and Brian Roberts may or may not be back in the next calendar year, oh and we lead the AL in errors.

Honestly, the most impressive thing to me is that the Orioles have won 22 games in spite of all these difficulties.  Zach Britton, considered one of the O's best pitchers coming into the season has yet to throw a pitch for the big league team.  Brian Roberts, our highly paid star second baseman hasn't played significant time since the Bush administration but the revolving door of utility guys (Betemit, Andino, Tolleson, Flaherty) who have replaced him have been a spark plug for the team.  The Orioles atrocious defense has lead to 23 unearned runs scoring, and yet the team hasn't been hurt by its pitching.

The team is 11-9 at OPACY, and 11-5 on the road this season.  They are 12-7 against the AL East and an impressive 6-1 against the AL Central.  The only division the team has struggled against is the West with the powerhouses in Anaheim and Texas resulting in the O's 4-6 record against the West division.  They are 5-3 in 1-run games, and 4-2 in games that go to extra innings.

Are the Orioles this good?  Well no.  At this pace they'd win 99 games and likely make the playoffs fairly easily (given the extra wild card and what not).  However, the fact that they're winning despite all these difficulties is impressive and bods well for the future.

I was more bullish on the O's and guys like Wei-Yin Chen this offseason, putting the over/under at 74 wins for the team.  I think they'll make that number, and have a decent chance at breaking .500 for the first time in - way too long.  So far it looks like they have a legitimate shot to fulfill that promise I saw early on.  I'm excited because if they can fix some of these flaws, then they have a very good chance to continue this success throughout the season as guys get healthy and start to come back form the DL.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Witnessing History

May 8th was a day that history occurred.

(For those of you looking for a story strictly about the Orioles this isn’t your cup of tea)

Around the Baltimore-area it was a cool 60 degrees and it was either raining or drizzling.

I decided to attend the Orioles game that night with the hopes of seeing a good game between the first-place Baltimore Orioles and the first-place Texas Rangers.

Once I arrived at the game the rain moved out and it became an overcast sky and 65-70 degree weather. Thankfully the game did not get delayed.

The first inning began with the two-time defending American League Champions hitting.
Ian Kinsler started off by grounding out. The next batter, Elvis Andrus, ended up being walked by O’s pitcher Jake Arrieta.

The next batter was Josh Hamilton.

I had a feeling that Hamilton could crush an Arrieta fastball and he did just that. Adam Jones tried to rob Hamilton and was unsuccessful, almost looking like he injured himself on the play. Thankfully he didn’t.

Oh and just to inform readers, Josh Hamilton is one of my favorite players in baseball. For those of you that do not know, he has an extremely inspiring story. His failures and his successes is only something that can be seen in a Disney movie.

Fast forward to the Top of the 3rd and Josh Hamilton was the fourth batter in the inning. Mitch Moreland and Kinsler started off the inning and both grounded out. Andrus then bunted and was able to reach base.

Then Josh Hamilton came up to bat. Hamilton had hit a home run his last at bat on Monday, so he had hit two home runs in his last two at bats.

I watched Hamilton drive the ball over the left field fence at OPACY. Whoever caught the ball ended up throwing it back; not a wise choice in my opinion!

Adrian Beltre launched a home run right after Hamilton, making it back-to-back homers off Arrieta.

Fast forward to the Top of the 5th and Hamilton got up with just one out in the inning.

Hamilton proceeded to drive a pitch to right-center and with my view (I was sitting behind the foul pole in right field) I wasn’t sure how far the ball had gone. But Hamilton raced into second for a double. Hamilton ended up being stranded on second base.

The Orioles were able to finally put a run on the board in the Bottom of the 6th when Nick Markakis hit a single to drive in Endy Chavez, who was leading off for the Orioles on Tuesday night.

Fast forward to the Top of the 7th and Hamilton was up with Andrus on first base.

The O’s decided to bring in recently promoted LHP Zach Phillips to replace Jake Arrieta.

Since 2009, Hamilton has hit .282 against lefties with 24 HR and 80 RBI.
He isn’t exactly a slouch against lefties.

Hamilton hit another home run to center field, driving in Andrus to increase his RBI total to 6 for the game.

I was thinking what I was seeing was just incredible. When Hamilton is at his best he is arguably the best hitter in baseball. I also knew that this was his first 3 HR game.

Also at this point I was wondering if Hamilton had a chance to get up again. I turned from being an Orioles fan to a baseball fan.

In the Top of the 8th the Orioles brought in Darren O’Day, who has pitched great so far this year for the Orioles.

Kinsler started off by singling but was out after Andrus grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Next came Hamilton. I wasn’t sure what to expect at this point. Three home runs was tremendous, but four? In one game?

Hamilton absolutely crushed the ball. There was no doubt about this one. The ball landed 425 feet, which was his farthest home run yet.

Just magical.

Hamilton got a standing ovation from the 11,000 fans or-so at Camden Yards.

It was an incredible moment for a player that has been through so many trials and tribulations in his life.

The Orioles hit back to back home runs in the Bottom of the 8th but the game was out of hand by then.

The Rangers ended up winning 10-3; Hamilton had 8 RBI.

Hamilton finished with 4 HR, 8 RBI, 4 Runs, and 18 total bases. The 18 total bases is an American League Record and only one behind Shawn Green. Green had 6 at-bats in the game he had 19 total bases. 

Hamilton had an unbelievable game on Tuesday night, something we may never get to see again.

I am just glad I witnessed one of the greatest games an American League player has ever had.

No one deserves it more than Josh Hamilton though. Period.