Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baltimore Orioles: Trade Deadline Buyers?


Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote a piece yesterday breaking down every MLB as either potential buyers, sellers or holders at this year's trade deadline.  He broke down the buyers into two groups: 'likely buyers' and 'buyers' so separate out those firmly entrenched in picking up talent from those who might buy, but might not.

Cameron listed the Orioles as 'likely holders' at the deadline suggesting that despite playing over their heads to this point, they could hope to hold on to veterans with the outside shot at a second wild card spot.  Cameron suggests that teams like the Orioles, Mets or Pirates could benefit greatly from a rare playoff appearance with a 're-energized fanbase'.

Are The O's Buyers?

Many fans certainly want the O's to be buyers at the deadline.  Over the past month or so fans have been clamoring for the home team to go look for a third baseman, starting pitch depth, even an ace to anchor our rotation.  Apparently Dan Duquette said some thing along the lines of, "If we're in it in July we'll be in it to win it. We're out right now taking stock of our minor league system to see what we have to offer teams" prior to the game on Friday June, 8th.  Does this mean the O's are looking to trade?  Who can we get?  Is Garza up for trade?  These, and hundreds of other questions undoubtedly start surfacing looking for ways to push the Orioles into contention.

I don't know what Dan Duquette and the baseball operations team in the warehouse are thinking with regards to trade targets.  If you want an answer for that, try calling up the executive offices and ask the operator to speak to Dan himself.

What I can tell you is what I would do if I were GM - what I think the Orioles should do.

What We Should Do

Recent success in MLB is predicated on developing and bringing up a stream of talented young players that can fill in holes left by veterans.  We're not talking about the Yankees here, the Orioles are not the Yankees and likely never will be.  What the Orioles can be is a middle ground between the Rays and Red Sox.  The model used by Tampa, Texas and Boston to a lesser degree has proven to be successful time and time again.

What exactly is that model you ask?  Fill the farm system with talent, build up a strong core on your roster, and then add pieces to fill in holes as necessary.  This does not require, nor does it preclude you from making splashy free agent signings.  A perfect example is Texas, the best team in baseball the past 2 seasons despite missing out on winning rings.  Texas built up a core of Hamilton, Andrus, Kinsler, Young, Cruz etc by acquiring talent and letting it develop.  Then, when the team was ready to compete they went out and brought in Adrian Beltre to hold down 3B.

The Orioles are starting down this path with promising young players surrounding established young veterans like Wieters and Jones.  The future of Machado, Schoop and Bundy gives the Orioles a core to build around and add to.  This should be the basis of the team going forward.

So Let's Trade For Our Core!

Not so fast.  Trading, especially in a seller's market, will be expensive as Cameron points out.  It will take 2 or 3 top prospects to get a guy like Matt Garza.  Sure, maybe acquiring a guy like him puts us in the playoffs this season, but we won't have guys to call up a year or two from now to add on to our roster.  We'd be trading in long-term sustainable success for one potential playoff appearance.

I know Oriole fans have been waiting way too long for a playoff run.  I know that being patient is hard and knowing we could have made the playoffs if we just made one move is worse.  The fact of the matter is that baseball is getting younger, and the Orioles can't afford to be short-sighted and accept another long stretch of losing for one shot at the postseason.

It's been a long and arduous journey as an Oriole fan, but there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel.  Rather than sprinting to the light and having to stop just outside the exit of the tunnel let's pace ourselves so we can keep running once we break through.


  1. Nice article and gives us a lot to consider.

  2. Good read. If the team is going to trade then I hope they go for bargain players that may just need a change of scenery - or salary dump guys like they got from the Twins in J.J. Hardy.

  3. The Orioles approach this year (it seems to me) is to evaluate what they have, both the young players in the majors and the talent in the minors. Duquette's quote reflects this. While getting into the playoffs would be a glorious accomplishment, they have to keep their focus on lone-term development so that they will be competitive on an on-going basis. They need starting pitching -- more than anything, they need better performances from their starters -- and Garza is appealing. But they have to hold on to the players (Bundy, Machado) who promise long-term benefits. I can see them trading Tillman (who has pitched well, much of the time, in Norfolk but probably needs a change of scenery), Adams, maybe even Maloney, or Schoop (though I think a high quality starting pitcher would be needed here)... maybe even anyone below their 3rd best prospect (Delmonico? Esposito?)... but they have to resist the all-in temptation. Remember Jeff Bagwell for Lary Andersen? John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander? Mike Boddicker for Brady Anderson?

  4. I would look to trade away guys in our minor leagues who I can't see ever contribting at this level like Tillman, Bergesen, or Schoop. I am against trading away any talent we may have but i would much rather have a 1 or 2 pitcher than a midling prospect. If the O's could trade for and sign a guy like Garza, Marcum, or Hamels then I would rather have them knowing Bundy is on the way to join them. Tillman and Bergesen have brought themselves some value back as of late and I just don't see Schoop as piece we can't lose. We can expect to have a decent offense for the next few years and pitching will be the key. Imagine this rotation if you traded for a guy like Hamels and then signed Marcum in the offseason...


  5. Well, if they're not ever going to be contributing at this level, why would someone else value them enough to trade a quality major leaguer for them? If a team is a definite trade deadline seller, they do it so they can restock their farm system with promising young players. Not someone who could never contribute on a team that has lost 14 straight years. Now, all I was disagreeing with was the characterization of those players, not the idea of trading them. I think Tillman could be a very high quality relief guy in the NL. As could Bergesen. But I think Schoop has a chance to become our every day second baseman. To trade him away would require him in a package with others in exchange for a very solid starter like Garza. In a Cubs scenario, for instance, they'd definitely be interested in one of Delmonico or Esposito in addition to Schoop and Tillman for Garza. At least.

  6. I think you all raise good points. In my opinion guys like Bundy, Machado, Schoop, Delmonico are all highly unlikely to be traded. Maybe if we can get a young guy that's cost-controlled or signs an extension then I'd be more open to trading them.

    On the other hand, we're not going to get quality MLB guys without trading value out of the system. I just don't think we're at that point yet. I'd rather take my chances in free agency than trade youth that we desperately needed. What I don't want is a repeat of the early 2000s where we had average MLB talent, but literally nothing in the minors to look forward to.

  7. Pretty simple to me: Bundy and Machado are off limits. Everybody else is fair game. Hoes,Avery,Bridwell,etc are not core pieces. Delmonico can't be traded yet but even if he could I'd have a tough time dealing him. Considering we don't have much to trade I think we get a couple of 2nd tier Craig Lefferts type players at the deadline. Headley? Francouer? Bottom of the rotation starter?