The acquisition of Nelson Cruz – when/if it becomes official today – will impact the chances some other players have t fmake the club out of spring training. The players this signing impacts and the nature of that impact might be a little different than it would appear at first glance.
from Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs:
All offseason long, Nelson Cruz was thought of as a terrifying land mine. Plenty was written elsewhere, plenty was written right here, and in early November, Dave used the term “land mine”, specifically, to refer to Cruz as an acquisition. It was understood that Cruz was seeking a major contract. It was understood that Cruz was overrated as a contributing player. It was understood that everyone was to prepare to laugh at the team that eventually gave Cruz a whopper of a deal. Cruz became something of an unfunny offseason punchline. Then he signed with the Orioles for a year and eight million dollars. There are incentives, worth a total of less than one million dollars.
All along, it was assumed Cruz would end up with something statistically unreasonable. What he got instead is something that’s more or less fine for that kind of player, and this is one of the dangers of reaching conclusions about the market before the market reaches a conclusion about a player. As Dave has illustrated, or will illustrate, it’s interesting that this is what Cruz was reduced to. Something else that’s interesting is how the Orioles’ earlier acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez in part allowed the Cruz signing to take place.
The thing Paul and I have been talking about at the Observer all off season.
We compile five of the more respected Top 100 Prospect lists to find out how the the top Orioles prospects stack up against their peers.
Is Ubaldo Jimenez a pitcher with a pair of great 15-game stretches over a 7+ season career or a pitcher who has largely been above average (sometimes well above average) with one and a half seasons of poor performance that is (hopefully) in the rear view mirror? Matt Snyder of CBS Sports argues the former and I tell you why that is largely inaccurate after the jump.
I feel like posting this is a jinx to Jimenez's physical but something has got to go the O's way this offseason. From Keith Law's ESPN Insider piece on the signing:
The Ubaldo Jimenez that the Orioles are hoping they'll get is the version we saw in that second half, sitting mid-90s, throwing more strikes, missing more bats with the fastball so he can get to the plus slider and above-average splitter. If you're just grading out the pitches, he'll have outings in which he pitches with three 60s or better, and now he sometimes he can harness that stuff as well. For roughly $12 million a year, it seems like a bargain; the risk here is that Baltimore just guaranteed that salary for four years to a guy who has had, speaking broadly, two good half-seasons in his major league career.
Something Paul and I have been talking about is what we would like to see happen with Kevin Gausman. If Gausman was our fifth starter when the Orioles break camp, it would have been fine with us. The Jimenez signing does allow more breathing room for Gausman to refine his slider in AAA and come up mid year as a real weapon:
Gausman's slider was at its best in September when he was working in relief, and when he carries that over to a starting role, he'll be ready not just to pitch in the major league rotation but to do well in it. If Gausman looks ready in March, they could bump Yoon or Bud Norris to the bullpen, but if not they have a little more depth now with Ubaldo on board and Mike Wright also available for the fifth spot.
We compile the Top 10 Baltimore Prospect lists from six national publications into one master list to determine a composite top 10 for 2014.
Once you get passed Manny Machado, the picture at third base gets really blurry, really fast. Unfortunately, the Orioles might need that picture to come into focus sooner rather than later given that Machado is not a sure bet to be ready by Opening Day.
Inside are several clips from the forums that took place at the 2014 Orioles FanFest today at the Baltimore Convention Center. Amongst the topics discussed were the organization's pitching prospects, their plan for free agency the rest of the off-season, memorable moments from the past two seasons, the need to improve team OBP, and possible extension candidates on the club.