Dan Duquette has publicly stated his opposition to offering player opt-out clauses as part of free agent contracts. Some have expressed concern that a firm stance against opt-outs could place the Orioles at a competitive disadvantage with free agents. Is that the case and in any event, what alternative contract structures could the Orioles pursue to attract free agents in an opt-out environment while limiting their downside risk?
We aren’t even to the offseason yet and stories of negativity, turmoil, and dysfunction about the Baltimore Orioles organization are already being written.
With Mike Wright's major league debut in the rear view mirror and Tyler Wilson's in the foreseeable future, we look back at the 2009 Orioles who debut six starting pitchers and three position players all in one season.
As frustrated as everyone is with the Orioles record being where it is, it probably is not the time to talk about wholesale changes to the roster.
If Ryan Flaherty and J.J. Hardy are both activated by Friday’s game in New York (Flaherty is not eligible to come off the disabled list until then), I am more and more convinced that Everth Cabrera should be and will be the player joining Rey Navarro on the bus to Norfolk.
Cabrera has not hit at all this season, entering Wednesday evening’s game with an unsightly .213/.226/.238 line. He has been – at best – “okay” defensively if you average all of the defensive metrics together. His -3 defensive runs saved is not good, but his 5.2 UZR/150 paints a slightly rosier picture. Inside Edge Fielding shows he has done an adequate job of making plays that have a 60% or more likelihood of being made (save for one booted ball on a routine play) but hasn’t gotten to anything out of the ordinary so far. The only reason to keep Cabrera around with Flaherty and Hardy return is to have a backup middle infielder on the bench. With each passing day, that is becoming less of a concern now that both Jimmy Parades and Steve Pearce have been afforded playing time at second base. If Buck feels reasonably comfortable with playing those two at second from time to time, Cabrera’s one possible saving grace – his ability to play the middle infield positions – no longer means as much. The team can more than get by with a rotation of Pearce/Flaherty/Parades at second, with Flaherty serving as Hardy’s backup at short.
Cabrera can be optioned to the minors and based on his season-to-date performance, a demotion would hardly be unwarranted.
Another option floated around is the possibility of cutting ties with Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia by returning him to the Red Sox (assuming he passes through waivers). At the moment, Garcia does not look like a pitcher who can be a contributing member for a seven man bullpen for an entire season. His fastball is not where it was in the spring and Buck is clearly doing his best to limit Garcia’s appearances to low leverage situations. At some point, the team is going to have to get valuable innings out of Garcia or move on.
Where things get sticky is that the O’s have already spent significant time and resources into keeping him. In order to maintain a Rule 5 pick the following season, he has to be on the active roster for at least 90 days. Garcia has already logged 32 days on the active roster. There are 34 days in September and October where rosters will expand and it will be far easier to “hide” Garcia in the bullpen. That’s 66 days in total, which means the O’s “only” need to get 24 additional days (actual days, not games) out of Garcia between now and August 31st. I am not suggesting that the Orioles will fake an injury to remove Garcia from the 25-man but they can certainly bend things in that direction. This is Garcia’s first full season back after Tommy John and with his velocity down, general shoulder or arm fatigue would not be a difficult sell. Given how close the Orioles might be to retaining Garcia for next year free of restrictions, I would hate to see them lose him now unless it is absolutely necessary.
Also, dropping Garcia for Flaherty would only be a temporary solution. At some point, the O’s would have to revert back to a seven man bullpen. I don’t think it’s a great idea to lose Garcia for something that amounts to a temporary solution.
The Orioles signed Cabrera in part because of the way his minor league option provided them with flexibility. Given how Cabrera is currently performing, I would be surprised if they did not take advantage of that flexibility right now.
Human beings are always learning throughout life, whether consciously or otherwise. One day, the small lesson may shape the next year of our life, while another day, a seemingly enormous learning experience may only have consequences for a shorter time.
As in life, baseball generally falls into this same game.
The Orioles opened the 2015 season by taking two out of three from the Rays on the road. There were definite learning experiences
Before the Orioles kick off their 2015 regular season this afternoon, I wanted to take a quick snapshot of who the prognosticators are picking to win the AL East.
There is quite a bit of orange in there and it is a tad . . . unsettling. 15 out of the 37 (40.5%) individuals listed above picked the Orioles to win the American League East. That's the most of any other team with the Red Sox (14 1st place predictions) finishing just behind. That means - that by this sample of data at least - the 2015 Orioles are the favorites to win the American League East. There is something that does not feel quite right about that.
Fear not, it has not been all positive. It is feast or famine for the ESPN predictions. Nobody that picked another team to win the AL East chose the O's as a Wild Card team. At FOX Sports, only Matt Trueblood picked the O's to make the Wild Card game, which means 10 out of the 12 guys at FOX see Baltimore missing the playoffs altogether. Mark Townsend at Yahoo! was downright gloomy with his prediction, picking the O's to finish 4th in the division with a 79-83 record. We can rest a little bit easier in the knowledge that not every writer is on the Oriole bandwagon.
The first three innings of the Orioles exhibition game versus Puerto Rico from May 14, 2015. Includes Matt Wieters' first catching appearance of Spring Training.