The Cascading Effects of Signing Pedro Alvarez

In the aftermath of Dexter Fowler spurning the Orioles to rejoin the Cubs, I wrote about a few potential solutions to the Orioles’ hole in right field. One of those acquisition ideas is (almost) a reality with the reported signing of Pedro Alvarez to a one year, $5.75 million contract.

As discussed in that piece, Alvarez represented an imperfect fit for the Orioles given that his presence would shift Mark Trumbo into more of a full time right fielder role. While true, the post also hypothesized that with some clever maneuvering – which Buck Showalter is adept at – Trumbo could end up spending only about 50% of his games in the outfield without the team having to sacrifice much offense to get there. To get to that 50% outfield playing time mark for Trumbo, Buck will have to buy into a few different strategies and then have the healthy personnel in order to pull them off.

Four Potential Solutions to the Orioles' Outfield Problem

In one of the more bizarre turn of events in recent Orioles history, Dexter Fowler went from being a surefire Oriole to being a Cub yesterday. As much as I might want to rant about that whole situation and the entirely suspect manner in which Fowler’s agent Casey Close handled it, that would not make for a very readable blog post. It also probably wouldn’t do much good for my health. So instead – as we often do around here – I want to look forward at the possibilities that exist to fill the hole "left behind" by Fowler. The slow developing 2015-2016 offseason has left one free agent and a trio of trade possibilities on the table who could potentially help the Orioles. I look at each individual’s case below.

Exploring Possible Alternatives to Player Opt Out Clauses

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?

A Look Back at Oriole Rookie Debuts of the 2009 Season

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.

Thoughts on Impending Roster Moves

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.

You Are Always Learning...

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