Orioles Offseason Plan: Time To 'Buy the Bats'

November 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

I want to preface this post by saying that I realize that offseason proposals like this can come off as pipe dreams or unrealistic, but I think this is closer to the truth than most people would think.

The Orioles were a brand new team when Buck Showalter took over and while they might not have the talent and depth of their AL East brethren, now is not the time to bury your head in the sand. The Orioles might not match their division rivals pound for pound, but they do have their fair share of potential. Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis are well established major leaguers, who could play on any team in this league. Supplementing them in the lineup is a solid collection of young talent, and guys with potential. Guys like Adam Jones, Felix Pie, Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters, and Josh Bell have a ton of promise. While they might not all reach their ceilings, they give Baltimore a chance to compete in this division.

In addition to their young talented lineup, the Orioles have a very promising and young rotation. Jeremy Guthrie has turned the corner and looks like a solid number 3 starter. Brian Matusz looks like the frontline starter the Orioles were hoping for when they drafted him two years ago. Top prospects Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman haven't reached their potential yet, but the talent is there. While neither profiles as a great starting option the Orioles do have, young cheap options in Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez to round out their rotation. In the minors top prospect Zach Britton should be ready by mid-season and should develop into a number 2 starter.

Here is a step by step list of what the Orioles should look for this offseason:

Step 1: Sign Victor Martinez- Now the initial reaction might think signing Martinez would be redundant considering the presence of Wieters on the roster. Except Martinez wouldn't be signed to be the primary catcher, but rather the primary DH, and backup catcher. The majority of teams have far inferior offensive options for their backup catching duties and sacrifice offensive production for those 150 at bats. Baltimore would have first rate offensive production from their catching position all season, which would be a huge advantage over the rest of the league. He also would be a good veteran catcher for Wieters to learn from.

Martinez won't come cheap as he will be looking for between $8-10 million a year, for at least 4 years. Despite not needing him as a 'regular' catcher, the Orioles should meet his asking price. Martinez hits well enough that even as a primary DH he is worth that contract. Martinez does qualify as a Type-A free agent, meaning Baltimore will have to give up a draft pick. Given their record the Orioles would only have to give up a 2nd round pick, which is a small price to pay for 4-5 years of Martinez. There will be multiple suitors for V-Mart, but I expect AL teams to be the biggest competition. That narrows the field significantly and makes it more likely that Martinez would come to Baltimore. By signing Martinez the Orioles would fill multiple areas of need, and reestablish credibility amongst their fans.

Step 2: Sign Adam Dunn- The Orioles have a major organizational hole at 1B, as well as lacking a true impact power hitter. Dunn fills both needs perfectly, and would be a major signing for Baltimore. Dunn would be the power hitter this team has lacked for years, and would team up with Martinez to give the Orioles a real threat in the heart of their lineup. Dunn has stated that he wants to continue to play in the field and not be a DH just yet. With the signing of Martinez, the Orioles would have their DH position covered, leaving 1B for Dunn. Although you can't put it fully into the contract, you tell Dunn that you envision him playing first in 75-80% of the games, while giving him some occasional days at DH to help keep him fresh. That is probably a better offer than most AL clubs can give him. As for the National League, I see a number of teams potentially balking at giving him a 4th or 5th year, given the unpredictability of his defense. Baltimore would also have a leg up on a number of teams, given the fact that he has spent the past two years in D.C. and seems to really enjoy the area.

Dunn's defense is far from great, but it improved drastically in his first full year as a first baseman. If he maintains it at slightly subpar, than he would be in line with the majority of power hitting 1B in the league. Dunn's offensive ability also far outweighs his defensive liability, making him a good signing for Baltimore. He is well liked in the clubhouse, and already has a local connection to the fan base. Dunn would be well worth the investment and will help fill Camden Yards back up to capacity. I would have no issue with the Orioles giving Dunn between $12.5-14 million a year for 4-5 years (likely 4 years with an option for the 5th). He would be a great addition to the lineup and clubhouse, and would only cost the Orioles a 3rd round pick.

Step 3: Trade Luke Scott- With the signings of Martinez and Dunn, Scott would be pretty much without a starting role and would become a quality trade chip. Scott who can play corner outfield (primarily LF), 1B and DH, still has two arbitration years remaining. Given that he is coming off a career season, and is still fairly cheap the Orioles should have a handful of suitors for his services. While originally I thought a prospect trade was the most likely result with a focus on pitching, I think another option is becoming available; Gordon Beckham.

Beckham has been the White Sox 3B and 2B these last two seasons, but can also play SS a major need position for the Orioles. He is a former top prospect (though maybe not on the elite level), who struggled last season in his first full year as a pro. He has lost a little bit of his trade value, but he is still considered an everyday middle infielder.

Now the Orioles couldn't trade Scott straight up for Beckham, but I do think he could be the centerpiece of a deal. Chicago is looking for another power bat (preferably from the left hand side) to DH and maybe play LF, which fits Scott perfectly. Given budget constraints the White Sox can't take on a major contract, but should easily be able to afford Scott for the next two seasons. Scott would give them a 25+ HR threat, and had he been on the White Sox last season would have been Chicago's 2nd best hitter. In addition I'd imagine Chicago would look at a reliever like Kam Mickolio. Mickolio is still relatively young (and has plenty of team control remaining) and is a power reliever with the potential to develop into a closer. Scott and Mickolio would fill two big needs for the White Sox, and I'd look for the Orioles to round out this trade with a pair of solid prospects (say Mychal Givens (SS-2B) and Wynn Pelzer (RHP)). While the prospects could change, they likely won't be any of Baltimore's top 4 guys.

Although a 4-1 deal seems like a lot for Baltimore to give up, Beckham is the type of player that its worth it for. Unfortunately the Orioles don't have a great minor league system, so they need to get creative in the trade department. The deal would meet Chicago's value, and wouldn't be too prohibitive for Baltimore.

Step 4: Sign Javier Vasquez- Vasquez collapsed last season for the New York Yankees, but when he is 100% he is a frontline starter. There is an injury concern there, so I'd make sure the contract is incentive laden (as well as checking out his medicals), but he is worth the risk. The Orioles could use a quality veteran starter to go along with their young guns, and Vasquez would make the most sense if he is healthy. If injury concerns are too much of an issue there are other pitchers coming off injuries that could make sense, as well as lesser veteran starters, but Vasquez should be the Orioles top target.

Step 5 and 6: Sign two relief pitchers- While the Orioles have some interesting young options for the bullpen, their only sure thing is closer Mike Gonzalez (and he is coming off an injury filled year). Now I'd avoid any reliever that costs a draft pick, but I'd look to choose a couple from that next tier. If the Orioles get two from the group of Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch, J.J. Putz, Jesse Crain, Joaquin Benoit, and Joe Beimel (Fuentes and Beimel are the only lefties), they would really solidify their bullpen. In addition if their young guys step up, they could always flip one or both of these relievers at the trade deadline. They don't need to break the bank, to fix their bullpen, but they could definitely use some better options.

Conclusion: With most of their players either just starting arbitration or still making league minimum, Baltimore has the money to spend to add some top guys. I think they will avoid the big 3 (Lee, Werth and Crawford) since they will be all looking for $20 million a year for 5-7 years, but can be active in that next tier (i.e. Martinez and Dunn). If they make the significant improvements, the Orioles will see their attendance rise that will allow them to maintain a higher payroll, and begin to compete for the division. I know the Orioles are considered long shots for a number of these guys, but they have the need and resources so I wouldn't count them out just yet.

  • http://fanspeak.com/members/willypops/ Willypops

    Interesting. While I am not all that familiar with the O's your scenarios would seem to make sense. As you noted, pulling them off may not be possible, but it will be interesting to see if the O's end up pursuing any of these suggestions. Don't know much about Martinez but is the DH/backup catcher role with Baltimore something that he might embrace? Also, while Dunn frustrated me a lot with the Nats, he could potentially do some damage at the plate in Camden Yards.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      Martinez has been about a 2/3 a year catcher while playing the rest of his time at DH/1B the past couple of seasons, so I don't think he will mind giving up more of his catching duties. Most of his pursuers will be AL teams that can DH him (He puts up solid numbers for a 1B, but teams can probably find a cheaper option for his 1B production), and I think it is pretty clear that his days of playing the majority of the time behind the plate are nearing an end. I don't see that being much of a sticking point, the tougher thing will be of course money and winning potential. The Tigers and Rangers are going to go after Martinez and both are closer to winning (of course it helps not having the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays in your division), as well as a few other teams.

      Yeah thats what i'm thinking about Dunn, maybe the Orioles can put a bonus in his contract for every window he breaks in the Warehouse. The A.L. East is a nice place to hit in general, but in particular for a Power LH bat. Both Boston and New York have short left field porches and Camden Yards shouldn't be an issue considering the loft Dunn gets on his Home Runs. Toronto is a pretty hitter friendly park as well. I really think Dunn could get a few extra HR's that would be outs or doubles this past season.

  • http://www.orioleboard.com Piccamo

    Your offseason plan would certainly help the Orioles become competitive. Unfortunately it doesn't address 3B for the Orioles next year, since Josh Bell clearly isn't ready. The roster would also lack a lot of depth, much like the Mets do now. The Red Sox had half of their starters shelved for much of 2010, but they still managed 89 wins. This roster wouldn't have that kind of flexibility. I also wouldn't want to part with Givens in a potential Beckham trade. Pelzer, Mickolio, and Scott, sure, but I'd much rather keep Givens. Also, I'd much rather check on Brandon Webb before going after Javier Vasquez if we're going for a rebound pitcher.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      I agree Josh Bell is a bit worrisome but I'm not ready to write him off just yet. I personally wouldn't invest serious money into 3B next season since Beltre is the only significant free agent, and I still believe in Bell going forward. If they sign anyone I could see it being a Felipe Lopez type since he can back up 3B, SS, 2B, though he still might believe he can get a starting role. Other targets would be a Andy Marte failed prospect type. I could also see them making a small deal for a failed prospect such as Brandon Wood or Andy LaRoche, who could be utility guys and wouldn't cost much in the trade department. Ryan Adams could also be an internal option for the O's as well.

      As for the rest of the bench I would mainly look within, guys like Brandon Snyder and Brandon Waring could be solid bench guys. I know Snyder was one time thought to have a much higher ceiling, but he could still provide a solid role for the O's. And if he takes to it he could be used in a trade down the road. Pie/Reimold give the Orioles an extra outfielder (hoping for a big bounce back year for Reimold), and another cheap outfielder could be signed as well.

      Depth will be a problem for this team, but at least guys like Dunn and Martinez (esp. if he isn't catching every day) have very good healthy track records. While 3B and middle infield depth remain a problem issue, and the O's still might be 2 years away from fully competing they need to make some bold moves.

      I like Brandon Webb as well, and he could be an option but I worry about the reports that have him throwing in the low 80's. Vasquez would be my first choice (if he's healthy), but Webb is up there as well. I'm just hoping Webb isn't Bedard 2.0 in terms of always being injured. Speaking of Bedard I'd love to seem them give him a $1 million deal, if he can pitch and rebuild his value great, if not it isn't a huge loss.

  • Steve

    Okay, I like some of what you say and it's some of what I have been advocating.

    I really like the idea of signing BOTH Dunn and Martinez, but positionally I would only do it if Dunn agreed to DH at least half of the time, giving Martinez the other 81 games at 1B. Martinez can also catch 1 or 2 days a week and DH some, too.

    I would NOT trade Scott under this scenerio, though. I would keep him and put him in LF and use some combination of Reimold, Pie, D. Heranadez, J. Johnson, etc. to trade for Mark Reynolds from Arizona to play 3B. I realize that with him and Dunn you will have a lot of Ks, but you'll have a lot of pop, too.

    Add a bullpen arm or two (resign Koji) and a SS (if we did the above, I would even live with another year of Izturis- though I perfer Bartlett or Hardy)…and you are ready to roll.

    That gives a line-up of:
    1. 2B- Brian Roberts
    2. RF- Nick Markakis (where he really should hit)
    3. 1B/DH- Adam Dunn
    4. DH/1B/C- Victor Martinez
    5. LF- Luke Scott
    6. CF- Adam Jones
    7. C- Matt Wieters
    8. 3B- Mark Reynolds (solifies the bottom of the line-up)
    9. SS- Bartlett, Hardy, Izturis…

    I don't think you need another starter unless you deal Guthrie. I want to see what the young guns can do, plus you have Britton in the minors and Vanden-Hurk, et al that can step in and start in case of injury.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Steve

      Personally I'd rather have Dunn at first than Martinez. V-Mart puts up great offensive numbers for a catcher, very good numbers for a DH, but only really above average numbers for a 1B. I understand it is semantics since you could have Dunn at DH instead, but I worry that would be a deal breaker for him. In my opinion the value of Dunn (offensively, clubhouse, tickets etc.) outweigh his defensive liability. And Martinez isn't that much better defensively than Dunn.

      I like Scott a lot too, but I'd rather move forward with Reimold and Pie than Scott in the OF. Not only are they better defensively, but they are of course younger and cheaper. I'm not a huge Reynolds fan, he doesn't walk as much as Dunn or have his overall plate discipline. I might be interested in just giving up money but no way would I part with Reimold or Pie for him. Even Hernandez seems like to much (I am a big believer in him in the pen).

      I'd like to add another starter who could become trade bait if all the young guys progress and Britton shows he is ready.

  • Frank Peavey

    Honestly, pie in the sky scenarios are what makes the off-season go around for a fan, so I will give you that. While I am not an Orioles fan, I always find it interesting to see what others want to say about their teams, and they never cease to surprise me with their unrealistic approach to their teams. It's human nature, but let's be real.

    Peter Angelos is well known for his cheap, penny pinching approaching, and to think he'd sign two premiere free agents is, well.. It's silly.

    Adam Dunn is a DH at best, despite his desires to play in the field, and his deficiencies in the field would harm any team more than his 38 HR's would help them.

    I think that "8-10 million for 4 years" is way off on Victor Martinez. I am a Red Sox fan, and have heard all of the talking heads predict V-Mart signing elsewhere because Boston won't go to a 5th year. The Red Sox would sign him for 4, but not 5, and that is why he's more likely a Ranger, or a Tiger next season.

    The current thought process is that Victor would decline a 4/$44MM offer, wanting a 5th year at $12-$13MM annually.

    To me, as an outsider, if the Orioles want to contend they need to draft well, which is something they've failed with over, and over again. Brian Matusz has good stuff, but is he truly ever going to be Jon Lester, or Cliff Lee? The answer, quite clearly, is No, he will not. You reference Jeremy Guthrie as a solid #3, where as the reality is that Matusz is the kid that may turn in to a "solid #3" on a team that's ultimate desire is to win a championship, not just finish .500. By that same vein, Jeremy Guthrie would be a 5, or a long reliever on a championship team.

    I'm sorry, Friend, I'm not trying to be harsh, but that's the reality.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Frank:

      I understand what you are saying, but remember before the 2004 season the O's went out and signed Tejada, Javy Lopez and Sidney Ponson (who as shocking as it is to believe was one of the top pitchers on the market). They had a few promising young players ready or on the way, but weren't nearly as well off as they are now. Since then they have also launched their own television network that brings in additional revenue. Yes the fans aren't in the seats but that would change with adding a few stars and of course winning some games.

      I really think Dunn is better at first than you give him credit for. He really improved last season, which just so happened to be his first full year (and yes walk year) at 1B. He rededicated himself to working on his defense and it paid off. No he isn't going to win gold gloves or save a ton of runs, but no longer does he hurt you as much as he helps you. Dunn's wOBA last year was 7th in the majors and of those players only Pujols and Votto are good defenders (Huff had a good year, but he isn't known as a good defender overall). What's even more impressive is that was a down year offensively for Dunn as ususally his wOBA (still maybe the best stat for offensive production) is higher. Dunn's offense far outweighs his defense (which yes still isn't great).

      Honestly I'd go for a 5th year for V-Mart if that is what it took to sign him, I don't see him getting $12-13 million though. It wouldn't shock me considering the market for it to take $10-11 million, but I'd still do that deal if i'm the Orioles.

      I disagree with your assessment with Matusz, he still had a pretty good year for his rookie campaign. Lester has come back very strong, but his first go around with the Red Sox in 2006 saw a good 7-2 record, but an ERA of 4.76. Lee had a number of solid to mediocre years until his dominate 2008 performance. Right now I'd say Matusz would be a 3rd on a stacked rotation like the Red Sox or Yanks, but in reality he is poised to be at the very least a very good number 2. He might never reach that number 1 level, but I doubt there is a team in baseball that wouldn't want him. Guthrie right now is a solid three, and sure on a team like the Yankees would be more of a 4 or 5 (though you could make the case that he is better than Burnett). But it all depends on your definition of a 'championship team'. Matusz would be ahead of Sanchez and bumgarner for the Giants, and behind only Price for the Rays, and honestly only Halladay for the Phillies. Guthrie would be farther back but would probably make all of their 5 man rotations (maybe not the Rays). No its not perfect, but it is a good foundation.

  • chris

    Sorry but you are just flat wrong. Victor already said he wants to play catcher this year. Im sure money could change his mind, but the o's won't offer that kind of deal. We need a right handed power hitting 1st basemen not a lefty. trading luke scott with that kind of production for little money would just be stupid. Luck can play 1st and DH. Javier can not pitch in the AL east as he proved this year. The O's perfect offseason would be to sign or trade for a True ace, even though Jeremy is pretty close to that. They would also need to sign a big right handed bat at 3rd, 1st, or LF. Once those two issues are addressed then you work out the rest bewteen 1st, 3rd, and LF and sign one more big bat.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Chris

      From what i've seen V-mart has said he wants to remain a catcher, but if that was the case his best bet might be in Boston. The Tigers and Rangers are suitors, but neither one would have him catch more than 50% of the games. I'm sure one or two teams might offer more time catching than that, but it is all a matter of money and desire. It's not a given he'd sign with the Orioles but I think they are in the mix. Maybe they'd have to give a 5th year guaranteed, or something else but it could happen. Martinez would be the Right-handed bat the O's need (as would Beckham), while Dunn would replace (and exceed) Scott as a lefty power bat. The O's would have Martinez, Beckham, Jones and Reimold from the right hand side, and Markakis, Pie, and Dunn from the left hand side, with Wieters, Roberts and Bell (though he is much better as a lefty and might switch to hitting LH entirely) as switch hitters. That is a pretty fair balance overall, and relies more on their young guys stepping up than being overly skewed to one side.

      Scott is a great bat and teammate, but I think you should cash in while his value is the highest (coming off a big year, two arb. years remaining etc.). The O's have a number of needs, and if Scott can fill one it is worth it to move him.

      You aren't going to sign Cliff Lee, and Pavano and De Lo Rosa are nice but both have pretty big injury histories. Vasquez might have been injured last season, so I really think you need to check him out, but he could be a fine addition if healthy. Unlike Webb and a few other pitching options, Vasquez has shown to pitch well in Chicago in the American League. Again if he is healthy he is worth the risk, though I'm not 'married' to the idea.

  • Mike

    There is NO way in $%^& the White Sox would trade Beckham for Luke Scott, a bullpen arm and a couple fringe prospects…

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @Mike Normally I'd agree with you, but Chicago doesn't always take the safe route when it comes to trades. Now that doesn't always mean they make bad deals, just not deals that you would term as wins by the industry consensus. Beckham's stock has slipped a little bit as well, and while if he was on my team I wouldn't even want him mentioned in trade rumors, there have been a couple of reports that Chicago is listening.

      Scott is worth more than most people give him credit for as he is a high 2 – a low 3 WAR type of player at a reduced arbitration rate. He is versatile enough to handle 3 positions, plus DH. While he is 30 plus, he still has a good 4-6 years in him and the next 2 that he is controlled he should be very good. Givens and Pelzer might not be top prospects but they very well could round out the Top 5 or 6 for Chicago. It is no doubt buying low on Beckham, but if he was at his expected value the White Sox wouldn't be trading him in the first place. Chicago has consistently shown that they are valuing the present rather than the future (as i think you will see when they resign Konerko). If that is the case Scott, Mickolio and even Pelzer (in the pen) can help Chicago compete these next 2 years. Which is sorta their window.

  • The Baltimoron

    I totally disagree with this plan of attack. Spending big money on DHs on the wrong side of 30 is the WORST thing the O's could do. We've stockpiled good young pitching, and I agree we need to add offense, but this is not the way to do it. Why deal Scott to replace him with Dunn? And you'd have to give up a lot of talent to get Beckham–there's no way Scott could be the center of that trade. I'll propose an alternate plan of attack.

    For starters, we need to add young, cheap, and controllable talent, not old, expensive free agents who are terrible on defense. The first thing we should do is trade for a SS from the Rays. The Rays have Jason Bartlett now, plus Brignac and Sean Rodriguez to man SS for them, with former #1 overall pick Tim Beckham in the pipeline, and are in dire need of rebuilding their bullpen. We have surplus young bullpen arms that make a good fit. Mike Gonzalez for Brignac should work for both sides. Dumping Gonzo's salary is an added bonus.

    Next, I'd target Alex Gordon from the Royals, He's a former top pick who needs a change of scenery and could be a great risk/reward player. The Royals have botched his development and seem content to wait for Moustakas to play 3rd for them in a year or two. KC would want an MLB ready arm in return, and I'd suggest Alfredo Simon.

    Next, I'd go after Yonder Alonso, a 1B with the Reds who is blocked by the presences of Dusty Baker and Joey Votto. Alonso is a polished college bat who should be ready to compete for a spot in Spring Training. The Reds are looking to contend and have a few holes opening up in the rotation–I'd think Guthrie would get Alonso and perhaps another mid-level prospect in return.

    Now you have a young, cheap, talented team that can gel in 2011 and compete for the playoffs in 2012 and beyond. I'd sign a stop-gap starter ala Millwood to bolster the starting pitching and mentor the young guys (there are plenty of alternatives on the free agent market). You then have Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, and Britton to complete the rotation, with Bergesen as the long/swing man, and Hernandez as the closer. The lineup would project to be:

    Roberts, 2B
    Pie, LF
    Markakis, RF
    Scott, DH
    Weiters, C
    Alonso, 1B
    Gordon, 3B
    Jones, CF
    Brignac, SS

    Fill the bullpen with cheap arms for 2011, then sign a premium #2 starter, supplement the bullpen, and add a DH for 2012. DONE.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Baltimoron:

      Usually I'm right there with you in going for young talented players, but I think now is the time to strike for the O's. Dunn in my opinion is ridiculously undervalued, and would be a steal for the O's at that price. If Dunn's defense is similar to as it was last year, then you are are talking about a a player roughly the same value as Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard, but paid on 55-60% of the price. If the O's sign Dunn for a 5 year deal at $13 million a season they will get roughly the same value as Tex, for $10 million less per year. That is a steal in my book and basically would pay for V-Mart at the same time. In my opinion Dunn is undervalued because of his defense (which in left is god-awful, but at first is frustrating but tolerable), but when you look at wOBA, OPS, wRC Dunn is consistently among the league leaders, but the price is well below the production given the defense and strikeouts.

      The Beckham deal is the least likely part of my scenario, but I don't think it is completely unreasonable given the Sox trade history. Remember when they traded Swisher when his value was at its lowest (though that was more for cost savings) and got nothing in return. If the White Sox were cautious they'd wait for Beckham to regain his value or make him the centerpiece of the team. If you can't get Beckham though I'd still move Scott for some other additional young talent.

      As much as I wish it were the case the Rays won't move Brignac for Gonzalez (though they could have an interest in Scott). They are more likely to move Bartlett, and probably don't want to take on Gonzalez's salary for just one season. And while Gordon is an intriguing option for 3B/DH and I wouldn't rule him out, they want young prospects. Something like Givens or Joseph with Bergeson and Simon could work, but Simon probably isn't enough (also Izzy is a FA). I do like Gordon though and would at least kick those tires. Brandon Wood could be an intriguing SS option despite his 'failed' prospect status.

      I used to be firmly in the trade Guthrie camp, but he really came on at the end of last year, and I'd look to extend him this offseason (especially if you can buy out some FA years for a reduced rate). I also don't know if a SP is what the Reds would be targeting for Alonso, they need an OF bat (another place Scott could maybe fit) and SS help. Everyone wants pitching and i'm sure they'd be interested in one of our young arms, but I don't see Guthrie being what they want.

      Some of those deals could be tweaked to be possibilities if Martinez falls through, but I really hope they go after Dunn. There are only a handful of hitters like him and most of the O's have no shot of acquiring. And Gordon, Brignac and Alonso are on my short list but I think Scott would have to be moved.

  • The Baltimoron

    I should note that I'd expect Reimold to work into the LF/RF/1B/DH mix, with Pie being able to slide over to CF or RF at those times, and Bell would also be in competition for the 3B/DH job as well. Izzy could be part of the KC trade as well to hold down SS while Colon develops for them.

  • Tony

    I feel like it is the same thing every off-season. As orioles fans, we all have our eyes on the good free agents, and we just never get them. Im not talking top free agents, I mean just good ones. Last year with Atkins is the perfect example. We signed someone who the organization could get away with signing saying that he had a big upside, while really everyone knew that he wasn't going to do anything.

    If the orioles actually do sign v-mart and dunn, I will go crazy and jump around dancing and singing. Yeah they are over 30, and we will be giving them big contracts, but our young pitching is finally coming around and there is no way in hell I feel like waiting another three years for new position prospects to become big league players. Also, we might as well try and do something before a few things happen: b-rod retires, and all of our young players (weiters, matutz, arrieta, tillman, jones, pie, …ect) become eligible for free agency and they all leave baltimore. So I say if we can actually get good free agents like v-mart and dunn lets do it, but if we end up having to sign someone like berkman, yeah, then we might as well just keep rebuilding.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Tony

      I agree its been a while since we have really brought in a big name (Tejada) so I think it is about time we really put a full court press on these free agents. Dunn and Martinez are good fits and while they are 30+, they aren't in their mid or late 30's yet (i.e. Konerko, Berkman etc.)

  • The Baltimoron

    I do agree that Dunn is undervalued and some team is going to get a steal. However, I think his age is what makes him a poor fit for the O's, as he's sure to demand a deal in the 4-year range. I also suspect he'll sign with an NL team so he can remain on the field–he's expressed his distaste for the DH many times, so I think there's an NL team that can offer him a 1B gig, a deal of 4+ years, and a no-trade clause that will REALLY get a steal. Despite the value, I just don't think the O's are a great fit for either side.

    Martinez is a talented hitter but is abysmal as a catcher. To have him back there once or twice a week and rotate him through the 1B/DH slots is a good plan, but he, like Dunn, seems intent on remaining at his preferred position. And there will be some team that facilitates that. His price and age also make him being, in effect, a super utility player unrealistic for the O's, IMHO.

    What I'm really worried about is the front office panicking, not getting any of the top-flight bats you mentioned, and signing a Konerko type for too much/too long. I'm wondering if fan panic sets in and they try to make a splash with someone (anyone!) and make a mistake that hurts the team down the road. I'm hoping that the Giants' World Series victory will dissuade them, as their high-dollar guys (Zito, Rowand, Sandoval) did nothing to help them, while cast-offs like Cody Ross, Huff, Uribe, and Renteria were enough on offense to conquer the Phills and the Rangers. I also am not high on this year's crop of available talent and think the team, i.e. the starting pitching, is set up to become competitive in 2012, not 2011.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      I tend to agree with a lot of what you are saying about looking towards 2012 as to when you are really competitive but next year's free agent crop isn't likely to yield much. On paper it looks exception with Fielder, A. Gonzalez, Uggla, Weeks, and Pujols set to hit the market, but at least 3 of those guys won't ever make it to free agency, and all will likely cost more than Dunn or Martinez (also Weeks doesn't fit). Sure their are some 2nd tier options like Jose Bautista and Josh Willingham but they could be resigned as well (not to mention Bautista would need another big year for me to believe in investing in him). Most other options are in their mid-late 30's already and not great fits for Baltimore (when it comes to power hitters, Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins could be interesting at SS). That is why I think Baltimore should strike now. Signing Dunn and Martinez to 4-5 year deals (say 4 years with a 5th year club option) isn't that bad. They should both be highly productive for that time span and can help grow with the young guys.

      I know Martinez says he wants to catch, but I really believe that is more of 'I want to be paid like a catcher'. As I said before if Martinez is valued as a 1B he's not an $8-10 million player (potentially slightly more) since you could get similar production from LaRoche, Lee etc. for less (and less years). That being said I think some teams might balk at that price/years if they don't believe he can stay behind the plate (which lets be honest he can't). If the O's pay his full freight as a power hitting catcher, but with the understanding they will use him in the hybrid role I think he might even prefer that. He already plays 1B/Dh's 1/3 of the time and most teams would likely want to shift that to at least 1/2 the time. The O's will want him behind the plate less, but they will still value him the same.

      Dunn will attract some NL teams, but honestly I think he is in a bit of a bad spot. Most NL teams in need of a 1B will likely go for a cheaper option LaRoche, Lee, Berkman etc. The Cubs are a possibility, but they are far from a lock. Brewers could be an option if Fielder is dealt, and a return to Washington is possible. The consensus is that most teams want Dunn at 2-3 years because they fear his defense, but if I'm the O's I throw caution into the wind. I don't see Dunn's defense collapsing like some naysayers and would much rather be paying him than trying to compete in the Fielder sweepstakes next offseason (might be the one 1B who reaches FA). I also think Dunn brings such a great clubhouse/fan experience that he is really going to be the best thing for this club in years.

  • ccannon

    i like your pretty close to best case scenario. if this were to happen, then we'd be in at least contention for 3rd place in the AL East. I think if we were going to be a little more realistic I would skip on v-mart and get dunn to play 1st while keeping luke scott. if we cant get dunn id settle for a guy like konerko, who may be old but still has a lot of pop left. then i would go get a temporary utility player to start the year at 3rd and then move to SS when bell is ready. (i love izturis, but his bat is a liability sometimes) i would go for someone like juan uribe whos about 32, played a good amount of third and short this season, can hit 15-20 homers (he had 21 last season) and around .260. As far as pitching goes, i personally think we are already overflowing with prospects and guthrie, but we could still use an innings eater. maybe a javier vazquez or brandon webb, but i want to throw jon garland's hat into the ring. he had a decent year last year with the padres and ate up 200 innings. as for relievers, i say we need to put gonzalez back in the closer role, use simon as a long man, and sign a jj putz or someone like him as a setup guy. these seem a little more possible to me

  • Andrew

    You want a team coming off of back-to-back near-100-loss seasons to sign 4 Type A free agents, thereby surrendering draft picks in rounds 2, 3, 4, and 5 (in what looks to be a deep 2011 draft class)?

    That's the kind of short-sightedness that got this organization stuck swirling the drain in the first place.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Andrew

      Actually I only advocated signing two Type A free agents Dunn and Martinez. Guys like Vasquez, Crain, Rauch, etc. are all Type B guys meaning they won't cost draft picks. I do believe now is the time to spend, since they have saved money the past few seasons.

      Sure losing two draft picks in a deep draft can hurt, but Dunn and Martinez should be cornerstones of your lineup for the next 3-5 years, that is far greater value than a typical 2nd or 3rd rounder brings. Also, it is usually better to sign multiple Type A guys in one season as opposed to spreading them out. Sure you could be without a couple of draft picks, but getting Dunn for a 3rd is a steal. That is a better option than losing a 2nd in multiple seasons.

  • Andrew

    Most of the relievers you've identified are Type As. If you haven't learned anything from what the Orioles have done over the past decade, I can't help you.

    Your plan gets the Orioles to 75 wins in 2011 and… to the playoffs approximately never.

  • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

    @ Andrew

    With all due respect not a single reliever I mentioned here is a Type-A free agent. Some have been in the past and some you would maybe thing should be, but none made the qualification this year.I purposely avoided the Type-A's with the exception of Dunn and Martinez.

    The Orioles can't just keep hoping that signing the Garrett Atkins of the world will pay off, and the farm system is beginning to dry up in terms of talent. Baltimore could never trade for a Dunn or Martinez for as little as a 2nd and 3rd round pick and again they'd be locking them up for 4-5 years of which they should be extremely productive.

    I know the Orioles have spent money in the past, but they didn't have the young talent to support them, now they do. So now is the time to strike. This team might only win 75-80 games next season, but 2012 should be a year that they can really compete and they would have the roster set to do so.

  • Andrew

    My apologies — Benoit and Fuentes were listed as projected Type As on MLBTR earlier in the season. Hadn't realized they wound up as Bs. So I concede on that point.

    Nevertheless, I stand by my original evaluation of your plan: it's ridiculously short-sighted for an organization as bad as the Orioles. Moreover, parts of it make absolutely no sense even if the Orioles were competitive. For example — you propose that the Orioles should sign Victor Martinez and trade Luke Scott. Explain to me again why the Orioles should pay $50+ million AND give up a high second-round draft pick so that they can… downgrade from a .900 OPS DH (Luke Scott) to an .840 OPS one (Victor Martinez)? That's madness.

    Aren't you the slightest bit concerned about the impending implosion of Brian Roberts, who has a few billion dollars left on the ill-conceived extension the team gave him last year? Aren't you worried that Matt Wieters took a major step backwards last year and appears to be the slowest human being alive? Doesn't it trouble you that the team seems to be giving up on Chris Tillman despite the fact that his minor-league numbers and scouting reports suggest his upside is an elite starter? Isn't it troubling that Adam Jones decided to swing at ball 4, ball 5, and ball 6 last year with alarming frequency? Aren't you at all worried that our $15 million right fielder has seen his slugging percentage drop for three consecutive seasons and has apparently gone from a plus defender to an atrocious one? Etc.

    I dunno. Maybe I'm just tired of a decade's worth of terrible, terrible moves that somehow seem never to disturb the endless optimism of the fan base. But… good lord, this is a bad team that's getting worse, not a great young team that'll be ready to compete by 2012. There are no superstars on the roster and there aren't any potential superstars in the upper minors.

    What a smart GM needs to do is to see if Wieters and Jones can be fixed while accumulating as much minor-league talent as possible. Giving up high second- and third-round draft picks doesn't help you do that. Heck, our best prospect right now (Zach Britton) was a 2006 third-rounder. Who do you think is more likely to have value in 2014, Zach Britton or Victor Martinez?

  • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

    @ Andrew

    Look I see where you are saying and trust me I understand your frustration but hear me out

    As for Scott and Martinez the reason I say sign V-Mart and trade LUUUKE is basically need and value. Right now Victor Martinez is more expensive than Scott who has two arb years remaining, but at that point in time Scott salary will be either equal or potentially greater than Martinez's (note if Scott struggles it will be less, but then obviously so would his value). If we sign Martinez for say 5 years $55 million (which would be about the max i'd go for him), it won't be drastically more than we will pay Scott over a similar time period. My guess is Scott makes $15 million over these last two years of Arb. and probably about a 3 year $30-35 million deal after, which would only be a savings of $5-10 million, most of which would be in this year when the O's can afford it.

    Now you raise a valid point about Scott putting up better numbers than Martinez last year, but Martinez is far more consistent (always in that .850-.860 OPS range, higher wOBA number ands wRC numbers). Scott could continue being a .900+ OPS hitter but my guess is he is more of a high .800's guy who might get a year or two above .900. Martinez also outclasses Scott in terms of positional value, since you can play him at catcher 30-40 times a year and get superior offensive value relative to the position. Where as playing Scott in the field at 1B isn't much better than signing a LaRoche, Lee etc. or the expected offensive/defensive value of Pie/Reimold in LF. Yes I realize V-mart is horribly defensively, but playing the likes of Craig Tatum's haven't really benefited the O's over the years. And the final reason why I would sign V-Mart thus necessitating the trade of Scott is because I think it is a net value gain of young players (taking Scott and V-Mart out of the equation).

    Yes they would give up an early 2nd round pick for Martinez, but Scott is one of the O's best trade chips. He could either be used as part of a deal for a young major league ready talent (highpoint Beckham) or traded for a 2-3 quality minor leaguers. No you probably won't get top 50 prospects, but I would say at least one 75-100 guy (the BA, Keith Law lists etc.) and two other prospects in the individual team 8-15 range. That is far more value than a 2nd round pick, not only are they already signed but they are closer to the majors as well.

    Given the consistency, positional value, prospect value, and the fact that Martinez is actually 6 months younger, I'll take paying the extra money.

    Trust me I'm worried about the injuries and decline of players (though think some will rebound), but there really isn't an alternative in my opinion. The Orioles aren't in a position to have a fire sale, since as you said Markakis, Roberts, Tillman, even Jones aren't at or near peak value. The O's can't have a fire sale (though I'm fine moving Scott, maybe Pie or Jones in the right deal, even Guthrie if you get overpaid) since they don't have the talent on the way (or receive the necessary talent back in the trade). The Royals do to their prospect depth could trade both Greinke and Butler and still have confidence in competing in the near future. The O's need a lot to go right and that is why I believe adding Dunn/Martinez gives them their best shot.

    I agree giving up picks is tough, but the Scott trade should bring back the talent to equal out losing both the 2nd and 3rd rounder. There is no doubt Britton is talented, but plenty of 2nd round picks turn into Jeff Forientino as well, and Victor Martinez can play just one game and be light years more valuable than that.

  • Andrew

    Here's my final two cents.

    If the Orioles are going to emulate another organization, I'd nominate the Tampa Bay Rays. As you no doubt recall, the Rays were — like the Orioles — cover-your-eyes-terrible for a long, long time. The worst part was that the Rays didn't seem to be getting any better. A quick look under the hood shows why: for years, they would do inexplicably stupid things like trading a 23-year-old Bobby Abreu for a 28-year-old replacement level shortstop (Kevin Stocker), or signing a whole crapload of free agent relievers, or trading away a promising young outfielder for the dubious "right" to interview Lou Piniella (!). And so the Rays were bad, and they stayed bad. Year in and year out they would add various free agent pieces (Vinny Castilla, Greg Vaughn, Jose Canseco, Tino Martinez, you name it). And yet somehow they never seemed to get any better.

    Then, in the 2005 offseason, the Rays were sold to a bunch of Wall Street know-it-alls, Piniella was fired, Joe Maddon was brought in, and a former stockbroker named Andrew Friedman took over as GM. And in 2006 and 2007, the Rays were as godawful as they had been in the previous decade.

    But the one difference was that the Rays were in talent acquisition mode. They were willing to ship off still-useful, still-relatively-young pieces like Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo and Mark Hendrickson and Ty Wigginton and Jorge Cantu and some other people I've probably forgotten. They stopped surrendering their draft picks and started stockpiling them. And eventually, they turned out pretty darn good.

    Imagine what the Rays could do with Camden Yards and Peter Angelos's money. If that team had even a $100 million payroll, they'd be ready to win 120 games next year.

    That's what I'd like to see the Orioles do — build a great team with a smart organization and a solid foundation built on lots and lots and LOTS of young players.

    It means sucking it up for a couple more years. I can handle that — hell, I've (somehow) managed to get through the last dozen years. It means that you trade Luke Scott AND you pass up Victor Martinez, and you scuffle through with some minor-league free agent as your DH. Will that be less fun in 2011? Probably. But if that helps you build a core of talent that is built to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox and Rays for a decade, I'll take it. I'll certainly take it over lurching to 70-odd wins in 2011 with a cast of aging mercenaries.

    Oh, and one other thing: the guy who suggested drafting Jeff Fiorentino (ahead of Adam Lind, J.A. Happ, Ian Desmond, Chris Iannetta, etc…) should be fired.

  • Chris

    Honestly, this might be one of the best constructed plan of attacks I have read all off season for the Orioles…Steve, you should fax this to Andy right away haha…Look, I'm 21 years old, born and raised in Baltimore, I love baseball and I love the Orioles…I want to see this team win, and I believe Dunn and Martinez is very possible! If the reports are true about Angelos telling McPhail the money is there when he wants it, then damn there couldn't be a better time…Lets face it, McPhail lets it be known that he will never sign a top tier Pitcher, he is all about development, so first the Orioles better hope Guthrie pitches like a number 1 and Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman and Bergy continue to get better…

    We need Adam Dunn, it's just that simple…When was the last time the Orioles had a legitimate 40 home run power threat, Brady Anderson when he was juicing? … The fans deserve Dunn's bat…If we could sign Martinez on top of that to give us another switch hitter, but more specifically the power from the right side which is what this team lacks, that would be amazing…

    I read on MLTR today that the Orioles are considering giving Beltre a possible 4 to 5 year deal worth 15 million a season…WHY???? Why trade away our closer to get our "future" third baseman if your going to sign Beltre? That would honestly piss me off considering Dunn and Martinez are clearly better options…

    Also, Steve I have to disagree with signing Javier Vasquez, we all seen how well Millwood worked out…I believe the vetern starter presence is a bit over rated…who benefited from the Millwood deal?? All it did was take innings away from Tillman, Bergesen, Arrieta and Britton…If Guthrie can't be a leader on this pitching staff in his 30's then why is he still on the team??? If the young guys are going to develop, then they need to pitch, the learning will come from the in game experience and the coaching staff, not from a pitcher who can only pitch in the NL in Vasquez…

    Overall, I couldn't agree more…I might actually fax this to Andy and tell him it's the Oriole Fans Christmas list haha…good work

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup


      Thanks for the compliment! I am an O's fan, but I also try to be fair when judging prospective trades, signings etc. I think now is the time to spend the money. And to some degree I agree with MacPhail's approach of not spending big money on a pitcher. While I think Lee will be worth it, there is no other pitcher I'd really feel comfortable giving multiple years to. That's why I like a Vasquez option. I understand your Millwood concern, but he wasn't as bad as his record (though I'm not saying he was great). I just want to protect Britton so they don't rush him. I'd like to see a Vasquez, Guthrie, Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman in the rotation and potentially try to trade Vasquez at the deadline and replace him with Britton. I like Bergy, but think he is at best a long-man/6th starter in the AL. Maybe you keep him around for depth or use him in a trade. I like Vasquez, despite his struggles in NY. He pitched well in Chicago and I think could be an effective pitcher for the O's (and potentially bring back some talent via trade).

      I'm not super fond of the Beltre rumors, but I'm not completely opposed. While I still believe in Josh Bell, Beltre is a talented 3B and would be a good compliment to Dunn as well. I just like seeing the O's involved with any big money free agents honestly. Martinez might be a better option because of need, but Beltre would be a good fall back. He is pretty good defensively and would make sense for the O's.

      I agree with Dunn wholeheartedly, I think he is the perfect fit for Baltimore and needs to be there top priority. He also could offer another good veteran presence which I'm sure Showalter would love to have.

  • herb

    We're supposed to listen to all of this BS from a NATIONALS fan?

    HAHAHAHHAHA – riiiiiiiiiiiight.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      Actually I'm both a Nationals and an Orioles fan, and have been following the O's for two decades now. Nothing I said is illogical or out of the realm of possibility. Is it all probable, no, but it is possible if the O's want to be bold and go down that route.

  • herb

    I've never heard of such, an O's fan and a Nats fan. If you grew up in VA and you weren't around to watch the Senators, you're an O's fan by default. But, whatever you say. As for signing Dunn and Vazquez, I'm not sure I'd like to make my defense any WORSE. Dunn is terrible at first and decent at best in the outfield.

    As far as Vazquez goes, sure, lets fire up these O's fans some more and make them even more pissed at MacPhail. Sign another "has been" pitcher to pitch in the AL East…..Did you happen to see what Millwood did in his brief stint with the O's ???

    Did you happen to see what Vazquez did in NY? I'll pass….

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      I did grow up in Va and will always love my Orioles, but dream of the day I can see an O's-Nats world series (it's a long term dream). As of now my overall loyalties lie with the O's despite going to more Nats games each year.

      I disagree with your assessment of Dunn's defense. He has always been a horrendous defender in the OF and I'd want no part of him in LF. At first though he has been better, and this past season, (his only full year at 1B) you could see a noticeable difference in his defense. It is far from good or even average, but it is roughly in the same ballpark (if not better) than Howard/Fielder so I think he presents a viable option there.

      I know O's fans that enjoyed watching Vazquez implode last year would have a tough time swallowing signing him, but he could be a major steal. Sure its possible that he is really on the downside and won't ever recover, but I think he is a good buy low candidate. No one can argue that this past year was anything less than awful, but other than that he has never been under a 2.0 WAR pitcher (including his other stint in NY) with the exception of his rookie year. In fact with the exception of his other year in NY, his first two years in the majors and his 1 year with the D-Backs, he has always been a 4.5 WAR or higher pitcher, that is pretty good and far better than anything the O's had last year. Now I'm not expecting him to be back in the mid-5's or 6's like he was in the past, but I think he could be a 3.5-4 WAR pitcher next year. I'd want to get that arm checked out and I'd make the deal as incentive laden as possible but if he is healthy I'm buying.

  • Jamie

    Ok, everything sounds good there… Except I question trading for Beckham, and I feel like signing Vasquez would be a huge mistake.

    Ever look at this guys career numbers? In 5 years in the AL, this guy has had 1 sub-4 ERA season. He's been a double-digit loser on good teams. To me, this would be scarily similar the Millwood signing from last year. And unfortunately for me as an Orioles fan, that makes it completely feasible. This would be a step backward. His only chance SHOULD be as a back-of-the-rotation guy in the NL where the pressure is off of him. It's the only situation in which he's ever had any success.

    If we're getting a pitcher, it needs to be Cliff Lee. Since that isn't going to happen, I think we should roll with our young guys. We'll never know what we have until we try 'em out.

    Well… and maybe an established reliever or 2.

    As for Beckham… I question your value of him and the other players involved. I don't think the Orioles should trade a positional prospect. Especially for an unproven guy who isn't a natural shortstop coming off a pretty rough rookie season. I mean, he did start to put it together in the second half… but obviously it'd be nice to see it for a full season. His first half was TERRIBLE. That being said, and maybe it's just me, but I could totally see Luke Scott in Chicago. And I'd be all for doing this deal if we did, in fact, sign V-Mart and Dunn. I'd like to see if they'd do it for Scott and maybe a Matt Albers or something. Thing is, the O's have been rumored to be interested in JJ Hardy or Jason Bartlett… more than likely shopping a young pitcher, like David Hernandez, for instance. It sure would be nice to have some kind of offensive production out of our shortstop though… .250 and 9 HRs is still better than whatever Izturis will call an offensive season.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @ Jamie

      I know Vasquez isn't easy for O's fans to swallow, but I think he is a good buy low candidate. The loss of velocity worries me, and there could be an arm injury there, so the O's need to do their homework but I think he is worth it. Vasquez's ERA hasn't been as good in the AL but that is true for most pittchers, not to mention playing in NY and Chicago are two pretty hitter friendly parks (not that Camden Yards is any better). While the ERA has been high even in Chicago he was very effective. He never had a WAR under 4.00 while in Chicago (though he did both years in NY and last year was awful), I think if he is healthy he is a good buy low option. A 4+ WAR is very good and and that consistency is impressive.

      I don't think Beckham has fallen far enough where just Scott and Albers will get it done, but it could be a fluid situation, maybe they'd want a couple relief arms (Albers, Johnson, Hernandez …two of them) in place of a prospect. I am a Beckham believer overall and think he will have no problem turning it all around. In fact it wouldn't shock me to see him an All-star either next year or the year after. I'd much rather have him over a one year maybe will pan out guy like Bartlett or Hardy. Some years those guys are great other years they make Izturis look like a Silver Slugger. I do think signing Dunn would be the best thing for this team (as well as their own young guys panning out), and I'm hoping V-mart could be an option as well.