The A.J. Burnett Saga still continues for the Orioles

So with all the reports out there about A.J. Burnett preferring to pitch in the NL, one would think it’s a done deal that he isn’t going to be wearing orange and black in 2014, right?  Not so fast.

It turns out, instead of going through the media and believing their spin, you could just ask the guy yourself as one Orioles fan did on Twitter:

I wouldn’t rule out Baltimore just yet.

The Orioles are now backed against a wall with Burnett, knowing that they need pitching help, having said they are going to acquire pitching, and having Dan Duquette do a press tour making sure the fans knew how much payroll room they had.

They don’t want to surrender a draft pick nor want to commit a ton of years to Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, so Burnett is pretty much their only option left.

Burnett knows this and he’s going to try to get as much money as possible, and that’s not coming from the Pirates, who have no payroll room to add what he wants, and the Phillies are pretty much out.

The Nationals could make sense, but so far they have shown no interest in Burnett and have a pretty stacked rotation already with the acquisition of Doug Fister.

If the Orioles, after missing out on Arroyo,  don’t come away from this offseason, with a pitcher literally in their backyard despite having the need and the payroll room, well I think we all know how that is going to sit with the Orioles’ fanbase.

Duquette’s made promises before and hasn’t lived up to what he’s said, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him whiff once again.  However, the Orioles’ playoff future for 2014 is pretty much at stake here and time is pretty much up to make improvements before the season and Burnett is the only player left out there that fits what the Orioles want to do.

Stay tuned…

What do you think?  Leave a comment or discuss in the forums thread here.

The 2014 Orioles should look very familiar to Dan Duquette

As I posted in the previous entry, the Orioles are shaping up to have a 79-83 record next season barring any major additions before Opening Day.    That would mean the team would have had the following records over three seasons of play:

2012:  93-69

2013:  85-77

2014:  79-83

Now let’s take a look at another team that had a very similar pattern:

1995:  86-58 (144 game season)

1996:  85-77

1997:  78-84

Look familiar?

This would be another team that Dan Duquette also was the GM for,  the 1995-1997 Red Sox

Let’s look at just how similar the paths of these two teams are:

1995:  Dan Duquette signs Stan Belinda, Reggie Jefferson, Erik Hanson and Tim Wakefield as FAs, claims Troy O’ Leary off waivers, and trades for Jose Canseco, Mark Whiten and Rheal Cormier in the offseason.   He also adds Vaughn Eshelman in the Rule 5 draft.  Later he adds a released Mike Maddux in May and then Rick Aguilera at the deadline to close out games.

Result:  Jose Canseco and Reggie Jefferson thrive in a platoon DH role, Tim Wakefield comes out of nowhere and he and Erik Hanson lead the Red Sox rotation with 16 and 15 win seasons, Eshelman starts 14 games, winning 6, Maddux, Belinda and Cormier anchor the Sox bullpen, Mo Vaughn wins the MVP,  and the Red Sox go on to the playoffs winning the AL East with a 86-58 record, but lose to the Cleveland Indians, 3-0 in the ALDS.

 

2012:  Dan Duquette signs Wilson Betemit, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, trades for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, selects Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 draft in the offseason. Darren O’Day is also acquired before Duquette is hired.  Later the Orioles add Steve Pearce and Nate McLouth  and trade for Jim Thome and Joe Saunders.

Result: Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez lead the Orioles rotation while the bullpen gets key contributions from Darren O’Day and Matt Lindstrom before he is traded.  Flaherty plays in 77 games and has a good July and September.  Wilson Betemit has a .859 OPS vs. RHP.  Manny Machado is called up for his defense at 3B in August and the Orioles manage to make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years winning a WC spot and beat the Rangers in the WC game, but lose to the Yankees in the ALDS, 3-2.

 

1996:  Dan Duquette does little in the offseason to augment the roster.  Belinda and Canseco are re-signed, Hanson is replaced with Tom “Flash” Gordon.  Jamie Moyer is also signed. Cormier is traded to the Expos for Wil Cordero. The Red Sox also trade for Heathcliff Slocumb to replace Aguilera.

Result:  Flash Gordon pitches to a 5.59 ERA with only 10 wins, Wakefield’s knuckler doesn’t quite dance around as he has a 5.14 ERA.  Belinda and Maddux both fall apart with 6.58 and 4.48 ERAs respectively.  Eshelman has a 7.08 ERA and winds up in the bullpen.  Nomar Garciaparra makes his debut in 24 games.   Mo Vaughn launches 44 HRs, comes in 5th in MVP voting.  The Red Sox miss the playoffs.

 

2013:  Dan Duquette does little in the offseason to change the make up of the team.  Mark Reynolds is allowed to leave via FA.  McLouth is re-signed to a 1 year deal and the Orioles add Danny Valencia to platoon with Wilson Betemit at DH.

Result:  Hammel and Chen both struggle with injuries and aren’t as effective.  Nate McLouth fades in the 2nd half of the season.  Betemit barely plays at all and is ineffective when he does due to injury.  Flaherty struggles to find his bat save for June but rebounds in August and catches fire in September.  Manny Machado has a tremendous first half offensively, but falls flat in the 2nd half of the season.  Chris Davis launches 53 bombs including 37 before the All-Star break and comes in 3rd in MVP voting.  The Orioles miss the playoffs.

 

1997: Duquette does little to augment the roster for the 2nd straight offseason.  Roger Clemens is allowed to go to FA and signs with the rival Blue Jays.   Mike Greenwell leaves via FA and is replaced with Wil Cordero.  Steve Avery and Brett Saberhagen are brought in.  Jose Canseco is traded for John Wasdin.

Result:  Although Garciaparra has an outstanding rookie year, The Red Sox only get 30+ starts out of one starter – Aaron Sele who has a 5.38 ERA.  Wakefield becomes the ace with a 12-15 record and 4.25 ERA.  Saberhagen only pitches in 6 games and gets lit up to a 6.58 ERA.  John Wasdin gets his “Way Back” nickname surrendering 18 HRs in 53 appearances.  Healthcliff Slocumb also has a terrible year, finally getting shipped to the Mariners in a deal that was highway robbery for the Red Sox as they got Derek Lowe and future captain and heart and soul of the team, C Jason Varitek.

 

2014:  Dan Duquette does little to augment the team for the 2nd straight season, allowing all the Orioles’ free agents to walk including Jason Hammel.  He adds multiple AAAA OFers including David Lough in a trade for Danny Valencia.

Result:  TBD

 

So as you can see there’s a lot of similarities to the two teams.  In the Red Sox case, they failed to augment for two straight offseasons after winning the AL East in 1995   while the Orioles had that huge 1996-1997 offseason and then again had a re-tooling effort before 1997 to improve their pitching and defense.

Like the Red Sox, the Orioles only were able to advance as far as the ALDS, but have done very little to fix their weaknesses to go further.  Instead they are counting on the same core players to improve when there is little improvement, if any left.

The Red Sox only turned their fortunes around when they made the trade for Pedro Martinez.  He was the catalyst and a big reason the Red Sox were able to lure Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez to Boston.

The Orioles have yet to make that kind of franchise altering move, choosing only to acquire depth, but not to go all in with the core they have in spite of their success to get to the ALDS in 2012.

Like the Red Sox of 1995-1997, the talent is there in the core, but it needs some augmentation, but instead is being allowed to wither and die and the team is moving backwards in the standings as a result.   The  Red Sox’s fortunes  could have been a lot different if instead of signing Jeff Frye to play 2B, they were able to lure Roberto Alomar and instead of signing Flash Gordon, if they had picked up Kevin Brown instead.

The Orioles are also facing their own Mo Vaughn situation with Chris Davis due to be a FA after 2015 like Vaughn was a FA after 1998.  The Red Sox replaced him with various players,  but it wasn’t until Manny Ramirez was signed did they replace his offensive production.

The Orioles of course have time still to change this course as there are free agents that remain to be signed and trades that can still be made to put them back on the path of playoff contention.

Dan Duquette has seen this play out before, so you would think he would know what the end result would be of two similar offseasons to that of his former team.

For Orioles’ fans sake, I hope he’s learned his lesson.

Doing the math, the Orioles will take another step back in the AL East in 2014

I took a look last offseason at the Orioles and predicted based on what little they had done and what the other teams had done, that they would regress from their 93 win season in 2012.  I had a few of the teams’ records wrong, but the overall result was correct.  The Orioles only won 85 games and missed the playoffs.

Recapping the offseason:

So here we are again in 2014, with another offseason almost behind us and little done to improve the ML roster while the Yankees retooled with expensive, yet premium talent and the Red Sox were able to retain a key player in Mike Napoli, replaced Salty with AJ Pierzynski and strengthened their bullpen further with Ed Mujica.  The Rays even added some talent with Grant Balfour and retained James Loney to hit RHP at 1B.  The Jays didn’t do much, but they had already made major moves the year before that didn’t work out due to injuries, so we’ll see how they rebound.  Still what they did last offseason to improve is more than the Orioles have done in two offseasons combined.

So that’s the scene in the AL East, but looking elsewhere – in the AL Central,  the Tigers have retooled adding defense and speed and the Twins have upgraded their pitching while the Royals added OBP to their lineup with acqusitions of Norichika Aoki and Danny Valencia and added Jason Vargas to their rotation.    The White Sox have added some intriguing young talent, especially Jose Abreu who could be a find as a power hitting 1B man out of Cuba.  The only team to stand pat in the division would be the Indians who like the Jays were very active in the 2012-2013 offseason and have some young talent that is ML ready.

Out in the AL West, the reigning two-time division champion  Oakland A’s added former Orioles closer Jim Johnson and OFer Craig Gentry who is a solid OBP guy from the Rangers.  The Texas Rangers traded for Prince Fielder and  added Shin-Soo Choo to improve their team OBP and the Seattle Mariners made the biggest splash of all signing Robinson Cano away from the Yankees and added Logan Morrison and Corey Hart and are still looking to add Nelson Cruz.  Lastly the Angels who look for bounce back seasons from Hamilton and Pujols added Tyler Skaggs and David Freese along with Raul Ibanez.    Finally the up and coming Houston Astros who have some of the best prospects in the game, added former Oriole Scott Feldman to their rotation as well as a solid OBP guy vs. RHP in Dexter Fowler.

In short just about every team in the AL has made moves to their ML roster to improve the past two offseason except for the Orioles, so where will that leave them in 2014?  Let’s take a look at their 2013 record vs. MLB teams:

2013 Record and Results  (from Baseball-Reference.com)

Opponent
Split W L RS RA WP
ARI   0   3    13    16 .000
BOS 11   8    71    84 .579
CHW   4   3    21    18 .571
CLE   3   4    32    27 .429
COL   2   1    18    12 .667
DET   4   2    33    27 .667
HOU   4   2    24    30 .667
KCR   3   4    26    28 .429
LAA   5   2    30    27 .714
LAD   2   1    17    13 .667
MIN   3   3    37    29 .500
NYY   9 10    77    72 .474
OAK   5   2    48    26 .714
SDP   2   2    20    15 .500
SEA   2   4    29    35 .333
SFG   2   1    17     7 .667
TBR   6 13    86   104 .316
TEX   5   2    32    25 .714
TOR 10   9    94    97 .526
WSN   3   1    20    17 .750

36-40 vs. AL East
17-16 vs. AL Central
21-12 vs. AL West
11-9 vs. NL

So as you can see the Orioles struggled in the AL East but somehow were able to do much better in the AL West with that division being a struggle for many years now.

However, that is the division that has the most improvements, so it stands to be the area where the Orioles will likely lose the most games compared to 2013.    Starting out at 85-77, I’d expect them to be about the same vs. Seattle, lose two more vs. Texas and two each to the Angels and A’s.  I think that Astros record of 2013 is about right, so now you are are looking at a 79-83 record.

If you look around at the other two divisions, I don’t see a heck of a lot changing there.  If you want to say the Rays domination was a fluke, you can probably spot them a couple of games in the AL East, but they could also lose more to the Yankees or Red Sox to even that out.  We’ll give them +1 game – so now we’re at  80-82

Against the AL Central – same story.   I don’t see that record changing.

That leads us to interleague play and these are the games for that:

4 G vs. Pirates
3 G vs. Cardinals
3 G vs. Reds
3 G vs. Cubs
3 G vs. Brewers
4 G vs. Nationals

So I can see the Orioles splitting the series with the Pirates and Nationals, losing to the Cardinals 1-2 and winning the Reds, Cubs and Brewers series 2-1 each.  That would give them a 10-10 record in interleague play which is what I predicted last year, but would be -1 from their 2013 for their performance.

Totaling it all up, we wind up at a 79-83 record, something I think Is very likely if there are no further additions to improve OBP or IP and QS from the rotation.

If they can land some pitching and some OBP before the season however, I think they might be able to reverse that record and with some in-season additions from the minors or via trade, be right in the playoff hunt.

However, they have yet to do anything but “show interest in” or “talk” to players and agents, as well as other clubs.  If they don’t act however, 79-83 is likely going to be record of the 2014 Orioles.

Update:  Changed the overall record as I had mistakenly thought they had a 4-2 record against Seattle, but I think that 2-4 record should stay the same especially with the Mariners’ upgrades this offseason.   So with that in mind we wind up with a 79-83 record.

What do you think?  Leave a comment or discuss in the forums thread here.

Welcome to the new Orioles Anonymous!

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Given the recent lack of participation on the forums, I’ve decided to turn this site primarily into a blog where I (and perhaps others) will express thoughts on all things Orioles and baseball.  Folks will still get to comment and the forums will still be available for further discussion, but I think this is a better way to get thoughts across as forums seem to be a dying form of communication in general.

In the meantime if you are looking for the forums just point your browser here:

www.oriolesanonymous.com/forums

Keep checking back for more updates as I’ll be changing the look and feel of this shortly and feel free to chime in either in the comments or the forums.