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Orioles Sign Jay Payton

Last night, the Orioles reached a verbal agreement with 34 year-old Jay Payton to man left field.  It's a very Orioles move - miss out on all the big fish, gotta sign some kind of warm body.  The deal is for two years and $9.75MM.

While that may be an OK price, this is left field in the American League we're talking about.  You have to hit .280/.347/.449 to earn a C grade.  Payton hasn't posted an OBP that high since Colorado in '03; he may be capable of slugging .449.

This type of signing frustrates me, as it doesn't indicate any sort of coherent plan.  At least with the Cubs, they are going all in for 2007.  They might not have the right hand with which to do so but they have made a decision and are acting on it.  That's rare in Cubdom.  But the O's remain the same - a mix of promising youth and mediocre vets that will probably earn them fourth place.

Baltimore's outfield is now set with Payton in left, Corey Patterson in center, and Nick Markakis in right.  Overall, it looks decent.

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Why not just save the $10 mill and get much better production by trading for Emil Brown?

I guess Baltimore felt they needed to get a "big name"....LOL.

What a completely pointless move.

"that will probably earn them fourth place." What's remarkable is that the chance of them finishing EXACTLY in fourth place is indeed about 80%.

The Orioles do bid on players; most players will take a little less to play elsewhere, which is sad for this once great franchise.

It does make life easier to not have to worry about them, though.

Jay Payton is coming off a prety decent season. Watching this guys for a few years in NY, he isnt great, but he wont hurt you either. He plays good, solid de in CF, or whatever OF position you put him at. While he doesnt walk hardly ever, he is a pretty good hitter, just impatient. Not a bad deal by any means. Not like this will make the O's much better though either.

Jay Payton may not make us a better team, but our improved bullpen sure does. The Orioles can compete for a playoff spot if we can land a big bat via trade, which may be impossible to do.

You need more than a big bat my friend... Your rotation might be the 4th best in your division let alone the league... It might be better than the Jays but im not convinced of that... You arent even close to a playoff spot in anyones wildest dreams especially coming out of the AL East...

any o's fan thinking that the o's have even an outside chance of the playoffs makes cub fans look sane for predicting a World Series . The o's bullpen wont make them any better really. These guys can all just as easily suck next year. A bunch of mediocre middle relievers isnt the way to turn a team around. Also, middle relievers are the most incosistent athletes in sports year to year. Good luck with tht though falling beverage

the orioles could surprise and finish in third this year, but thats not likely to happen. when u look at the lineup it looks solid enough it just doesn't produce. the pitching is shaky and that will be there biggest problem in the AL East.

I predict the Orioles will finish 5th. The D-Rays at least have developing youth that can propel them out of their hole. The Orioles can't hang their hat on anything but Miguel Tejada & no 1 man is enough to carry an entire team of mediocre players.

I agree that the Devil Rays will give the Orioles a significant shot at finishing 4th.

This signing neither helps nor hurts the orioles, seems like they make a lot of those signings.

Other then hitting .296 last year I can't point to a single stat that says Payton is very good player but he is. I watched him for a year and a half here in the Bay Area and he just plays hard day in and day out. He plays with intensity that most players lack. His OBP is low but he's a singles/doubles guy that also doesn't strike out much. In Baltimore he'll probably hit 15 HR's. He also plays every OF position without losing a step defensively. I'll miss him and was hoping the A's would re-sign him....

Ridiculous. I don't know if anything bothers me more than multi-million dollar contracts for players barely above replacement level (see Marquis, Jason).

Don't teams realize that they'd get a hell of a lot more for their money simply by blowing it all on a few guys who will actually make a difference?

Their outfield may not stack up to other teams, but the O's infield is WAY better offensively than other teams' infield.

They'll be just fine in the offense department, but their starting rotation doesn't scare anyone.

The plan for the O's is that Jay Payton is the backup plan for left field. They are still working a 3-Way trade to get Marcus Thames from the tigers. They have had 2 deals in place when the 3rd team backed out. Payton would be the 4th outfielder and spell Corey Patterson against tough left handers in centerfield.

As a fan of the O's, I wasn't the happiest with this signing, but it is at least an upgrade over what we have last year. I am hoping we get a trade done and get someone who can actually produce in left field.

You should be more worried about guys who can produce on the mound. Guys not named walker and bradford and baez

Guys that can produce on the mound...

Chris Ray
Daniel Cabrera
Eric Bedard
Hayden Penn
Adam Lowen

In the minors...
Brandon Erbe
Pedro Beatro
Garret Olsen
James Hoey
Radhames Liz

I'm not worried about our pitching, but the AL East should be.

Really. Danny Cabrera can produce in the bigs? He hasn't gotten the walks down yet, and last season never showed any reason to think his control was improving any.

Hayden Penn? What the hell did he do last year to make you think he's ready to be a No. 3 starter? AAA numbers were great, but he's hardly a lock to produce. Ditto Loewen, who Baltimore rushed up way too quickly last year after only letting him throw 70 in AA/AAA.

Sorry pal. Bedard and Ray are nasty, but there's just no way you get consistancy out of all three of those other guys. Maybe one of them takes an enormous step forward, and that's a pretty big maybe, but not all three.

PS: The O's could have a nice staff by 2008 or 2009. Just imagine how much nicer things would have looked if Angelos had dealt Tejada for Santana and Aybar when he had the chance...

Oh...and those other guys you just named? Erbe is 18 and was only OK in A-ball last year, Beato's 19 and was also mediocre in A-ball last year, Olsen has an outside shot but wasn't exactly dominant in AA, Hoey got rushed up way too quickly last season, and Liz sucked pretty bad in AA last year. Any or all of them could succeed eventually, but in 2007? Doubt it.

Did you happen to watch any of these guys? Or, like most people, did you just look at the stats and go "he sucks." Since I know you don't care about the O's, I'm sure it was the latter of the two options.

Cabrera started wearing glasses at the end of the season and his performance went way up. This winter, he's getting corrective eye surgery, and it could lead to a much more solid season.

The prospects I'm not even going to bother with because we know they are a ways off, but they are a very promising group.

Lol yup you guys convinced me, O's Are winning the 2007 WS, they might as well just cancel the whole MLB season, since it so obvious the O's are gonna win, no point in even playing. HaAhaha

A lot of the posters here obviously don't have any idea about the minors or the Os longterm plans. Yes, if you are a fan of a team who is contending in '07, then on the surface, moves like this or the last several seasons' worth of moves seem like moves to maintain mediocrity. That description is certainly right, but, it's not as if there isn't a reason for those moves. It just never fails to amaze me that just because a team isn't singing Pedro Martinez's or Roger Clemens' then they are deemed "lost". All of these types of moves have to do with buying time for the Os farm renovation that has been going on for the better part of the last decade.

The early Angelos regime saw successive GMs basically decimate the farm to the point where minor league teams didn't even have the proper equipment. Today that is a completely different story. Under previous draft/Free Agent rules, signing top tier players leaves you giving up draft picks that are valuable to a team in the Os predicament. So for the last 4-5 years, the Os have been relegated to signing solid guys with an occasional big splash.

As far as the minor leagues, the Os have maybe the 2nd or 3rd best farm in the AL EAST today. And, ranks #13 or 12 according to BA in all baseball. That's a big gain considering that only 4 years ago they were dead last. They have had 2 consecutive great drafts that have the minors stocked with good pitching depth today. The Os drafted Erbe in the middle rounds because he dropped due to signability. The Os got a hometown team discount and all he is today is a 17-18 yr old prospect with a plus plus live fastball that operates in the 95-97 mph range and a close-to plus slider. The changeup needs work but has potential to develop into an above-average pitch. If you speak to scouts, Erbe ranks in the same tier as other elite pitcing prospects of his age like Nick Adenhart and Will Inman. And, depending on who you ask, some will say they'd prefer Erbe.

As far as the young pitchers at the MLs, Penn had a good year in AAA last year. Though keep in mind that he is still extremely young. And, even if he does play in the MLs next year, he still ranks favourably in the age/level for a young ML player. Loewen too needs time but his special contract status will be something to monitor for his development. Both of these guys will need time to develop, but, if you are going to use Bedard as a reference, both kids project better than Bedard did at the same age. The twins will probably need until '08 to start producing in force at the earliest. As far as DCab, he needs one thing to become something special and everyone knows it, control. Cabrera has exquisite peripheral stats especially considering his bad results in ERA, W-L...you don't see many young pitchers able to utterly dominate good lineups like he can but go onto post a worse ERA, W-L than, say, mediocre ML pitchers. If he is a "mediocre" pitcher, he's a helluva one. Cabrera also has the distinction of posting the most thrown 95+ mph FBs among starters for the last 2 years...and throwing the most 100 mph FBs too...considering the rare nature of his stuff, if he is able to improve even only .20 WHIP points, I think that would be enough to make Cabrera make a HUGE jump forward.

"The plan for the O's is that Jay Payton is the backup plan for left field."

Way to go on spending $5M on your 4th OF. That makes this even worse.

Alright $5M might be a little much for a 4th outfielder, but he will be seeing at least 30% of the starts in LF and 25% of the starts in CF. And as long as Newhan and Fahey are not out there I don't care how much money is spent. It's better than the contract that Gil Meche recieved, and while I'm at it, it's better than most of the crap-heap pitcher deals that were made.

If you are a major league FA, there are naturally going to be places you prefer to go. Winning would normally have a lot to do with that. Conversely, there are places that are not at the top of your list too. Losing can have a lot to do with that. A dirty little secret about losing teams is that they generally have to overpay above market value to get players there. The only players usually willing to give those teams market value are players who are either not good, on their way in or out of baseball, or have blemishes of some kind and want a chance to prove themselves. In other words, if you are a losing team, the playing field is even more stacked against you to get better quickly.

Considering these factors, the Baltimore contract for Payton and the Mche contract by the Royals are not absurd. It's a pretty standard losing team mark-up. But even though, if the Yankees or BoSox signed a role player to a big contract, most people would not say much about it. The Yankees pay HUGE contracts for guys to sit on their DL, bench, and bullpen. The Os sign a 4th OF under a Losing team's Mark-up and everyone uses it to criticize them for it.

I just find it unreal how the waves of critics appear ready to jump on the anti-Oriole bandwagon. Yes, some of the forces that have affected them are out of their control. Yes, the Os have made some bad decisions in the last decade, but, they have also made some good ones too (mostly in reference to the farm organization tho). It makes me think about the decades of observers who were jealous of the "Oriole Way" being blasted in their ear may be having their course today. I can't help but think about maybe that's where the snideness comes from. Afterall, I just don't see the same attitude being directed to other losing clubs who have an overall worse record than the Os like, say, the D-Rays, Royals, Pirates, etc, etc...

Really? I see tons of negative press towards the Pirates and Royals (before this offseason). The Rays aren't remotely deserving of negative press.

The Payton contract is not absurd, but it's just part of a trend of teams to pay good money for mediocre players (this is what plagues the Pirates and Royals).

They regularly sign players for $3-5M per season, when they can have players who are nearly as good, if not as good, making close to the minimum.

Take 3 of these players, and suddenly you have enough money to sign a difference-maker, and your team is considerably better at no extra cost. That's what drives me crazy.

Players like Payton have no place on mediocre teams like the Orioles - at least not at $5M per season. He's great as a 4th OF - but he should be making half as much money.

As for the Yankees with huge contracts on the DL (eg. Pavano), there's a difference - he was SUPPOSED to be a mid to top of the rotation starter. Yes, this turned out horrible, but it at least had the potential to be good. This Payton deal can't work, no matter what.

As a matter of fact, Shea Hillenbrand wants a 2 year deal, probably at around the same money - and the Yankees won't bite. Signing him would be akin to the Payton signing (but not as bad, because a bad contract hurts the Yankees a lot less, and they can play from their strength of having a lot of money). They have Phillips and Phelps, who cost about 1/10th as much, and won't put up quite Hillenbrand's numbers but may not be too far off.

I find it very hard to believe that the Orioles can't find someone who can put up an OPS in the low 700s for close to the minimum.

Then add that 4M a year to what they would have offered to, say, Carlos Lee (not that he's great, but he at least is productive), and you've got the start of something.

"As for the Yankees with huge contracts on the DL (eg. Pavano), there's a difference - he was SUPPOSED to be a mid to top of the rotation starter. Yes, this turned out horrible, but it at least had the potential to be good. This Payton deal can't work, no matter what."

Pavano was above-average in his contract year, and then reverted to what he's always been, a overall mediocre pitcher with extreme highs and lows. Whether you prefer Doug Davis-like of consistently mediocre production or a guy with promise but goes up and down for their whole career, it's all still mediocre to me. The Yankees knew what they were paying for. Pavano was just fortunate enough to be in the same Free Agent market that considered him and Burnett the class of the pitching. He's always been a ~5-6 K/9 SP no matter what the year. If some fans though he was maybe going to be a top of the rotation guy, they were setting them up for disappontment. I'd say he's NEVER been that even in his best years. Though, in spite of his bad season last year, I think he might be able to be a #3 SP if he gets aroud the health bug.

The Payton deal for the Os is basically a lateral move. It doesn't hurt them. And it doesn't help them either. If you're going to cite the salary, I suggest you read my earlier post, or, look at pretty much every contract signed this Winter...they're all on the high side.

"I find it very hard to believe that the Orioles can't find someone who can put up an OPS in the low 700s for close to the minimum."

Believe it. There is a reason why the Os sign Millar, Conine, Cordova types. Anyone who is able to be good tends to find better options elsewhere. Youngish average guys who post .700 OPS have the argument of having upside. Well, those guys get decent deals from Winning clubs. Older guys who post that are a tad more expensive but are exactly the type the Os sign. As far as finding other .700 OPS guys from within? Look at Newhan, Fahey, Dave Dellucci, and Gary Matthews. Been there. Done that.

There is a pecking order in the big leagues just like any other economically distributed system. Ever wonder why teams like the Royals always seem to have guys like Royce Clayton? Tony Batista? Travis Lee? etc, etc...

The Royals have been consistent about grabbing guys like clayton, batista, and lee because their ownership doesnt want to dole out the necessary money to field a competitive team. They do this with the intention of keeping their season ticket holders, at least, only slightly disheartened and full of hope for "next season"... They make an attempt at developing young talent from within, but when it doesnt pan out they get stuck and pay an aging vet mediocre money to be a stop gap from year to year... It's a bad cycle to get in because it's a losing battle that has to be consistently waged.
I would have to disagree per your pecking order.
If anything, this year has proven that there is more diversity in baseball funds... The Royals landed one of the brighter spots in the pitching market in Gil Meche... He actually has as much upside as any on the market today and at a reasonable cost considering the other deals out there... Baseball economics are changing from year to year.. Look at the Devil Rays who have made a play for foreign born talent in Iwamura... Something that probably wouldnt have even been considered years ago...

phils, as you said that that pecking order may be in flux, I am not suggesting that that pecking order is not liable to change. It is constantly changing and is a fluid organic thing, just like any other economically distributed array. Though the very fact that you cite the Royals and Devil Rays as abberrations tells me that there is some kind of system in place that situates them at the bottom of the ladder.

Think about it. If there were no such pecking order, or, such an insignificant one, every team/any team from year to year can wage a campaign in earnest to sign or add anyone within reason. We would be honestly able say that the Devil Rays or Royals, under the right management and additions, could win the World Series. If you take other sports, like, say the NFL: yes, football has it's share of cellar-dwellers but they are there because of their bad choices, not because the system makes it difficult to climb out of a hole. You are right that baseball economics are in a major period of flux today with the new revenue sharing system taking hold. I don't think we will have a true handle on how it affects the balance of the game until 5 or so years from now at the earliest. Though if it does add a more NFL or NBA-like parity then in my opinion, it will make baseball as a whole that much more exciting.

One of the biggest evidence of the system to me is also how many times do you hear about a player like, say, Alex Rodriguez going to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates? The fact that such a deal sounds absurd to me is proof that I have been conditioned to expect certain kinds of deals in baseball. Well, for that pecking order to be an irrelevant thing of the past, that's exactly the kind of deal that has to start appearing feasible. It happens more often than not in other sports. And, no, Meche going to the Royals does not qualify. And, the DRays signing a mid-tier foreign player doesn't either.

Give me a break already. First of all, the Orioles' infield isn't really that great. Miguel Tejada has slipped a bit, Brian Roberts has slipped a lot since his best season, Melvin Mora has crapped out, Kevin Millar is Kevin Millar, and Ramon Hernandez is above average. It's good enough I guess, but since Mora stopped playing after he got his contract extension, it's not that good.

The Orioles have had prospects to bank on in the past, so saying they're surefire is presumptious. Erbe has a long way to go, Beato's debut was unimpressive, Liz is inconsistent and might end up in the pen, Olson is solid but unspectacular, I'm not sure I see the seeds of an intimidating club here.

Oh, and it's funny, when the Mets signed Alou, on the Orioles MLB board the fans were all "Alou is old and over the hill, he's not the future, who cares." Yeah, and now we're talking up Jay Payton? Jay Payton, wow, a .730 OPS from your corner outfielder sure is hot.

How come the O's don't already have LaRoche? I can't believe the Braves would be willing to deal Giles and LaRoche for Roberts. Of course Angelos is the one f'ing things up again. Giles and Roberts are a push production-wise, but noooooooooo Angelos "likes Roberts too much" to give him up. Is this how you run a MLB team?? No wonder the O's suck.

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