Offseason In Review: Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles focused on adding depth to their pitching staff in their first offseason under Dan Duquette.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Yeizer Marrugo, Nick Johnson, Casey Fossum, Pat Neshek, Ronny Paulino, Oscar Villarreal, Armando Galarraga, Willie Eyre.

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Stuck alongside three of the league’s dominant teams and another one on the rise, the Orioles sought new leadership this offseason when longtime executive Andy MacPhail stepped down. After an extensive and presumably frustrating GM search, the Orioles settled on a familiar name and hired Dan Duquette as executive VP of baseball operations. 

Though it had been a long while since Duquette worked in an MLB front office, the years he spent building the Expos and Red Sox appear to have intrigued owner Peter Angelos. The Orioles initially favored other candidates for the position, but ultimately hired Duquette, whose history of accumulating young talent no doubt appealed to ownership.

Duquette’s primary short-term goal appears to have been adding depth to the rotation, an area of serious concern for last year’s team. Baltimore finished last in MLB in rotation ERA (5.39), innings (881) and quality starts (60) last year so improving the starting corps was a must, even for a club not expected to contend.

The Orioles spent aggressively on the international market in an effort to revamp their pitching staff. Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada and Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Ying Chen join a new-look pitching staff that no longer features Jeremy Guthrie. Duquette sent the veteran right-hander to Colorado for reliever Matt Lindstrom and another rotation candidate, Jason Hammel. Lindstrom and Hammel offer long-term flexibility — both are under team control through 2013 — and will combine to earn roughly the same amount as Guthrie this year. The Orioles were not going to get an elite prospect for Guthrie, but the arms they obtained will prove useful and there's a chance Hammel will out-perform Guthrie this year.

Manager Buck Showalter faces lots of decisions this spring, as newcomers Wada, Chen, Hammel, Eveland and Galarraga compete alongside familiar faces such as Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Chris Tillman. At the very least, the Orioles will have options, a necessity for a club that has few pitchers with track records of health or success. Still, the group currently seems to consist of middle or back-of-the-rotation arms. Credit the Orioles for obtaining some much-needed depth, but some of their homegrown pitchers will have to develop for this team to take its next step toward contention.

The bullpen also struggled in 2011, though it’s hard to separate the group’s ugly stats from the fact that they pitched an MLB-leading 565 2/3 innings of relief in support of a weak rotation. Duquette also added a number of relievers in recent months, including Lindstrom, Darren O'Day, Luis Ayala, Pat Neshek and Armando Galarraga

The Orioles signed players from Japan, Taiwan and, in one potentially historic instance, New Zealand. But the club violated international etiquette by agreeing to terms with 17-year-old Korean Seong-Min Kim. MLB will void the deal, which created unnecessary tension between the Orioles, MLB, the Korea Baseball Organization and Korea Baseball Association. The Orioles apologized publicly after being banned from scouting KBO games.

The club non-tendered Luke Scott, an understandable move given his shoulder issues and the substantial contract he would have obtained via the arbitration process. The switch-hitting Wilson Betemit slots in as the club's new DH, where he'll provide some power for the next two seasons. I didn’t expect Betemit to obtain a two-year deal, but his $3.25MM guarantee was hardly excessive from the team's perspective.

Teams continued calling about Adam Jones, but Duquette’s asking price remained high and possible suitors such as the Braves and Nationals don’t appear to have come close to striking a deal. Jones, an extension candidate, is on track for free agency two seasons from now, so it’s time for the Orioles to determine whether he’s more valuable as a trade chip or a long-term fixture in center field. Matt Wieters isn’t yet eligible for arbitration, but it's worth exploring an extension with the Scott Boras client in case he’s open to a long-term deal.

Despite the additions to the pitching staff, the Orioles are likely headed for a 60-75 win season unless multiple young Major Leaguers make substantial strides. Elite prospects Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy will resume their progression through the minor leagues, and with continued development from Major Leaguers such as Wieters and Matusz more hope may exist in Baltimore a year from now. There's just not much to dream on yet.


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23 Comments on "Offseason In Review: Baltimore Orioles"


3 years 5 months ago

Yup.

MB923
3 years 5 months ago

I guess Yup is the Jeopardy answer for the category The Baltimore Orioles, and now I have to guess the question.

What is Last Place?

Rabbitov
3 years 5 months ago

You used to be so nice :-(

MB923
3 years 5 months ago

Hey I’m still nice, especially to you!

HobokenMetsFan
3 years 5 months ago

I’d like to see the Orioles do well, can someone a more versed in their situation educate me a little on their organization? I can obviously read the projections on various websites, but how do the fans feel about their short and long term propsects of competing? Do you guys have more confidence in your F/O and farm system? What transpired (Aside from being in the AL east) to have the Orioles on the bottom looking up?

orioles
3 years 5 months ago

There isn’t really much of an organization.  We have 2-3 hitters in Machado, Schoop, and Delmonico that look to have some potential.  There are some others that could make the majors one day, but I don’t think they’ll have too much of an impact.

Pitching is pretty ugly for the O’s.  All of our calvary (Britton, Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta) have graduated to the majors, and have struggled mightily, although Arrieta and Britton look to have futures in the rotation.  In the minors, we have Dylan Bundy, who is looking like an ace already.  Him, Machado, and Schoop are the only real bright spots.  There are a few other guys who could be a good back end starter, but nothing to write home about.

No confidence in the FO or farm system.  The O’s have a habit of not spending when they should and spending when they shouldn’t.  A lot of our prospects flounder when they get to AAA.  We’re just on the bottom because of stupid decisions and bad development.

Rabbitov
3 years 5 months ago

Thats pretty pessimistic and you are missing a lot of key players:
– Esposito
– Bridwell
– Bobby Bundy 
– Mahoney
– Hoes 
– Glynn Davis

Among others.  I like all of these guys.  I think I probably am in the minority in my support of Mahoney, but look at some of these players, they aren’t scrubs. 

The Mythical One
3 years 5 months ago

 There is a reason why those “key” players were not mentioned. Because they aren’t on any radars and none are projected to be much more than fringe talents at the major league level. You can like these guys all you want, that doesn’t mean they have enough talent.

As well as Mahoney has hit, his power isn’t projected to translate at the major league level, and as a weak hitting 1B, that just doesn’t bode well. There is already talk of trying to convert him to LF since he’s fairly athletic for his size.

Hoes is a slap hitting guy with speed, but has no position. He was moved to 2B from the OF (where he played as an amateur) and that didn’t go well. He’s since been moved back to the OF where his bat doesn’t look as impressive. He is a gifted athlete, but so far that hasn’t translated into major success.

Bobby Bundy is a bullpen arm with potential to be a back of the rotation starter at best. He doesn’t have anywhere near the talent of his brother.

There is a reason why the other person was pessimistic. The Orioles have a horrible organization. Their talented players are now in their mid 20’s, there is no real direction, and the front office is a joke. This team is being called the laughing stock of baseball by more than one source. That’s sad. I can barely stand to watch the team I have loved since I was a little kid.

Rabbitov
3 years 5 months ago

Bridwell according to many scouts has middle of the rotation starter stuff. Esposito and Davis have a lot of raw upside.   

Mahoney was crushing in the minors before getting hurt last season.  Most of the drops on people’s lists are concerns with contact on the major league level.  He will probably have to move to outfield, where I believe he could be okay, considering he has above average speed despite his size.  His upside is still there as one of the hardest workers in the minors, good contact despite his height, good doubles power, and good base-running skills. 

Hoes has some positional issues but has been a solid hitter most of his Minor league career.  Hasn’t translated into major success?  He is 22 years old (as of two weeks ago), and looked phenomenal at his last stop in AA.  

Bobby Bundy not having the talent of his brother? Well duh. He is still just 22 and obliterated while in Frederick.  He looks better and stronger every season.  I mean all you did is choose negative things to say about a few players I mentioned.  No organization in baseball has top 10 players that are all top 50 prospects. You really don’t seem to know a lot about minor league farm systems, and like always, you are the typical voice of negativity in Baltimore.  

The Mythical One
3 years 5 months ago

 His ceiling may be middle of the rotation starter stuff, that doesn’t mean that is where he will end up. And raw upside is just that. They have some skill, but will need massive learning in order to harness those things at the major league level.

Mahoney has no upside. He’s what he is. He will be a below average offensive threat at 1B due to his lack of power and he will be a below average defensive OF’er if he moves there.

Hoes didn’t look “phenomenal” at AA. Despite hitting .305, his SLG% was only .413. The good thing was his BB/K ratio and if he can keep that up, then maybe there is a place for him at the major league level.

All you did was choose to say a few positive things about the players you mentioned. You really don’t seem to know a lot about minor league farm systems, and like always, you are the typical voice of the Orange Kool-Aid drinkers in Baltimore.

I know plenty more about baseball than you do. I know talent when I see it, and so does the rest of baseball. The Orioles have virtually no positional prospects in the minors, their promising pitchers are all guys they just drafted and have barely pitched if at all, or they’re hurt, and the system is continually ranked as one of the worst in baseball. Seems like I am more on point with my assessment than you are. Don’t hate the truth and don’t kill the messenger.

Rabbitov
3 years 5 months ago

You aren’t the messenger, if you followed any of my posts you would know I’m not drinking Orange Kool-Aid, and you absolutely do not know more about baseball than I do. Your thought is that every prospect the O’s have is terrible outside of the top 3. I’m sure if Machado stubbed his toe and couldn’t play for a game you’d call him a bust. I’m as upset at the team as you are, its just unreal you have become this level of jaded.

The Mythical One
3 years 5 months ago

 His ceiling may be middle of the rotation starter stuff, that doesn’t mean that is where he will end up. And raw upside is just that. They have some skill, but will need massive learning in order to harness those things at the major league level.

Mahoney has no upside. He’s what he is. He will be a below average offensive threat at 1B due to his lack of power and he will be a below average defensive OF’er if he moves there.

Hoes didn’t look “phenomenal” at AA. Despite hitting .305, his SLG% was only .413. The good thing was his BB/K ratio and if he can keep that up, then maybe there is a place for him at the major league level.

All you did was choose to say a few positive things about the players you mentioned. You really don’t seem to know a lot about minor league farm systems, and like always, you are the typical voice of the Orange Kool-Aid drinkers in Baltimore.

I know plenty more about baseball than you do. I know talent when I see it, and so does the rest of baseball. The Orioles have virtually no positional prospects in the minors, their promising pitchers are all guys they just drafted and have barely pitched if at all, or they’re hurt, and the system is continually ranked as one of the worst in baseball. Seems like I am more on point with my assessment than you are. Don’t hate the truth and don’t kill the messenger.

The Mythical One
3 years 5 months ago

This is pretty spot on. The minor leagues are almost bereft of hitting talent and names like Machado (1st round pick) and Schoop are getting notice. Nick Delmonico is also one that is supposed to have a pretty bright future with the stick, but finding a place for him on the field might be difficult. All of the other names that people might point out aren’t projected to be much more than bench players at the major league level.

The arms are supposedly where the Orioles have it. There is talent there but this organization seems to have a major injury bug when it comes to their pitchers.

The front office is a mess. There is supposed to be this 5 year window where the Orioles can turn it around…but the “GM” is only under contract for 3 years, and the manager is only under contract for two more years. Not to mention that no Orioles player is under contract past 2015. So how can you turn it around in 5 years if nobody is left? Maybe that is really what the Orioles need to do. Blow it all up and start all over again. This constant back and forth of hiring mid-level at best veteran talent to help support the “young guys” until they step it up and THEN we’ll spend nonsense just isn’t working. They need to get the major talent in here to support the young players.

Rabbitov
3 years 5 months ago

They are on their way to having a nasty farm system.  These young low risk international signings are a good start, and the development system looks better in the minors.  

With that said at some point they are going to need to sign some legitimate hitters on the major league roster. 

headsupkid01
3 years 5 months ago

Whats the O’s issues? no money? hard division? small fan base? Bad managing? cheap owners? I mean what? My teams from the N.L central so i don’t know anything about this team other then they struggle every year.

Rabbitov
3 years 5 months ago

The fan base is actually pretty strong, the problem is that a horrible owner scares fans away from coming.   Also now that the Nats are poised to be good, a lot of the fanbase from Virginia and Southern MD could jump ship.  

O’s have the worst owner in sports, and to make it worst, the division is the bar none best in all professional sports.  Management has been terrible in the past, but really every miscue leads back to the bad ownership of the team.  Add that up to 15 years of losing and you have a bad time.

Tom_McAllister
3 years 5 months ago

David,

There are multiple issues, and it starts from the top.  Peter Angelos has not provided any sort of leadership, and will not spend for star players.  This has also hamstrung the GMs that he has hired, and Baltimore has had some decent GMs (Pat Gillick, Frank Wren, Andy MacPhail, now Dan Duquette).  The biggest failure, as I see it, is the lack of vision.  The Orioles have not fully committed to a youth movement (until recently).  They also have not drafted well lately. 

I do believe that Duquette has done a yeoman’s job this year, though I would have liked to have seen the Orioles sign Prince Fielder.  He would have helped out their lineup tremendously, and allowed them to plug 1B and cleanup hitter for the next 4-5 years.  Duquette has improved our international scouting in one offseason, and I believe that his regime will draft better than previous regimes, which will help immensely.  I think our best years are 2-3 years from now, when Bundy, Machado, and Schoop are with the big league team and our young pitchers have more experience.

3 years 5 months ago

I had to be honest Tom, I had to “Google” Yeoman and as I was skimming through the Wiki definition I was still scratching my head as to the meaning until I came to this: The term yeoman nowadays suggests someone upright, sturdy, honest and trustworthy, qualities attributed to the Yeomen of the Crown; and in the 13th century the Yeomen of the Chamber were described as virtuous, cunning, skillful, courteous, and experts in archery chosen out of every great noble’s house in England.
Do you really feel this way about Duquette? As for me I don’t. The O’s have issues and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Also, I don’t see Duquette as a beacon of hope either. Until Peter Angelos sells the team, there will always be a permanent “Black Cloud” over Camden Yards and wherever they play when their on the road. That’s just how I feel.

PS Just to prove my point further. The O’s had bases loaded no one out in the bottom of the 10th today and did not win the game.

Force out at Home
Strike out
Line out to SS

If Vlad still played for the O’s and was in the game, he would have at least gotten a sac fly to end the game. The O’s should try to re-sign him. No one else on the team is capable of that! I am serious.

The Mythical One
3 years 5 months ago

The wrong type of people having too much influence on baseball decisions. Namely Angelos, his family members, and his cronies. When Tony LaCava was interviewed for the job, he turned it down. Not because he wouldn’t be able to hire the people he wanted, but because he wouldn’t be able to fire the people he wanted to.

There’s your problem.

3 years 5 months ago

I like how controlling a player for two years is now long-term.

hawkny1
3 years 5 months ago

Perhaps more than any other team in MLB, the Orioles could benefit from a complete realignment of the teams and divisions.  Someone has to be last in the 5 team AL East, and the birds are the team of choice.  Even when the club shows improvement, they finish last.  Too bad, Baltimore has a long history in baseball, going ll the way back to the days of Babe Ruth.  They’ve had some fine teams through the years but not so lately.  And such a great stadium too…..with an avid fan base.   

Damon Bowman
3 years 5 months ago

For those questioning how hard of a job Dan Duquette has in reviving the Orioles, you only have to look to the Baseball America minor league/prospect rankings of this past offseason.  Their #1 prospect, Dylan Bundy, was just drafted in June and hasn’t played a game of minor league ball.  The same is true for the #6 prospect, Nicky Delmonico, and the #8 prospect, Jason Esposito..  The #7 prospect is Ryan Flaherty, a rule 5 pick from the Cubs.

Andy MacPhail killed this team by doing nothing to provide depth over the last four seasons.  His drafts, with a few player picks, were dreadful and his inability to land free agents that could actually help the club have kept the O’s in limbo for the better part of a decade now.  Although you can’t please some O’s fans, Duquette had to bust his tail to even attempt to fill all the holes this organization has.  It’s a good start, not a great one, but I am optimistic.  For as thin as we are on talent, we have three prospects in the top 12 across all the Major Leagues — Bundy, Manny Machado, and Jon Schoop.  In two years this lineup could be very impressive if we keep Wieters, extend Adam Jones, and the pitchers develop as expected.  For now, it’s a waiting game.

Double_Up
3 years 5 months ago

I do wonder if Vlad ever really healed from his abdominal.chest injury in his last year with LAA; it usually takes a good 2-3 years to truly overcome that, I know  a lot of people, one a hockey player, who were up and down for 2-3 years with that injury before finally licking it.  The hockey player had to quit hockey, though.  If he is truly healed now, he’d be a great pick-up for any team needing hitting and some platooning on D in LF or RF, not 100 games but more like 20-50.