Baltimore Orioles Rumors
In a poll of over 13,000 MLBTR readers, 9.72% ranked the Rays' Andrew Friedman as the best GM in baseball (technically his title is executive vice president of baseball operations). Friedman ranked behind only the Athletics' Billy Beane, who received 13.65% of the vote. Other notes from all five AL East clubs:
- Aside from the obvious factor of money, a chance to win is what compelled free agents to sign with the Red Sox during the offseason, writes WEEI's Rob Bradford. Left fielder/designated hitter Jonny Gomes relished the fact that the team's core players had something to prove, saying, "The opportunity to play in Boston with these guys having a chip on their shoulder was what I signed up for." At 18-7, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball with about 85% of their season remaining.
- The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are 9.5 games behind the Red Sox with a 9-17 record. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs finds it unlikely the Jays will be one of the expected handful of clubs to play around .600 ball from here on out, which is what they'd reasonably need to do for a shot at a wild card. Furthermore, Cameron notes, "The mid-season trade deadline gives teams with slow starts less time to fully realize their natural regression, since they have to make a buy-or-sell decision when April represents 25-30% of their season, not 16% as it will at season’s end."
- "I'm not sure if the Rays feel like he's polished enough to join the club just yet," writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain in reference to top prospect Wil Myers, while noting the right fielder's solid .309/.402/.457 line in 97 Triple-A plate appearances to date.
- Veteran righty Freddy Garcia has been named the International League pitcher of the week, notes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Having made five starts, Garcia now has the ability to opt out of his minor league contract with the Orioles. Rather than Garcia, 25-year-old Zach Britton is getting tonight's start in Seattle.
- "Plans are in the works" for Hideki Matsui to sign a one-day contract to ceremoniously retire a Yankee, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. Matsui spent his first seven MLB seasons with the Yankees, compiling a .292/.370/.482 batting line with 140 home runs.
- 26-year-old Yankees righty Phil Hughes posted his third consecutive quality start yesterday against the Blue Jays. Hughes, who turns 27 in June, projects to be the youngest established free agent starter after this season. One alternative for teams that prefer young starting pitchers is South Korea's Suk-min Yoon, a Scott Boras client who was born a month after Hughes and will be eligible for free agency after the season.
The Angels have traded catcher Chris Snyder to the Orioles for minor-league pitcher Rob Delaney, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports . MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko notes that the Orioles will add Snyder to their active roster, which presumably means that he will serve as the backup to Matt Wieters while Taylor Teagarden is on the disabled list with a thumb injury.
Snyder, 32, was hitting .342/.388/.684 with Triple-A Salt Lake. He hit .176/.295/.308 in 221 at bats with the Astros in 2012.
Delaney, 28, struggled in three outings for Triple-A Norfolk in 2013, but was effective as a Triple-A reliever in 2011 and 2012. He has pitched a total of six big-league innings in his career, including five with the Rays in 2011.
One month doesn't tell the entire story for a team, but clubs are trying to look at April performances and figure out what direction things are going in, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Phillies aren't getting much production out of Ryan Howard and with the Nationals and Braves likely to pick things up soon, they might sell off pieces like Cliff Lee. The Mariners have been struggling to open 2013 and so far offseason acquisitions Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse aren't helping. The 10-13 White Sox are also worth watching because there’s always talk that they would part with players such as Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Alexei Ramirez, Alex Rios, and maybe even Paul Konerko. Here's more from today's column..
- Surprisingly, baseball people have an open mind about acquiring Red Sox right-hander Alfredo Aceves. Boston won't fetch much for him, but one veteran adviser to a GM said, “You’d be crazy not to take that chance with an arm like that. Change of environment can do wonders for a player who might have had a troubled past. I think you always take that risk if the player has skills, and Aceves has skills.” Cafardo wouldn't be surprised to see the Angels and Rangers show interest.
- Scouts who have watched Red Sox minor leaguer Brandon Snyder want him on their team. The first baseman is off to a hot start for Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .328/.427/.578 with three homers. Snyder was the O's pick in the first round of the 2005 draft (13th overall), a rich draft in which Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Pelfrey, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, and Jay Bruce were taken ahead of him. One AL scout said that he can't imagine Snyder not being able to help a big league club.
- Orioles decision maker Dan Duquette is trying to make adjustments to his roster, perhaps by acquiring a power bat off the bench and another starting pitcher.
Here are a few notes from around the American League:
- The Royals are a legitimate threat to snag a wild card, says ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider sub. req'd), because of the team's offseason focus on pitching. GM Dayton Moore had a seven-year plan to turn around the club through a gradual rebuilding process. While the club has developed what Bowden calls "World Series-winning position players at the major league level," however, the pitching never kept pace. Faced with a limited window to keep the young talent together, Bowden credits Moore for making bold moves to bring in Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, James Shields, and Wade Davis to bolster the pitching corps.
- The Orioles may be nearing a decision point on Freddy Garcia, as the veteran pitcher will be able to opt out of his contract after his next minor league start, notes MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko. The 36-year-old has been solid thus far over four starts in Triple-A, where he sports a 2.81 ERA over 25 2/3 innings and has fanned sixteen against just two walks. Baltimore just sent down the struggling Jake Arrieta. His rotation spot went at least temporarily to Josh Stinson, who was bombed by the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
- The backup catching market could heat up as injuries mount. One day after the Yankees lost Francisco Cervelli for a significant period of time to a fractured hand, Orioles' backup Taylor Teagarden suffered a dislocated thumb. Both figure to be replaced with internal options for the immediate future. But their substitutes -- Austin Romine for New York and Luis Exposito for Baltimore -- have, respectively, just twenty and twenty-two largely unsuccessful major league plate appearances.
As we close in on the month of May, let's check in on the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season...
- Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013. Prior to Opening Day, the Nats announced that Suzuki would be in a timeshare with Wilson Ramos behind the plate. However, Ramos' hamstring has led to Suzuki starting 16 of the club's 23 games so far in 2013. Ramos is scheduled to rejoin the club on Monday, but if he suffers another setback, Suzuki could have a realistic shot at triggering his '14 option.
- Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has surpassed that mark in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he has just 18 PAs as April comes to a close.
- Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit suffered a PCL tear during the last week of Spring Training, keeping him out of action until at least mid-May. When he returns, he figures to see less action than he did last year thanks to Manny Machado.
- Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. So far, Berkman has 19 games under his belt with 80 plate appearances. He'll be within reach as long as he stays healthy. In 2011, his last full season, Berkman racked up 587 PAs for the Cardinals.
- Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13). So far, Halladay has logged 28 and 1/3 innings through five April starts but the 259 mark remains a longshot. However, it's worth nothing that Halladay has come close to that figure twice in the last six years (2008, 246 IP; 2010, 250.2 IP) and surpassed it once in his career (2003, 266 IP).
- Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season. Myers is expected to miss most of May due to tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow. So far, the right-hander has 21 and 1/3 innings to his credit in 2013.
- Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has 23 and 2/3 innings so far through the month of April and will make his fifth start of the year tonight against the Padres.
- Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.
It's also worth noting that Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014 with the Pirates, but it can vest at any of three levels, $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM, based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury. It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however. Liriano has yet to take the hill in 2013, but he is expected to make his big league debut on May 10th vs. the Mets.
We'll track today's minor moves here:
- The Orioles have released pitcher Scott Proctor, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. The O's acquired the 36-year-old from the Giants for cash in late March. As Kubatko explains, Proctor was expendable as the team finds itself with ample options in the upper minors. Proctor struggled to a 8.59 ERA in 7 1/3 innings as a Triple-A reliever before his release. Across seven full or partial big league seasons, the last of which came in 2011, Proctor logged 343 innings with a 4.78 ERA. His most productive years were 2006-07, when Proctor made 83 appearances in back-to-back seasons and posted 3.52 and 3.65 earned run averages, respectively.
The Orioles entered the eighth inning of yesterday's game with a lead and held on to pick up the victory. That might not seem all that noteworthy on the surface, but as MLB.com's Matthew Leach writes, yesterday marked the 100th straight win in games where the Orioles have held a lead through seven innings. Leach examines all the aspects of the Orioles' roster that have led to their improbably success with late inning leads. Here's more on the AL East...
- Alex Burnett spoke candidly with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca regarding the waiver process that led him to end up in the Orioles' organization, and he didn't sound happy about his brief stint with the Blue Jays. Burnett said he was "shocked" to be designated for assignment by Toronto and wondered what the point of his claim was. He also adds that he's had to have his car shipped across the country twice, break two leases and send his pregnant wife home because the constant moving would have been too difficult. Burnett said he's thankful that his process has been relatively quick, and he feels bad for Casper Wells, who spent the better part of three weeks in waiver limbo. Burnett hopes that the process will be brought up at the next Players Association meeting. MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently looked at the waiver process in depth.
- Davidi notes that the silver lining for these players is that they do collect a Major League salary and Major League service time while they are on waivers.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick spoke with an AL scout regarding Orioles' right-hander Jake Arrieta and was told, "I know 29 teams that would be takers" (Twitter link). Arrieta's raw stuff draws consistent praise despite poor results. He was optioned to Triple-A yesterday.
- Danny Knobler of CBS Sports also talked to scouts regarding Arrieta, who said that he has "electric stuff." Knobler writes that Arrieta is simply too talented for the Orioles to give up on.
- Another scout told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that the Yankees should be very concerned about Ichiro Suzuki: "His timing is all off. He looks terrible." Ichiro signed a two-year, $13MM contract with the Yankees this offseason.
Top Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy will see Dr. James Andrews after throwing on Monday and "not feeling quite right," MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports. Bundy has not pitched since March. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft and is arguably the highest-upside player in that draft, but it's hard not to be concerned about a young pitcher paying a visit to Dr. Andrews, even though a recent MRI on his right elbow came back clear. Over the weekend, we asked you which of the first ten picks in the 2011 draft would have the best career, and 31% of you said it would be Bundy. Here are more notes from the AL East.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman wasn't expecting his team's decision to go with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart at catcher to go as well as it has so far this season, Andy Martino of New York Daily News reports. "I can’t tell you that we made any decisions based on knowing that we were tapping into that, and we would be fine," says Cashman. "That would be inaccurate. ... Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good." The Yankees let Russell Martin leave for Pittsburgh in the offseason. Cervelli has hit .283/.389/.478 as his replacement, and Stewart has hit .353/.353/.529. Of course, both stat lines come in very small samples, which is one reason Cashman is wise to abstain from bragging. Cashman is also modest about his team's acquisition of Vernon Wells, which has also worked out well in the early going.
- The flip side is that the Yankees ignored glaring needs in their "dormant" offseason, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues writes. The Yankees should have acquired a righty-hitting outfielder and a utility infielder over the winter, Axisa says. Ben Francisco currently occupies the righty-bench-outfielder role, and he hasn't hit. In the infield, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix have struggled so far.
A pair of top prospects made their big league debuts yesterday, as Allen Webster started the second game of a double-header for the Red Sox and Anthony Rendon made his debut at third base for the Nationals with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL. Here's more on each, as well as some other news from baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicles Jason Grilli's ascension from the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate to Pirates closer. In 2011, the Phils called up six relievers instead of Grilli, despite his dominant numbers. Grilli had a clause in his contract stating that if another MLB team wanted him on their 25-man roster, the Phillies had to either call him up or release him. Pittsburgh scouts took notice of Grilli, called the Phillies, and Philadelphia elected to release him so he could sign with the Buccos.
- Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Robinson Cano's foundation, appeared in the latest round of Biogenesis documents, according to TJ Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN. Cruz's name was only connected to a pair of $300 payments, which she said were for her own weight loss interests. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that MLB sources told him there was no link between Cano and Biogenesis. When he heard about the latest report, a surprised Cano told reporters, including Feinsand, "It's got nothing to do with me."
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal examines the number of starting pitchers needed by the Red Sox in each season over the past decade and notes that the evidence suggests Webster will be back this season. MacPherson also adds that preliminary research indicates this is the earliest the Red Sox have ever turned to seven different starting pitchers in any season.
- The timing of Rendon's call-up suggests that the Nationals may be more willing to let him remain with the club all season than they've let on, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore points out that Rendon has spent 20 days in the minor leagues, meaning his free agency has been delayed by a full year now.
- Jake Arrieta is at a crossroads with the Orioles, in the mind of the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly. At 27 years of age, Arrieta has passed the "prospect" stage but has yet to find the consistency to convert his above-average repertoire of pitches into consistent success. Connolly notes that it's not wise to trade someone with Arrieta's talent while his value is so low, but moving him to the bullpen hardly maximizes his value.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Jay-Z's cerficiation process won't be complete anytime soon (Twitter link). As expected, CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen will handle Robinson Cano's extension talks.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that strikeouts are on the rise this season and there are an abundance of theories as to why. One prominent AL GM believes that the umps are using a wider strike zone. Former pitcher Curt Schilling believes the strikeouts are piling up because there are more power arms than ever before. Others believe that there are a lot of youngsters in the game right now who may not be major league ready, leading to a lot of Ks. Here's more from today's column..
- As the Orioles look for pitching help, there’s an increasing feeling among baseball people that Zach Britton is the arm the Orioles could dangle in a deal. The 25-year-old has begun the season well in Norfolk and has 1.98 ERA with five strikeouts and seven walks in three starts.
- Astros pitcher Bud Norris could be the No. 1 guy on contenders’ wish lists - along with the Cubs’ Matt Garza, if he’s healthy and productive - according to an AL GM. Erik Bedard can also draw interest but he has an injury history, which scares teams off. Carlos Pena has value because of his power and could find himself on a contender if he has a strong showing in Houston.
- Scouts feel that Red Sox minor league outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker has put himself back on the map as a player teams might be interested in trading for. Early in the season, the 25-year-old has a slash line of .271/.308/.563 with four homers in Triple-A. Scouts say he has taken a far more aggressive approach at the plate and is swinging at good pitches in good counts. Hazelbaker is also showing some power and is considered a plus defensive outfielder.
- The Red Sox never pursued Ted Lilly while he was available because it would have been too difficult to add him to the 25-man roster. The Sox have been looking for a veteran starter they can keep at Triple-A in reserve, but haven’t found the right guy.
- Brad Penny is still a free agent and looking to get back to the majors. However, he's still waiting for a team to bite. The 34-year-old last pitched for the Giants in 2012 and also had a disappointing few months with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan.