The 3 year extension for Hardy, and the O’s not being more aggressive in their shopping of Guthrie, Johnson, and Uehara is telling. It seems pretty clear to me that the O’s are going to try and augment around what currently exists.
I’ve stated for months that I believe the O’s will pursue Fielder. I’m fairly confident in the O’s providing Fielder with a bid similar to what they provided Teixeira (7yrs $145M), at-least at a similar $ per year level. I’m less confident on the O’s doing what would be absolutely necessary to land Fielder. While it would also make plenty of sense for the O’s to try and obtain Darvish, I agree with those that think that is a pipedream.
This post builds off of the prior entry here: http://www.orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/307/imagine-the-following-scenario
In that post, I laid out a scenario where the O’s do not obtain Fielder or Darvish. CJ Wilson resigns in Texas, the O’s do not trade for players like Hanley Ramirez, Weaver, F.Hernandez, J.Upton, Kemp, and are unable to obtain 1st base propsects like Alonso or Belt.
Basically, what would be the O’s course of action then? What other moves could we see the O’s pursuing?
I’m happy that Hardy was extended. It was a good deal for Baltimore. However, I can only really support the deal if the O's commit to addressing the other areas of need. Roberts and 2nd base is going to remain a question. Even if he plays the last two months, to me the O's are still going to need to obtain another option behind him. Ideally it woudl be a cheap UIT MI option, with some upside greater than Andino. I believe that will occur. As big of a question as 2nd will be, the bigger question when you look at the current roster is what happens at 1st? Reynolds' ability to be an option at 1st, 3rd, and DH helps.
Should he become available, it is pretty easy seeing the Orioles having interest in Cubs 3rd Baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez signed a 5 year $75M contract in November 2006, and Chicago holds a $16M club option with a $2M buyout for 2012. Ramirez, turned 33 on June 25th, and currently has a .843 OPS (.365 wOBA). After negative UZR/150 ratings in '09, and '10 (-5.6, and -9.1 respectfully), he is currently at 1.4 here in '11. For his career he is -2.6, which means he is probably a bit more consistent than Reynolds at the hot-corner.
From what I read, it appears unlikely that the Cubs will pick up the option. Chicago would probably like to move Ramirez now, but the 3rd baseman holds a no-trade clause. Perhaps Ramirez would be willing to waive the no-trade, for an agreement from the obtaining team to pick up the ’12 option? I don’t think I can advocate that for the O’s. It would be one thing to be interested in Ramirez should he hit the FA market, it would be another to trade Chicago something, and guarantee Ramirez $16M for next year, especially after he was limited to 82 games in ’09, and 124 games in ’10.
If not Ramirez though, I do not see a lot of attractive options for 3rd. In that case, Reynolds would obviously remain at the position, and 1st would still need to be filled. If not Fielder, who could the O's be interested in? Lance Berkman is having a nice bounce back year with the Cardinals, but I expect him to remain in the National League. At his age, I would think he would sign only with a definitive contender. The O’s had interest in Carlos Pena last off-season, and he has had a solid year with Chicago. 19 homers, 49 bb’s, 50 k’s, and has typically been regarded as a good defensive player. It seems quite likely that Pena will be traded somewhere this Month, but Pena still figures to be an available Free Agent this Winter.
Of course the position currently appears open, because Derrek Lee was signed to a 1 year deal. Lee has struggled overall in his 289 ab’s (.656 OPS, 22 bb’s, 72 k’s) here in Baltimore. Both sides will have familiarity with each other, which is reason to believe they could be left dancing with each other in ’12, but Lee’s play is going to have significantly pick up over these last 70 games for that to happen.
One of the more interesting Free Agent candidates that could be available at 1st is the Twins’ Michael Cuddyer. The 32 year old is having another good offensive season (.372 wOBA, 29 xbh’s) and is just a solid player. Beyond the 26 games he has played at 1st this year, he has also played 13 games at 2nd, and 51 games in RF. That type of versatility helps a roster. Cuddyer is in the last year of a 3 year $24M contract, and is making $10.5M here in '11.The Twins have stated they will not trade him before the deadline, and will attempt to resign him. He has been with the Twins since 2001, and the expectation should probably be that he will be retained. However, the O’s could bid on him and make life difficult for the Twins. Part of the reason Cuddyer is getting time at 1st is because their former MVP Justin Morneau is back on the DL (strained left wrist). Morneau missed major time in ’10 dealing with the effects of a concussion. Despite playing just ½ the season, the Twins made their way back the playoffs. Despite the horrible hole they dug for themselves to start this year, the Twins are again rallying towards the top of the AL Central. Minnesota has Morneau under contract for two more seasons at $14M per year. Might the Twins look at what they have done without him (along with limited performance here in ’11, .619 OPS in 213 ab’s) and make Morneau available via trade? If so, I would think that the Orioles would have interest.
Right now, it is probably very likely that Nolan Reimold is the starting LF to begin 2012. Two names that could potentially change that are Carlos Beltran, and Grady Sizemore. Limited to 145 total games in ’09, and ’10; Beltran has rebounded with a strong 2011. The switch-hitter has 44 XBH’s, with a .839 OPS against LHP, and a .912 OPS against RHP. The Mets are currently shopping the 34 year old everywhere trying to get something of value back. He is playing RF for New York, but you’d have to expect he could easily transition to LF at Camden Yards. Clearly he is going to take a large pay cut from the $18.5M he is making this year.
The Indians hold a $8.5M option on Sizemore which they figure to pick-up. If he did become a FA, he would be a nice upgrade in LF for the Birds.
I’d be more excited by the prospects here if Ramirez, Morneau, and Sizemore were all clearly going to be available. Where would the O’s be if they signed Cuddyer, and Beltran? What type of contracts would be necessary?
If the O’s did sign Cuddyer and Beltran, you are looking at a '12 team that looks like:
Tatum, Reimold, Andino, Harris/Adams
Guthrie, Matusz, Britton, Arrieta, Bergesen/Tillman/ FA innings eater
Bergesen / Tillman
Viola / Patton
Other bullpen options:
Patton / Viola
I have to say these certainly feel more like the moves I’d think the O’s would be comfortable with. I’d expect the O’s would also pursue a veteran SP like Marquis, L. Hernandez, or Penny. If they are really ‘going for it’ though, they would need to obtain a legit ACE to lead that rotation. That lineup is deep and talented, but is also full of injury concerns (Hardy, Beltran, Scott, Roberts in particular).
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