Yesterday we wrote about some positional players which we could see the Orioles targeting this off-season: http://www.orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/311/ramirez-pena-cuddyer-morneau-beltran--sizemore
Included in that piece, we worked with the premise that the O’s would not make the investment necessary to obtain Yu Darvish, nor sign CJ Wilson, or trade the talent it would take to possibly obtain Weaver, or F. Hernandez.
Here in July 2011 my expectation is that Matusz, Britton, and Arrieta will be in the ’12 rotation. I can see Guthrie being on the staff next year, and I also would not be shocked (though surprised) to see him traded before the Non-waiver deadline (or during the Winter). I could see Tillman or Bergesen being positioned as the 5th starter, but I currently see the O's pursuing a veteran SP like Marquis, L. Hernandez, or Penny for the back of the rotation. Hiroki Kuroda should also probably be added to that list.
FoxSports / RotoWire’s Brad Johnson had a piece this past week of some potential Japanese imports outside of Darvish: http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/baseball/story/rotowire-looks-to-the-far-east-japan-for-the-next-fantasy-baseball-pitcher-071411
Fujikawa sounds likes an interesting reliever, but Iwakuma as a starter seems like another back of the rotation option to those mentioned above.
Who else might the Orioles try to obtain?
I’m sure there would be interest within the Warehouse with Florida’s Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. However, the Marlins believe both are needed to be contenders in their new stadium next year. Might the Dodgers Chad Billingsley be a target? Billingsley is signed through ’14, and will make $9M in ’12, and $11.5M in each of the last two years of his contract. During the last 3 years, Billingsley has averaged 197 innings. This year, Billingsley has pitched 116.1 ip, allowing 114 hits, 7 hr’s, 49 bb’s, with 100 k’s. The 2009 All-Star has held hitters to a .711 OPS against (.699 for his career), and has G/F ratio of 1.02. While he is not an ACE, he does project as a front-end starter with most rotations. Ultimately, like Nolasco and Sanchez; I don’t think Billingsely is going to be available.
In the Windy City, 30 year old Carlos Zambrano is having a down year. The 2x All-Star has a 4.78 ERA, and has allowed 118 hits, in his 116.2 ip of work. He has just 81 k’s, with 46 bb’s, and his OPS against is .751, and his G/F ratio is 0.84. For the year his average 4-seam Fastball has averaged 90.1 mph. (90.6 in ’10, 91.5 in ’09, 91.8 in ’08). With declining results, and $18M owed to him in ’12, and a $19.25M vesting option in ’13; I’m sure the Cubs would be open to moving him. The only way Baltimore can have any interest is if Chicago takes back essentially nothing for him and eats a very large amount of his contract.
Some believe Houston is currently dangling Wandy Rodriguez. Matters are complicated by the fact that Jim Crane has recently agreed to purchase the Astros from Drayton McLane. Meaning it is not clear if current General Manager Ed Wade is going to remain in place, and if Crane will be willing to allow Rodriguez to be moved. The 32 year old LHP is 68-70 for his career (6-6 in ’11) and averaged 200 innings the past two years. In ’11, he has pitched 108 ip, allowing 112 hits, 13 hr’s, 36 bb’s, with 93 k’s. He is holding hitters to a .758 OPS against (.746 for his career) and has a G/F ratio of 0.89. He relies on the curve ball which he throws over 35% of the time. The average velocity of his 4 seam fastball is 89.1 mph. Rodriguez is owed $10M in ’12, $13M in ’13, and there is a $13M option for ’14 which vests if he is traded (with a $2.5M buyout). If Rodriguez is available, there are probably a number of packages which could work. Houston’s system is viewed as weak, and with the money owed to him, the Astros are only going to get back so much. Owing Rodriguez $36M over 3 years is not overly appealing to me, but I could make an argument for his acquisition if it only cost you a couple of players out of the Hoes/Berry/Townsend/Avery/ & Mahoney grouping.
One name not available now, that I could see becoming available over the Winter is Chris Carpenter. Carpenter is under contract through next year for $15M, with a $1M buyout. The reason I could see Carpenter becoming available, is that Adam Wainwright should return to St. Louis after missing all of this ’11 season with right-elbow surgery. While it would be a bit of risk assuming Wainwright’s health, perhaps the Cardinals will feel comfortable enough about his recovery; to try and get out from under some of Carpenter’s contract. Carpenter, a 3x All-Star & 2005 NL Cy Young, will turn 37 next April. After throwing 235 innings last year (and winning 16 games) he is 5-7, with a 3.69 ERA. In his 136.2 ip, he has allowed 147 hits, 10 homers, 34 bb’s, with 103 k’s. He is holding hitters to a .696 OPS against, and has a G/F ratio of 0.86. Pitch F/X says he throws a sinker 46% of the time, with an average 2011 velocity of 92.4 mph. Obviously The Orioles would not trade anyone of value to obtain Carpenter for a year. However, if the O’s are willing to take on the payroll – his experience could still help lead a staff.
The current White Sox rotation has several attractive targets. Once an uber-prospect, Edwin Jackson is turning 28 in September. Despite being a 2009 All-Star, and throwing a no-hitter last year; his overall results have never quite matched the talent he carries in his arm. That talent is still reason to consider having him in an O’s uniform though. Jackson is averaging 94.5 mph on his fastball this year. He threw over 209 ip in both ’09, and ’10, and is currently 6-7, with a 3.97 ERA. In his 115.2 ip, he has allowed 129 hits, 8 hr’s, 36 bb’s, with 94 k’s. His OPS against is .739, and his G/F is 0.90. With him still being on the good side of 30, and with that arm, he will probably get multiple years from someone. (The contract he signed in ’10, was 2 years $13.35M.)
Jackson’s teammate Mark Buehrle is also a Free Agent this Winter. Buehrle is a 4x All-Star, 2x Gold Glove, that has pitched both a no-hitter and a Perfect Game. The 32 year old has won 154 games in the bigs, and has been with the White Sox since 2000. I’d think the odds are strong that he would return to Chicago for ’12. There are some who believe he could have interest in pitching for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. This is the last year of a 4 year $56M contract for Buehrle. If Buehrle is not returning to Chicago, or going home to St.Louis; the O’s would have to significantly pony-up to bring him to Baltimore. As a guy that could come in and directly tutor Matusz and Britton, I think he’d make a lot of sense. He’d also stabilize the rotation as a whole. From ’01 through ’10, he has made at-least 30 starts and pitched 200+ innings every year. In ’11, Buehrle is 6-5, with a 3.42 era. He has thrown 121 ip, allowing 125 hits, 12 homers, 27 bb’s, with 65 k’s. His OPS against is .720, with a G/F ratio of 0.84. While he has never thrown hard, it is worth noting that his average fastball has been reduced from 86.7 mph in ’08, to just over 85 mph here in ’11.
If Baltimore native Gavin Floyd becomes available, he could be a solid mid-rotation guy to obtain. The $16.5M Floyd is owed over the ’12, and ’13 seasons is reasonable. With both Buehrle, and Jackson being Free Agents, I don’t expect that Chicago will make Floyd available via trade.
Here are my questions to O’s fans:
1) Who do you see the O’s pursuing?
2) I’ve been saying Darvish would likely take a 5 year $50M contract, and a $35M posting fee. What type of contracts do you think would be necessary for Wilson, and Buehrle?
3) Would you be willing to take on Rodriguez’s or Carpenter’s contract?
4) Could the Cubs eat enough of Zambrano’s contract for you to have any interest?
5) Would you spend the money it would take for Jackson, to have him over other back-end options like Marquis, L. Hernandez, Penny, Kuroda, or Iwakuma?
6) Do you see Nolasco, Sanchez, Billingsley, or Floyd becoming available?
7) Who else could be on the radar?
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Lifelong. Down by the river.
Lifelong. Down by the river.