• Jul

    Orioles Q&A With National Analysts 2

    Earlier this Month, Orioles Hangout spoke with several National Analysts about the Baltimore Orioles (http://orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/299/orioles-qa-with-national-analysts).

    With the Non-Waiver Deadline a couple of days away, Orioles Hangout has again reached out to some Writers for a National perspective on the O's. Orioles Hangout thanks each of the below writers for taking the time to give their thoughts on the O's. Those who contributed are: 

    Matt Klaassen, FanGraphs / Beyond The Boxscore
    http://twitter.com/# /devil_fingers

    Bob Nightengale, USA Today
    http://twitter.com/# /BNightengale

    David Pinto, Baseball Musings / Baseball Analytics
    http://twitter.com/# /StatsGuru

    Satchel Price, Beyond The Boxscore
    http://twitter.com/# /SatchelPrice

    Orioles Hangout: “After pulling to within a game of .500 (30-31) on June 10th, Baltimore has gone 11-30 in the 41 subsequent games. The biggest issue of concern for the O’s this year has been the overall lack of progression with the young pitching the organization hopes to build around. There is sentiment from many, that the O’s should have been committed to a larger rebuilding; and made Jones, or Markakis (or both) available for trade here at the Non-Waiver Deadline. With the extension to Hardy, it is my contention that further rebuilding will not happen. The logic being that if you extend Hardy (and do not trade him) the O’s are effectively stating they are going to go with the existing core of Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Reynolds, Hardy, Matusz, Britton, and Arrieta; and attempt to augment around them.

    Do you agree with this premise, that the extension of Hardy, is indication from the O’s that there will not be a deeper rebuilding?”

    Klaassen: “Well, you and your readers probably follow the Orioles closer day-to-day than I do, so you all probably  have a better idea of the specifics. Your inference from the Hardy deal is reasonable. The Orioles are staring up from the bottom of the division, and it’s better to start rebuilding and trading when your current talent still has more value in order to bring back more in trade.”

    Nightengale: “I agree. If the Orioles were totally rebuilding, virtually everyone is available, particularly Hardy, since teams like the Brewers and Giants would have loved to have him. I think they will move only the players who have no future past this season.”

    Pinto: “The Orioles should be at the end of the rebuilding cycle.  They are either going to win with this group, or tear the whole thing down.  My guess is they’ll give them one more year.”

    Price: “I don’t think that the Hardy extension necessarily prohibits Baltimore from continuing a larger, more substantive rebuilding process, but it does seem to indicate that management believes it can win sooner rather than later. The problem with that entire premise, obviously, is the reality that this Baltimore team probably doesn’t have enough star-level talent to keep up with the Joneses of the AL East.The Hardy deal in a vacuum isn’t bad value; getting a solid everyday shortstop for $22.5 million over three years isn’t a bad deal. But when you recognize the trade value that Hardy potentially could’ve had this summer, as well as his sketchy track records of durability and hitting, it seems like trading him and keeping the money would have been a superior proposition. And this gets back to whole perception of the team thing; if management thought that the club was far from contention, you’d think that Hardy would’ve been traded rather than extended. So in that sense, I suppose you could interpret the Hardy extension as a sign that another major rebuilding effort isn’t coming soon.” 

    Orioles Hangout: “Everyone in that aforementioned core has legitimate talent, and a fair amount of existing questions and concerns. What are your general thoughts of that group?”

    Klaassen: “Markakis has been a disappointment since signing the big contract, and I’m not sure why -- the drop-off in power is especially disturbing. Jones has shown some progress with the bat this season, but  I  have serious doubts that he’s really suited to be a center fielder, and I’m not sure his bat is “star-level” on the corners. Hardy is a really good player, but he’s as good as he’ll ever be. Reynolds is also good and underrated in some sense, but he may not be a third baseman any more. Matusz and Arrieta have talent but expectations may need to be dialed back after this season. Britton’s ground-ball tendencies are very encouraging. Wieters’ bat may not be world-historical as expected, but his defense makes him one of the best catchers around: he may not be Joe Mauer or Brian McCann, but Carlos Ruiz is a very good player, too.”

    Nightengale: “I think it's a solid group, but need at least one or two veterans to help them along. I'm reminded of what Terry Pendleton did for the young Atlanta Braves' lineup, leading them to the World Series.”

    Pinto: “Disappointing so far.  None have developed into a superstar.”

    Price: “You know, the problem is obviously star-level talent there. You’re not competing with New York, Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto unless you’re able to put some stars on the field. Wieters, Jones, Markakis and Matusz were supposed to be those kinds of players, but Wieters and Jones haven’t progressed offensively, Markakis appears to have peaked a few years ago, and we’ve only seem glimpses of stardom in the nearly two years that Matusz has been around the big league club. They’re all good pieces to have, but they’re not really cornerstone players, and that’s tough when your opponents have guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano and Evan Longoria. I could see one or two of the guys you listed having things click, but you have to admit that it’s a tad scary to note how poorly most of Baltimore’s top prospects have developed over the past few years. I’m pretty skeptical as to whether Baltimore can compete relatively soon with that core in place.”

    Orioles Hangout: “Do you feel the O’s would have been better off trading Hardy, Jones, Markakis, Reynolds, etc. (Guthrie, Johnson, Uehara), adding depth to the system, paring down payroll, and reinvesting internally?”

    Klaassen: “The rebuilding effort under MacPhail started well, and sometimes these things just don’t work out. They probably should be trading at least some of these guys and looking further down the road, given that the team looks like they’ll be lucky not to finish last in the division the next couple of seasons.”

    Nightengale: “No, maybe a couple of pieces if they could get top prospects, but not the entire group. There's talent there. They've been through the rebuilding. It's time to start winning.”

    Pinto: “No. At some point, a team has to stop the rebuilding process and wait for the talent to develop. At this point last season, the team was 31-70.  They improved 10 games over last year.  That’s huge.  The team just has a very long way to go.”

    Price: “I think that the Orioles definitely may be missing out on a chance to cash in some valuable trade chips. They made the mistake last year when they chose to hold onto Luke Scott and now he’s hurt, and they’ve done it again this summer by opting to sign Hardy instead of trade him. Guys like Scott and Hardy are precisely the kind of players that bad teams are supposed to trade; they’re not the kind of guys that you can really build around, but other teams will give up good young talent to add them in the short-term. Even with Hardy signed, I’d argue that they should trade guys like Uehara and Guthrie if they get good offers, and even Markakis and Reynolds if teams will offer value. I’d hold onto Jones, though, given that B.J. Upton and Denard Span are already on the market.”

    Orioles Hangout: “After posting an OPS over .900 in ’10, 2011 was a lost year for Luke Scott due to the labrum injury. Should the O’s offer Scott arbitration this Winter?”

    Klaassen: “I like Luke Scott -- good bat, underrated glove, (unintentionally) hilarious interviews. However, he shouldn’t have been on the 2011 team (or the second-half 2010 team). So much for “building up his trade value” this season, huh? He’ll probably get at least $8 million in arbitration. If the Orioles had a shot at contention next season, it might be worth offering arbitration. But, well...”

    Nightengale: “No. The Orioles can work out a smaller contract with incentives, but arbitration shouldn't be considered.”

    Pinto: “No, he’s too old.”

    Price: “No, I wouldn’t offer Scott arbitration because he’d be highly likely to accept. After making $6.4 million this season, he’d likely be able to command something similar through the arbitration process, and I don’t think the Orioles should be paying Luke Scott around $7 million during his age-34 season. What the Orioles should’ve done is traded Scott at the trade deadline next season. Now, they’re paying $6.4 million for an injured Scott, when they could’ve saved that cash and probably gotten a nice prospect or two as well. Retaining Scott is proving to be a legitimate mistake.”

    Orioles Hangout: “Brian Roberts turns 34 in October and missed 100 games last year with his back. He played on a regular basis over the last two months of '10 before giving himself the initial concussion. He overcame that first concussion to play everyday during the first 39 games of this year. So, I do think there is a chance that Roberts can get back to the lineup and again play regularly. However, his offensive numbers were down during those last 2 months of '10, and those 39 games here in '11. If asking him to approximate his '07-'09 production is too much to ask, is it realistic to think he should match his numbers from '06, and last-year? Even if the O’s do believe Roberts can return to the everyday lineup, I can see them wanting another UTI MI capable of playing regularly, with upside greater than Andino. With 2 years and $20M left on Roberts’ contract, I don’t see the O’s pursuing another expensive veteran option. Do you?  If the O’s can not pry Cozart from the Reds, others have suggested names like: Matt Antonelli, Matt Downs, Marwin Gonzalez, Jeff Baker, Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons, Tyler Pastornicky, and Luis Sardinas Any additional options you can add to this list?”

    Klaassen: “How about Chris Getz? Please?”

    Nightengale: “I don't think we'll ever see the same Brian Roberts.  I'd move him this winter, and at this point, it would be difficult to get any prized prospect with the money owed to him.”

    Pinto: “No.”

    Price: “At this point, Baltimore just has to go with Roberts and cross their fingers. They’re not the kind of team that can just eat $20 million, go out and spend more, so Roberts is likely the primary second base option for the next two years.

    I don’t think that you can expect 2007-2009 production from Roberts anymore, though. He’ll be 34 this fall, and his decline was coming before any of the concussion issues popped up. If he get be healthy enough to play 140 games and hit .280/.340/.400, that would be a major victory for the Orioles at this point.

    As for the guys you listed, Downs and Baker are probably the most reasonable options. Segura, Pastornicky, and Sardinas are all good prospects, so they’re not getting dealt unless you’re giving up something good as well. I would try to target someone that’s fallen out of favor with their current club. Maybe the Rays would give up Reid Brignac these days, for example.”

    Orioles Hangout: “Nolan Reimold posted a .365 wOBA in ’09, which was followed by a miserable year on and off the field in ’10. He runs hard every play. He has power to all fields, and is willing to take a walk. In the OF, he gets poor reads off the bat, but again ‘hustles’ and has a strong arm. While I think he will always be slightly below average in LF, I think the metrics which showed him to be miserable in ’09, and ’10 were skewed by his Achilles’ injury and the rehab after the surgery. All in all, even as he turns 28 (this October) Reimold remains a bit of mystery as he has had less than 600 ab’s in the Majors. Assuming he plays LF everyday these last 2+ months, what do the O’s need to see out of him, to commit to him as the LF starter for ’12?”

    Klaassen: “More of the same of what he’s been doing this season: walking and hitting for power. They wasted too much time blocking him with older, more expensive options as it was. I doubt he’s a star, but they don’t have better choices next season, and they should have committed to him more this season, since they obviously needed to rebuild.”

    Nightengale: “They need to see a steady player in a full-time role. This should determine whether he has a future as an everyday player or role player. The month of August may be more critical than September because he'll be facing regular major-league pitching. It's difficult to scout players in September because of all of the call-ups and Triple-A pitching.”

    Pinto: “Reimold needs to keep his OBP above .340.  At that rate, he’s a cheap, useful compliment to a team with good offense at other positions.”

    Price: “Well, he obviously has to hit during the next couple months to get the 2012 job. That’s pretty much it. As you said, he’s basically an all-bat player, so I don’t know how Baltimore can justify playing him unless he’s hitting, especially given that he isn’t all that young. But if he’s sitting at .250/.340/.430 near the end of this season, he’d probably be deserving of the LF job in 2012.”
    Orioles Hangout: “While Scott, Roberts, and Reimold represent potential internal options for DH, 2nd, and LF in 2012; it appears that 1st base is going to need to be addressed externally (unless Reynolds moves to 1st, and the O’s find an option for 3rd – perhaps A. Ramirez if the Cubs do not pick up his option?). We will get to Prince Fielder below, but for purposes of this question we will assume the O’s do not sign him. We will also assume the O’s will be unable to obtain a young prospect like Yonder Alonso, or Brandon Belt. In that scenario, would you advocate a Cuddyer, or Pena in Free Agency?  Obviously part of the reason Cuddyer is getting time at 1st is because their former MVP Justin Morneau is back on the DL. Morneau missed major time in ’10 dealing with the effects of a concussion. Despite Morneau playing just ½ the season, the Twins made their way back the playoffs. This year Minnesota dug a horrible hole but the Twins are again rallying in 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 his limited performance here in ’11, .619 OPS in 213 ab’s) and make Morneau available via trade? If so, do you think the O’s should have interest?”

    Klaassen: “Morneau is too expensive, old, and questionable (post-concussion)  for the O’s situation.”

    Nightengale: “I would sign Michael Cuddyer. He's a local guy, and invaluable in the clubhouse. The Orioles need to get one or two of these kind of guys to help out the kids. Cuddyer is one of the most respected players in the game, and he can be signed to a reasonable contract this winter. I'd jump all over him.”

    Pinto: “If your problem is designated hitter, you don’t really have a problem.  Teams should have someone in the minors who is all-hit, no field.  Why teams would waste million of dollars on a veteran designated hitter is beyond me, unless they believe he is the difference between making the playoffs and not.”

    Price: “One option might be to pursue a better defensive left fielder and make Reimold the DH, no? If you follow my suggestions and let Scott go, then Reimold probably fits better in the DH spot than left field, allowing the Orioles to get better defenders out there. As for first base, I don’t think that pursuing a stopgap would necessarily be a bad idea. If you can get Pena or Cuddyer for something like $10 million over one year, then I think that’s a good investment. But it’s a mistake if you’re talking about multi-year deals for either of those guys. I’d rather see Baltimore be aggressive and call up Joe Mahoney from Double-A, where he’s currently hitting .290/.356/.497. He’s performing in the upper minors and he’s likely to be ready soon given that he’s already 24; if Baltimore has to choose between Pena for $10 million or Mahoney for $500K, I think you have to see what the young guy can do.”

    Orioles Hangout: “Going back to Fielder, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports recently wrote that the O’s might be targeting him. (http://danny-knobler.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/8590096/29723768) ESPN’s Jim Bowden wrote that Baltimore could make the most sense. SI’s Jon Heyman wrote (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/201...?sct=mlb_wr_a1) that the average predicted contract for Fielder between himself, two Agents, and two GM’s was 6yrs $145M. Knobler’s CBS colleague Scott Miller told us 6 years, $145M would be solid for Baltimore. Dan Szymborski from ESPN and Baseball Think Factory told us he expects Fielder to sign something in the neighborhood of 6yrs $140M. Fielder turned 27 on May 9th and he has a .923 OPS for his career. The O’s offered Teixeira 7 years $145M two winters ago. Should Baltimore be willing to offer Fielder 6yrs $145M? Where do you see Fielder signing, and what type of contract do you ultimately see him receiving?”

    Klaassen: “To start at the end: I see Chicago being more likely than Baltimore. I guess it depends on what happens with Pujols. I like Prince a lot, but while he probably will end up getting 6/140 or more somewhere, it shouldn’t be Baltimore. As you know, rebuilding, even when done right, doesn’t always turn out right, and by the time this next phase might be “ready” Fielder will probably be on the decline (especially given his ‘conditioning’), and quite possibly an albatross. In fact, any team that gives him 6 years is probably looking at being stuck with a big, ugly contract the last 2-3 seasons of it. The Orioles aren’t in a position to take on that likely burden.”

    Nightengale: “I would offer Fielder six years and $145 million in a heartbeat, and then drop dead if he signs it. Look, if he's willing to sign a contact that low, he'll stay in Milwaukee. Fielder will get at least $190 million over eight years, if not $200 million. He will definitely get more than the $180 million Teixeira received from New York. That being said, I would still bid on Fielder. He's a tremendous asset on the field and in the clubhouse. I would think the biggest bidders on Fielder will be the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. But if he signed for less than $180 million, let alone $150 million, I'll buy you and your staff steak dinners.”

    Pinto: “Fielder should get between $25 and $30 million a year.  And yes, the O’s should sign him if they ever want to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox.”

    Price: “Six years and $145 million is probably the high end of what I’d offer Fielder. He’s clearly an elite talent right now, but you have to be worried about how he’s going to age. I’d definitely rather give him a larger salary over a shorter term; there’s no way I’d give him seven or eight years like Mark Teixeira got. If he’d accept something like 5 years, $125 million, I think that’d be a no-brainer for Baltimore, but they really shouldn’t go beyond six years. Honestly, part of me expects Fielder to end up in Chicago; the Cubs are going to want to make a splash this winter given how horrible their season has gone, and outside of Pujols, Reyes and maybe Sabathia, nobody from this winter’s free agent class qualifies as a splash more than Fielder.”

    Orioles Hangout: “Guthrie is a Free Agent after ’12, and has been made available here at the Non-Waiver deadline, as there does not appear to be a lot starting pitching available. While he is probably properly slotted as a 3rd or 4th starter on a true-contender, he is an effective innings eater. Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi noted the interest from the Tigers, and suggested Detroit’s Andy Oliver, and Charlie Furbush could be sent to Baltimore. If Oliver, and Furbush is the best offer received, should the O’s make that trade?”

    Klaassen: “Probably.”

    Nightengale: “I would trade Guthrie only if the Orioles believe they can't do better this winter. He's a hot commodity simply because he has proven he can pitch in the AL East.”

    Pinto: “Oliver doesn’t matter.  He walks too many walks.  I’d do the deal straight up for Furbush.”

    Price: “Yeah, I think I’d trade Guthrie for Oliver and Furbush. I’ve already made this somewhat clear, but trading Guthrie is one of the few ways that Baltimore can still acquire top prospects. Oliver isn’t a premium guy, but he’s practically a sure-thing MLB player if he has to move to the bullpen, and there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll end up being a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. Furbush, on the other hand, is even more likely to end up in the bullpen than Oliver, but he’s MLB-ready and he could potentially slide right into Guthrie’s rotation spot if necessary.”

    Orioles Hangout: “The best Matusz has ever looked in an O’s uniform was his last 10 starts of ’10. After missing the first two months of ’11, Matusz joined the O’s to start June and was abysmal. He is back in AAA, working on his mechanics. If he is healthy to start ’12, I think the odds are extremely likely he will be back in Baltimore to begin the year. Britton has been back in AA since early July but that was pretty much entirely about gaining an additional year of service-time. Britton is expected to rejoin the O’s 7/30, and there is every reason to believe he will be a competitive starter in ’12. Arrieta continues to deal with control issues, but has improved his K/9, LD %, GB %, Swinging Strike, and First Strike numbers. Like Matusz, and Britton; it would be a surprise if Arrieta was not part of the ’12 rotation. The question is who will join them? We talked about Guthrie above, and we will see what happens with him.
    I gave my take on potentially available starting pitching here: http://www.orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/312/what-starting-pitching-will-the-os-target

    If the O’s want a back-end veteran type to eat innings, it appears the best available options will be guys like Marquis, L. Hernandez, Penny, and Kuroda. If the O’s are willing to pay more, they could target someone like Edwin Jackson. Assuming the O’s are not willing to make the investment necessary to obtain Yu Darvish, nor sign CJ Wilson; Mark Buehrle and Wandy Rodriguez look to be the two best available options. Buehrle is in the last year of a 4 year $56M contract. What type of contract do you see him getting? Will Houston effectively give Rodriguez away to get out from under his contract ($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 you were O’s Management, what would be your plan for the ’12 rotation?”

    Klaassen: “Ed Wade doesn’t understand “getting while the getting is good,” so forget abour Wandy. Buehrle is going to get too much money from someone, as is Wilson. Without going through everyone, the Os really need to stick with the young guys as much as possible, and sign short-term stopgaps (e.g., Jeff Francis) to fill the holes. It’s going to be a long march back.”

    Nightengale: “I would not touch any of those free agents, hoping to attract a veteran under the radar, like the Giants found in Vogelsoong.Buehrle will stay in Chicago, St. Louis or retire. Rodriguez makes too much money, and there are huge questions whether he could pitch in the AL East.”

    Pinto: “I don’t really have an answer for this one.”

    Price: “I don’t think I’d go out and try to hand multi-year deals to any free agent pitchers, simply because pitchers are so volatile and it’s hard to believe that a couple of lucky FA signings would turn the 2012 O’s into contenders. At this point, I think you just have to bank on the young pitchers improving. Maybe you trade Guthrie and suddenly you have Oliver and Furbush around as well. A Matusz-Britton-Arrieta-Oliver-Tillman/Furbush/Bergesen rotation might get smacked around a bit in 2012, but you’d likely end up seeing some serious progress from at least a couple of those guys.”

    Orioles Hangout: “The O’s ’11 payroll is roughly $87M. There are 12 teams in baseball which have a payroll this year above $105M, and 8 teams which have a salary above $115M. If the O’s want to try and win with the core they have assembled, will they have to be willing to increase their payroll to within that $105-$115M range for the ’12 season? Is it realistic to expect them to do so?”

    Klaassen: “There’s not anyway the Os should be trying to win (as in contend) in 2012. They couldn’t even pull of their brilliant plan to go .500 in 2011! I don’t know what kind of money they  have, but they shouldn’t be blowing it on another round of mediocre veterans for marginal improvement that may not happen.”

    Nightengale: “No, I don't think they'll raise the payroll that high unless they sign Fielder. Look, Tampa has won the division two of the last three years with a small payroll, and are in contention again. It's not always about the money. It's making the right decisions in the front office.”

    Pinto: “Sure.  Teams need to invest in winning to get the fans back in the stands.”

    Price: “I don’t really have any knowledge of Baltimore’s actual plans, so it’s hard to say what they’re going to do as far as payroll. Teams usually tend to spend more as they get closer to contention, so it would make sense for the Orioles to become more financially aggressive if they view themselves as close to contention. If the Hardy signing is any indication, management might believe that they’re only a few shrewd signing away from contending. I think that belief would be a bit too optimistic, though.”

    Orioles Hangout: “My current thoughts are that Buehrle will resign in Chicago, or go to St. Louis. That Cuddyer will resign with the Twins, and that Beltran will sign with Boston or perhaps NY. Let's say the O's landed all 3, (Buehrle 4yrs $40M, Cuddyer 3 yrs $25.5M, Beltran 2 yrs $24M.) I’m guessing the ’12 payroll would be in that $105-$115M range we spoke of above, and they would look like:

    Hardy SS
    Markakis RF
    Beltran LF
    Wieters C
    Reynolds 3rd
    Cuddyer 1st
    Jones CF
    Scott DHRoberts 2nd

    Tatum, Reimold, Andino, Harris/Adams

    Buehrle, Guthrie, Matusz, Britton, Arrieta

    Bergesen / Tillman

    Other bullpen options:
    Bergesen / Tillman
    SchraderS. Johnson

    Potential Trade Candidates:
    B. Bundy
    S. Johnson

    Where would the O’s be? Is that an 85 win team that can be within striking distance of the proposed 2nd Wild Card?”

    Klaassen: “I appreciate the enthusiasm, and let me add that I’m a big Carlos Beltran fan. Still, it’s the AL East, and at best I see that Orioles team ending up in 3rd wondering why the heck they blew all that cash and wondering what the future holds. Sort of a less miserable version of this season.”

    Nightengale: “It might be an 85-victory team, but an old team, with no future. There's no way  I'd be Buehrle a 4-year deal. Cuddyer is the one that makes sense there.”

    Pinto: “They would be better. Of course, the O’s looked much better at the start of this season, and that didn’t work out so well.”

    Price: “You know, I just can’t see something like this happening. Buehrle is practically a lock to either re-sign, go to St. Louis or retire. There’s pretty much no way that both Cuddyer and Beltran sign with Baltimore, and I’m not going to suggest that the Orioles try to pursue a wild card spot that doesn’t quite exist yet. At this point, they’re not capable of spending their way to contention with what they have. Unless guys like Matusz, Jones, Wieters and Britton develop into star-level players, Baltimore likely will have problems for a while.”

    Orioles Hangout: “In addition to his report on Fielder, CBS’ Knobler has also recently reported that that realignment in Major League Baseball will happen by 2013, and as early as 2012. Knobler also said that the 2nd Wild Card could well happen in '12, with a playoff game or series between the Wild Card teams. Knobler says realignment would likely resemble the plan he detailed last month (http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/15249374/no-need-to-thank-me-but-heres-a-great-realignment-idea).Knobler’s plan has Arizona or Houston (likely Houston) going to the AL, with 6 five team divisions. The 162 game schedule remains, with 18 games against of the four teams in the division (72 games), 6 games against each team from the other divisions in the same league (60 games), 3 games against 10 of the 15 teams in the other league (30 games).

    I'm personally in-favor of the end of Inter-league play, further expansion, a balanced schedule, and more radical realignment. However, I don't see any of those changes happening in the near-term. I think you have to start with the premise that divisions will remain, and inter-league will not be abolished. Really boils down to:
    1) How many games against your division rivals?
    2) How many inter-league games, and against who?
    3) How many games against the other 10 teams in your league?

    My vote would be 48 games against the Division, 48 games against the other league (42 vs. 14 teams, 6 against 'designated rival'), and 66 games against the other 10 teams in your league (playing six of those teams 7 times, and the other four teams 6 times).

    What would you like to see?”

    Klaassen: “Short answer: end of interleague, balanced schedule, Realignment so that all divisions have the same number of teams.”

    Nightengale: “We will definitely have expanded playoffs with an additional wild-card team in 2012, but no expansion until at least 2013. We will have six, five-team divisions in 2013, with Arizona switching to the AL West and Houston coming to the NL West, or simply Houston going to the AL West. However they make the schedule is fine, as long as it's the same for every team in the division.”

    Pinto: “I want to see five divisions of six teams, 90 games in division, 72 games out.  The other two divisions played change every year.”

    Price: “I’m definitely all for realignment. The current set-up is so ridiculously illogical that I’m fairly surprised that it’s lasted as long as it has. I’m actually okay with interleague, as I get a great deal of pleasure out of watching the Cubs and White Sox play against each other. But for me, just getting the same number of teams in each division is huge. Slide Houston over to the AL West. The fact that Oakland has to compete with three teams in their division but Milwaukee has to compete with five is so incredibly unfair that it undermines that entire competitive nature of the sport.”

    Orioles Hangout: “In an interview with Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal (http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/baltimore-orioles-farm-system-lacking-022911), Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail was asked about the minimal foreign talent in the system and responded, “Philosophically, I’m not as committed to making the same commitments that we do in the (amateur) draft if it’s just going to be a workout. If you can’t see the guy play in a game, I think that is fraught with peril.” 

    Speaking on this topic further with Orioles season ticket holders (http://www.masnsports.com/steve_melewski/2011/06/macphail-addresses-international-spending-with-season-ticket-holders.html) MacPhail elaborated on his position stating,  A lot of the signing bonuses that you are reading about for no doubt talented players that are signing with these other clubs for millions out of the Dominican, they are doing that without the benefit of playing games. That is a not a risk I am willing to take.  he said.

    MacPhail continued to express his opinions in a two-part interview with MASN’s Steve Melewski: You can find those interviews at:
    Part 1- http://www.masnsports.com/steve_mele...l-efforts.html
    Part 2- http://www.masnsports.com/steve_mele...l-efforts.html

    What is your opinion on MacPhail’s comments? Do you believe the responses/criticisms found here (http://www.orioleshangout.com/blog/chris-corner/303/orioles-hangout-posters-respond-to-andy-macphail) from Orioles Hangout posters to be valid?”

    Klaassen: “See next answer.”

    Nightengale: “Hey, it's a crapshoot. The Giants used to purposely sign free-agent players before the Dec. 7 date so they didn't have to give out first-round money. Either you're all in on your Latin American signings, or stay away, just don't get caught in between.”

    Pinto: “He’s wrong.  There are plenty of small bonuses given to players, and if they develop into something great, the team gets them cheap.  Foreign players are cheapest to sign right now and return the most bang for the buck.  Before the draft went into effect, African American players held this niche.”

    Price: “I don’t think that management can afford to ignore any avenue to talent. Whether it’s trades, the draft, waivers, free agency, international free agency or whatever, a GM simply shouldn’t assume that one avenue has absolutely no value or potential for value. While I do understand part of MacPhail’s argument, that signing IFA’s is very risky, the reality is that teams traditionally get massive returns on these kinds of investments.

    A superstar like Miguel Cabrera is worth tens of millions of dollars early in his career. All it takes is one young Latin guy to develop like Cabrera did, and you can practically justify handing million-dollar signing bonuses to like 30 or 35 16-year-old kids from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. If Jonathan Schoop turns into a star for Baltimore, he could potentially be worth something around $100 million to the club in his first few, cheap years. That kind of surplus value makes signing amateur players like Schoop a very good idea. Teams should be spending far less on MLB free agents, and far more on international amateur ones.”

    Orioles Hangout: “Andy MacPhail has recently reached his 4th anniversary with the Orioles. He is not under contract for ’12, but Orioles Majority Owner Peter Angelos stated in March that MacPhail is not going anywhere. Do you believe MacPhail is capable of building the O’s into a division winning caliber team in the American League East?”

    Klaassen: “I honestly still do, I’m just not as confident in him as I used to be. Maybe the bad veteran signings of the last couple seasons can be sort of pinned on Angelos, but the comments on foreign talent are distressing. MacPhail is a smart guy, and it would be too easy to say that his success in Minnesota and Chicago was a long time ago in weaker divisions. At the beginning, he seemed to have a coherent plan. If they get back on track with something like that soon, good. If they keep spinning their wheels, then it might be time for a change. Even though I’m not a Os fan as such, I hope he gets it together for you guys. I loved his first couple seasons. I don’t get 2010 or 2011 at all.”

    Nightengale: “Yes, I still believe MacPhail can turn the Orioles into a winner. Just give him a little more time.”

    Pinto: “Sure.”

    Price: “The organization’s development of their prospects has me scared, to be honest. I have no idea what exactly that organization is doing wrong, but at some point you have to recognize that all of these failing prospects can’t possibly be one massive coincidence. The Orioles are doing something wrong along the way. If MacPhail can figure out what that thing is, then yeah, but so far this has been a constant issue during his tenure.”

    Orioles Hangout: “On June 24th, Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reported that current MLB Network commentator and former GM John Hart is the name he hears most often as a potential replacement for MacPhail, if he does not return. A lot of O’s fans seem to believe Showalter might take over the position, with Willie Randolph becoming Manager.

    If MacPhail does not return for '12, some of the candidates I would like to see considered are:
    Paul DePodesta, Mets Vice President of Player Development & Scouting
    Josh Byrnes, Padres Vice President of Baseball Operations
    John Coppolella, Braves Director of Baseball Administration
    Bob Miller, Reds Vice President and Assistant General Manager
    Rich Hahn, White Sox Vice President and Assistant General Manager
    Allard Baird, Red Sox Vice President Player Personnel
    Charley Kerfeld, Phillies Special Assistant to the General Manager
    Logan White, Dodgers Assistant General Manager / Director of Amat. & Intl. Scouting (Former O’s West Coast Supervisor)
    Ben Cherington, Red Sox Vice President of Player Personnel
    Gord Ash, Brewers Vice President and Assistant General Manager
    Tom McNamara, Mariners Director of Amateur Scouting
    RJ Harrison, Rays Director of Amateur Scouting
    Gerry Hunsicker, Rays Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations
    Kim Ng, Major League Baseball Vice President of Baseball Operations
    Tyrone Brooks, Pirates Director of Baseball Operations (Maryland native)
    Amiel Sawdaye, Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting (Baltimore native)

    If MacPhail does not return, who do you think should replace him? Who else not mentioned above should be considered?”

    Klaassen: “Lots of good names up there, and I don’t know enough to say I can give you more info than anyone else. Let me make a few comments: Allard Baird is a nice man and a great AGM, who worked under horrible ownership conditions in Kansas City. But he should never run a team. That was the Peter Principle embodied (cf. Moore, Dayton). Ng is intriguing as always, I’m curious as to how she’d do, doesn’t anyone know much about her philosophy of team-building? Good names up there, my favorite my be Hahn. His name comes up a lot, probably because he’s a smart guy with a scouting background who also is friendly to newer developments. But I’m biased, we had a FanGraphs event with him in Arizona this last spring and dude was awesome -- no cookie-cutter answers, not only hilarious, but informative. If you ever have a chance to see Rick Hahan talk, take it.”

    Nightengale: “I would go with Allard Baird among that group, or Logan White. Baird is a workaholic and has the experience. White is brilliant with his drafts but doesn't have experience. DeJon Watson of the Dodgers would also be an excellent choice. And one day, Ben Cherington and Tyrone Brooks will get their cracks. I just can't see John Hart going back to the GM role in this time of his life.”

    Pinto: “DePodesta or Byrnes.”

    Price: “I’m not totally familiar with all of those guys, but Byrnes and DePodesta never quite got fair shakes as GMs in their early runs. I’d really love to see DePodesta get another shot to run a team.”

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Michael Williams

Lifelong. Down by the river.