• Aug
    04

    Q&A with Jason Parks, Baseball Prospectus

    Jason Parks is a Writer for Baseball Prospectus, and the co-host of the BP Podcast.

    You can find Park's work with Baseball Prospectus at:
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/jason_parks/

    You can find the BP Podcast at:
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/blog/podcast/

    You can find Parks on Twitter at:
    http://twitter.com/#!/ProfessorParks

    Orioles Hangout thanks Mr. Parks for answering a few Orioles related questions.

    Orioles Hangout: “I think the extension of Hardy, and trade of Uehara for Chris Davis, and Tommy Hunter is indication from the Baltimore Front Office that they are not interested in further rebuilding, and will try and augment around the core (Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Reynolds, Hardy, Matusz, Britton, and Arrieta) they have. Do you read the O’s similarly?” 

    Parks: "Given the core of talent at the major league level, I think it’s in Baltimore’s best interest to maximize the opportunities of the present. You can still build from within without trading away major league talent, e.g., the rule four amateur draft, international markets."

    Orioles Hangout: “The Orioles enter August 4th 43-64, 21 games under .500 and 24 games behind Boston in the Division. It seems ludicrous to many that the O’s can think of drastically improving in the near-term (1-2 years). The extension of that thought is that if you don’t believe you can reasonably contend in the near future, you need to be committed to a further rebuilding. To quote Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail, more ‘inventory’ needs to be acquired. One would think that if you can not contend, you would reduce the Major League payroll, and reinvest into Baseball Operations (Amateur Scouting, International Scouting, Player Development etc.), and consider trading anyone that will not be around when you might contend. Do you feel the O’s would have been better off trading Guthrie, Hardy, Jones, Markakis, Reynolds, Johnson etc.?”

    Parks:  "You have to play your cards when you think you can win the hand. Can the Orioles win the East in the next two-three seasons with their current roster? Probably not. Can they maintain competitiveness at the major league level while continuing to develop talent from within? Yes. Selling your major league talent now isn’t always a pathway to success down the line. Baltimore needs to make every effort to win in the present without sacrificing the future. Successful teams can do both."

    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?”

    Parks: "They have legitimate talent, but they aren’t game changers; they could contribute to a winning team, but they aren’t pieces that first-division teams are built on."

    Orioles Hangout: “In a span of two days, the Texas Rangers traded for Uehara, and Mike Adams. I think once you account for the differences of the AL East vs. the NL West, and PETCO vs. OPACY; there was minimal difference between the two relievers. San Diego received two younger players (Joseph Wieland, and Robert Erlin) who are both having a lot of success at the Double A level. The two players Baltimore received are a bit older (25). My take on the deal is that Baltimore sacrificed a little bit of ceiling for two players who have had some Major League experience (and success), and have a greater ability to potentially help the O’s in the immediate future (1-2 years). Davis obviously has major plate-discipline issues, but has had a .755 OPS in his 891 Major League at-bats. Hunter appears to have good control with limited K rates. He certainly looks capable of being a back of the rotation starter.  SI’s Tom Verducci, had an interesting piece

    (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/tom_verducci/04/12/fastballs.trackman/index.html) earlier this year which gave some indication of why Hunter has had some success. What are your thoughts on what Baltimore got back?”

    Parks: "Baltimore received two major leaguers in the deal, but the Rangers got the best player in the deal. Davis has 80 grade power potential, meaning he’s capable of hitting 40 bombs in a season. It’s not going to happen, though. Davis has an aggressive approach at the plate and is always going to swing and miss, but his biggest issue is the inability to adjust after pitchers adjust against him. Baseball is a game of adjustment, and Davis really struggles to make in-game adjustments. If he can shorten his swing a bit, which would sacrifice some power but allow for more contact, he could probably stick around the majors as a second-division regular. If he continues to load-up his swing and give major league pitchers a recipe for his own demise, he’s going to swing and miss his way back to the minors.

    Hunter is a safer player, with major league quality stuff and quality makeup. He can pitch out of the pen, where his stuff plays better, but he has more value in the rotation because of a clean delivery and a deep arsenal. He’s not going to miss a ton of bats, and he’s always been hittable, but he can hold down the back-end of a rotation. Nothing special, but a safe major league option."

    Orioles Hangout: “After posting an OPS over .900 in ’10, 2011 was a lost year for Luke Scott due to the labrum injury. Is there any argument you see for the O’s offering Scott arbitration this Winter?”

    Parks: "Depends. If you offer arb, would you be disappointed if he accepts? I’m not a fan, so I’d pass."

    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?  Others have suggested names like: Matt Antonelli, Matt Downs, Marwin Gonzalez, Jeff Baker, Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons, Tyler Pastornicky, and Luis Sardinas as players the O’s could pursue for depth. Who out of that group (or other) appeals to you?”

    Parks:  "Lots of those names appeal to me, but the high ceiling names on that list are years away from helping the major league club, not to mention they aren’t realistic trade targets for Baltimore. For example: Segura is one of the top middle-of-the-diamond prospects in baseball, and it would take a quality major league player to land his services."

    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 level does he have to reach, where the O’s should commit to him as the LF starter for ’12?”  

    Parks: "I wouldn’t commit to Reimold unless his bat explodes, which it won’t. Nice player to have on a roster, not a nice player to pencil in the lineup every day if you want to be a competitive team."

    Orioles Hangout: “The O’s are presently 9th in slugging %, 15th in on-base %, but just 19th overall in runs scored. Even if you believe the O’s should be willing to go through a further rebuilding, let’s go with the premise that Baltimore is committed to retooling around the group that is presently here. While Davis, Roberts, and Reimold represent potential internal options for 1st/DH, 2nd, and LF for 2012; do you see a plausible plan for improving the Baltimore offense, without obtaining Prince Fielder? Perhaps moving Reynolds to 1st, and pursuing A. Ramirez if the Cubs do not pick up his option? Pursuing Beltran, or Cuddyer in Free Agency? Other?"

    Parks: "If the Orioles want to compete in the AL East, they need to add talent to the roster. You have to pay for the privilege, but would you rather have Reimold in the middle of your lineup or Fielder? No brainer. If Baltimore wants to win now (2-3 years), they need to augment their current roster with more talent."

    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. Bob Nightengale from USA Today told us Fielder will get at-least $190M over 8 years.  Fielder turned 27 on May 9th and he has a .925 OPS for his career. The O’s offered Teixeira 7 years $145M two winters ago. Where do you see Fielder signing, and what type of contract do you ultimately see him receiving? What is the max contract you would advocate offering?”

    Parks: "I have no idea where Fielder is going to end up, but the team that lands him is going to pay a Teixeira-like price for his services. He’s not the defensive player Tex is, but the thunder in his bat can stand with anyone in the league. Baltimore should be in the running."

    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. While Tampa Bay has shown a properly run franchise can compete in the AL East with a lower payroll; 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?”

    Parks: "I have no idea. I think it depends on how the funds are allocated. If the Orioles want a sustainable team, they need to invest heavy in the amateur markets while securing their own talent before they price themselves out. That will allow for some flexibility in the free agent market, where you can allocate a chunk of change for the Fielder’s of the world."

    Orioles Hangout: “Prior to the addition of Hunter, I was envisioning the O’s pursuing a back-end veteran type to eat innings (such as Marquis, L. Hernandez, Penny, etc.). With Hunter added, and Guthrie not being traded – the questions go back to being what will be the O’s plans with their younger arms going into ’12?

    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 believe the odds are extremely likely he will be back in Baltimore to begin the year. Britton has been dealing with a poor stretch, but is essentially going through the adjustments that most young pitchers deal with. I think there is every reason to think he will be a competitive starter in ’12. Arrieta’s season appears to have been ended with the bone spur in his elbow. He has indicated the bone spur impacted his control. Despite the lack of fastball command, Arrieta showed some maturation in ’11; with improved K/9, LD %, GB %, Swinging Strike, and First Strike numbers. Like Matusz, and Britton; it would be a surprise to me if Arrieta was not part of the ’12 rotation.

    Should the O’s go into ’12 with that expected rotation (Guthrie, Matusz, Britton, Hunter, Arrieta)? If not, what would be your plan to address?”

    Parks: "Yes. That rotation doesn’t look bad on paper, but you want to create a competitive environment and I would search the available talent (via trades/free agency) to bring in additional rotation arms for ’12. You can never have enough quality arms."

    Orioles Hangout: “A couple of weeks back, 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

    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 potentially 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)?”

    Parks: "Guessing on free agent deals isn’t my forte, as they are often too abstract, especially before the market (itself) is established. But you listed several arms that I think should be targets for a team looking to win now, and I fully expect the Orioles to make a push to sign another arm or two. I think Wilson is looking to head back to California and the West Coast, so I don’t see the fit with Baltimore. Wandy is a real option. Darvish is a dream and not a player I wouldn’t bank on landing."

    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 could look like:

    Hardy SS
    Markakis RF
    Beltran LF
    Wieters C
    Reynolds 3rd
    Cuddyer 1st
    Jones CF
    Davis DH
    Roberts 2nd

    Tatum, Reimold, Andino, Harris/Adams

    Buehrle, Guthrie, Matusz, Britton, Hunter

    Gregg
    Arrieta
    Johnson
    Tillman
    Bergesen
    Simon
    Patton

    Other bullpen options:
    Klein
    Schrader
    S. Johnson
    Atkins
    Jakubauskas
    VandenHurk
    Viola
    Spoone
    Ballard
    Pelzer
    Bascom

    Potential Trade Candidates:
    Tillman
    Bergesen
    Klein
    Schrader
    B. Bundy
    Bridwell
    Hoes
    Berry
    Mahoney
    Townsend
    Avery
    Drake
    S. Johnson
    Hobgood
    Mummey
    Snyder
    Henry
    Wirsch
    Coffey
    Ohlman
    Pelzer
    Narron
    Welty
    Veloz

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

    Parks: "I don’t think 85 wins (assuming that’s an 85 win team) is a Wild Card team in the American League. Baltimore needs to target 90 wins for a realistic chance at post-season baseball, and I don’t think the aforementioned roster gets you there. That said, it would be a step in the right direction to acquire more talent."

    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?”

    Parks: "That’s a very complicated question, and unfortunately, one that I don’t think I have a good answer for. I’m not a fan of additional wild card teams, and I’m not a fan of inter-league play, but I do think some of the divisions need realignment. I also think the NL needs to take the bat out of the pitchers hands, but that’s another argument."

    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?”

    Parks: "His comments have the tone of guy who wasn’t invited to the party and therefore wants to complain about how the party was thrown. The LA market is an extremely complicated side of the talent coin, as the methods of acquiring said talent are often suspect, but if you don’t want to play the game, you aren’t going to get the talent. So far, in that market, the Orioles aren’t getting the talent and it shows in their system."

    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?”

    Parks: "Loaded question, in my opinion. I disagree with many of his talent acquisition philosophies, but it’s not in my best interest to suggest he can’t build a winner with his own methods. We just differ, but I respect his resume."

    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?”

    Parks: "I would like to see John Coppolella get the job because he’s a friend and a very, very sharp baseball mind. AJ Preller would be an excellent choice as well. He’s one of the men behind the Rangers surge in talent acquisition, and one of the best evaluators in the business. If you want to build the farm, Preller is the man for the position."


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