Yes, we didn’t give up again just yet.
As was displayed in the classic book “Moneyball”, the key to success in baseball on a limited budget is finding inefficiencies in the baseball market. I believe Dan Duquette and the Orioles are a ttempting to exploit the next great inefficiency. Many have speculated that once OBP started to make money, Billy Beane moved on to try to find undervalued players by exploiting defense and platoons. This has worked magically for the Athletics. The Orioles need to find their own brilliant GM to find skills undervalued by the majority of teams in baseball. I believe he has finally found it:
Yes, the Orioles are collecting a fleet of outfielders all varying in skill from bad to terrible. As it stands, a total of twelve of them will be coming to major league spring training, with a possibility for even more. Let’s examine them each more closely (not including Adam Jones and Nick Markakis).
Nolan Reimold: walking injury, 30 years old, career 1.3 WAR. Reimold has shown flashes of the ability to hit at the major league level but has never been able to do it over a significant sample size. He has been held back mainly by a slew of injuries and once by girl problems (allegedly). He’s also a brutal defensive outfielder and provides negative value on that side of the ball. His platoon splits are equal and make it impossible to exploit any advantage on the short or long side of a platoon. The Orioles actually signed him to 1 million dollar deal. Did I mention he’s 30? Grade: Awful
David Lough: Old rookie last year, 28 years old, career WAR 2.5. Lough had a solid campaign in 2013 if you trust defensive metrics (I do, but not in this small of a sample size). His offensive game however leaves a lot to be desired for a corner outfielder. Lough doesn’t walk, showing a pretty gnarly 3 percent walk rate last year. Despite his .286 average, he only got on base at a .311 clip. He’s pretty much in Adam Jones territory in this regard. It is safe to say he will not help the huge OBP problem which plagues the Orioles offense currently. Lough also doesn’t possess much power judging by both his minor league and major league numbers so far. He slugged just .413 with his .286 BA, meaning an ISO of .127. He’s got a little bit of speed but not an overwhelming amount. David Lough is not a good offensive player, so if his defensive metrics aren’t accurate going forward, it is likely he will not be a very good starting corner outfielder. I would be much more comfortable if we had at least one another legitimate starting candidate to go with him. Grade: Bad
Francisco Peguero: Former prospect, 26 years old, career WAR 0.4. There isn’t much of a history on Peguero as he hasn’t had much major league playing time. His minor league career is extremely uninspiring as it shows yet another guy who is unwilling to take a walk and will likely be a low OBP offensive player. He’s regarded as an effective defensive outfielder and the limited major league data supports that. His walk rates in the minors have generally been in the 3 to 4 percent range and so far in the major leagues it is at 2.2 percent. He’s hit for high averages in the minors but very little power. To be of any value on offense, it is likely that Peguero would have to be somewhere around a .320 to .330 hitter in the majors. I don’t think it is happening. Grade: Gross
Quintin Berry: Who?, 29 years old, career WAR 1.2. Berry has also had very limited exposure to the major leagues. He appeared in 13 games for REd Sox in 2013 but did get into 94 games for the Tigers in 2012. That year, he slashed .258/.330/.354. Berry does appear to have the ability to take a walk at around a league average rate. However, that appears to be all he can do. He doesn’t play exceptional defense according to the small sample of major league data, he doesn’t hit for much average, and doesn’t hit for any power. He does appear to be a good baserunner however, as he amassed 21 stolen bases without being caught that year. He could at least be useable as a pinch runner, but that has very little value to me. On the plus side, he’s apparently BFFs with Adam Jones! Grade: Dreadful
Xavier Paul: Some guy, 29 years old, career WAR 0.0. Paul actually has a decent sample of playing time at the major league level. He has accrued 746 plate appearances in 335 games. In this time he has slashed .254/.316/.376. He walks at a reasonable 7.9 percent rate but doesn’t hit for enough average to make it usable. His career .122 ISO also leaves something to be desired. To top it off, he has been a negative defender at every position to this point. His only redeeming quality: a healthy platoon split. Paul has hit .268/.330/.404 against right handed pitching in his career. In 2013, he hit .253/.349/.426 against them. It is possible he could be useful as a fill in if he is appropriately platooned. Other than than that…. Grade: Foul
Julio Borbon: Punch and Judy, 28 years old, career WAR 1.2. Borbon is also another new Orioles outfielder with a significant sample of major league play. Borbon has found himself in 288 games so far in his career. He has slashed, .272/.318/.347. Borbon is your garden variety low walk rate, slap hitting Judy. He can probably hit for a decent average, but it will be as empty as they come. You end up with a low OBP, low power, unproductive offensive player. Borbon has shown himself to be a decent but unspectacular defender. He’s also been a positive on the bases but not to the point of adding significant value. He is good only as minor league filler. Grade: Terrible
Steve Pearce: Former 1B prospect, 30 years old, career WAR 0.2. Pearce has gotten sporadic playing time in a large number of major league seasons to this point. A former top Pirates prospect he did not live up to expectations and has bounced around a lot since his departure from Pittsburgh. For his career, he has hit .238/.318/.377. However, Pearce is coming off of his best year where he provided 0.8 WAR in only 44 games. Pearce slashed .261/.362/.420, including .267/.375/.427 against left handed pitching. He also knows how to take a walk, showing a 10.9 percent walk rate in 2013. Pearce certainly is not an option for a starting gig in anyone’s outfield due to his helplessness against right handers, his heavy platoon split actually provides him with an opportunity to provide value, albeit small, as a short side platoon player. He is also able to play both outfield corners at only a slightly below average level and fill in very adequately at first base if needed. Grade: Bad
Henry Urrutia: Defector, 27 years old, career WAR -0.3. Urrutia is the biggest unknown among the outfield candidates. His journey to the major leagues is quite a story. The Cuban born Urrutia has displayed great offensive skills in the minor leagues and looks to be a guy who can straight up hit. However, in his very brief cup of coffee at the major league level he was unable to translate that success. In a very very small and thus insignificant sample Urrutia looked to be a guy easily fooled by quality secondary offerings and without the bat speed to drive the ball. This obviously is not definitive by any means, it is only 58 plate appearances. Urrutia went on to play and have a lot of success in the AFL this offseason. It is hard to know what the Orioles have in Urrutia, his minor league career suggests he should be able to be a capable hitter at the very least. His defensive reviews seem to be mixed and we haven’t seen him play defense really at all in the majors so it is hard to know what he will provide. I know I would rather go with an unkown with potential, than a cast of guys who we know suck. Grade: Unknown
Tyler Colvin: Coors product, 28 years old, career WAR 1.6. Colvin is the latest signing of the bunch and alarmingly to a major league contract. Colvin is another guy who appears to be allergic to taking a walk, showing a career walk rate of 6 percent, but only a 4.6 in 2012 and a 3.8 in 2013. Colvin also doesn’t have much ability to hit for average outside of his one solid season in 2012. In 2012, Colvin slashed .298/.327/.531 and hit 18 home runs in 452 plate appearances. On the surface this looks pretty good, but when you dig a little deeper it starts to lose it’s luster. Colvin achieved this slash line while playing for the Rockies in Colorado and it appears to very much be a Coors field mirage. Colvin’s home and road splites that season were miles apart. His OPS was 1.032 at Coors field and only .687 everywhere else. You can never trust a Rockie when it comes to raw offensive numbers. Including that year Colvin is a .241/.289/.454 hitter for his career. He’s another low OBP bat with a bit of pop, as if the Orioles don’t already have enough of that around. He appears to be about an average defender and baserunner. His platoon splits are pretty pronounced however, .781 vs RHP and .640 vs LHP. This presents an opportunity for some value in a platoon. His walk rate even comes up to a reasonable 7 percent against right-handers. The major league contract is alarming considering his recent failures and injury issues but overall he isn’t the worst option. Grade: Bad
Delmon Young: Fat terd, 28 years old, career WAR -1.2. I saved the best (worst) for last. The Orioles recently signed Young to a minor league deal (thankfully) and invited him to spring training. The contents of the deal indicate he will however make 1 million if he makes the team and there are incentives worked in for him to make more. Some writers are already speculating that he is a favorite to make the team. This makes me want to kill. Delmon Young is a terrible, terrible baseball player. On top of that, it is very likely that Delmon Young is a terrible, terrible human being. Young slashed .260/.307/.407 last year for 2 teams while being one of the worst defensive players on your beer league softball team. Young is fat and out of shape, shows a disinclination to take a walk, doesn’t hit for good averages, and doesn’t hit for a ton of power either. Did I mention he was also an awful defender and baserunner? Young can run into some homers….that’s it. That’s his only skill, and it’s not even that he’s really good at it, it’s just the only thing he does at an above average rate. In 2012, Young hit .267/.296/.411. In 2011, it was .268/.302/.393. This is guy who hasn’t hit at all in 3 years. In 2010, he had a good offensive year with the Twins but gave so much of it back on defense that he ended up a borderline starter despite mysteriously coming in 10th in the MVP voting. By the way, WTF guys?!?! Yes, his career platoon splits show that he could be used in a platoon against left handed pitching only. However, in 2013 he only managed a .684 OPS against lefties, though in 2012 he was much better. For his career, he is basically the same offensive player as Steve Pearce against left handed pitching, but less valuable because you can’t put him in the field and he’s a big negative on the bases too. That’s assuming that he reverts to his career norms in this regard at all, which certainly isn’t a given. Then we get to his antics outside of just his baseball playing ability. There’s this, this, and of course this awesomeness. So we brought in a bad baseball player who is also a bad character guy for…. what exactly? What is the upside here? I must be missing it. Grade: Disgusting
Isn’t that a fantastic pile of dog shit? I guess we will see how it shakes out. I’m guessing we will see a combination of Lough, Colvin, and Young most nights between LF and DH. I will only hate one part of that group. I will hate it a lot though. I should also mention the possibility of Jack Cust being added to this group as it is possible the Orioles sign him in the coming days as he tries to make a comeback. It’s clear to me that Duquette is trying to find players that he believes are undervalued and I think he thinks OBP is so valued these days that you can find value in guys who don’t get on base much. That is my only explanation for what he appears to be doing with this team. He is collecting an entire fleet of guys who don’t walk and don’t get on base, hoping that one or two of them provide enough value other ways to improve the team. I don’t see it happening, but on the surface it does appear he is employing a strategy of some sort. So we got that going for us, which is nice.
Of course maybe I missed it completely and he’s really planning to melt these players down and create a Frankenstein monster with all of their good qualities only. There’s an idea I can get behind.