Trade Target Team Profile: The Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are currently seven games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. However, they are currently 45-40 as the second half starts and that puts them 0.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card. The Orioles last finished with a .500 record (and last made the playoffs) in 1997. For that matter, the last time the O’s finished with more than 70 wins was 2005 when Lee Mazzilli was the team’s manager. (Mazzilli’s son LJ was the Twins 9th round pick this June. He is yet to sign and may go back to U Conn for his senior season.) All Star Adam Jones has been Mr. Everything for the O’s. He leads the team in nearly every statistical category including Batting Average (.289), OBP (.330), Hits (98), Home Runs (20) and RBI (44).
Why They Will Trade With the Twins
The Orioles have not won in a long time and already shown that the will be aggressive, trading weeks ago for DH Jim Thome. But what are their needs?
The Orioles are 26th in baseball in batting average (.240), 26th in OBP (.302), and 19th in Slugging (.402). They are also 19th in runs scored (351). So, they need offense.
The Orioles are 19th in baseball in ERA (4.05), 15th in WHIP (1.30) and 16th in Batting Average Against (.253). Their starters have 37 Quality Starts, which ranks 26th in baseball. Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta are now in AAA Norfolk, leaving a starting rotation or Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chin, Miguel Gonzalez and Dana Eveland. Their bullpen has actually been quite solid, with Jim Johnson leading the way. However, counting on Luis Ayala, Darren O’Day and Kevin Gregg can’t give O’s fans a lot of confidence.
Nick Markakis is coming back from injury, but the Orioles could still acquire one outfielder to put into left field. Denard Span and Josh Willingham would help the offense tremendously. JJ Hardy has a .642 OPS this year but continues to play solid defense. Robert Andino is playing a lot of second base because Brian Roberts is always hurt. Could they be interested in Jamey Carroll as a second baseman or for depth?
Baltimore needs pitching, starting and relieving. They could be interested in Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Jared Burton or even Matt Capps, assuming his rehab continues to go well and he gets some innings with the Twins in the next week.
Why They Won't Trade With the Twins
To be sure, the Orioles have a lot of needs, and they do match up well with the Twins. If they want to go in and make a big push, they may be willing to over-spend, but they may also go after those big names that may or may not truly be available. They may go after Justin Upton, Zach Greinke and Cole Hamels.
Also, based on all of the weaknesses that the Orioles have, the next two weeks will be very important. Their next 11 games are against the AL Central (3 vs Detroit, 4 @ Minnesota, 4 @ Cleveland). That stretch is followed by three games at home against the Rays, one of the teams that they are fighting for a playoff berth. The Orioles may need to go at least .500 over those 14 games to feel like a buyer.
Frankly, the Orioles farm system, after its top two prospects (who are likely not available in any trade), things are pretty weak.
The Orioles have been running, it appears, on smoke and mirrors to this point in the 2012 season. Over the next two weeks, they will need to determine if they’re legitimate enough to make a big run, or if they just stand pat. Peter Angelos seems ready to make a run for it, whether is makes sense to do or not.
Possible Trade Targets
Dylan Bundy - RHP
Most consider him the top prospect in all of baseball at this point, so he is not available in any deal (one wouldn’t think). Even if he was traded, he couldn’t be traded by name. Since the 2011 fourth overall pick didn’t sign until the August deadline last year, he would have to be a Player to be Named Later. I included him because his numbers were so amazing. He debuted this spring in Low A and in 30 innings, he gave up two unearned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out 40 batters! He has since worked 32.2 innings in High-A where he has given up 13 runs on 30 hits and 11 walks and struck out 34.
Manny Machado - SS
Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, just turned 20 years old. At 6-3 and 185 pounds, he profiles like those great shortstops of the late ‘90s. In AA this year he is hitting .264/.347/.418 with 21 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. He has stolen ten bases and committed a respectable 14 errors. The O’s will continue with JJ Hardy and his .642 OPS for another year, but clearly they can’t wait for Machado to man the position for years to come. In other words, he’s most likely not available.
(Bundy and Machado came into the year as Baseball America’s #10 and #11 prospects, respectively. At this point, both are likely in most “expert’s” Top 5 prospects. Most likely neither are available in any trade, but frankly after those two, there is a dramatic fall in talent in the Orioles farm system.)
Jon Schoop – 2B
Another 20 year old, Schoop is Machado’s keystone combo partner in AA Bowie this year. The Curacao native is hitting .250/.309/.382 with 14 doubles, one triple and eight home runs. I’m sure ideally the Orioles would like Schoop and Machado to stay together as a middle infield unit, replacing Hardy and Brian Roberts, for years. The Twins (And most teams) should always be looking for more middle infield depth and options.
Dan Klein - RHP
Klein is an intriguing prospect whose career to this point has been highlighted by injuries. He was the Orioles third round pick in 2010 out of UCLA. He had an injury in 2009. Last August he had surgery on his right labrum. He is expected to miss all of the 2012 season after having another shoulder surgery in mid-April. However, when he has pitched, he has been very good. In 2011, he posted a 1.15 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in 15.2 High-A innings. He was promoted to AA where he was 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 16.2 innings. In 32.1 combined innings, he walked just six and struck out 38. Baseball America said he had the best control in the system.
Jake Arrieta – RHP, Zach Britton – LHP, Brian Matusz – LHP, Chris Tillman – RHP
Two years ago, the Orioles were boasting some of the best pitching prospects in baseball. They had a lot of veteran bats but some terrific young arms that they wanted to build around. The four pitchers I named above have all been very disappointing this season, but could a change of scenery be what they need. Arrieta is 26 and the Twins saw his upside on Opening Night. Britton is still just 24 years old and won 11 games in 2011. Matusz is still just 25. He was one of the more promising pitchers after decent seasons as a 22 year old in 2009 and a ten win season in 2010. However, he went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last year, the worst ERA in baseball history for a pitcher with more than 10 starts. Tillman is also still just 24.
Please add your thoughts and trade ideas (and other names the Twins could pursue) in the comments below!