If I Were a Rich Man: On the Baltimore Orioles

If you’ve ever listened to even five minutes of regional sports talk radio, it’s very possible that you’re familiar with a certain type of caller who’s all-too-ready to propose trades on behalf of the local team. Certainly, growing up in the Greater Boston Area and listening to WEEI (“The #1 rated sports radio talk station in America,” apparently), I was privy to these sorts of calls all the time.

Because I haven’t listened to said station willingly for like 12 years, I can’t say exactly what the callership has come up with recently, but I do remember some pretty choice suggestions from my youth, including but not limited to:

*Carlos Quintana and Bob Zupcic for Frank Thomas

*Tony Fossas and Joe Hesketh for Greg Maddux

*Randy Kutcher‘s moustache for the entire roster of the 1989 World Series Champion Oakland A’s

Needless to say, these aren’t trades which would’ve been entertained for even three seconds by the receiving teams’ GMs (although it is well known that Sandy Alderson likes a good moustache). Still, that never seemed to stop the callers from proposing them…vehemently.

And even though I recognize the obviously clownish nature of those caller-inners, I can’t deny that it’s occasionally pleasant to imagine being in possession of roster-shaping powers. Of course, the fantasy is the nice part about it. I don’t want to wake up early for work. I don’t want to talk a whole bunch with the media. And I certainly don’t want to feel so trapped in my place of business that I feel compelled to escape in a gorilla costume.

But so long as we’re talking about fantasy GM positions, I’m thinking I’d like the Baltimore job.

Why? Check it: these are the Orioles’ present commitments for the 2010 season (courtesy of Tim Dierkes’ excellent Offseason Outlook over at MLB Trade Rumors):

C – Matt Wieters – $400K
C –
1B –
2B – Brian Roberts – $10MM
SS – Cesar Izturis – $2.6MM
3B – Ty Wigginton – $3.5MM
IF –
IF – Robert Andino – $400K
LF – Nolan Reimold – $400K
CF – Adam Jones – $435K
RF – Nick Markakis – $6.75MM
OF – Felix Pie – $410K
DH – Luke Scott – $2.4MM+

SP – Jeremy Guthrie – $650K+
SP – Koji Uehara – $5MM
SP – Brad Bergesen – $400K
SP – Brian Matusz – $868K
SP – Chris Tillman – $400K

Other rotation candidates: Rich Hill – $445K+, Jason Berken – $400K, David Hernandez – $400K, Jake Arrieta – $400K, Troy Patton – $400K

RP – Chris Ray – $850K+
RP – Cla Meredith – $435K+
RP – Jim Johnson – $420K
RP – Matt Albers – $410K+
RP – Dennis Sarfate – $410K
RP – Brian Bass – $405K
RP – Kam Mickolio – $400K

Other commitments: Melvin Mora – $1MM buyout

Look at all that talent — and how cheap it is!

For the hitters, you have Jones, who was worth $9.3MM in only 119 games last year. Despite his failure to re-invent the wheel or re-slice bread, Wieters was still worth $8.4MM in 96 GP (with an impressive last month or so to suggest improvement this year). Scott was worth $6.4MM last year, and even that was lower than the previous two seasons ($8.7MM, $9.1MM) on account of a greater than usual positional penalty (-11.9 runs, as opposed to -5.9 and -8.7 before that).

For the pitchers, you have some ready value — in Guthrie, for example, who was worth $5MM based mostly on the sheer number of innings he pitched, and Bergesen, who was worth $10.2MM due to his 123.1 IP of above-average production (with an encouraging 4.10 FIP and 4.62 tRA). But even more than that, you have two guys in Matusz and Tillman who are considered among the league’s best prospects. And beyond them, you have Jake Arrieta and Brandon Erbe, who are both likely future additions to the rotation.

Dierkes projects Baltimore to end up somewhere in the low $40 millions in terms of payroll commitments after arbitration — this compared to last year, when they started the season at $67MM. That means Baltimore has quite a bit of money with which to play and very few positions requiring attention.

What moves would I make?

Well, that’s not the point, exactly. I mean, sure, I have some notions. First base is vacant and Nick Johnson is a free man. Also, I’m not sure about Ty Wigginton as my third baseman, owing both to the fact that (a) Adrian Beltre and Chone Figgins are free agents, and (b) this is the number of years that Wigginton has finished with a 3B UZR within 2.5 runs of league average: 0. Plus, I’d consider switching around Scott and Reimold, as the former has posted almost exclusively above-average outfield UZRs, while the latter had a -17.3 UZR/150 through 88 games last season. Those are some easy choices to make, I think.

The real point is the current position of the team. It’s like something I figured out recently — that the best day of the weekend isn’t Saturday, and certainly isn’t Sunday, but Friday. On Friday you get to think about how great the weekend will be (even if you’re just gonna spend it watching Community again and again on the Hulus, like usual). The Baltimore Orioles right now are like the Friday night of baseball teams. And regardless of how the weekend turns out (this is the Orioles we’re talking about), the current iteration might be the most exciting.

***

Hardly related at all, but check out Zero Mostel’s hair in this video. Is there a name for that?



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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DavidCEisen
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DavidCEisen

Why not Scott to first, Reimold to DH, and Pie to LF?

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