Baltimore featured the fourth-worst bullpen in all of baseball last season with a collective 4.31 FIP. It featured the headache that is Kevin Gregg as closer, as well as such stalwarts as Jeremy Accardo, Brad Bergesen, and Chris Jakubauskas. The only true bright spots were right-handers Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, and Koji Uehara — and, even then, Uehara and his 2.56 FIP were traded to Texas prior to the deadline.
Obviously, the Orioles have a weakness in the bullpen. That’s not even up for discussion. But after going 69-93 last season and finishing 28 games behind the first-place Yankees, why the hell is Baltimore targeting a closer that will cost a significant amount in terms of prospects and only has one or two years (depending on the player option) remaining on the contract?
Huston Street is a good, but not elite, closer. He owns a career 3.09 FIP and was victimized last season by a career-high 14.5% HR/FB, which caused his overall earned run average to balloon to almost 4.00. Any potential suitor should be concerned that his velocity dropped 1.2 MPH in 2011 — which also happened in 2007, when Street spent time on the DL with elbow problems — but the talent is undeniably there.
The point, however, is not whether or not Huston Street is worth acquiring as a closer. It’s whether or not the Baltimore Orioles should move young talent to trade for a reliever with a maximum of two years remaining on his contract.
The answer is clearly negative.
Baltimore should be building for the future. Each league now has two Wild Card spots available, which should shine a beacon of hope into the netherworld of the AL East, but new GM Dan Duquette must fully understand that the team is more than two years away from serious postseason contention.
Resources should be diverted to acquire and cultivate young talent that can presumably reach the majors with Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, and even Jonathan Schoop. That is not to say the current crop of youngsters in Baltimore is useless and will not produce winning seasons, but the rebuilding project did not develop as previously hoped, particularly on the pitching mound.
This is not just about the lunacy of acquiring a proven closer in an attempt to build toward a postseason run in 2012 after a 69-win season, though. Go ahead and do it. Instead, this is about potentially trading away young talent. If the Baltimore Orioles really desire a closer to anchor their bullpen, sign Francisco Rodriguez, Francisco Cordero, or even Frank Francisco. Heck, even pony up the cash and sign Ryan Madson.
Just don’t consider trading away young talent for a player that will only impact the big league team for such a short period of time. It makes such little sense in terms of organizational development for the future.
Sure, this trade may never come to fruition, but the fact that the Orioles and Rockies have even been discussing this potential trade for weeks is ludicrous on Baltimore’s part. Dan Duquette would be starting off his tenure on such the wrong foot that he might as well take two steps back before trying to take three steps forward in the first place.
They say, “Don’t kick a man while he’s down.” Well, don’t kick yourself while you’re down either.
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