Orioles Continue Inactive Offseason By Signing Jair Jurrjens

Despite surprising everyone by winning 93 games and qualifying for the postseason last year, the Orioles haven’t done much of anything this winter. Other than re-signing Nate McLouth, all of their moves have been small trades (Danny Valencia, Trayvon Robinson, Yamaico Navarro), minor league signings (Daniel Schlereth, Zach Braddock, Travis Ishikawa), or waiver claims (Luis Martinez, Alexi Casilla). Their most notable moves to date were extending GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter through 2018.

Baltimore continued their nondescript offseason yesterday by agreeing to sign right-hander Jair Jurrjens to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million that could reach $4 million through incentives. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had the scoop. Jurrjens was just awful with the Braves last season, pitching to a 6.89 ERA and 5.64 FIP with nearly as many walks (18) as strikeouts (19) in 48.1 innings. They sent him to Triple-A not once but twice, where he managed a 4.98 ERA and 4.62 FIP in 72.1 innings. His season effectively ended in early-August due to a groin strain.

Matt Swartz projected Jurrjens to earn $5.5 million in his third of four trips through arbitration this winter, so it’s no surprise the Braves non-tendered him in November. He had been an All-Star for Atlanta as recently as 2011 — 2.96 ERA and 3.99 FIP in 152 innings — but this…

…means something is very wrong. Jurrjens has seen his average fastball velocity drop more than two miles an hour the over the last three years — you can see the decline starting in the second half of 2010 — from 91.1 mph in 2010 to 88.6 mph in 2012. His arm has been relatively healthy in recent years outside of a bout with minor shoulder tightness during early-Spring Training in 2010, but the rest of his body has been a mess. Jurrjens had right knee surgery in October 2010 to repair cartilage damage and the meniscus, and inflammation in the joint sent him to the DL twice the following season. He’s also missed time with oblique and groin strains the last two years.

When a pitcher loses that much velocity, everything just kinda goes in the tank. He was never a big-time strikeout pitcher to start with (career 16.3 K% prior to 2012), but last season he managed just an 8.4 K% in the big leagues (12.6% in Triple-A). Opponents tagged him for eight homers in those 48.1 innings, good for a 1.49 HR/9 and 11.0% HR/FB. Both righties (.412 wOBA) and lefties (.407 wOBA) put up Buster Posey-like production against him. Jurrjens was easily one of the worst starters in baseball last season despite spending most of the year either in the minors or hurt. He was that bad.

The good news is that the Orioles don’t need Jurrjens for anything, they basically signed him as some really deep depth. Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, and Miguel Gonzalez are all ahead of him on the depth chart, and both Jake Arrieta and Steve Johnson probably are as well. Brian Matusz might even get another chance to crack the rotation before Jurrjens despite his stellar late-season relief work. Duquette bought a lottery ticket, a lottery ticket he can option to Triple-A and hope will somehow be worth as much as it was from 2008-2010. Jurrjens is still only 26 years old, so he does have that going for him. As an added bonus, he would remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2014 as well.

It’s tough to see Jurrjens ever getting things back on track without first finding out why his velocity disappeared. Maybe it’s all mechanical, maybe he’s hiding an injury, maybe it’s both or maybe it’s something else entirely. Whatever it is, it’s impacting his slider as well — the pitch isn’t breaking as much laterally (2.3 inches) or missing as many bats (10.1% whiffs) as it did just two seasons ago (3.2 inches and 18.0% whiffs). He also isn’t getting enough separation from his changeup with the diminished fastball. You can’t help but think Jurrjens wasn’t healthy in 2012 — maybe he can’t push-off properly with his surgically repaired knee? — but we just don’t know.

The Orioles took a low-risk and relatively inexpensive flier on a pitcher who was pretty solid just one year ago, plus they appear to have enough arms to keep Jurrjens down on the depth chart. The signing is fine in that regard, but on a macro level it’s just another very minor addition in an offseason full of minor additions for Baltimore. Given the moves made by some of their AL East rivals and the extreme unlikelihood of repeating that historic success in one-run (29-9!) and extra-inning (16-2!) games, it’s very fair to wonder just how competitive the Orioles will be in 2013 following their offseason inactivity.



Print This Post



Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
that guy
Guest
that guy
3 years 6 months ago

Wasn’t it just last offseason when Braves fans seemed indignantly baffled that Jair Jurrgens wasn’t a good enough centerpiece to get Adam Jones?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon
3 years 6 months ago

No, it was the combination of him and prado and others. Considering prado and delgado just fetched Justin upton, I’d say they were right.

Joelskil
Guest
Joelskil
3 years 6 months ago

No, it was just Prado and Jurrjens, and considering Towers butchering of the whole Upton trade situation, what he got in the end isn’t indictive of his value. No way Jurrjens+Prado = Jones, even before Jurrjens implosion in 2012 (which started in 2011 BTW).

Yeah
Guest
Yeah
3 years 6 months ago

No it was more than Prado and Jurjjens. From mlbtraderumors.com, “The O’s told the Braves that Jones was unavailable, Bowman adds, then got back to the Braves later and asked for Jurrjens, Prado and “two other premium guys,” which the Braves declined.”

shibboleth
Guest
shibboleth
3 years 6 months ago

How does one find his performance through the first few innings? Would it be unheard of if they used him long relief?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
3 years 6 months ago

I remain pretty confident that Jurrjens won’t pitch in the majors again, but this is certainly a step in the direction of someone giving him one last, misguided chance to regain his luck-inflected 2011 form.

The Real Yogi
Guest
The Real Yogi
3 years 6 months ago

I remain pretty cnfident that Jurrjens will pitch in the majors again. projected 2013 numbers: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 5 ER.

guy who knows where the beds are
Guest
guy who knows where the beds are
3 years 6 months ago

ARE YOU THE REAL YOGI

O's Fan
Guest
O's Fan
3 years 6 months ago

Rick Peterson, meet Jair Jurrjens. Jair Jurrjens, meet Rick Peterson.

Bret
Guest
Bret
3 years 6 months ago

Toronto made some moves.

The Yankees made no moves other than letting their starting RF and starting C go and seeing their starting 3B get hurt and replacing him with another old and injury prone player. Boston’s moves were all questionable at best, Shane Victorino is unlikely to be nearly as valuable as Cody Ross was last season and David Ross isn’t Johnny Bench and Johnny Gomes isn’t Carl Yastrzemski. The Rays gave up a guy that threw 227 innings last year and while it was a good move and the correct move it doesn’t make the 13 Rays any better and in fact makes them much worse if Myers plays in Durham.

What the O’s have that the other 4 teams do not are

1. Full seasons out of stud prospects that they didn’t have in 12 (Machado)
2. Young players at the MLB level that should improve (at least 5 core position starters under 30) in contrast the Yankees have no position starters under 30 except Gardner and maybe Cervelli. Red Sox relying on Ortiz.
3. Elite prospects that could help during the year (Bundy, Gausman)
4. Some down years that could be improved (Hardy, 2B, Wieters wasn’t very good offensively, Markakis hurt).

Toronto is probably the team to beat but O’s are in good spot for 2nd and WC. They didn’t need to make crazy moves to screw up the long term when they have the core (Machado, Wieters, Jones, Bundy, Gausman) to win for the next 5-7 years.

Joshua
Guest
Joshua
3 years 6 months ago

What does make the 13 Rays better is the chance at having Longoria for a majority of the season. And I highly doubt Myers stays in Durham more than the first two months. As for your four things that ‘the O’s have that the other 4 teams do not’:
1. Rays should have improvements from their own stud prospects Moore and Jennings and Myers will be (hopefully) playing a large portion of the season.
2.Young players? Outside of Oakland, not many teams play more young players than the Rays. They set the record for most consecutive starts by pitchers under 30 last year and that was only broken when Shields turned 30.
3. Elite prospects? Myers?
4. Down years. Happens to every team every year. O’s may well come to expect more from certain players, but you can’t believe that their record in extra inning games and one-run games will hold.

All of this to say I think you have a very rosy outlook on the Orioles and are conveniently overlooking what the other four teams do have.

Joshua
Guest
Joshua
3 years 6 months ago

I meant to put a former in parentheses before prospects when referencing Moore and Jennings.

Bret
Guest
Bret
3 years 6 months ago

The Rays lost their starting center fielder and their workhorse pitcher. The O’s didn’t lose anyone. I was in no way trying to criticize the Rays because I think they are probably the best run organization in baseball but the fact is when you lose what most teams would consider a #1 starter and a very solid CF that doesn’t make you better.

They already said Myers starts in AAA. How long is questionable. Machado will play 162 in the big leagues. What other young core position players do the Rays have? Their catching stinks, Zobrist turns 32, Jennings hasn’t shown much and isn’t all that young. SRod? Luke Scott? James Loney and his 73 OPS+ last season? Absolutely a full season of Longoria will help if it happens and their pitching is still very formidable but I don’t view them as anything close to a juggernaut.

I’m the first to admit the O’s got breaks last year but there are also plenty of places where their performance could improve so they won’t have to get as lucky. If they stay healthy they will be in the mix.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 6 months ago

Bret, the biggest changes for both the O’s and Rays this year will almost surely be in luck. If the O’s won only half of their one-run games and extra-inning games last season, they would have won 76 games. If the Rays had done the same, they would have won 104 games (this is from memory; I didn’t look it up).
Unless you think the O’s have a special close-game-winning skill and the Rays have the opposite, the Rays start out 28 games better than the O’s before you add/subtract for offseason moves.

Ambrose
Guest
Ambrose
3 years 6 months ago

In order for them to take the WC spot they’ll need to beat out better teams, not just the yanks. Ask yourself where they rank in AL.
Toronto, Angels, Tigers, Yankees, Rangers.
For all those arguing in O’s behalf you can make same arguments for A’s, Rays and Whitesox. What that gives you is 9 teams competing for 6 spots. Orioles inactivity is disheartening. Especially following a year where they were able to reestablish their fan base. Wonder how enthusiastic Oriole fans will be when they don’t have the same luck in 1 run or extra inning games.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
3 years 6 months ago

I can see where a rosy outlook comes from, especially with the potential for Wieters and Machado to greatly improve the team. However, I can also see the O’s just completely losing out on their “rotation”.
I think it’s a toss-up that I believe will (possibly biased) perform to a decent level 85-89 wins (and another decent team in 4th place).
The Rays, Blue Jays, and Yankees are going to be good.

jim
Guest
jim
3 years 6 months ago

depth is relative; jurrjens may be behind a bunch of starters on baltimore’s depth chart, but only hammell and chen are likely to be even decent in 2013

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 6 months ago

Miguel Gonzales’ emergence seemed pretty legit, but I agree with your point. This is what Baltimore did last year. They signed every pitcher with a pulse and through them out there and saw what worked. It worked. Their rotation in the second half of the season was a strength. I think Hammel, Chen, and Gonzales will be solid. However, if there success last year is any indication I think it’s fair to assume that at least one of the remaining pitchers steps up and rest will fight for the fifth starters innings. Jurrjens will get a shot, but not a long one.

azoriole
Member
azoriole
3 years 6 months ago

Don’t forget about Chris Tillman. He finally looked like the top pitching prospect in the 2nd half of 2012 that he was labeled as a few years ago. I think their 1-4 is set in regards to their starting rotation (barring injury and trades). The 5th spot could be a revolving door all season. Wouldn’t shock me at all.

Kristine
Guest
Kristine
3 years 6 months ago

Jurrjens’ average fastball velocity in 2007 was 91.9 mph. His fastest pitch of 2012 was 91.8 mph.

Wowee

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
3 years 6 months ago

For some reason, I read the title as “Orioles Continue Inactive Offseason By Signing Jaromir Jagr.” Now THAT was intriguing.

The Philadelphia Flyers
Guest
The Philadelphia Flyers
3 years 6 months ago

Dude looks like a lady!

Bill
Guest
Bill
3 years 6 months ago

Whatever this site employees to keep out the spammers, it seems to be pretty effective. There’s less of that here than other sites.

Jack
Guest
Jack
3 years 6 months ago

If I read one more thing about the Orioles’ record in one-run and extra inning games FOR PROJECTING 2013 I’m going to vomit. Yes, the Orioles were lucky last year, overall. But most of that luck came in the first half – during the second half the Orioles played like a solidly above-average team. They made rather dramatic changes to their team in the second half, dropping 3 SP (Matusz, Arrieta, Hunter) from the rotation and losing their best SP in Hammel. Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Joe Saunders, and Zach Britton/Steve Johnson (for a stretch) provided huge improvements. (I know Arrieta had good peripherals and Tillman/Gonzalez mediocre ones, but still, the overall improvements were very large).

On offense/defense, calling up Machado and McLouth was huge. Getting average defense from McLouth and excellent defense from Machado (shifting Reynolds to 1B) dramatically altered the team. Ryan Flaherty also played some replacement level ball at 2B toward the end of the year, which after the fiasco that happened in the first half at the position was a pretty significant improvement.

The Orioles played some of their best baseball without their best pitcher (Hammel) and hitter (Markakis). Those were two of the absolute worst players who could have gotten injured – I think only Jones and Wieters would be ahead of them. They’re returning the exact same team, minus Reynolds, Thome, and perhaps Saunders, with expected larger contributions from Hammel, Markakis, Reimold, Machado, and McLouth.

Need some more statistical evidence? In team position player WAR in the 2nd half, the Orioles were tied with the Tigers for 14th place. They had 7 players who projected for 3-4 wins seasons over a full year of games. In pitcher WAR, they were 12th. They were a pretty solid all-around club. Not necessarily a 93-win club, but definitely above average. If you project their current team for 2013, they’re probably a 82-86 win team, with upside for more. But NOT because “oh they were lucky in one run games last year.”

If you want to take shots at the Orioles, take shots at the individual players that you think won’t repeat their performances and/or will regress, like McLouth, Davis, Jones, Tillman, and Gonzalez. Those are legitimate criticisms, that aren’t necessarily “correct” but are much more informed than some tired statistics about one-run games.

metoo
Guest
metoo
3 years 6 months ago

As an objective (blue jay) non-Oriole fan, one strength, clearly demonstrated last year was at GM. Any reason Duquette loses his smarts? If he duplicates last year, no reason O’s can’t compete.

trouble
Guest
trouble
3 years 6 months ago

If one were to measure objectively the value of a manager one has to look at how he impacts the game when played. The manager can not have his best hitter come up at a key point in a game (such as in basketball when your best player can shoot the ball with the game on the line) as it is arbitrary when a batter comes to bat. However he can decide which pitcher to face the opponents batter late in a close game or extra inning game. Therefore a team’s won loss record in 1 and 2 run games is a measurement of the skill, knowledge and ability of its manager and not just the luck of the draw; afterall anyone can manage a 5+ run game. In conclusion, the Oriole manager might just be the reason the O’s had such a great record in 1 and 2 run games and not just a little luck–and that manager will be there in 2013.

Chad
Member
Chad
3 years 6 months ago

JJ was always overrated due to his fluky good/great ERA, but as a Braves fan it was sad to see him completely fall apart. Unless he finds some sort of miracle cure for his knee, I think he’s completely done as a major league player.

I just wish we could have flipped him for something useful last off-season or the year before.

Matt
Guest
3 years 6 months ago

As a crazy O’s fan that enters every opening day convinced they will go 162-0, I will still be VERY surprised if there isn’t at least some regression from 2012. The Blue Jays’ offseason has been that good, and while no one guy can carry the other 24 into the playoffs (Andrew McCutcheon), Wil Myers, if he performs close to as advertised, is enough to boost the Tampa Bay offense to keep up with their rotation (provided Longo stays healthy, which more and more seems like a really big “if” — kudos to Friedmann for signing him to SUCH a team-friendly contract, should he fall apart in the next few years).

Honey Badger GM (Dan Duquette) IS a mad scientist, and not every experiment is going to work, but one thing that O’s fans got used to last year was his utter lack of sentimentality, which is a great quality to have in your GM. For example, he’s not going to keep running out the ghost of Vlad Guerrero every day just to keep an over-the-hill great happy (*cough* MacPhail *cough*). He LOVES keeping the Baltimore-Norfolk Express busy.

I do think it’s funny that people STILL like to say Wieters “wasn’t that great” last season. Um…he was fifth in MLB WAR for catchers with at least 550 PA (he missed 600 PA by 7 PA, and only 3 catchers in all of baseball hit the 600 mark). Sure, he batted .249, but only Pierzynski and Posey hit more HR (and Posey only hit one more), and his defense was peerless, trailing only Yadier Molina. And I think it’s pretty clear that 2012 was an outlier season for Pierzynski.

Not to mention the difficulty of managing the pitching carousel we had in Baltimore in 2012 with all the call-ups and demotions, with many guys who were new to the team — Hammel, Chen, Gonzalez, Saunders, etc. And, y’know, he’s a catcher. Most managers would LOVE to have that sort of production from behind the dish.

He might never live up to the Switch-Hitting Jesus hype, but for now, he’s elite.

Danny
Guest
Danny
3 years 6 months ago

How could his defense be peerless while still ranking below Molina?

Matt
Guest
3 years 6 months ago

Fair enough — a misuse of the word, though only when comparing across leagues. He actually IS without peer defensively in the AL among catchers…though that sort of hair-splitting is less and less applicable with interleague, especially as we’re about to see interleague games over the full season instead of two 2-week increments before and after the ASG.

It also is worth noting that Wieters had a slightly better fielding %. Molina’s dominant advantage comes with his much higher CS%. I think measuring catcher defense is tougher than most because game-calling is kind of nebulous in terms of how it’s defined, and also because so much of it is dependent on the execution of the catcher’s battery-mate, and until 2012’s Frankenstein monster of a rotation stitched together by Honey Badger GM, no one would ever have tried comparing St. Louis’s pitching staff to Baltimore’s.

wpDiscuz