O’s Add Derrek Lee

The Baltimore Orioles have continued their Extreme Makeover: Infield Edition by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with free agent first baseman Derrek Lee. The exact terms of the deal aren’t yet known. But Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman suggests that Lee’s base salary figures to be in the $7-8 million range, and Yahoo’s Tim Brown adds that the deal includes a couple million bucks in possible incentives.

Last year, the O’s featured a collection of slack bats that combined for just 613 runs scored and a .309 wOBA. Both figures were second-worst among American League clubs, besting only the Seattle Mariners. And first base was the biggest problem spot. At the foremost offensive position on the diamond, Baltimore got the production of a sad-sack shortstop. The likes of Ty Wigginton, Garrett Atkins, Jake Fox and Rhyne Hughes combined for a .299 wOBA.

Granted, Lee is 35 years old and coming off a season split between the Cubs and Braves in which he posted his lowest wOBA (.340) since 1999. Given his age, there’s no guarantee that his power bounces back (Lee’s .168 Isolated Power was also his lowest since ’99, and 20 points below the cumulative MLB mark for first basemen). But Lee had a monstrous 2009 campaign (.412 wOBA, .273 ISO), and there’s hope that he’ll be able to rip more homers and doubles after an offseason of healing. He was hampered by a right thumb injury in 2010 that eventually required November surgery, as well as a bad back.

Lee still managed to be worth two Wins Above Replacement during his worst full year in the majors, and while the chances of another gargantuan 2009-style season are remote, he could be a three win player in 2011 with more thump. Getting him on a one-year deal certainly beats paying Adam LaRoche a similar salary over three seasons. In adding Lee, the Orioles improved the lineup at another spot without making a long-term commitment that might have looked foolish come 2012 or 2013.

Runs shouldn’t be so hard to come by for Baltimore next season. Lee joins Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy and a presumably healthier Brian Roberts (limited to 59 games due to a herniated disc in his back) in an infield that should produce considerably more in 2011. Add in some progression from Matt Wieters and Adam Jones, plus a modestly better year from Nick Markakis, and the O’s could have a pretty solid offense. Here are the ZiPS projections for a possible Baltimore lineup (except for Hardy, who doesn’t have a projection yet; I used his career averages):

Another note: Lee’s ZiPS projection comes with the Braves, and Reynolds’ with the D-Backs.

I entered that possible one-through-nine into David Pinto’s Lineup Analysis Tool, and got an average of about five runs scored per game. Obviously that lineup won’t play 162 games, so it overstates how potent this Orioles’ offensive attack figures to be. But this exercise shows that the team shouldn’t scrape by with around 3.8 runs per game like in 2010. Baltimore could also choose to shift Scott back to left field and pursue a DH, given that the supply of bats (Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Russell Branyan, Johnny Damon among them) exceeds demand.

Contention remains an extreme long shot for the Orioles in 2011. The club’s offense still doesn’t measure up to those in Boston and the Bronx. And while the team has several promising starters either already in the majors or close to it, ZiPS projects only Brian Matusz to be at least an average starter next season. That said, the Orioles have significantly improved their offense without making outlandish long-term commitments or surrendering prime prospects. They’re clearly a better team now than they were in November, and there’s no reason to think they’ve compromised their long-term rebuilding effort.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


51 Responses to “O’s Add Derrek Lee”

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  1. KS says:

    Thanks for the projection, Dave. If the O’s increase their scoring by a full run (3.78 to 4.78 runs per game) I’ll be very happy. Before I read your piece I thought that was very optimistic, but now I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s great that the O’s have not only significantly improved their offense, but their defense, at least in the infield, should be noticeably better, too. If they can also reduce their runs allowed by 100 or so over the season, 85 wins seems attainable. With reasonable progression of a very young and inexperienced starting rotation, decent performance from the back end of the bullpen (which was decimated by injuries the first half of 2010) and the improved defense, that seems like a reasonable goal.

    I love this time of year, it’s so easy to be optimistic!

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  2. Bigmouth says:

    Derrek Lee is the new Aubrey Huff. But you know, better.

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  3. gnomez says:

    I’m still scratching my head at the Cubs’ signing Carlos Pena for more than they could’ve put toward Lee.

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    • Eddie says:

      Pretty simple explanation: The Cubs wanted a left handed hitter. And they are paying Pena $10 Million, exactly what Derrek is getting in Baltimore.

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    • Eric B says:

      is it really a huge stretch to think that pena > lee in ’11 (especially with pena moving to the nl central from the al east)?

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  4. nolan says:

    I doubt Lee wanted to go back to Chicago. Wasn’t he unhappy playing there last year?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      No. He vetoed a trade to the LA Angels.

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      • Casadilla says:

        that only proves he didn’t want to go to the Angels.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        There is no way to prove ANY answer.

        I suppose it is true that he would rather be unhappy in Chicago, than go play in his home state, for a team contending for the playoffs.

        It’s just easier for me to think that he wasn’t unhappy in Chicago.

        I live in Northern Illinois, pay attention to baseball, and the sentiment around here was shock that he didn’t go play in his home state for a contending team.

        But, that doesn’t prove anything either. he could have been hiding his unhappiness.

        That Derrek Lee is one tricky dude.

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  5. Paul says:

    So I know ZIPS is considered robust, while pointing out that Bergeson and Arrieta performed much better in August/September as Matusz did, and as did Tillman in September has myriad problems like new manager small sample, rookie batters, randomness, etc. But I’m just sayin’, if I had to put money on a completely out of nowhere team for next year, it would be Baltimore. I think there is a lot of potential for a couple of those starters to dramatically exceed projections (see e.g., Cahill 2009/10), and all of the sudden you have a better rotation than the Yankees. While admittedly that is not overwhelming, combined with a much improved offense, they could make things really interesting in the AL East.

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    • beasleyrockah says:

      If by “really interesting” you mean they have the weakest team on paper in the division, I agree with you.

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    • Xeifrank says:

      Agree. Right now Baltimore is my “surprise” team for 2011. I could see them easily surpassing a regressing Jays team and even possibly playing on par with the Rays if given good health. Red Sox and Yankees are obviously uncatchable.
      vr, Xei

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    • MC says:

      Yes it seems on paper at least that the O’s are much improved.

      If you look at Guthrie and Matusz, I think both had sub-3.00 ERAs after the All-Star break. Then they have that prospect in AAA, thier #1 prospect, and all of a sudden you have a potential legitimate top 3 starter rotation.

      The offense again at least on paper, is vastly improved, with a potentially maturing Weiters thrown in there.

      Overall it seems like a promsing club especially with the Yankees being a much weaker club next year – if they don’t resign Pettite, seems the Yanks will be pitching-lite and could be worn to shreds by Boston, Tampa, and now perhaps even Baltimore. It could be a looong summer in the Bronx if they don’t find some starting pitching soon.

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      • MC says:

        Re: the Rays, I don’t think they lost all that much this offseason. I still think they’re the 2nd best team in the AL, after Boston.

        The Rays lost Bartlett (replaced by Brignac), Crawford (replaced by Jennings), and their bullpen (somewhat replaced by FA signings/Bartlett trade).

        Obviously Jennings will be worse than Crawford, but by how much, it’s not clear. Brignac in my eyes should be just as good as Bartlett. The bullpen they’ve done a good job of filling back up, and they’re not done as they still have opportunity possibly to sign a closer like Fuentes.

        I think that for instance Joyce and Zobrist were underplayed last year and should get more AB’s this year.

        Finally, IMO the Rays have the best pitching in the AL east, and I think only Philly has a better overall staff.

        Personally I would rather have Price, Garza, Neilmann, Hellickson, Davis, than Beckett, Diasuke, Buckholtz, Lackey.

        In fact with the Rays pitching, I think they could have a serviceable offense and still win a lot of games. And I think they will have an above average offense, even with the loss of Crawford.

        As for playing AAAA guys – next year their infield could be: Jaso/Longoria/Brignac/Rodriguez/Zobrist. That’s hardly a AAAA infield.

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      • MC says:

        woops I meant to reply to BAM

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      • Paul says:

        MC: I actually like the way the Rays are going about the offseason with the exception of rolling with Johnson. BUT, Shields needs to get his mojo back, and he’s succeeded so far with fairly marginal stuff. I don’t see him as a good bet to bounce back to what he was. Love Garza to improve, but Niemann and Davis are candidates to either have injury woes or get knocked around as their stuff is just not that good, and the theme of this article is that they have yet another good offense filled with professional hitters to deal with.

        I don’t completely disagree with you taking the Rays rotation over the Sox, except that you left out Lester. Lester/Bucholz is better than Price/Garza, and I happily have 3 of the 4 as keepers in my league. I just think for the Sox the rest of the guys can be managed even though they are no longer dominant on their own. How do the Rays shorten games the way Francona can now with the addition of Jenks? Their pen right now is such a huge weakness that Baltimore’s might be better.

        Jennings “replacing” Crawford. Wow, I know Jennings is talented, but he would need to have a nearly-historic rookie campaign to put up 1/2 Crawford WAR. I like the others you mention to replace guys from last year, but we’re talking about role players. Where does the 10 WAR they need to compete come from? That would take a 2009 season from Zobrist, a monster, Pujols-like breakout for Longoria, a repeat for Price, and a (peripherals-supported) breakout for Garza. All are possible, and let’s say you get all four. In a short series unless they get big surprise performances in the pen or go get guys at the deadline, they will be at a huge disadvantage.

        I think the East is going to be really interesting, there are some great story lines and intrigue. I just think for the Rays it’s a steep climb.

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      • MC says:

        Paul – yes I forgot Lester. Yes that changes things esp. for the front of the rotation. The back – don’t know. Obviously this is highly subjective.

        With respect to Crawford, I don’t even know if Carl Crawford can repeat the year that Carl Crawford had last year. There seems to be a consensus that he keeps getting better and better. Maybe that’s the case, maybe not.

        Like I said though, the Sox are the best team in the AL East. However I really don’t agree with the sentiment that somehow the Yankees are head and shoulders above the Rays. As of today, with a rotation that’s 2 pitchers deep, I really find that hard to agree with. It looks like the Yankees are back to their pre-World Series win days – all offense and no pitching. They’re going to really have to out-slug every other club in the AL East to get into the playoffs. So as far as closing a 10 WAR gap, it may not be a 10WAR gap because the Yankees are a worse club.

        As for Neimann and Davis, I’ve watched them pitch and I think they both have strong stuff. Admittedly I don’t know what happenned to those guys in the 2nd half of the season.

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    • Bam says:

      The Yankees and the Red Sox would stomp all over Baltimore. Sure, you can dream that Baltimore’s starters will exceed expectations, but you could just as easily dream that Burnett or Dice-K will harness their intriguing stuff. Matusz is really the only one of the young starters that has given Baltimore flashes of his potential dominance. Tillman has been extremely inconsistent, and Arrieta doesn’t currently have any plus pitches, which doesn’t bode well for future stardom – he’s a good mid-rotation guy at best, and his currently lackluster command does not indicate he is close to that ceiling yet. The Cahill example is not a good one, for his peripherals suggest his run prevention in 2010 is not sustainable without improvement. I understand your point about Baltimore’s improvement, but your possibility is merely an overly hopeful dream. As long as the Yankees and the Red Sox are battling for the top, there is no way Baltimore can really make things interesting.

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      • Paul says:

        I don’t know what the ZIPS projections are for Burnett and Dice-K for this coming year, but Bill James is projecting huge improvement over last season for both of them. The ZIPS projections referred to in this article project very modest improvement if any for Tillman, Bergeson, and Arrieta. So according to projections, you are right that NY and Boston will stomp all over them.

        But that was exactly my point, IF those guys exceed projections calling for them to be extremely mediocre, you’re talking about a much more competitive team. And you can’t just dismiss Cahill’s season. He didn’t just improve his ERA. His peripherals from 2009 suggested that he would not have the season he did last year, and while the peripherals do not support his outstanding ending ERA, he improved across the board. Baltimore has three guys who, while only one of them has near Cahill’s talent, all have the ability to improve on last season. The ZIPS projections do not account for that, as it did not with Cahill. Tillman especially could be a near replica of Cahill, both very talented who struggled at first, were written off at 22-23, then lo and behold we find out that talented 23 year olds actually have the ability to learn and adjust.

        I think Toronto hurt themselves trading Marcum and the Rays seem to think they can plug in AAAA guys everywhere. Part of my optimism is Buck-based, I’ll admit to that. I’m just saying I’d be willing to bet that Cash and Theo are most concerned about Baltimore after one another. That doesn’t mean they’ll win the division, but another improved team in your division can’t be a welcome development for the contenders.

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      • Bam says:

        Sorry if I was unclear, but I did not mean to say at all that any improvement is improbable, and I certainly did not intend for my argument to be interpreted as largely ZiPS-centered. I mentioned Dice-K and Burnett because they are two pitchers from which optimism can easily be drawn – similar to how you are optimistic about the Orioles’ talented young starters – as when their performances in recent years are compared to their stuff, it is easy to label them as under-performers. And by that logic, if one predicts improvement from each player, Baltimore could be even farther behind. I was not aware, though, that James’ projections were so optimistic about them; that surprised me greatly.

        What I meant to argue was I think your projection of their ability to make things interesting is overstated. This is because I believe, for one thing, that they are not yet ready. I also think that even if they do take a bigger step forward than I expect, they still will not be able to generate much noise. We seem to agree that the Red Sox and Yankees are probably untouchable. As for the Rays, I understand that they are weakened by losing three regulars (including one of their best players). Nevertheless, they still have their starting rotation intact, and a replacement for Crawford in Desmond Jennings who is hardly a AAAA player. Also consider that Bartlett and Pena were not even average regulars last year and the Rays were still at the top of the division. Brignac was actually more valuable than Bartlett was, and although his potential is certainly not viewed as highly as it once was, he will still only be twenty-five next year, and he still has talent. First base is still an issue, though. Overall, I just cannot see how Baltimore can even enter the minds of either Cashman or Epstein – or be any trouble for the Rays.

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      • Paul says:

        Bam: Actually my point is not to rely on projections at all, because if you do that Baltimore clearly will not make it interesting. I don’t see the rationale for Dice-K’s huge improvement, and frankly Burnett either. I do see it for the three Orioles, because they were all inexperienced, and there is A LOT of room for improvement.

        That said, while I don’t think the Rays are going to be a crappy team, I don’t see how they contend with what they have. They’re going to need more huge surprises in the pen, Dan Johnson will need to improbably become a MLB regular, and Desmond Jennings, as talented as he is, should not be expected to come close to replacing Crawford this season.

        Toronto is another legitimate .500 team. So if Baltimore sees improvement from their young pitchers and plays .500 ball into late July, that is certainly going to have an impact on NY and Boston.

        I envision Buck’s fighting Orioles playing a few games above .500 into August while sweeping the Yankees at home at some point, garnering AS Game buzz, etc. I could see them finishing a game or two below .500 on the season, but I don’t see how that scenario, and the fallout for the two top teams in the division, would not be viewed as “making things interesting.” Boston for me is the clear favorite, I think the rise of the O’s is bad news for the Yanks since they don’t even have an established #4 right now, and I like Nova a lot.

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      • Casadilla says:

        You kinda overlooked Bergesen. You should take a peak at what he’s done in his first 2 years.

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      • Casadilla says:

        Opps. That was @Bam.

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      • Bam says:

        @Paul – To quote your first reply to me: “I don’t know what the ZIPS projections are for Burnett and Dice-K for this coming year, but Bill James is projecting huge improvement over last season for both of them.” Your second: “I don’t see the rationale for Dice-K’s huge improvement, and frankly Burnett either.” Your use of the Bill James projection seems to imply that you support the notion that Burnett and Dice-K should be looked upon as possible improvements next season, but then you seem to refute yourself with your next post. I’m a bit confused about that. I bring this up with utmost reluctance, as I did not intend for my argument to be even slightly focused on Dice-K and Burnett.

        I never stated that your point was to rely on projections. I said that was how I thought you interpreted my first response to you. Just wanted to clear that up. I stand by my claim that Baltimore’s three young starters are not ready to make significant improvements, and this is based on their relative youth, unimpressive showing (besides Matusz), and Arrieta’s unremarkable (but not unimpressive) ceiling. Of course, this is only based mostly on empirical evidence, as I have formulated my opinions from my various readings of informed analysts, and you probably have done the same, so I will not discuss it further.

        I discussed some of my reasons about why I think Tampa has not lost nearly as much as you seem to think it has, and MC also covered it well. I fervently disagree with your evaluation about James Shields – he had a 3.72 xFIP last year. He does not have to gain much mojo back. I also disagree with how you view Davis’s potential – just like some of Baltimore’s starters, he was also a top prospect. He has not fallen that far. Lots of starters would struggle in their first full season starting in the AL East. By writing him off and supporting Baltimore’s starters, you are not using a consistent standard. Niemann is a very solid back end starter, albeit with some injury risk. I also want to make clear that I do not think Jennings will just step into Crawford’s shoes and perform at even half of his level – I only wanted to refute your statement about AAAA fillers, although I think that point has been addressed nicely.

        What I want to emphasize to you is that I do not believe that the loss of Tampa’s bullpen arms will be of a huge disadvantage. My rationale for this is that the bullpen is hardly of utmost importance when determining the contention of a team. Tampa’s strength lies with its excellent starting pitching, with a blooming ace in Price, two very good starters in Shields and Garza, and two decent back end starters in Davis and Niemann, with Davis having more upside to perform as a mid-rotation starter. Evan Longoria is one of the best players in the game. B.J. Upton is an above average starter. John Jaso performed admirably, and even with regression is projected as a solid starter. Ben Zobrist was worth more than 3 WAR even with his horrible hitting in the second half. Sean Rodriguez was a solid regular and is projected by analysts I have read as a solid everyday player. Matt Joyce has nice tools and is a legitimate regular. I covered Reid Brignac and I mentioned the Rays’ success even with below average performances from Pena and Bartlett in my previous post. And when you say “Toronto is another legitimate .500 team” do you mean to claim that the Rays are merely a .500 team? From listing their strengths, I think I have made it clear that such a claim is quite dubious.

        This is not a knock on Baltimore – they have improved significantly and quietly. I am impressed with how a rebuilding team could make such impressive changes and not compromise their long term goals. But they just cannot match up. There are way too many questions despite the clear optimism. To further address the Rays’ bullpen, I have heard that the most reliable and cost-effective bullpens are built from cheap signings and internal replacements. Joel Peralta was a cheap and possibly beneficial signing. J.P. Howell has a great chance to show that he can still pitch effectively. Jake McGee has an impressive arm. Among the losses, Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, and Randy Choate combined for 0.7 WAR last season – they will not be missed much. Sure, they lost a few relief aces. They were worth about 4 WAR. That is significant but not irreplaceable. The Rays have certainly suffered some losses, but this is not a team that will struggle to win, and it is certainly a stronger team than the Orioles.

        @Casadilla – Bergesen? 3 WAR is nice over his first two years, but that does not measurably help Baltimore’s case, especially since he regressed significantly last year and is projected as a solid back end starter at best. I am well aware of him, and I do not see your point as a compelling one.

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  6. CircleChange11 says:

    Wow. The Battle for Last in the AL East could be a “Fight to the Finish”.

    I’m only half joking.

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  7. Tom says:

    A part of me thinks the Orioles could contend for the AL West title and win the NL West title. It feels like it won’t be long before five of the ten best teams in the game reside in the AL East.

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  8. Candlestick Parker says:

    The Orioles wouldn’t contend in the NL West or NL East, or AL Central.

    But they’d definitely contend in the AL West. And might win the NL Central. by 10 games.

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  9. Chris says:

    Mr. Golebiewski,

    Good stuff here, my thanks again for the Orioles Q&A you recently provided:

    http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/?p=1753

    Happy New Years!
    Chris

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  10. rick p says:

    “And might win the NL Central. by 10 games.’

    Right… Milwaukee was better than the Os before adding Marcum and Zack. The bad thing for the Os is the Brew’s pitching was better before those moves. Never seen so many big name prospects turn out to be duds. Well not since the Red Sox had nine starters a couple years back

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  11. NEPP says:

    I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if Derrek Lee has a very good to great year in Baltimore in 2011.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if he completely crashes and burns.

    He finished strong and he’s only a year removed from a fantastic 2009. If I had to place a bet, I’d predict an OPS in the 110-120 range if he stays healthy.

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  12. NEPP says:

    On a related note, since Dave mentioned him in the article…why in the world hasn’t Jimmy Thome been signed yet? He was one of the best DH bats last year and he helped carry the Twins offense in the 2nd half last year. The man can still flat out hit. He’s also one of those great team/clubhouse guys that helps a team simply with his presence. Yeah, he has no speed, can’t play in the field, needs days off for his back and is neutralized by good LHP but he has a ton of value remaining (as shown by his 3.6 WAR in 2010). He’s also willing to take a low salary. I’m really surprised the Twins haven’t brought him back yet.

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    • phoenix says:

      there are so many DHs on the market that no team needs to be the one to go out there and snatch one up before the rest do. even if thome signs, they can get vlad. even if vlad signs, they can get manny. even if manny signs, u can still call up damon, nick johnson or someone else who can DH for dirt cheap and not be a total wash (except maybe nick johnson and his body made of glass). there is simply no reason for a team to crack before a player does in the DH market. they can wait out any of those guys and pay them a million and a half for 2 WAR.

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    • SeanP says:

      Last I heard, Thome was still considering retirement.

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  13. Bowser says:

    No argument here – Lederer is a douche.

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  14. DIVISION says:

    “Lee still managed to be worth two Wins Above Replacement during his worst full year in the majors, and while the chances of another gargantuan 2009-style season are remote, he could be a three win player in 2011 with more thump. Getting him on a one-year deal certainly beats paying Adam LaRoche a similar salary over three seasons.”

    Lee is coming off injury and his risk/reward threshhold is higher than that of LaRoche, though with Andy you know you’re getting .280/25HR/80RBI. LaRoche and Lee are basically equivalent defensively, so that’s a wash.

    LaRoche was willing to take 2 years + 1yr.option if the money was closer to $10mill than the 7-8 reported.

    This reeks of the Orioles being cheap (once again) and failing to close a deal that was basically there for the taking. They are essentially saying they’d rather risk a sub-par season from Lee (if he isn’t back from injury) than make a short-term commitment to a healthy consistent performer like LaRoche. The odds favor LaRoche having another decent year and staying on the field over Lee doing the same………and that’s assuming he can still produce offensively at this point.

    On a side note:

    ………..does anyone REALLY believe Luke Scott will have a higher SLG% than Mark Reynolds?

    Really?

    Someone needs to go back through the data because I sense some cooking the books here.

    Luke Scott (of Houston Astros fame) is a fringe player. Reynolds is a cornerstone.

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    • djones says:

      Career SLG:

      Scott: .503
      Reynolds: .483

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    • KS says:

      Considering Fangraphs’ favorite stat…

      Luke Scott 2.97 WAR/162 games
      Mark Reynolds 2.62 WAR/162 games

      I thought people here actually looked at stats and considered quantitative analysis to have some validity.

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  15. Diaz says:

    Two questions; Are you in seventh grade? and would you like your posts to be taken seriously?

    I like this site because it is a place where knowledgeable baseball fans can discuss and debate. It is also a site where most posters are polite and civil.
    Please refrain from using derogatory language to describe groups of people.

    Thanks

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  16. Hoosier Oriole says:

    Luke Scott is NOT he of the Astros anymore, Baltimore gave him a real chance to play and has been suitably rewarded. I thoroughly agree with the assertation that Baltimore could indeed compete in the AL Central. Detroit and Chicago are both overhyped, IMO.

    Go O’s!

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  17. Scout Finch says:

    Go O’s for the sake of baseball!

    C’mon, this is the franchise of Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray…

    It would just be great for these cellar dwellers to compete in a new year. Same for the Pirates, the Royals and maybe the Nationals got something going.

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  18. Derrick says:

    I’m an O’s season ticket holder and I’m a homer-believer in Wieters as a future .300+ 30+ MVP catcher. I also believe that Matusz will be a solid #2 on a 1st division team in the mold of Mike Mussina. I see Tillman as our Scott Erickson, and I kind of think Arrieta may end up being a power late innings guy in the pen. Britton is close and should be another solid #2/#3 type.

    The moves we have made this off season give us a legit shot at being a .500 club, but that will greatly depend on the development of guys like Matusz and Tillman.

    We have NO shot at contending in the AL East this season, but maybe in 3-4 years when Wieters, Jones, Markakis, Reimold (don’t forget him just yet), Matusz, Tillman, and Britton are all in their prime and a young SS with the same initials as the word’s most famous white rapper has cut his teeth……..and by then A-Rod will probably be gone, the Teixeira, Crawford, Beckett, Lackey, etc. deals will be taking up payroll with reduced production. Maybe then we will have a chance, maybe.

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  19. DonM says:

    The Blue Jays won’t be as bad as responders on this site think. The Orioles will be a lot better. This could be the first year in which all teams in the AL East finish at .500 or above.

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  20. Canice Murphy says:

    Always fascinated by the unwavering optimism of Orioles fans.

    Proof that if you deprive people of quality for long enough, that they will settle for less and STILL BE GRATEFUL. Fascinating.

    When you are starving and someone gives you a saltine, I suppose it is the greatest meal in the world.

    Every single off-season move made by the Orioles comes with major questions marks.

    - Will Hardy hit and stay healthy or will he revert to the player that got him demoted and made him expendable?
    - Will Reynolds strikeout over 200 times and get eaten alive by tough AL East pitching?
    - Is Derrek Lee’s decline in decline?

    Bottom line:

    Orioles still drop 90 games. Hopefully this is the year Angelos drops dead and his reign of terror ends.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. John says:

    Not only will the Os be the big surprise of baseball in 2011, they will very much be alive in the wildcard race in September. The moves they made this year are great and if their pitchers live up to even most of their potential and the offensive additions take some heat off of Jones, Wieters, and Markakis to provide the only big hits, this team will make some major noise this year in the AL.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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