Pie the Oriole

Free Felix Pie! When the Cubs acquired Juan Pierre prior to the 2006 season, the 21-year old Pie went to work in Triple-A Iowa. Seemingly the plan was to use Pierre as a bridge from Corey Patterson to Pie. Instead, the Cubs handed the 2007 center field job to Alfonso Soriano, and later Jacque Jones. Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson, and Jim Edmonds would be signed or claimed within the last season, leaving the Cubs yet again with a stacked outfield and leaving Pie on the outside looking in.

Only 260 at-bats into his pro Cubs career, the Cubs have traded Pie to the Baltimore Orioles for Garrett Olson and a prospect. Since 2007, Pie has hit well in the minors and has a knack for playing solid defense. It’s easy to forget that Pie will only be 24 this coming season, but the question is how he’ll fit in with the Orioles. Baltimore features a number of talent outfielders in Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and to a lesser extent Luke Scott.

Olson is an unspectacular starter with average stuff and below-average stats. Olson’s minor league strikeouts have yet to carry over neither has his control in the minors. A 5.13 FIP isn’t overly encouraging, and neither is the homerun problem, but CHONE foresees a better season in 2009 for Olson, 153 innings and a 4.96 FIP. The Cubs might use Olson in relief, or in the back of the rotation, and that is the problem here.

Sure, Olson could later be dealt, but as of right now this trade is questionable for Chicago. Pie has lacked opportunity in Chicago and by dealing him for Olson the Cubs are not only selling low on a high potential player, but also potentially hurting their 2009 team. You can argue that the Cubs are in no position to rely on potential rather than known performance, but again, Olson is hardly a pillar of success.

The alternative option, placing Pie on the bench as the fourth outfielder in place of Reed Johnson or Joey Gathright does not give Pie an incredible opportunity. However, with Milton Bradley’s ever wavering health, there is a chance the Cubs would need a fill-in outfielder for some time. At the very least, the Cubs wouldn’t be seen as giving Pie away. Then again, the Cubs seem to lose interest in prospects quickly.

Even if Pie busts, you have to like the move for the Orioles, who have amassed a ton of young talent since Andy MacPhail took over control. In any other division the Orioles would be a future power.

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22 Responses to “Pie the Oriole”

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  1. bikozu says:

    Great move by the Orioles. It’s kind of sad to see great moves made by teams that seemingly have no chance at a playoff berth in the foreseeable future.

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  2. Mark R says:

    Minor quibble, but Edmonds was picked up after the Padres released him early last season.

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  3. Jon Williams says:

    Before the 2008 season no one gave the Tampa Bay Rays a shot at winning the division either I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Orioles as a future power.

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    • Josh says:

      That is not really true… BP had projected then at around 90 wins, and on a lot if intelligent message boards like HQ, there was plenty of people who saw the rays as a talented team who was going to make some noise sooner rather than later.

      But as far as the mass media, you are correct, but I dont see ith with Baltimore. When their young pitching hits the scene in the next few years, if Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman are as good as advertised, and same with Weiters, you could have an incredible core, with much more spending power then other cellar dwellar teams. THey could really make the east ridiculously competitive.

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    • Dismissing the Orioles as a future power is not dismissing them as a contender. I’m simply stating they likely won’t have a run of success in the ALE that they could have in other divisions.

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    • Teej says:

      A lot of people gave the Rays a chance. Especially people who understood how massively improved their defense was after getting Bartlett, calling up Longoria and moving Upton to center.

      And the rise of the Rays means it’s even less likely for the O’s to succeed. The O’s could be greatly improved and they’ll still be the worst team in that division. The AL East is ridiculous.

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  4. China Brown says:

    Interesting that your perspectives on Olson and Pie’s failures to duplicate minor league success at the big league level are so divergent between the two of them.

    In your post, Pie’s minor league stats translates to ‘young talent,’ while Olson’s, who is only a year older than Pie, translates to ‘hardly a pillar of success.’

    I mean, Pie was obviously never going to unseat Reed Johnson as the 4th outfielder unless Johnson suffered a debilitating snowmobiling injury. Johnson kills lefties, and Pie hits lefties about as well as I might if you called me down out of the crowd to get an AB.

    Pie and the Cubs had the misfortune for him to be too crappy at the wrong time. Hopefully he’ll fare better in Baltimore as he was always a favorite player of mine, but ever since his ridiculously awesome ’07 in Iowa, he hasn’t been much to write home about at any level. Even in winter ball this year, he was hitting .304, but he’s OPSing .757 and has 11K to 2BB in the most recent stats I can track down on Licey’s webstie.

    Candidly, I think there’s a lot to piss and moan about in your post. I’m a Cubs homer who is trying to be objective (but probably am not), but it seems ironic that the Cubs are handing their 2nd base job to a former Oriole farmhand that they got for the post helmet-beaning version of Sammy Sosa and this post calls out their lack of prospect patience.

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    • Shawn H. says:

      You did not just use OPS as a verb…

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    • “but it seems ironic that the Cubs are handing their 2nd base job to a former Oriole farmhand that they got for the post helmet-beaning version of Sammy Sosa and this post calls out their lack of prospect patience.”

      Does it also seem ironic that Ronny Cedeno, Matt Murton, Felix Pie, and others could be out of the organization, replaced by marginally more useful players?

      I mean, if Reed Johnson’s claim to the 4th outfielder spot is hitting lefties, why didn’t Murton have that job last season? And also, why is that the requirement? Bradley switch hits, Fukudome is a lefty, Soriano is a righty. Why is another LHP killer necessary?

      I see Pie’s upside as being higher than Olson’s, do you disagree with that statement?

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      • giantsrainman says:

        Marginally more useful only in an imaginary world. None of these guys have produced at the MLB level while those that have repaced them have actually produced. I also think none of them are very likely to be producers at the MLB level either.

        In my view great deal by the Cubs if Olson is someone the Padres like and stupid deal by the O’s as their biggest need by far is pitching not another outfielder.

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      • Is there really much of a difference between Ronny Cedeno and Aaron Miles? Or Matt Murton and Reed Johnson? Murton had a very poor season last year, but otherwise he’s been just as good as Johnson over the past few years.

        The Orioles aren’t competing next year, why not amass young talent with upside?

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      • China Brown says:

        First, a couple of concessions.

        Yes,I agree with you that Felix Pie has more upside than Garret Olson. I believe Pie’s added potential was compensated by the inclusion of Hank Williamson. Also, I did use OPS as a verb, but I feel no guilt.

        So next – Murton/Johnson. The answer to this one is that Murton cannot play CF. Ironically, when the Cubs dealt Murton, I posted the following on fangraphs.

        “I’ll say this. I’m glad Matt Murton is finally going to the A’s. That way, everyone who goes on and on about how he’s not given a fair chance, can enjoy seeing him ‘contribute’ hundreds upon hundreds of choppers to SS and 3B. Murton absolutely plays pepper with the left side infielders. He is creeping up on 27 and has been falling in the big leagues in both OBP and SLG every season. That his VORP is still in the + as recently as last season boggles my mind. He’s like one of those geological formations that defies gravity. At least all the debate will be able to stop soon on whether or not Murton is under appreciated, or just not all that great.”

        As I reflect on that, I think Murton has taken a defining step towards settling that debate with his ’08 performance in Oakland.

        Ronnie Cedeno? Blocked by Cub farmhand Ryan Theriot. Hard to critique the Cubs for stunting a prospect with another prospect. Aaron Miles is DeRosa’s roster spot, for better or for worse, not Cedeno’s.

        Lastly, I don’t get what you’re saying, sorry. If Soriano, Murton & Fukudome are healthy, then Johnson will play CF vs lefties giving the Cubs 3 righty bats. Against righties, Fukudome plays and they have 2 lefty bats. Seems logical to me, but maybe I’m missing your point.

        In the end, I have no issue with the trade for either team. I agree that it’s wise for the non-competing Orioles to take a chance and see what happens. But I don’t fault the Cubs for doing what they did, I think they’re doing what they need to do to win the Central again in ’09. I fault Pie for having two smelly turd seasons and forcing Jim Hendry’s hand.

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    • Teej says:

      Pie has only 260 at-bats in the majors. His AAA line of .300/.353/.478 while playing a premium position speaks to some good potential. Minor league stats do mean something.

      He doesn’t look like a can’t-miss prospect, but I’d put my money on him before I’d put it on Olson.

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      • Yes, minor league stats do mean something, and they say that Pie is exceptionally consistent at being below average with the bat
        my projections:
        year age ba/ob/sa woba
        2004 18 257/308/378 303
        2005 19 268/319/399 315
        2006 20 270/317/423 322
        2007 21 258/307/402 310
        2008 22 265/313/411 318
        2009 23 260/309/405 312

        He actually is a little better than Corey patterson, who has hovered bwteween 294-311 since 2002. With the plus defense that Pie has showed so far in the major leagues, he’s probably a league-average centerfielder, not as good as Adam Jones, with a bat that will not be playable in a corner.

        Garret Olson
        2008 22 219/271/311 261
        2009 23 218/262/315 257
        That’s just bad. He’d have to have an outstanding glove to even sniff the majors.

        **Edit – should have read further – apparently there’s more than one Garret Olson, and I was looking in the batting stats.

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      • dave says:

        Pie is a player that I suspect will not live up to his projections. He has poor strike zone judgement (few BB), makes mediocre contact (lots of Ks). He could compensate for this with power, but I don’t see it. He’s listed at only 170 lbs, which makes him one of the lightest ML players. He probably has a bit more pop than the typical 170 pounder, but I see him topping out at 15 HR. To me, Pie is a backup OFer.

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      • Jim says:

        Brian, I don’t really understand what you mean with your projections. They look now like they were pretty bad projections. Maybe I am completely misunderstanding your point, but what is the point of bringing up completely off the mark projections from 6 years ago?

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  5. OsandRoayals says:

    One thing that wasn’t stated was that Pie had no options left and that the Cubs manager liked Gathright much more than Pie. So the Cubs can be seen as doing ok in that they got two pieces for somebody who had to be traded or lost.

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  6. Ed Nelson says:

    The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Olson was one of the prospects that San Diego was asking for in the Peavy talks that broke down. Looks like the Padres weren’t high on Pie. This all makes more sense.

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  7. Elias F. says:

    This trade can not be viewed in a vaccum.

    Kevin Towers has said that he’s interested in Olsen, something Jim Hendry was well aware of. Hendry doesn’t have any interest in trading Josh Vitters for Peavy, so he’s worked over the past weeks to accquire the pieces necessary to avoid ditching Vitters.

    If it works out so that Hendry wiggles Peavy from Towers by only unloading DeRosa and Pie (plus Cedeno and Olsen), then hot damn that would be amazing. Time will tell.

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  8. D Wrek says:

    I keep hearing that Scott is not very good in left (not necessarily all at fangraphs). But Im not seeing it in the numbers. He has a positive UZR and I dont have it in front of me, but I could have sworn he had a favorable +/-. What am I missing?

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  9. Greg says:

    As a very involved Orioles fan, those people that say that the Orioles biggest need is pitching; that couldn’t really be further from the truth. The Orioles are rife with pitching prospects that are a year away from touching the majors. Additionally, aside from those prospects, the Orioles are currently sorting out a pile of pitchers for their starting rotation that include: Guthrie, Uehara, Liz, Penn, Burres, Hendrickson, Waters, Hennessey, Bergesen, Berken, Hernandez, Tillman, Patton, Albers, Bass, Chiasson, Castillo, Simon, Miller, and Mitchell. You think the Orioles need more pitchers? They don’t, they need better pitchers.

    If you want to discuss what the Orioles really need? They need position players, and since all the Orioles have as an answer to their left field situation in a post-Luke Scott world is Reimold and Montanez (both defensive liabilities), Pie makes sense for MacPhail’s game plan as he came at a huge discount at the expense of the Cubs. He may not pan out, but he’s young and has a huge ceiling. He could be the Orioles left fielder for many years.

    Bigger still is what happens to the Orioles infield after 2009 since Huff, Roberts and Mora are all free agents, and Scott and Izturis don’t project to be on the team as long term options either.

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