Orioles Trade Options at the Deadline: Reliever Wishlist

The following post was written by Doug Nickerson as a guest post for Orioles Proving Ground.  Nickerson grew up as a Red Sox fan on Cape Cod, MA and is looking forward to writing about the Orioles with his knowledge of the AL East from a non-emotional perspective.  He moved to the DC area last August, and while he loves the city, he hates humidity and traffic.

With the non-waiver trade deadline about a week away here is a quick rundown of my reliever wish list.  The Orioles bullpen has pitched well since the All-Star break but due to their early season performance and the importance of having a dependable bullpen for a stretch run, I wanted to look further into this.

**Note: At the time of finishing this article, Baltimore traded for Francisco Rodriguez.  This probably means they are done trading for relievers but this post was just about done so keep reading to see what could have been their other options**

With the weak trade market, as poignantly described by Jayson Stark at ESPN , I figure the best deals are going to be the ones that are made with little fanfare.  Therefore, I looked into players who are flying under the radar but could make a big impact. I’m also looking at realistically available relievers to fortify the O’s pen.  Therefore, I won’t be making suggestions like Mariano Rivera, Jason Grilli, or Craig Kimbrel.

Love to have if Peter Angelos cost wasn’t a factor:

Steve Cishek – A high cost in prospects and then rising salary cost as arbitration eligible.  Would love for O’s to have him, as over his last 11 outings he’s posted a 2.38 ERA, 0.84 FIP, and a 52% GB rate with a .296 BABIP.  In front of the Orioles strong defense, he could be a lethal end of game asset.

Glen Perkins – Twins have publically stated that it’d take an extremely high cost in prospects to acquire.  However, his contract is reasonable $10.3M / 3 Years (2013 – 2015) + 1 option year.  His high acquisition cost might be a good thing to ward off the Orioles.  He’s having a career year with his K/9, BB/9, ERA and FIP all at career bests.  At such a high cost, he comes with a risk of buying too high and he’ll retreat back to a respectable but not All-Star level.

Scott Downs – LA would be looking to get as many quality prospects back as possible if they fall further out of contention.  If they cover a decent percent of remaining $5M contract then prospect cost will obviously go up.  LA also might view him as a higher value asset because as a pending free agent they would lose out on a compensation pick if he qualifies and leaves.  He’s a rarity as he’s been a year to year consistent performer out of the bullpen.  He can get out righties when he has to (RH AVG 0.245) but he’s a better lefty specialist, LH AVG .200.

Bobby Parnell – He is the Mets’ Glen Perkins, although he isn’t having a career year like Perkins.  He’d most likely cost a lot in prospects as the Mets look to build toward the future.  Has a dominate fastball that peaks at 102 MPH and induces a lot of GBs (2013: 52%) and a modest K/9 of 8.00 this year.  Considering his BABIP this year is a career low, .256, which would indicate his career low 2.35 ERA isn’t sustainable, his asking price is going to be high due to having a big fastball on a rebuilding team in a weak market.

Tyler Clippard –The most consistent reliever for the Nats since 2009.  Would be buying high as his BABIP and ERA are at a career lows.  His K/9 and BB/9 are heading in the wrong direction from the previous two seasons.  However, with the Nationals fading fast, GM Rizzo might be willing to listen to offers to rebuild their weak upper farm system.

Could easily be traded:

Jesse Crain – Complicated situation.  He’s coming off injury but also was named an All Star this year.  Likely to be used by White Sox regularly over the next week to prove he is injury free to increase price.  He appears to be tailor made for Camden Yards.  Induces high ground ball rate but has increased his K/BB rate to make him more reliable and versatile at the end of games.

Javier Lopez – Lefty specialist who has pitched in AL East with success.  He has pitched for 3 World Series winners (Bos. ’07, SF ’10 & ’12).  He’s a GB pitcher with a 62.5% rate.  His down side is he is solely one dimensional as lefties it only .172 while righties hit .265.

Drew Storen – Never heard a specific rumor but from watching him he needs a change of scenery.  His velocity has only lost a little bit but he lacks mound presence to translate his talent to outs consistently.

Francisco Rodriguez – He is a FB pitcher, who last year had a terrible year for his reputation as a dominate bullpen guy.  His peak velocity is down but he’s throwing more fastballs to keep batters off balance when he throws his changeup and curveball.  This is a similar strategy to what he did in his last successful year in 2011.  I thought before the trade that K-Rod was a high risk, high reward proposition because of his smoke and mirrors success, as seen from his .250 BABIP and 3.09 FIP vs. 1.09 ERA.  If Buck can use him in the right situations to maximize him, I think its quality acquisition but I think there were better options out there.

As described by Keith Law at ESPN (Insider required) the Orioles only gave up a high A player, Nick Delmonico.  I disagree with Law as I think a player that isn’t one of the team’s top prospects for a veteran reliever who can help you down the stretch is a fair trade.  I think you make this trade 9 out of 10 times.  That prospect could turn into the next Jeff Bagwell, but considering they have Manny Machado at 3rd and Chris Davis at 1st, it’s a risk worth taking.

Under the Radar:

LaTroy Hawkins – Yes, he is still pitching.  Looking at his numbers, I wanted to say he’s having a resurgence but a closer look shows he’s been producing these consistent numbers over the past 15+ years.  I know he’s been a NL pitcher for 7.5 of the past 10 seasons, which was my biggest concern going into this investigation.  Can he handle the offensive rigors of the AL and especially the AL East?  2012 was his first stint in the AL since being with the Yankees in 2008.  His half season with the Yankees was forgettable, he produced one of the highest FIPs of his career, 4.21, and BB/9, 3.73, was almost a full walk above his career average.  With the Angels he performed better, closer to his career averages. The most optimistic sign for the Orioles is that Hawkins has remade himself into a ground ball pitcher.  In the last 4 seasons his GB/FB ratio has averaged in the 2.1 range, which is an increase the 1.1 he averaged in the early 2000s.  This year he has pitched better in high leverage situations than low leverage, therefore, the hope would be it translates to a team in a pennant race.

Casey Fien – He is having his second impressive year out of the Twins pen.  This is also impressive considering he has pitched drastically different than last year by mixing his fastball, slider, and changeup with almost equal proportions.  His improvement has caused him to gain more responsibilities in the Minnesota bullpen as he’s advanced to sharing the 8th inning duties. While he’s improved his BB/9 (1.70) and K/9 (9.57), he’s quickly approaching his most innings pitched since 2010 which could be cause for concern as he might fade down the stretch.  He will be due a raise at the end of this season (currently making the league minimum), and could be a quality asset for future seasons if resigned.

Joe Thatcher – Out in San Diego where they breed relievers, Thatcher is having an outstanding year as a lefty specialist.  He has reduced his BB/9 to 1.29 while also yielding a 2.25 ERA and 2.98 FIP.  His .285 BABIP shows his numbers are sustainable while he has pitch 40% of his innings this year against righties, he has let up a .298 AVG against them.  If limited to just lefties, he can be highly effective as seen from his .194 AVG against.

One Response to “Orioles Trade Options at the Deadline: Reliever Wishlist”

  1. […] took a brief look at this trade a couple weeks ago when he was going over relief options for the Orioles prior to the deadline, and mentioned how he […]

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