Archive for the Offseason Category

2014 American League East Preview: New York Yankees

Posted in Offseason with tags , , on March 27, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

We’re now less than a week away from opening day of the 2014 baseball season (while that whole thing in Australia was fun, I’m not considering it the “real” opening day).  As we count down the remaining days of spring training this week, Orioles Proving Ground will be asking some of our friends to answer somewhat important questions about the Orioles American League East foes.

Today, Dave Watts tries to keep his emotions in check as he answers questions about the New York Yankees. Below are links to the teams we’ve already looked at.

Tampa Bay Rays | New York Yankees | Toronto Blue Jays | Boston Red Sox

Orioles Proving Ground: Before the season, the Yankees made a whole lot of noise about keeping their payroll underneath the luxury tax limit of $189 million, only to eventually blow past it.  At any point this offseason, did you actually believe that they would try to stay under that limit?  Why or why not?

Dave Watts: This is less a question about what I believe, and more a question of if I care or not. The answer is NO. The only baseball fans that care about the Yankees payroll are Yankees detractors. “Waaah the Yankees spend too much money, it’s not fair <insert crying emoticon here>”. Tear, tear, shut the hell up.

If the Yankees end 2014 as the winners of their 28th World Series, it won’t be with an asterisk indicating they over-shot their annual pay-roll projections. Fans won’t be having muted celebrations. The ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes won’t be called off. The Yankees sports and entertainment conglomerate will still be a highly valued, highly profitable organization, and Jeter will still get laid. Case closed.

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Projecting the 2014 Orioles: Offense

Posted in Offense, Offseason, Projections with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

Following a surprise playoff appearance in 2012, the Baltimore Orioles finished the 2013 season with an 85-77 record, 12 games out of first place in the American League East and 7 games out of the wild card spot.  Despite not making the playoffs, the 2013 team was arguably more talented than the 2012 team, due to reasons that we’ve discussed before. This offseason was relatively quiet until around the start of spring training when the team made several moves to improve roster holes leftover from 2013 (starting rotation and designated hitter). Despite what looks to be an upgraded team, the Zips Projection System at Fangraphs currently sees them finishing the 2014 season at the bottom of the AL East with a record of 78-84. Let’s take a closer look at how Zips came to that conclusion.*  This is more informative than actual analysis, but I think it is still be a worthwhile exercise.

*Note: this post as written before Zips made its final projections for the season, so things will probably change slightly in the next week.

Catcher

2014 Zips Projection

2014 Zips Projection

In 2013, Baltimore catchers produced a total of 1.9 fWAR, which placed them 18th in all of baseball. The bulk of that production came from Matt Wieters (2.4 fWAR), but the backups added -0.5 wins in only 101 plate appearances.  Offensively, Zips sees Wieters improving on his disappointing 2013 season, while once again playing a lot at the position.*  I personally believe that the projection for Wieters is slightly on the low side, and that he has a decent chance to exceed it.

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2014 American League East Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

Posted in Offseason with tags , , on March 25, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

We’re now less than a week away from opening day of the 2014 baseball season (while that whole thing in Australia was fun, I’m not considering it the “real” opening day).  As we count down the remaining days of spring training this week, Orioles Proving Ground will be asking some of our friends to answer somewhat important questions about the Orioles American League East foes.

Today, John Lynch tackles the tough questions about the Tampa Bay Rays.

Orioles Proving Ground: From the front office to the lowly clubhouse attendant, the Rays just seem like a likable/cool team.  What do you think makes them so likable?

John Lynch: I think it’s the counter-culture desire to like to see someone beat the Yankees or Red Sox with any consistency. All respect to the Blue Jays (WS Champs in the early 90s), and the Orioles (Mr. Ripken’s team) but there’s a draw for anyone wanting to see those 2 behemoths beaten. The Rays have had a young and talented team that’s won recently and that makes them cool. Joe Maddon‘s sweet glasses are an added bonus.

OPG: There was a lot of speculation that the team would trade David Price (a free agent after 2015) this offseason.  There is virtually no chance that the team will be able to afford him much longer.  How long do you think the team holds on to him and where do you think he ultimately ends up?

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Some Thoughts on Nelson Cruz

Posted in Free Agency, Offense, Offseason with tags , on February 25, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

The free agent signings just keep on coming for the Orioles, as yesterday they officially announced the signing of Nelson CruzCruz agreed to a 1 year, $8 million contract.  The deal has some easy incentives that, if reached, would bring the total to $8.75 million.  By signing Cruz, the Orioles give up their second round draft pick, #55 overall since Cruz rejected the qualifying offer from Texas earlier in the offseason (the Orioles first round draft pick was relinquished when they signed Ubaldo Jimenez).  Cruz is expected to mostly serve as the team’s designated hitter, while spending some occasional time in the outfield, most likely in left. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Ubaldo Jimenez

Posted in Free Agency, Offseason, Pitching with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

As of Wednesday February 19, Ubaldo Jimenez officially became a member of the Baltimore Orioles.  The Orioles signed him to a 4-year, $50 million contract.  While he’s expected to perform near the top of the rotation for the duration of the contract, he’s already completed his toughest task, which was passing Baltimore’s physical exam*.  The details of the contract aren’t that important (they can be found here), but at an average annual value of $12.5 million, at first glance this looks like a decent deal for the Orioles, especially if you’re last memory of Jimenez is the unhittable version of him from the 2013 All-Star break to the end of the season.

*I know the whole “passing a Baltimore Orioles physical” has been overdone this offseason, but I felt that it was my duty to make sure I had at least one joke in here about it.  Although any joke probably wouldn’t top this tweet from former Orioles’ pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.

If you’ve been reading the different opinions about the Jimenez signing, you see a lot of the emphasis on how the signing affects the team’s playoff chances in 2014.  This is important to talk about for a couple of reasons.  One is that since Jimenez will be 30 years old during the 2014 season, there is a decent chance that the first year of his contract will be his best. Second, with all the recent talk of Baltimore’s current window of contention potentially closing in the next year or two (Hardy and Markakis are free agents after 2014, while Wieters and Davis will be free agents after 2015), it appears that productive seasons from Jimenez will be more valuable to the team’s success in his first 2 years than his last 2 years.  There may be a bit of truth to both of these points, but I don’t necessarily want to focus only on 2014 in this post. Continue reading

What Can the Orioles Expect from Matt LaPorta?

Posted in Free Agency, Offense, Offseason with tags , , on February 19, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

The Baltimore Orioles have been busy little bees the last couple of days by signing RHP Suk-min Yoon out of Korea as well as one of the best remaining free agent starting pitchers in right hander Ubaldo Jimenez.  Everybody is talking about them, and for good reason, because they both constitute the biggest signings the team has made so far this year (sorry Ryan Webb, but you’ve been bumped).

I’m sure I’ll discuss those two at some point, but since everyone else is discussing them right now, I figured I’d talk about Matt LaPorta.  Remember him?  If you do, get reacquainted with a trip down memory lane, and if you don’t, then get to know him.  Either way, head over to the ESPN Sweetspot Network Orioles blog, Camden Depot and see if the Orioles can find lightning in a bottle.

Direct Link to Article –> What Can the Orioles Expect from Matt LaPorta?

Could Ervin Santana Improve the Orioles Rotation?

Posted in Free Agency, Offseason, Pitching with tags , , on January 28, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

The Orioles have had a very slow offseason.  Sure they’ve signed approximately 57 outfielders to minor league contracts with invites to spring training i the hope that one of them can play in left at the major league level, but other than that and a couple of minor trades, it’s been pretty quiet.  One place they can still improve is in the starting rotation, where there are potential difference makers (albeit few) left on the free agent market.  Yesterday on ESPN Sweetspot Orioles blog, Camden Depot, Matt Kremnitzer took a look at one of those starting pitchers in Ubaldo Jimenez.  Today, I take a look at another, Ervin Santana.

Direct Link to Article –> Could Ervin Santana Improve the Orioles Rotation?