My take on the Orioles as the trade deadline passed: Didn't seize moment in either direction - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

My take on the Orioles as the trade deadline passed: Didn’t seize moment in either direction

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Here’s my initial take from what the Orioles did at today’s non-waiver trade deadline.

What was the point here?

They didn’t sell, which I thought was probably the way to go if they could get elite return.

They didn’t really buy either – picking up 27-year-old shortstop Tim Beckham for 18-year-old minor league pitcher, Tobias Myers.

Beckham, who has 12 homers and 110 strikeouts this season, could be a better option at shortstop than Ruben Tejada now, and could take over for J.J. Hardy next year (or play second base with Jonathan Schoop manning short). And Beckham’s under team control through 2020.

So, yeah, that’s a fine enough move, I suppose.

The Orioles also added a minor leaguer with a cool name – Yefry Ramirez – to Double-A Bowie by selling more international bonus money Monday.

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And they added veteran right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on Friday.

Put it all in one bucket and here’s my thought: This is what is supposed to get this team to the playoffs this season and beyond?

“We picked up a couple of starting pitchers and a shortstop. And we’re gonna take a shot at getting the most out of this season,” Duquette said moments after the trade deadline ended. “I mean, nobody is running away with the American League East. Teams are so evenly matched. If you make a move here or there and it jells, I mean, who knows? We still have some hope that we can make the playoffs.”

Well, I appreciate the optimism.

But I’m not sure it is grounded in reality, unless maybe Duquette received a handful of magic beans in the transactions that have yet to be reported.

Because, for this team to beat the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays and the other Wild Card contenders standing in their way, they need to get better starting pitching. Period. And with all due respect for Jeremy Hellickson, it has to be beyond just him

Duquette even recognized that in his post-deadline conversation:

“To stabilize the rotation, we’ve got to get some of the guys in the rotation to pitch like they’ve established for themselves over the course of their careers. We’re getting some excellent work out of Gausman. We had a lot of patience, but now he’s returned to form that we knew he was capable of,” Duquette said. “And I’m hopeful some of the others will also return to the forms that they established for themselves. Jeremy Hellickson will certainly help, but to have the other guys pitch like they are capable of, that would be good, too.”

This is a fine statement for May, maybe June. Tomorrow is August 1.

The Orioles’ rotation has shown no consistency since April. It’s foolish to think that it suddenly might.

If Duquette really thought he could win, he needed to add another pitcher in addition to Hellickson, and one that is having an up year. Again, I’m OK with the Hellickson move if it were a supplement, not the highlight.

As many of the readers here know, I was more than willing to endorse a tear down, assuming the Orioles were absolutely sure they could get top return for Zach Britton, Brad Brach and even Manny Machado. Duquette said he talked to most contenders and that the market for relief pitching paled compared to the frenzy exhibited last July. So, he didn’t go down that avenue. I don’t know the exact details, obviously, but I respect that ultimate conclusion.

But there was a moment here to seize, and the Orioles didn’t. In either direction.

That, to me, is the biggest problem with the Orioles this week. They aren’t significantly better. They didn’t keep up with their division rivals. And they didn’t get considerably better for the future.

“There’s still hope for 2017, the Orioles believe there’s hope for 2017, the ownership group believes there’s hope for 2017,” Duquette said. “So, we’re gonna keep playing the schedule.”

Beckham’s an OK move. Hellickson could be solid.

But that’s not what these Orioles needed to do.

Go for it one way or the other, I didn’t care.

Neutral, or one small step of improvement while praying for consistency to be sprinkled over the rotation. is wishing and hoping. That’s fine in May.

What the Orioles needed for August, though, was a real plan.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. 5brooks5

    July 31, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Great points Dan, I agree completely. It is very frustrating being an O’s fan at times like this, not much of a vision for the future or for the present. Oh well, at least I have two more seasons of the Wire to watch.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:44 am

      The Wire season about the Sun was more depressing for me than 1988 at Memorial Stadium.

  2. ZantiGM

    July 31, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    The only way Dan Duq looks good is if Hellickson pitches like he did in Tampa Bay and Tillman and Miley completely turn their seasons around otherwise he really missed the boat.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:45 am

      Just too many ifs for me. But I suppose ya never know.

  3. Colts7

    July 31, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Really don’t understand the “almost ” universal thought process of trading Machado, if the Orioles can’t or don’t keep one of the few elite players in the game, they need to pack their bags and head to AAA.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:47 am

      That’s the rub though. The almost universal thought of trading him goes hand in had with the almost universal thought that they won’t sign him for a potentially record deal. And so, if that’s the case, you should cash in before he walks away for almost nothing.

  4. ComeBack2Camden

    July 31, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Wouldn’t have guessed Tim Beckham would be an Oriole. I’m ok with it. Remember this: Only 1 of the top 44 prospects was dealt in this year’s silly season. Teams aren’t giving up anything for a reliever. No matter how good that closer is.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:47 am

      I heard some of the offers for Britton were good. But how good is in the eye of the beholder.

  5. Teejay

    July 31, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    After thinking about the Hellickson trade over the last few days I don’t think he was brought here to push the team over the hump, I think he was brought here to give the relief corps some breathing room. From what I can tell, and Dan tell me if I’m wrong, but it sounds as if Buck’s just going to push everyone back a day in the rotation. Could we be looking at a 6 man rotation the rest of the way? That would help Bundy a bit I guess. I kinda like the Beckham deal, Dan’s been collecting shortstops like Green Stamps this summer in hopes of finding Hardy’s successor and out of Sardinas, Tejada and Beckham I like Beckham the best….but it’s still only July (technically) and he could always collect a few more. (Reminds me of Steinbrenner in the late 70’s and ‘early 80’s when he used to collect power hitting left handed first baseman / outfielders).

    Dan, do you think they would move Schoop to short and put Beckham at second, hmm??

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:49 am

      Tee: I think that is a possibility. Several people who have seen him a fair amount have told me Beckham is a better second baseman than shortstop. So it is a possibility

  6. Homerago

    July 31, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Tim Beckham will be a future All Star, and will be a mainstay with Schoop, and Mancini.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:52 am

      Well if that happens, I will gladly admit I was wrong. It happens. Sadly. More than I like to admit.

  7. putyourduqsup

    July 31, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    What about next year? None of the Orioles players being discussed in trades are free agents this off season. So by trading one or multiple of them (brach,britton,machado) the Orioles would make themselves a much weaker team next season as well. Those three players all bring immense value by being on the field for the Orioles. If the Orioles can achieve better starting pitching next season by replacing Tillman and Miley in the rotation, then they are legit playoff contenders, maybe even a more complete team than they were in their other playoff seasons. It is very short sighted to say that because the Orioles didn’t blow up this season, they failed. By standing Pat with what they have and adding a competent shortstop, they are very much keeping alive hope to contend next season. Very hard to replace a pitcher like Zach Britton – the Orioles aren’t taking him for granted. The Orioles get value from their free agent players during the season. For fans to say that they should trade them to get something in return ignores the fact that the Orioles get a lot in return when they are on the field competing for the playoffs. Arguably a better value than the future team that signs him since the future team is essentially paying for past performance. I’m glad the Orioles will have a strong bullpen next season. 2017 playoffs are a slim hope, but 2018 has fewer holes to fill with no players being traded away this season.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:56 am

      In a vacuum that’s fine, Duqup. But you forgot about Ubaldo’s spot too. The Orioles have four (of their now 6) starters that will be free agents at year’s end. They don’t give massive deals to free agent pitchers and they don’t have anyone truly waiting in the wings for the 2018 rotation. So finding three starters is going to be very difficult. Basically it will be a re-run of this year. By trading at least one top player, the Orioles likely would have been able to nab at least one candidate for the 2018 rotation. I’m not sure where those guys are going to come from.

  8. Osfan73

    July 31, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    And herein lies the problem with the 2nd wildcard spot, the false sense of hope it can give a team that probably should just re-tool instead of participating in a desperate playoff chase. The Os have benefited from that route to the playoffs and I much enjoy the intrigue and discussion it generates. But it also has potential to derail a team’s future if not handled properly. I too wonder if DD has handled this years trade deadline as he should have. We’ll see, but it feels like being stuck in neutral right now.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 1:57 am

      Agreed. But like you said I guess we’ll see.

  9. John in Cincy

    August 1, 2017 at 8:32 am

    The prevailing thought around the Orioles is they don’t need to get significantly better to make a solid run for the playoffs, just a little better will be fine providing the players they have start performing up to their capabilities. Agree to disagree with that approach (which you have), but know that the Orioles have been known for their stretch runs in the past several years, and there really isn’t any reason to believe it will be any different in 2017, especially with the AL wild card chase as wide open as it’s ever been.

    Manny finally had a very good month in July, batting .327, after struggling to hit .230 in the three previous months. Gausman is beginning to look every bit the ace the Orioles expected when they drafted him. Ubaldo is reminding everyone just how exceptional a pitcher he can be when he’s on his game. So, there are too many encouraging signs for anyone but the most hidebound pessimist to throw in the towel for this season.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Well-reasoned John. And I get this side of it. But if you are reading the tea leaves and think this team has a chance for 2017, then go make it actually better and not incrementally so.

  10. Sjcolmus

    August 1, 2017 at 8:51 am

    It’s hard to know how to feel about the lack of activity without knowing what options they had. If the Dodgers had offered for Britton what they gave up for Darvish – no Buehler, Alvarez or Verdugo – and Duquette had taken it, he’d be getting raked over the coals for having sold low on a guy with one year left on his deal. Kind of bummer that we couldn’t get something done with Houston with all their pitching talent. Ultimately, it’d be great if every sell off looks like Andy Macphail’s, but sometimes it’s a win if it just doesn’t look like Syd Thrift’s.

    Do you have any idea what some of the best Britton offers resembled?

    • Dan Connolly

      August 1, 2017 at 10:05 am

      I don’t know specifics. Generally I was told several teams made legit offers with Houston’s being arguably the best. But my understanding was it didn’t include the absolute top echelon guys. Tho again I don’t know for sure.

  11. Dpsmith22

    August 1, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I agree 100% with you Dan. This “playing the middle” is EXACTLY what led to the long string of losing seasons we all endured. This front office has no foresight and no plan. NOT one instance has Duquette shown any resemblance of a plan. Ex. He let Miller go and claimed he would never pay a contract like that for a reliever. The very next off-season he signed O’Day to a similar contract. Duquette has no creativity, he is slow, and makes moves 1 at a time.

    Hard to say how much influence Angelos is having on Duquette, but obviously Angelos doesn’t trust him IF he had to approve a trade where no money was going out…..

  12. Ezrine Tire Award

    August 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Dan an Ice cold National Premium if you can tell me why on earth the O’s would countenance a trade Machado at this point? Who else would sign him presuming the Wankees go for Harper? They can’t pay for both.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 2, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Oh man. Never underestimate the market on a top talent — and one that will only be 26 as a free agent. These are the guys that are viewed by teams as franchise savers. Happens every couple years and teams like Texas and LAA and Miami have lost their minds during this process.

  13. wcf1282

    August 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Dan,
    Long time reader, first time commenter. I’m going to voice an unpopular opinion and suggest that the O’s were right to hold on to their pieces this year. I don’t think that “making a run for it” is in the cards this year, but I think next year it very well could be.

    If you crunch the numbers and assume that Britton would have been his dominant self if healthy, this team would be in the thick of the divisional race with him healthy all year. They have 6 blown saves as a team, and assuming he gets all of them they’re in first place. The team with a starting 5 ERA over 6 could be in first place with a healthy Britton, that’s mind boggling to me.

    Also, nobody seems to be talking about the bad money that they have coming off the books this year. Hardy, ($14 million), Ubaldo, (13.5), Tilliman, (10.5), Miley, (8.9), Smith (7), and Kim (4.2), adds up to $58.1 million coming off the books. (I apologize if this has been talked about, I read the articles but not always the comments). That is a lot of money, however.

    I’m going to wait to see how, (or if), they reinvest that money before I jump on the “this was stupid” bandwagon. Signing Tilly to a cheap 1-year deal and then going out and getting two league-average starters would be huge and if Hays can contribute to the Big League Club the way he’s done in the Minors, the offense is scary.

    If it doesn’t work out, and the team struggles next year, too, then they’re still valuable trade pieces.

    Just my two cents. Love reading your stuff, keep up the good work!

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