Among Orioles' recent 'Lost Boys,' the dumping of Bridwell may be biggest headscratcher - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Among Orioles’ recent ‘Lost Boys,’ the dumping of Bridwell may be biggest headscratcher

Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports

Every time a former Oriole pitcher has a solid game in another uniform this year, I’m alerted by fans.

Call it the Jake Arrieta whiplash effect.

The rallying cry is simple: The Orioles have the American League’s worst rotation ERA and no starters pounding down the door from Triple-A Norfolk, and yet all these young guys the Orioles gave up on are succeeding elsewhere.

I try to temper that noise with some reality, explaining several of those “Lost Boys” wouldn’t be having the same run in the AL East and at Camden Yards.

In response, the fans rattle off myriad names, starting with Arrieta and Eduardo Rodriguez, then Zach Davies, Ariel Miranda, Steven Brault and Parker Bridwell, all current starters in the majors (and Josh Hader, currently a rookie reliever for the Milwaukee Brewers). Some fans have also mentioned Oakland’s Andrew Triggs as one that got away before he had season-ending hip surgery.

I get the sentiment. The Orioles have shipped off plenty of arms in the Dan Duquette Era, and yet Duquette is still scrambling for quality starters every year. So that’s not good.

But it also rankles me when fans make it sound like all of these guys are Arrieta, Cy Young or a combination of both. They aren’t. I expect Rodriguez to have a good career assuming he stays healthy, but he wasn’t given away for nothing. Trading him brought Andrew Miller to the Orioles for the 2014 playoff run. I’d probably do that trade again.

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Davies, Miranda and Brault were parts of three separate trades that all failed. Gerardo Parra (Davies), Wade Miley (Miranda) and Travis Snider (Brault) did not make this organization better, just more expensive.

So, yes, they were bad trades. Because even if all involved are mediocre, you’d rather have cheap controllable guys than aging millionaires.

But my contention remains that Davies, Miranda and Brault might be options for the struggling 2017 rotation, but they also might have been more of the same.

Davies, when traded, was considered a slightly younger Tyler Wilson — a battler with great makeup and an underwhelming arsenal. And though Davies is 13-5 with a 4.18 ERA for the Brewers, his ERA was over 5.00 for most of the season – in the NL — until he strung together gems in his last four starts.

Sure, I’d take back the 24-year-old, but I’m not positive he’d get close to those numbers in the American League East.

I am positive, however, that Miranda’s overall numbers would be worse if he pitched half his games in Baltimore. The 28-year-old Cuban defector has a 4.65 ERA this season, and a 6.25 ERA away from pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. I’ve never liked his chances in Baltimore.

I know little about Brault, but he’s been shuttled back and forth between the majors and minors by the Pittsburgh Pirates. I love Hader’s arm, but his lack of command raises the question that maybe his future could be at the back-end of a bullpen.

So that brings us to Bridwell, who befuddled Orioles’ hitters Tuesday night in a 3-2 Los Angeles Angels win.

The 26-year-old right-hander allowed one run on six hits in seven innings to pick up his sixth win in seven decisions. He didn’t walk any, struck out four and lowered his ERA to 3.00 in 11 games (10 starts).

All of those Orioles naysayers are screaming now about letting Bridwell go, too.

And, honestly, I’m with them on this one.

I’m still not sure why the Orioles designated Bridwell for assignment in April (to make room for lefty reliever Paul Fry, who has struggled and been hurt at Triple-A Norfolk) and ultimately sold Bridwell to the Angels for cash considerations.

Say what you want about losing Davies, Brault, Hader, etc., but at least the Orioles got players in return – often stiffs, mind you, but big leaguers, nonetheless.

The Orioles got money for Bridwell, a former ninth-round pick in 2010, and nothing else. I scratched my head at the time of that giveaway. And am still scratching it.

I’m not suggesting I thought Bridwell would excel. I’m not suggesting he absolutely will keep it up.

But I did think he could have been a useful arm in an organization starving for useful arms. The biggest knock on Bridwell was an inability to stay healthy, which he seemingly had overcome. His ERA in the minors hovered in the high 4s, but he had plenty of supporters in the organization that claimed he was a late bloomer. It’s why the club added him to the 40-man roster before the 2016 season.

It seemed like the Orioles always had high hopes for Bridwell, whose fastball sits in the 92 to 95 mph range and who possesses a solid changeup.

When he was signed in 2010, a couple club officials told me they thought they had gotten a steal. I remember seeing him at an Orioles’ road game in Texas just after he graduated from high school, and understood their reasoning: The tall, lanky kid sure looked the part of future big league pitcher.

And the Orioles, to their credit, were patient with him, waiting for Bridwell to figure it out. Yet just when it looked like he was on the cusp of helping the Orioles, he made two relief performances for them in 2016, two relief outings for Triple-A Norfolk in April and was sent packing. Head-scratching commenced.

I’m not sure what Bridwell becomes. This hot start may not be indicative of what he’ll be as his future unfolds. But I do think the Orioles misjudged this one. And not just because of what he did Tuesday night against his old team, but because there was no real reason to punt him from the roster before he had a chance to show what he could do in the majors. He never really got that.

In my opinion, Orioles fans shouldn’t be losing sleep over the departure of Miranda or probably even Davies or Brault. But my gut tells me, that among the Orioles’ recent Lost Boys, Bridwell’s departure is the one that’s going to sting for a while.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 9, 2017 at 7:16 am

    It’s obviously that devil Dan Duquette’s doing. Fire up the torches and break out the pitchforks!

    Seriously Dan, this one IS a head scratcher. Cash? That’s what the O’s received in return for this stud? I guess they must have really needed it to pay the Crusher’s outrageous contract. That’s the only thing I can think of. Hmmmmmm … a head scratcher indeed.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 10:57 am

      And though I don’t know exact figure, these cash considerations are always minimal. Once a player gets designated for assignment, the return is usually minimal. Otherwise the other team would just wait for waivers.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 9, 2017 at 11:31 am

        Well Dan .. I forget the exact $ figure that Mr. Folkemer calculated this past offseason that the O’s paid for each Crush Davis strikeout last season… but I’m guessing the wad of cash the O’s received for Bridwell must have paid for at least 4 or 5 of them! That’s nothing to sneeze at is it?

  2. karks

    August 9, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I think my biggest problem with losing a guy like Bridwell is that we replace him with really marginal guys from other organizations. It’s fine to bring in some of these guys (since they’re not spending money internationally, anyway). But it’s frustrating to see another draft pick go somewhere else and do well.

    I think I understand DD’s thinking to some degree. If we strike gold with one of these castoffs then it’s all worth it. But you just wonder what it is about some of our own draft picks that they never end up developing here. To me, that’s where the focus should be.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 9, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Second paragraph … well said and spot on.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 11:03 am

      The only thing I add here is there really haven’t been that many Os draft picks that “go elsewhere and do well.” I think this fact gets blown up so much by the fan base. But for every one that “has done well” I can give ya 20 that didn’t advance once out of the organization.

    • MemOrioles

      August 11, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Late to the party, but I’d like to add that it wasn’t that giving up Rodriguez for Miller was bad, what was so bad was that we let Miller walk after that playoff run. We should have signed him and parlayed him the way the Yankees did. Instead we traded a good pitcher for a guy who was on the team 6 or so games, when we could have just signed Miller and traded him. We essentially traded Rodriguez for a win over the Tigers.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    August 9, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I don’t think I fault the personnel decisions so much as the talent development here in Baltimore. Just because a guy has ability doesn’t necessarily mean he will blossom anywhere. The entire situation has to be right, a million different factors and the Orioles just don’t seem to be good at making it work for pitchers. Maybe it’s time to find someone in, say, Tampa’s pitching development staff and offer them a handsome salary

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 11:16 am

      One thing to tweak here. No question the Orioles have not done a good job developing starting pitchers. No defense there. But the Rays aren’t the pitching factory everyone imagines. Archer and Odorizzi were top prospects that they traded for when dumping others. And Price was the slam-dunk top overall pick. Moore and Cobb ended up w Tommy John. Snell has struggled this year. Yes, Tampa is light years ahead of the Orioles in homegrown starters that have had success there — in a pitcher’s park — but even its homegrown successes aren’t as plentiful as the narrative suggests. Developing and sustaining starting pitching is difficult everywhere. It’s just a little worse in Baltimore.

      • Bancells Moustache

        August 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

        I agreed with you a few weeks back that Tampa was overrated organizationally and won’t dispute you now. My point is that whatever, or more specifically whoever, isn’t getting it done in Baltimore and it might be time to find someone who has

  4. Osfan73

    August 9, 2017 at 11:07 am

    What I don’t understand about all this in regards to Bridwell is why basically nothing was gotten in return. Cash considerations…money we have, i mean we’ve been spending it. What’s needed are the arms who can throw. We have precious few pitchers as it is then let this guy go for what??? Bad decision IMO, wern’t patient enough.

    Agree as well with some above comments about how the Os continue to fall short as far as development and talent evaluating are concerned. I’ve long noticed and wondered the same thing myself.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Again, don’t get caught up in the cash considerations thing. It’s nominal. It just means money goes to the Os instead of the league on a waiver claim. The Orioles obviously had no luck trading him for a player. But again the value takes a hit when a player is DFA’d. It’s not that the Orioles wanted more money. It’s that is the best they could get. The question is DFAing him for other marginal players.

  5. Spi

    August 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Did they put the cash into the sign Manny fund??? Looks like the Os really need to pluck a developmental pitching instructor from the Nats or an organization known for their homegrown starting pitching!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Ok. I’ll bite: How are the Nats known for their homegrown starting pitching??? They’ve had 111 starts this year. 24 have been made by players that they drafted and developed. 20 of those by Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick. Yes they traded away a couple arms in the Eaton deal, but let’s see how they do in the majors first. At this point, I hardly put a gold star next to Nats draft/development of starters.

      • Spi

        August 9, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        Was not meant as a bait. It just seems like the Os have a hard time developing starters and/or signing and trading for them. To me it seems like a major issue.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      No question on that end. It’s just the props to Nats for development that is a stretch imo

    • PA Bird Lover

      August 10, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      I wouldn’t call him a stud. I believe know one in development has a clue and our revolving pitching coach dance is killing our chances. I even suspect our draft team. This year our #1 pick was a HS kid. He’s along way from helping O’s.

  6. Dpsmith22

    August 9, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    The problem with this thinking is that is more suited to big budget teams. Teams that can replace a young kid who you give up on, with a free agent. This team doesn’t have that kind of payroll level. Not to mention the fact that look what Duquette has gotten with pitching in trades and free agency? His track record is just plain bad and bordering on incompetent.

    Hold on tight O’s fans. The rotation, thanks to moves like this, baseball economics, and a GM that the game has passed, is looking worse next year.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 9, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      I’ll tweak this one a smidge too. Let’s say that the Orioles have been awful developing starting pitching talent. I’m on board there. They’ve done a real good job developing relievers and/or identifying relievers that can help. Britton, Givens Jim Johnson and Hart are examples of the former and O’Day, Brach, Bleier and Castro are current examples of the latter. Now you can make the argument that Britton and Johnson, for instance, are failed starters. That’s fair. But most relievers are failed starters throughout baseball. It’s a picky point, but I like to fair in my arguments.

      • tbird

        August 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm

        Agreed regarding relief pitchers. I was thinking of starters, but I did not say that.

      • Dpsmith22

        August 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        I agree Dan. Except, when your down 5-0 after 3, the pen is irrelevant, in most cases.

        Having zero starter depth the past 3 years has been a real issue. I believe a front office change is necessary.

  7. tbird

    August 9, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    The Orioles organization has poor record in the past 20 years of both evaluating and developing pitching talent. It seems that they screw up more pitchers than they develop.

    • Spi

      August 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      So if we can see it as a major problem can’t someone in the Os management see it as well and take the steps to correct it.

      • Dan Connolly

        August 9, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        That certainly would be appreciated. But it’s not that easy either. Most teams have trouble developing starters. That’s why they are so expensive on the open market.

  8. Ben1

    August 9, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I remember the days when a team would NEVER trade young talent to a division team. Especially to get a short term rental like Miller. Selling Bridwell made NO sense. All adds up in my mind that whomever DD counts on for advice on pitching is terrible at their job.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 11, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      I dunno Ben. This isn’t a new practice. Not usual, but not new. Heck, Os traded a bunch of their talented players — young and older — to the Yankees after their first season in 1954.

  9. Diamond dave

    August 10, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Buck never gave Parker a chance he has such a good mix of off speed pitches, but you have to establish the fastball first if you can’t you’ll be AAA pitcher, Buck this is all on you!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      I hear what you’re saying. But Buck didn’t DFA Bridwell either.

  10. Mr Will

    August 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    AS I said before, the Os called Bridwell a reliever…really? I watched TJ McFarland mow down 6 in a row for the DBacks last night and a major mystery to me is Edwin Jackson doing so well for the Nationals? I still contend that the Os lack evaluators or those who seem to be the ones to forecast the future of prospects needs a serious overhaul.

    Even the ASTROS are in a slump and former Balto writer Richard Justice says they counted on making the deal for Zach Britton with 4/5 players and were ready to sweeten it but DD delayed too long to get back to them.

    At least Buck sat CD last night and hopefully will not bat him and Trumbo back to back,,,at his worst, Mancini is better than both and must bat between them giving better pitches to whomever follows Boom Boom. Liked lineup last night …good news just heard Os will probably not face Paxton in SEA as there is an injury issue with him,..Fellow tonight and Sunday pitching for OAK are probably their two best starters so pitch around Lowrie and go Os.

    Mr Will

    • Dan Connolly

      August 11, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Will, Appreciate the comment. The only thing I’d take issue with is Edwin Jackson “doing so well” for Nats. He’s had two good starts and two not-so-good ones. Kind of his career.

    • Dpsmith22

      August 12, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Wil, IF what they say is true and the Astros had 6 players blocked in the deal for Britton, the medical saved Duquette. A trade of Britton without 1 of Martes or Tucker, would have been a bad one.

      We are talking about a top 3 reliever in the mlb. Who, has another year on his deal and one of our MAJOR trade pieces.

  11. Mikepete73

    August 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    i lose sleep because we let all these guys Go I have to sit through a season on tillman,Jimenez and Miley cause we have nobody else to fill the roles. It’s funny you say don’t lose sleep over Davies who is 13-5 with a low 4 era his era would lead all our starters lol.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      At the moment you wrote this he had a 4.40 ERA, which is both not low 4s or lower than Bundy’s. And he did it in the NL Central, not the AL East. And of his 24 starts, only nine have been quality (6IP or more, 3 ER or less). And only five have been more than 6 innings, four of them in one nice run that lowered his ERA from the 5 spot he had held most of the year. I wish the kid well, and he’s only 24, but he’s been a product of run support and grit, more than any overwhelming talent. So, still sleeping here. lol.

      • Dpsmith22

        August 14, 2017 at 7:21 pm

        While your correct Dan, you have to admit, Davies, Bridwell, and even Brault, would have been better than the so-called Depth, Duquette brought in the last 2 seasons.

        The release of Gonzales still goes down as outrageous misstep, that might have cost the O’s the AL East Crown last season.

        Moves like Gonzales make me wonder if the O’s have been winning, despite Duquette.

  12. Mr Will

    August 14, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Actually, consistency is what dem Os have…we have consistently average to poor starting pitching; we have a consistently strong bullpen and we have a consistently inconsistent offense; i.e. one day 12 runs on 20 hits and next day 3 runs on ten hits. All who are fans want better but I believe that consistent inconsistency is our kismet for 2017
    Candidly, if Os are out of chase by Sep 1, I would bring up every possible player for 2018 and see what they can do in a month. Mancini proved he was no fluke last Sep so the Os did not need to sign Trumbo; let’s see what four outfielders and a pitcher or two or three or try and stretch out Castro, Bleier, Ascher so DD can see what the team needs for Manny, Britton and a few others.
    Mr Will

    • Dpsmith22

      August 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      I like this idea Will, but Buck doesn’t do that. He plays to win every day regardless of the situation. Example, the year he played Andino over Ryan Adams.

  13. Mr Will

    August 14, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Edwin Jackson just had another good effort for Nationals last night and a headline today on MLB.COM is Bridwell leads Halos to sweep of Mariners. These guys may not have .2.50 eras but last time I looked 4.00 is still better than 6, 7 or 8. It is difficult to alibi for consistent mediocrity.
    Mr Will

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