Myriad Winter Meeting Thoughts: Brach for Harvey bad idea; Martinez on Wieters; the Hall -
Dan Connolly

Myriad Winter Meeting Thoughts: Brach for Harvey bad idea; Martinez on Wieters; the Hall

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla – Up to this point, Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president, hasn’t wanted to trade a bullpen piece to strengthen his rotation.

But, after talking to him Monday evening, it was clear that he might have to do that to get a legitimate starter, especially with the free-agent market for second-tier arms drying up.

You could tell it was a painful realization for Duquette, but it’s probably an inevitable one. The Orioles don’t have many strengths. The bullpen is one.

They can probably deal away a reliever and still have an above-average relief corps.

The question is who would that reliever be?

The most obvious answer is Brad Brach, the club’s 31-year-old set-up man who saved 18 games as de facto closer in 2017 while Zach Britton was hurt.

Brach has plenty of value, is much cheaper than both Britton and Darren O’Day, and he’s seemingly healthier, too, with no trips to the DL last year. Plus, like Britton, he’s a free-agent after 2018. Since the Orioles are going to need a closer in 2019, trading Mychal Givens this offseason seems foolish.

But here’s another thing that seems foolish: Dealing Brach to the New York Mets for oft-injured right-hander Matt Harvey. The Orioles have discussed trading a reliever for Harvey, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. And the assumption, since the projected salaries are similar, is that Brach could be that guy.

Yes, Harvey’s potential is eye-popping. But he’s also a free agent after 2018 and he was limited to 19 games last season while posting an unsightly 6.70 ERA. He’s dealt with thoracic outlet syndrome and a shoulder weakness, and you just don’t know what Harvey, who turns 29 in March, can provide this season.

The flyball pitcher allowed 21 homers in 92 2/3 innings in 2017, and would be pitching half his games at Camden Yards, where a ball or two has been lost over the years.

I’m all for taking a flier on Harvey. And I understand that dealing Brach may be a necessity. But merging the two concepts doesn’t make sense to me.

If that’s what Harvey would cost the Orioles, then they are better off leaving him in New York, regardless of what he accomplished earlier in his career.

Martinez discusses Wieters

Dave Martinez, the new manager of the Washington Nationals, met with the media Monday, the first time since his introduction press conference. The former big leaguer and bench coach to Joe Maddon in Chicago and Tampa Bay discussed myriad Nats’ topics.

And that included catcher Matt Wieters, the former Oriole who hit a career-worst .225 in 123 games in his first year in DC. Martinez said he has already spoken to the 31-year Wieters and is hoping to get him a little more rest in 2018.

“We definitely have had conversations with him. What I do know is that our pitching staff loves to throw to him. He is a great communicator, leader. And I know he had some injuries that he dealt with last year a little bit and I’m looking forward to him being healthy and leading our pitching staff,” Martinez said. “And we’ve talked a lot about him being a little older and maybe getting some more days off just to keep him healthy throughout the whole year.”

Morris and Trammell make Hall

On Monday morning, the two newest members of the Hall of Fame were introduced to the media: pitcher Jack Morris and infielder Alan Trammell. They both were selected by the Modern Era committee after being passed over during the 15-year period of eligibility by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Full disclosure: I never voted for either. To me, they were members of the really, really good player group, but weren’t quite the next step. If I had had an unlimited ballot – and not 10 spots to jam everyone in – I may have thought about it differently.

Regardless, I couldn’t be more pleased for either.

Especially Morris, who was overcome with emotion several times during his press conference. He was one of the most intimidating pitchers to take the mound in the past 50 years, yet he was crying on Monday’s dais. That was cool to see, and was a reminder just how important that honor is to these guys.



  1. Bancells Moustache

    December 12, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I’ll be devils advocate here; I like the Harvey deal. Everyone has been shouting to the heavens about the need for a starter. Now one pops up who, if he rebounds, has top of the rotation potential and suddenly Brad Brach is the second coming of Mariano Rivera and cannot be touched. This is dictated by the Orioles plans for this year, of course. If they are playing the long con then no, save Brach for a prospect sale later in the year or keep him for your rebuilding ‘pen. But if you are all in for 2018, I think you take this gamble. The presence of Givens makes Brach a luxury item, one that is useless if you are giving him the ball when he’s already down 5 runs. And it’s not as if he’s irreplaceable. Say what you will about Dan Duquette, the man can find a good relief pitcher when you need one. If Harvey and Gausman both rebound and Bundy continues his upward trajectory, you have a pretty filthy rotation in the best case scenario. If he flames out, hell, have the fire sale in July and move on.

    • Orial

      December 12, 2017 at 10:52 am

      you echoed my sentiments Bancells. Time for a bold move. Change of scenery for Harvey. Brach overrated.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2017 at 10:57 am

      What you are missing is that Brach is one of the best trade chips the Orioles have. Harvey is a flier. He had a near Ubaldo ERA last year. Pitched half a season. In the NL. I’m a big park. Is a free agent after this season. And he’s LH. The only biz he checks is that he’s had success in the past. You say Brach is overrated. Doesn’t that mean someone will give up something — besides a name — for him? I think you are selling low if Harvey is your return, given his physical issues.

      • ATCguy

        December 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        I hear ya, Dan. It’s not exactly a desired situation… but the Os are not exactly dealing from a position of strength, for the myriad of reasons you’ve written about. As such, it’s kind of a ‘supply vs. demand’ type thing, right? But let’s look at this from another angle. If you were DD, what current decent starter would you target for a trade of this sort? Are there any better options? I don’t know… just asking.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      For Brach, I’d imagine there would have to be. He’s a real good reliever who can close without hurting a team is relatively cheap given his performance and has makeup off the charts.

  2. c Soprano

    December 12, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Common sense test here. If you are trading 60 innings to get 150+ innings, what does that tell you about the quality of the 150 + innings? Besides, (dead horse alert) the Baltimore Orioles should be selling off. This is Deja vu, a Yankee dynasty, and the Orioles trying to patch their way to 82 wins. I went along with this before for 14 years, however I’m not 20 years old and naive anymore. I won’t be coming along this time to wander the desert blindly.

    • Bancells Moustache

      December 12, 2017 at 10:37 am

      I’m not ready to anoint the Yankees just yet. Stanton is a nice piece, but he has to suit up in order to make an impact, and the guy has an long injury history. Judge looked fierce at times last year, but also had a horrendous stretch where he couldn’t hit the ball with a tennis racket. Guys who hit the ball a mile but strike out non-stop tend to go through nasty dry spells, which our much maligned first baseman can tell you all about. I’ll agree that the Orioles are at an enormous financial disadvantage, but I’m not ready to run and hide from the pinstriped monster for another 10 years.

  3. JParsley

    December 12, 2017 at 10:40 am

    we need ground ball pitchers. I can see the Yankees (and everyone else) destroying us with that lineup. keep the ball on the ground and let the D do it’s job

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2017 at 10:58 am

      The ball needs to stay in the park, too.

    • JParsley

      December 12, 2017 at 11:09 am

      exactly my point

  4. Orial

    December 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I like the idea of Harvey. He needs a little growing up,is injury prone, but has enormous potential and a change of scenery with Buck’s strong presence may be of benefit. Prefer to see O’Day go but Brach is expendable. What is so hard about talking to Cashner,Vargas,or Pineda? The market hasn’t passed them by. I just wonder if Duquette even has any power to do anything in Orlando with Angelos looming over everything he does. No wonder he wanted to bolt to Toronto a few years back.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      I think they are definitely in discussions for those lesser starting Ps.

  5. 5brooks5

    December 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I agree with Dan. If you can’t get more than Harvey for Brach, than keep him. Harvey has been awful, and the Mets seem to be cost conscious, you can get Harvey for much less IMO. Also, off topic , but I keep reading about D.D. and his wanting a LH hitting OF, and mentions Akin and Wells as trade bait. Good grief, if that’s the case bring back Seth, he’s already traded Davies, Brault and Tarpley looking for a LH outfielder after letting Nick go, don’t make another short term mistake >

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Those were independent comments. He basically said teams have called about Akin and Wells. And he said he wants to make a deal for a LH OFer. But he didn’t put them together.

  6. Orial

    December 12, 2017 at 11:46 am

    I see where Nats are going to go after Arrietta. Is it me or doesn’t it seem that if the Nats had never come to DC the Orioles would have the market to do such moves? For this I can feel Angelos’ pains.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      There’s no question that some of the financial wherewithal of the Orioles was impacted by Nats.

  7. Dpsmith22

    December 12, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    I agree with you Dan. With the names we are heading as additions, the pen will be dead by June 1. Going to need to overuse Brach again, like always.

    I like the ‘idea’ of Harvey but every scouting report i read says his breaking stuff is not good enough to get by with 91-93.

    As a #5 I like the idea. But certainly not for Brach.

  8. mike3764

    December 13, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Dealing Trumbo for Harvey is much better. We need to unload him for one, and the Mets could use a 1B/OF type player that hits for power.

    • c Soprano

      December 13, 2017 at 11:26 am

      That takes us from 72 wins to 73 wins. I say “us” loosely because I’m on the verge of trading my colors in after they completely tank the Manny situation. 2015, CD overpay was mistake #1 Re: Manny. Not moving him last year #2, now the Yankees (who have a blue chip SS prospect) we tell them to pound sand. This franchise lucked in the last 5 years and it’s covering up the systematic dysfunction.

    • Dpsmith22

      December 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Trading Trumbo for Harvey would be great, IF Harvey was slated as the 5.

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