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.
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.