Few Orioles could help baseball's best teams - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Few Orioles could help baseball’s best teams

It was just over two years ago that the Orioles were in the postseason, proving that it’s a lot quicker to deconstruct a team that construct one. Oriole fans will be eager to find out from the team’s new hierarchy how long they think it will take until the team can contend.

In Philadelphia, it took about three years from the time Andy MacPhail became the team’s new president, in June 2015, until the team contended. This year, the Phillies were leading the National League East as late as Aug. 11, but floundered after that, going 15-31 and finishing two games under .500 at 80-82.

The Phillies of 2018 are vastly different from the team MacPhail inherited, but have two regulars (Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera) and a standout starting pitcher (Aaron Nola) remaining.

The Orioles hope they’re that lucky.

Of the team-record 56 players who saw action for the Orioles in 2018, the majority probably will be gone by the end of 2019, and perhaps six or eight will remain in 2020.

That’s not radical. That’s just being realistic.

There’s one way to measure how close, or far, the Orioles are from contending. When you watch the postseason, imagine how many of the current Orioles could help the postseason teams.

Remember, six top names were traded in July, and another, Adam Jones, who is unlikely to return next season, exercised his veto power to avoid a trade to MacPhail’s Phillies.

If you eliminate Jones, who’s about to become a free agent, one major league scout says that there’s only one Oriole who could improve the top four teams in baseball.


It’s Mychal Givens, who was mentioned in some possible July deals and whose name will come up again at December’s Winter Meetings.

Givens was part of perhaps the best bullpen in Orioles history in 2016. Zach Britton converted all 47 of his save opportunities, and both he and Brad Brach, who compiled a 2.05 ERA and 10 wins, made the All-Star team.

Although veteran Darren O’Day missed more than half the season because of injuries, Givens made up for his absence with an 8-2 record and 3.13 ERA.

Brach, Britton and O’Day are gone. Only Givens remains, and while teams could conceivably be interested in Dylan Bundy and Trey Mancini, only Givens will attract much buzz in Las Vegas.

Givens could have pitched ahead of rookie fireballer Josh James, who was included on Houston’s postseason roster despite pitching in just six games.

He also could have fit in nicely in Boston’s bullpen, and his stats are equal or better than those of Matt Barnes or Joe Kelly.

Givens could have helped Los Angeles or Milwaukee, too.

But, aside from Jonathan Villar, who was traded by both the Astros and Brewers, who could have helped a contender? Villar could have fit on a postseason team’s roster as a utility infielder or pinch-runner.

Mancini has promise, but had a rough first half and finished the season with a -.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) average.

No other Oriole who finished the season with the team could help any of the League Championship Series teams.

The draft and farm system have produced depth pieces and players with promise in recent years — Cedric Mullins, David Hess, Tanner Scott and DJ Stewart among others. But none is considered “can’t miss” and have yet to make an impact in the major leagues.

Next June, the Orioles will have their first top selection in the First-Year Player Draft in 30 years, awarded for the worst record in the majors.

If they draft well, then enviable prospects will appear. The last time they drafted in the top five, Bundy and Gausman were picked with the fourth overall selection in 2011 and 2012.

Hunter Harvey, their top pick in 2013, has been sidelined by injuries and has yet to pitch a complete season in professional baseball. In 2014, they didn’t have a first-round pick because they signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. Stewart was their top selection in 2015.

Until and unless they draft impact players, fans will watch the postseason knowing that few Orioles could make a real difference on baseball’s best teams.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Ekim

    October 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

    If you were to put the O’s 40 man roster up for sale in an auction there would only be a half dozen or so that would draw multiple bids. Your piece (above) reiterates what I’ve been posting here since I found this site. Take nothing from nothing leaves nothing. That’s where the O’s are now. I have dinner, once a week, with a life long O’s fan (he was a teen when the O’s came to town) and he seriously believes the O’s can challenge the 115 losses from this season. I’m inclined to agree with him… only I’m not sure I’d stay around and watch.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 9:19 am

      Ekim, the 2019 Orioles are not likely to be good. But, we don’t know who will be constructing them, managing them or playing for them. Until we do, not much sense in guessing.

  2. bmorebirds

    October 19, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Rich, as you point out, the Orioles don’t have much in the cupboard. Givens, Mancini, Bundy and Villar together might fetch a top team’s No. 2 AA pitcher, an equipment manager and two cartons of Double Bubble. After dumping the Steaming Pile of 2018 on Orioles fans, you’d think the club’s focus might now be fielding a somewhat competitive squad in 2019. while coaching up the 15 prospects Duquette got. The massive silver lining here is . . . um, Orioles Park alcohol sales will likely quadruple in 2019 and 2020. So if anyone is looking for a good-paying side gig, Eutaw Street is the spot.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Bmorebirds, I think that finding players who can help in the future will be the focus. While being somewhat competitive would be nice, that’s secondary to the big build.

  3. deqalt

    October 19, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Very interesting article for sure, but I look at the playoffs and it seems like half the players came from the Orioles that’s why we dont have any on current roster: Machado, Schoop, Hadar, Davies, Gausman, Turner, Pierce, Rodriguez. Probably missing someone.

    • SpinMaster

      October 19, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Rich: Not belabor a dead point, but deqalt brings up a good point naming the names of Orioles traded in the recent past. I think most of us know who we received back from the Machado and Schoop trades, But can you fill in the blanks on who we got (if it was a player) for Justin Turner, Zach Davies and Josh Hader. I know that Steve Pearce was just let go and we all know who we received for Eduardo Rodriquez.
      I guess I just want to suffer during the long, cold winter realizing we traded away some good prospects and except for the recent trades, have nothing to show for these trades.

    • bigdaddydk

      October 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Markakis, O’Day, and Brach with Atlanta too.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Justin Turner was waived in May 2010 and picked up by the New York Mets. Josh Hader was traded to Houston in the Bud Norris deal and Davies went to Milwaukee for Gerardo Parra, Spin.
      Deqalt, Rich Hill was also with the Orioles in 2007.

  4. bigdaddydk

    October 19, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    So, here’s my question. We know other teams wouldn’t want many of our players. But how many of the players on playoff rosters for the playoff teams wouldn’t be an upgrade for us? How many would we not make a spot on our roster for? I can immediately think of players I’d take in place of guys we already have, but who would we not take if given the opportunity?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      I think you’d take nearly all on merit, bigdaddy. I would probably keep away from Yasmani Grandal if you’re looking for a defensive upgrade behind the plate.

  5. Hallbe62

    October 19, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    All of the Orioles that could help any of the playoff teams have already been traded (not just the 2018 rebuild trades either) and are already helping or have helped their respective new teams for a couple of years already.

    You know the names, so there’s no need for me to type them again here.

    If the O’s could match what the Phillies have done from 2015 until now, that would be supremely awesome.

    But then again, so would winning the “Power Ball” lottery.

    We’re in for at least a decade of horrible baseball in Charm City.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Hallbe, you’re always the optimist!

  6. bmorebirds

    October 19, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Wow, Hallbe62! I honestly feel the future of the Baltimore Orioles has never been brighter. We’ve got the No. 1 draft pick, much-improved minor league talent, a chance to retool Orioles operations top-to-bottom, and blueprints from at least six clubs who’ve executed successful rebuilds. Not even the Angelos/Anderson cabal could turn those circumstances into a decade of losing ball! If Camden Yards still smells like a landfill beyond 2020, I’ll be very, very surprised.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      Bmorebirds, as soon as they get a new management team in place, then we can start putting timetables together.

  7. boss61

    October 19, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    When Andy MacPhail took over in 2007, he rightfully observed that the Orioles would have to get worse, purposefully, in the short run to get better in the long run. The 2008-2011 teams were abyssmal. Then came 2012.

    Pretend its 2007 again – we need to wait until about 2023. Contention anytime sooner would be unexpected, and perhaps, illusory. How many 2007 Orioles were still there in 2012? Like maybe two – Markakis and Roberts. We don’t now have two players of that caliber. Stands to reason that none of the present players still will be here with we are contenders again.

    Dress warmly. The long, cold baseball winter is upon us.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Mark, Jim Johnson and Zach Britton were already in the system when MacPhail arrived. Matt Wieters had just been drafted, but hadn’t signed.

      • boss61

        October 19, 2018 at 6:08 pm

        Jeez, that makes the present circumstance even worse!

  8. Jbigle1

    October 19, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    Freddy Galvis has been playing his baseball in. San Diego this year so it turns out they only have Two.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      One of the great things about this job
      is that I’ve discovered the readers are careful and nice when pointing out mistakes. You are correct, thank you, jbigle.

  9. Jbigle1

    October 19, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    I’d agree that givens is more likely than not the only player who could help any of the top four teams. But to be honest, if you look at the pitchers the Astros kept off their roster I’m not sure givens really would’ve been a huge upgrade. Brad peacock didn’t make that team and he’s pitched extremely well there. The Red Sox may have been able to use villar over stone hands Nunez at 3rd as well. Perhaps Paul fry is an upgrade over someone in the Red Sox pen? But even if he is it’s only marginal. if Richard bleier was healthy he’d be an addition to every pen outside of houston’s.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      I think Givens would be an upgrade over an inexperienced Josh James, and Joe Smith. Paul Fry doesn’t have enough of a track record, yet. I think Eduardo Rodriguez would easily qualify over him. Villar has committed 16 errors in 54 games at third base. Fielding percentage isn’t used much these days, but he has an .877 mark, and that’s abysmal.

      • Jbigle1

        October 20, 2018 at 12:17 am

        That is ugly. Very ugly. Didn’t know villar was that bad over at the hot corner. I agree on givens. I guess my thing was more about why the Astros didn’t put peacock on their roster? Especially after the 2017 postseason he had for them. As for Fry, I was thinking Fry was comparable with the heath hembree/ Brandon Workman types in Boston. Though he’s a lefty so I can see why you said E-rod there.

  10. Bhoffman1

    October 19, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    Miley starts game six and yet he couldn’t get anybody out for the O’s last year. Hader is phenomenal. What a organization we have.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 19, 2018 at 10:07 pm

      Miley seems to perform a lot better in the National League than the American. He wasn’t terrific with Boston and Seattle, either. Better with Arizona and Milwaukee.

      Hader was traded from Houston to Milwaukee, too, bhoffman.

  11. Mitz_8

    October 20, 2018 at 12:01 am

    I see a lot of folks complaining about all the trades we’ve made in the recent years in which we gave up some prospects. Obviously, not all trades we’ve made turned out well for the Birds.

    With that said, as much as we all wish we had Hader now, I think some of us are forgetting the fact that Bud Norris was an integral part of the 2014 Orioles which won the A.L. East. He also pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the decisive ALDS Game #3 in Detroit, pitching against David Price who actually pitched very well (giving up only 2 runs in 8 innings). Personally, I am glad we had Norris that season. Imagine what could have happened if we didn’t have Norris that season – we could have seen more starts for Jimenez and McFarland.

    And obviously, we’d be better off if we had Eduardo Rodríguez with the O’s, but he gave us Andrew Miller who was incredible in his short time with the O’s, also in 2014. He pitched in 5 dominating post-season games for the O’s, covering 7 1/3 innings. The O’s played 7 games in the postseason that year, and Miller pitched in 5 of them. IMHO, he was, by far, the most reliable and most depended arm out of the O’s bullpen that postseason.

    • Jbigle1

      October 20, 2018 at 12:23 am

      It’s just undfortuante we allowed the Astros to pluck an unheralded 19 year old From a local MD HS out of our system for Norris. Have to imagine we could’ve sent something else out but in all honesty even the Astros didn’t know exactly how good hader was. I know they’d take that Gomez deal back in the blink of an eye.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 20, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      Those are excellent points, Mitz.

  12. Maka

    October 20, 2018 at 9:55 am

    This is a little off topic, but I hope the the new GM is a better judge of talent, and the player development staff can do a better job developing talent when it does exist. Aside from Manny, there are enough former Orioles floating around the majors to field a very competitive team. The O’s let go of both young controllable talent and veteran talent, and then must play catchup. This teardown and rebuild is more due to mismanagement than anything else. Dan planned for the short term giving very little thought to the long-term needs of the team. Very unacceptable. We also made moves out of desperation rather having a plan. Honestly Dan was terrible. Let’s hope that we hire a great GM that can field competitive teams while not sacrificing the future. I hope there are no more rebuilds in my lifetime. It is very painful to watch the products the O’s put on the field starting from about Sep 2017 through the end of this season. Let’s do better as there of plenty of small market teams the field competitive team consistently.

    • Bhoffman1

      October 20, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      Perfect Maka, the only ex O who is not performing well is Schoop. The rest from Arrieta to Hader to Strop to Gausman to Markakis to Manny to ERod to Pearce to Miley are on winning teams which are delighted to have them.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 20, 2018 at 8:44 pm

      Maka, you’re fortunate unless you’re an outlier to have three playoff teams on five years like the Orioles. The Royals had three winning records, then two mediocre ones and this year were basically in the same place as the Orioles.

      The Indians have been above .500 for six years, but are helped by being in a weak division.

      I think if you’re fortunate, five years as a contender is realistic. You just hope the down years aren’t as severe as what the Orioles are experiencing.

  13. Bhoffman1

    October 21, 2018 at 9:20 am

    I’m new to this site in all due respect it seems like Mr Dubroff is just a PR guy for the Orioles. No we are not lucky to have had three good years out of five. The Royals won a championship so don’t compare them and the Indians to us. The team was embarrassing last year and also the last month of 2017. Too many great players like Justin Turner who I failed to mention in my previous post were O’s who we let go or could not develop. We got no sure prospects for our fire sale this year . Let’s just hope some of them turn out to be major leaguers. The talk in Atlanta was how could the O’s not develop Gausman with all the talent he has. He will be their ace next year. What did we get for him some international money but the Mesa brothers won’t even look at this team with no management in place yet. I’m rambling on but you got me so upset with that comment about lucky to have three good years out of five.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 21, 2018 at 11:21 pm

      Dear Mr. Hoffman:

      Thank you for your comment, but I am not a pr guy for the Orioles.

      I’m just trying to be realistic about a small-to-medium market’s window to compete. I’m not saying the team or fans were lucky.

      With foresight, perhaps some of these players could have been re-signed ahead of time, but when a team wins for a few years, then you don’t pick very high in the draft and you have to be good and lucky in the draft to keep it going, which the Orioles were not.

      Some of the key players on the best Orioles teams were Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis, all high first-round picks, obtained by years.

      Please refer to the article you’re commenting on. If I’m such a pr guy for the team, why I am talking about how large the talent gap is between the Orioles and baseball’s best teams?

      I look forward to a continuing dialogue with a new reader.

  14. Maka

    October 22, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Rich – unfortunately we all remember what the team did during the most recent season and that performance was horrible. It feels like the playoff teams happened eons ago. It seems like the gap between the O’s, Yanks and BoSox is as wide as the Grand Canyon. I am appreciative of the competitive years provided by the O’s, but Dan veered of track sacrificing defense for home runs and strike outs, and sacrificing a short-term layoff push for long-term success. We let Markakis and Cruz walk and are left trying to replace their production. We let Rodriquez, Davies, Hader and Bridwell go and must play catchup trying to replace that talent with guys like Jiminez and Cashner. But we hold on to guys like Mike Wright to the bitter end hoping they develop. We hamstring Buck’s ability to manage by placing rule 5 players on the 25 man roster. I am hopeful that the next GM is better equipped to acquire, judge and develop talent.

    I am still hopeful that with a new GM and young talent in the lower minor leagues, we will be able consistently field competitive teams. We still have a ways to on talent but we are improving. I am still optimistic but need to see continuous improvement.

    p.s. Rich – I appreciate the opportunity to voice my thoughts and observations. It also helps to be able to vent.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 22, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Maka, I’m here to listen. I appreciate you reading.

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