Deals that Never Happened, Part III

In the previous versions of this series I discussed the infamous non-trades in the middle of the 1996 playoff run where, perhaps, Peter Angelos made better decisions than Pat Gillick as well as a decent decision to rescind the Aaron Sele contract and the unfortunate Jeffrey Hammonds-Shawn Green non-deal.  It should be noted that this series is full of non-deals that I am aware of, am reasonably sure happened, and were supposedly nixed by the Orioles’ ownership.  There certainly are assumptions here and one always wonders whether the stories you hear about Angelos are real or creatively embellished.

With this issue of the series, we move into the early 2000s with a failed Syd Thrift deal and two failed Jim Beattie deals.  In these three deals, Erik Bedard was supposedly desired in each of them.  In fact, they were all rather pitcher heavy, which makes sense because that was where the Orioles had “strength” in their thin minor league system during this time.

Deal #1 (Baltimore Sun)

Orioles receive 3B Scott Rolen, P Chris Brock, INF Kevin Jordan, and P Alfredo Simon

Phillies receive P Sidney Ponson, P Buddy Groom, P Erik Bedard, P Sean Douglass, and LF Jeff Conine

During the winter meetings in 2001, this deal appeared to be near completed.  Scott Rolen was one of the best players in the Major Leagues.  He was a very good hitter with an excellent glove.  He was also coming to the end of his team controlled years and the Phillies had no interest in committing major money to him over the ten season deal he was said to want.  At that point and time, the organization was far more conservative with their payroll than they are now.  They also thought that they needed to bolster their pitching and that guys like Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, and Travis Lee could take them far enough with the bats.  The main targets in this package were Sidney Ponson and Buddy Groom with Bedard and Douglass as high upside minor league arms (or as high upside as was available on the Orioles).

The Orioles on the other hand had an opening at third when Cal Ripken Jr. decided to retire.  In 2001, the team claimed Tony Batista as a potential replacement for Ripken, but his play was unimpressive.  Rolen would give the team a face, a true All Star.  However, this deal required the team to sign Rolen to an extension.  The year before, it was mentioned in the press that Mussina was let go because he would not sign for an amount that was sensitive to the media market in which the Orioles existed.  Perhaps likewise, Rolen desired a full market deal, which was as disagreeable to the Baltimore ownership as it was to the Philadelphia ownership.  The deal collapsed and was minimized to one where Chris Brock made his journey to the Orioles while the Phillies acquired John Wasdin.  From blockbuster to journeyman switcheroo.

Evaluation of the Orioles proposed package

Scott Rolen

Year Age Tm PA 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+
1996 21 PHI 146 7 0 4 0 2 13 27 .254 .322 .400 90
1997 22 PHI 657 35 3 21 16 6 76 138 .283 .377 .469 121
1998 23 PHI 711 45 4 31 14 7 93 141 .290 .391 .532 139
1999 24 PHI 497 28 1 26 12 2 67 114 .268 .368 .525 120
2000 25 PHI 541 32 6 26 8 1 51 99 .298 .370 .551 129
2001 26 PHI 653 39 1 25 16 5 74 127 .289 .378 .498 127
2002 27 TOT 667 29 8 31 8 4 72 102 .266 .357 .503 129
2003 28 STL 657 49 1 28 13 3 82 104 .286 .382 .528 138
2004 29 STL 593 32 4 34 4 3 72 92 .314 .409 .598 158
2005 30 STL 223 12 1 5 1 2 25 28 .235 .323 .383 84
2006 31 STL 594 48 1 22 7 4 56 69 .296 .369 .518 126
2007 32 STL 441 24 2 8 5 3 37 56 .265 .331 .398 89
2008 33 TOR 467 30 3 11 5 0 46 71 .262 .349 .431 109
2009 34 TOT 535 36 1 11 5 4 45 62 .305 .368 .455 116
2010 35 CIN 537 34 3 20 1 2 50 82 .285 .358 .497 126
2011 36 CIN 269 20 2 5 1 0 10 36 .242 .279 .397 81
2012 37 CIN 330 17 2 8 2 1 30 62 .245 .318 .398 88
17 Yrs 8518 517 43 316 118 49 899 1410 .281 .364 .490 122
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/4/2013.

Rolen wound up signing an 8 year, 90 MM deal with the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2002 season.  It was mentioned that he took less due to his adoration of the baseball culture around St. Louis than he was willing to take with Philadelphia or Baltimore.  The Cardinals bet on this as they did not make him sign as a requirement of the trade, which was something Baltimore was unwilling to do.  What the Cardinals got was an excellent player with an MVP quality season for almost half of the contract until injuries started impacting his performance.  Eventually, Rolen was dealt to the Blue Jays in a challenge deal for Troy Glaus.  That deal seemed pretty even until injuries destroyed Glaus’ career.

The rest of the package is underwhelming.  Kevin Jordan never played in an MLB game afterward.  Chris Brock did make his way to Baltimore, but was a typical journeyman reliever.  Alfredo Simon was heavily impacted by injuries until resurrecting his career a decade later in Baltimore and then taking it to the next level as a reliever with the Cincinnati Reds.

Evaluation of the Phillies Package

The Phillies wound up 21.5 games behind the NL East leading Atlanta Braves in 2002 and 15 out behind them in 2003, so it is probably safe to say that Sidney Ponson’s two year run of being a solid 2/3 starter and Buddy Groom’s 2002 270 ERA+ would have not helped them as much as they needed.  The real get for them would have been Erik Bedard, who put in amazing seasons in 2006 and 2007 before injuries got hold of him.

Trade #2 (Baltimore Sun)

Orioles receive 1B Derrek Lee

Marlins receive P Erik Bedard, P John Maine, and 3B Tripper Johnson

As the 2003 season wound down, first base was a bit of a mess for the Orioles.  After Jeff Conine (a marginal 1B) was dealt to the Marlins for their playoff run, it became apparent that B.J. Surhoff, David Segui, Jay Gibbons, nor Carlos Mendez were solutions.  Derrek Lee became the main target they decided to focus on.  He showed himself as a true middle of the order hitter and played at a position where the Orioles truly had no MLB quality option in their organization.

For the Marlins, after winning their second World Series, they decided a need to retool.  It has been a strategy that has made their ownership a good bit of profits, angered much of baseball, and has actually been relatively successful.  They tend to acquire good young talent, acquire a couple decent pieces when the youth have progressed to open a window of competition, and then sell most of their pieces while they still have value in order to restart the youth movement.  Most folks do not like how sausage is made when the process is made relatively transparent, but most folks love the taste of sausage.  To put it another way, the Marlins built a franchise during the 2000s that had the 14th best record overall with a winning percentage of .502.  That is a successful organization.  Anyway, it meant Lee was to be let go and a package of prospects be acquired that would catapult the Marlins toward another playoff run.

The Marlins and Orioles agreed upon a deal, which was contingent on an extension.  Supposedly, the club would not budge off of a 3 year, 18 MM deal after including so many prospects.  The deal collapsed on that and the team decided to focus their plans for first base on bringing back Rafael Palmeiro.  The Marlins went to their second favorite package, quickly dealing him to the Cubs.  The Cubs signed Lee to a 3 year, 21 MM deal.

Derrek Lee

Year Age Tm PA 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS+
1997 21 SDP 63 3 0 1 0 0 9 24 .259 .365 .370 100
1998 22 FLA 513 29 1 17 5 2 47 120 .233 .318 .414 96
1999 23 FLA 236 9 1 5 2 1 17 70 .206 .263 .326 53
2000 24 FLA 546 18 3 28 0 3 63 123 .281 .368 .507 124
2001 25 FLA 625 37 4 21 4 2 50 126 .282 .346 .474 113
2002 26 FLA 688 35 7 27 19 9 98 164 .270 .378 .494 131
2003 27 FLA 643 31 2 31 21 8 88 131 .271 .379 .508 131
2004 28 CHC 688 39 1 32 12 5 68 128 .278 .356 .504 118
2005 29 CHC 691 50 3 46 15 3 85 109 .335 .418 .662 174
2006 30 CHC 204 9 0 8 8 4 25 41 .286 .368 .474 112
2007 31 CHC 650 43 1 22 6 5 71 114 .317 .400 .513 130
2008 32 CHC 698 41 3 20 8 2 71 119 .291 .361 .462 109
2009 33 CHC 615 36 2 35 1 0 76 109 .306 .393 .579 146
2010 34 TOT 626 35 0 19 1 3 73 134 .260 .347 .428 106
2011 35 TOT 477 17 2 19 2 1 33 110 .267 .325 .446 109
15 Yrs 7963 432 30 331 104 48 874 1622 .281 .365 .495 122
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/6/2013.

The three year deal the Cubs signed him to was scrapped after his second season when he established himself as one of the best players in baseball.  This resulted in the third year being overwritten with a new 5 year, 65 MM contract.  Lee then proceeded to one good season, one very good season, and three slightly below average seasons.  He was somewhat underwhelming as the Cubs needed him to perform at a high level each season.  It would be hard to see whether or not Lee would have greatly changed the Orioles’ future.  You could argue that simply replacing Palmeiro with Lee in 2005 that the team would have gone 82-80 instead of 74-88.  I’m not sure where the would get them outside of one grand benefit — never having to hear someone complain that the team took Billy Rowell over Tim Lincecum in the 2006 draft.

Evaluation of the Marlins Package

Two things come to mind: (1) Erik Bedard was popular and (2) the Marlins would have preferred this package over what the Cubs gave them.

Erik Bedard

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS IP HR BB SO ERA+ H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2002 23 BAL 0 0 13.50 2 0 0.2 0 0 1 49 27.0 0.0 0.0 13.5
2004 25 BAL 6 10 4.59 27 26 137.1 13 71 121 99 9.8 0.9 4.7 7.9
2005 26 BAL 6 8 4.00 24 24 141.2 10 57 125 108 8.8 0.6 3.6 7.9
2006 27 BAL 15 11 3.76 33 33 196.1 16 69 171 120 9.0 0.7 3.2 7.8
2007 28 BAL 13 5 3.16 28 28 182.0 19 57 221 146 7.0 0.9 2.8 10.9
2008 29 SEA 6 4 3.67 15 15 81.0 9 37 72 116 7.8 1.0 4.1 8.0
2009 30 SEA 5 3 2.82 15 15 83.0 8 34 90 151 7.0 0.9 3.7 9.8
2011 32 TOT 5 9 3.62 24 24 129.1 14 48 125 109 8.2 1.0 3.3 8.7
2012 33 PIT 7 14 5.01 24 24 125.2 14 56 118 75 9.2 1.0 4.0 8.5
2013 34 HOU 3 5 4.67 18 16 86.2 14 44 73 89 8.9 1.5 4.6 7.6
10 Yrs 66 69 3.91 210 205 1163.2 117 473 1117 110 8.5 0.9 3.7 8.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/10/2013.

It is somewhat amazing to look back at what Bedard had accomplished for the Orioles and how it netted them, eventually, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler.  A few broken seasons for three useful starters.

John Maine

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS IP HR BB SO ERA+ H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2004 23 BAL 0 1 9.82 1 1 3.2 1 3 1 51 17.2 2.5 7.4 2.5
2005 24 BAL 2 3 6.30 10 8 40.0 8 24 24 69 8.8 1.8 5.4 5.4
2006 25 NYM 6 5 3.60 16 15 90.0 15 33 71 122 6.9 1.5 3.3 7.1
2007 26 NYM 15 10 3.91 32 32 191.0 23 75 180 110 7.9 1.1 3.5 8.5
2008 27 NYM 10 8 4.18 25 25 140.0 16 67 122 101 7.8 1.0 4.3 7.8
2009 28 NYM 7 6 4.43 15 15 81.1 8 38 55 92 7.4 0.9 4.2 6.1
2010 29 NYM 1 3 6.13 9 9 39.2 8 25 39 64 10.7 1.8 5.7 8.8
2013 32 MIA 0 0 12.27 4 0 7.1 2 5 7 33 18.4 2.5 6.1 8.6
8 Yrs 41 36 4.45 112 105 593.0 81 270 499 96 8.1 1.2 4.1 7.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/10/2013.

Maine would have given the Marlins a second useful piece in their rotation for a few years until his arm injuries caught up to him.  Unlike Bedard though, Maine was later packaged with Jorge Julio and dealt to the Mets for the eternally underwhelming Kris Benson.

The final piece of the deal was Tripper Johnson who was a sleeper hot corner prospect with a decent swing and athleticism.  He was a typical kind of throw-in that the Marlins were (and still are) looking for.  He wound up staying in the Orioles’ organization and never advanced past AA where he had a full season and a cup of coffee.  He retired after spending one season, at age 25, with the Pirates organization.  He then played a lot of secondary, rather poorly, for the Washington Huskies in an 0-12 season and then played out his collegiate career as a special teams man.

Trade #3 (ESPN)

Orioles receive P Tim Hudson

Athletics receive P John Maine, P Hayden Penn, and P Erik Bedard

A year later, the Orioles changed their focus to pitching.  The brass was very interested in the demolition of Beane’s early 2000 Oakland A powerhouse.  Beane was also pretty impressed by some of the arms in the Orioles’ system.  Both sides agreed on the above deal, but things fell apart allegedly when Tim Hudson refused to sign an extension with the club.  The Orioles were concerned about leveraging themselves so greatly without an extension as a safety net, so the Athletics moved on to the next suitor.

Tim Hudson

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS IP HR BB SO ERA+ H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
1999 23 OAK 11 2 3.23 21 21 136.1 8 62 132 142 8.0 0.5 4.1 8.7
2000 24 OAK 20 6 4.14 32 32 202.1 24 82 169 113 7.5 1.1 3.6 7.5
2001 25 OAK 18 9 3.37 35 35 235.0 20 71 181 129 8.3 0.8 2.7 6.9
2002 26 OAK 15 9 2.98 34 34 238.1 19 62 152 145 8.9 0.7 2.3 5.7
2003 27 OAK 16 7 2.70 34 34 240.0 15 61 162 165 7.4 0.6 2.3 6.1
2004 28 OAK 12 6 3.53 27 27 188.2 8 44 103 129 9.3 0.4 2.1 4.9
2005 29 ATL 14 9 3.52 29 29 192.0 20 65 115 121 9.1 0.9 3.0 5.4
2006 30 ATL 13 12 4.86 35 35 218.1 25 79 141 92 9.7 1.0 3.3 5.8
2007 31 ATL 16 10 3.33 34 34 224.1 10 53 132 131 8.9 0.4 2.1 5.3
2008 32 ATL 11 7 3.17 23 22 142.0 11 40 85 132 7.9 0.7 2.5 5.4
2009 33 ATL 2 1 3.61 7 7 42.1 4 13 30 115 10.4 0.9 2.8 6.4
2010 34 ATL 17 9 2.83 34 34 228.2 20 74 139 138 7.4 0.8 2.9 5.5
2011 35 ATL 16 10 3.22 33 33 215.0 14 56 158 119 7.9 0.6 2.3 6.6
2012 36 ATL 16 7 3.62 28 28 179.0 12 48 102 110 8.4 0.6 2.4 5.1
2013 37 ATL 5 7 4.03 18 18 109.1 10 29 77 96 8.2 0.8 2.4 6.3
15 Yrs 202 111 3.44 424 423 2791.2 220 839 1878 124 8.4 0.7 2.7 6.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/10/2013.

It is actually pretty hard to believe these days that Tim Hudson has spent three more years pitching for the Braves than he did for the Athletics. He would have been a good addition to the Orioles’ staff, but to what end?  During this part of the Orioles’ time in the wilderness, there was great hope that Daniel Cabrera, Sidney Ponson, and Rodrigo Lopez would be able to buoy the rotation with Hudson as the ace.  The offense was supposed to be led by Tejada and Roberts with significant contributions from Javy Lopez, Sammy Sosa, a hopefully rejuvenated tandem in Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie, and with Jay Gibbons as a designated hitter.  Back then, it looked like it just might work, but it meant that about a dozen things had to go right.  Only, maybe, three of them actually worked out.

Something similar could be said about the Athletics.  Hudson eventually went to the Braves for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer, and Charles Thomas.  Juan Cruz turned into one poor year of Brad Halsey.  Nothing turned out well for the other two.  Dan Meyer may ring a bell to some of you out there.  Last fall, the Orioles picked him up.  He was released at the end of Spring Training.

Conclusion

It is amazing that of the three famous non-Bedard deals that this one likely would have been the best for the team if they could have signed him to an extension.  Still, I would have to state that the final Bedard deal was the one that worked out best for the club.  The other deals above would have netted the team players who probably would not have had the necessary complementary pieces for making this team competitive.  Essentially, all available money would have been tied up in these stars and the team would then be heavily reliant on a thin minor league that just went up and dealt their best pieces.  Bad teams tend not to get better by dealing for a great player unless that move is matched with a deluge of cash to pick up additional players on the market.

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About the author


Jon Shepherd  

Jon Shepherd founded the Baltimore Orioles blog Camden Depot in 2007. In addition to Baltimore Orioles analysis, the blog also focuses on qualitative and quantitative approaches to assessing baseball in general as well as providing mainstream reviews and commentary on substances alleged to performance enhancing. Dr. Shepherd’s writing has been featured on ESPN, and his blog has been part of the ESPN Sweetspot Network since May 2011. He has made radio and podcast appearances for Orioles’ centered programs.


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