As 2012 fast approaches, Baltimore Sports and Life has reached out to David Schoenfield for his thoughts.
You can find Schoenfield’s work with ESPN at:
You can find Schoenfield on Twitter at:
Baltimore Sports and Life thanks Mr. Schoenfield for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Baltimore Sports and Life: “I have been pleased by the organizational moves Dan Duquette has made since being introduced to the Baltimore media November 8th. The departed Amateur Scouting Director Joe Jordan has been replaced by Gary Rajsich (formerly the National Cross-checker for Toronto). Under Rajsich, the existing Professional Scouts have been resigned to the Amateur side, and the O’s will rely more video and statistical analysis while evaluating players on other teams. Boston’s Southeast Cross-checker Danny Haas has been hired as the National Cross-checker for Baltimore.
Fred Ferreira has come on-board as the Executive Director of International Recruiting. Ferreira has helped bring in 10 new international scouts, working in the Dominican, Venezuela, Curacao, Guatemala, Holland, and Costa Rica. The O’s are actually looking into adding a Venezuelan academy. Former Phillies General Manager Lee Thomas has been added as an assistant to Duquette. What are you impressions of the Duquette hire, and the staff he has assembled?”
Schoenfield: “It seems pretty clear that the Orioles need to get more production from Latin America, so investing resources there is clearly the right move to make. So much of scouting is luck from the crapshoot nature of the draft, so it’s anybody guess if Duquette has hired the right staff. To me, a bigger question is why certain players highly regarded at one time haven’t developed – like Chris Tillman or Josh Bell, or stagnated at the big league level like Nick Markakis and Brian Matusz.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “The O’s likely 2012 roster could* currently resemble something like:
Guthrie, Britton, Arrieta, Matusz, Wada
Johnson, Gregg, Strop, Hunter, Simon, Bergesen or Tillman, Patton or Eveland
Reynolds 3rd / 1st
Davis 1st / 3rd
Roberts, Teagarden, Antonelli or Flaherty, Chavez
*The O’s seem to prefer Davis at 3rd, and and Reynolds at 1st. I prefer the opposite. My guess is that the O’s will likely have Bergesen, Tillman, and maybe Matusz starting for AAA Norfolk to begin the year. That would mean that other pitchers on the 40 man like Darren O’Day, Rapada, Zach Phillips, and VandenHurk would be competing for spots in the Baltimore pen. My preference would be the staff above.
If you combine Duquette’s comments on the record, with what he has insinuated; the following statements are true:
1) The O’s payroll will remain stagnant at roughly $85M.
2) The O’s want to improve to above .500 in 2012.
3) The O’s do not intend to deal Jones, Hardy, or Wieters. It is unlikely that Markakis will be moved, and also unlikely that Guthrie will be moved prior to the non-waiver deadline next year. Duquette is taking over a team which has had not had a winning season since 1997. He also takes over a team which has not even won 70+ games since 2006. Yet, it would also be unfair to say he inherits a total reclamation project either. There is enough talent on the Major League roster, that heading into the 2011 season the averaged predicted win total from 19 different analysts was 78. Even if 81 wins is plausible for this coming year, should that be a organizational ‘goal’? Meaning if the team can not contend in ’12, or ’13, should the focus be a deeper rebuilding now, even at the potential expense of wins in ’12?”
Schoenfield: “Don’t you have to try to win at some point? Considering only Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis are signed to long-term deals past 2012, shedding payroll to “rebuild” shouldn’t be an issue. I think it’s more important for the Orioles to see what they have in 2012 before trading Jeremy Guthrie or especially trading Adam Jones for players who won’t help you two or three years down the road (and thus giving in to another string of losing seasons). Now, there isn’t a real difference between 78 and 82 wins, but for an organization in such a long dry spell, I think there is a psychological importance to competing and putting the best product possible on the field.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “In a Baseball America poll (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/majors/best-tools/2011/2612213.html) of Major League Managers, Adam Jones was ranked as the 2nd best defensive CF in the American League. On the other-side you have the most advanced defensive metrics which state Jones is a below average CF. I tend to believe that the truth lies between those two extremes. Jones currently has a Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) of .338, and his Isolated Power (ISO) is .182. For the 2nd consecutive year, he played in 149+ games. For the 3rd consecutive year his OPS fell within the range of .767 to .792. He finished with 25 homers, and 26 doubles. Jones is a Free Agent after the 2013 season. By Opening Day 2012, do you think the O’s need to have either extended him or traded him? If you would like to see him extended, what type of contract do you think would be fair? If he were to be traded, he has to bring back players who can be under long-term team control. What type of trade could you see as fair?”
Schoenfield: “He’s a good player, but not a great one – the kind of player who is usually slightly overrated by his own organization and fan base. If he’s a 2-win player, he’s worth about $10 million per season in free agency; if he’s a 3-win player, he’s worth about $15 million in free agency. He hasn’t shown any improvement in his strike-zone judgment, so I don’t believe he’s going to get better (which doesn’t mean he can’t produce a career-year type of season at some point). I don’t think he’s the type of players that other organizations especially covet, so you’re unlikely to receive a team’s No. 1 prospect for him.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “During this past 2011 season, Showalter met regularly with Majority Owner Peter Angelos. Showalter has enough influence within the organization, that he was part of the interview committee with the prospective GM candidates. Presumably, Duquette and Showalter are currently on the same page. However, if it becomes apparent that Duquette, and Showalter have differing philosophies of how the organization should be built (both in the immediate, and long-term) do you agree that Showalter’s opinions should be considered, but that the Manager reports to the GM; and thus the GM should have autonomy to make the moves they desire? If the O’s are going to listen to Showalter first, should he have been the one named the GM?”
Schoenfield: “Well, you can’t do both jobs, so I think the answer is “no.” As you say, if the two are on the same page, it’s not a problem … for now. But Peter Angelos better have a clear line of command here (which should be that the GM is the boss of the manager) or the Orioles are going to fall into the same front-office issues and disagreements they’ve had for years.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “If the O’s are ever going to be competitive in the near term, their young pitching has to produce. Matusz was extremely strong over his last 10 starts of 2010, and abysmal over his 12 outings in 2011. Like Jones’s defense, I think the truth about Matusz is probably somewhere in the middle, but he absolutely needs to earn his spot next Spring.
In 2011, Arrieta saw improvement in his K/9, Line Drive %, Ground Ball %, and First Strike % numbers. With the removed bone spur not directly at the elbow (and with him having surgery when he did), there seems to be confidence in his ability to have a normal throwing program this Winter. Obviously 21 homers in 119.1 ip is too much, and his fastball command has to increase.
There was been a lot to like about Britton’s rookie season, especially with how he responded to the adversity of July. Overall he finished 11-11, with a 4.61 era. In his 154.1 ip, he allowed 162 hits, 12 homers, 62 bb’s, with 97 k’s. His OPS against was .735, and he had a G/F ratio of 1.24. Like Arrieta, his fastball command needs to improve. What are your current thoughts on these three?”
Schoenfield:“I like Britton very much, am confused about Matusz and believe Arrieta tops out as a No. 5 starter at best. Hopefully Matusz just never recovered from his injury in spring training, and like Roy Halladay in 2000, merely developed a mental block that he can overcome. As for Arrieta, 139 pitchers have thrown at least 200 innings the past two seasons and he ranks 137th in SO/BB ratio.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “Wieters finished with 50xbh’s (.450 Slugging) and was lauded as one of the best defensive catchers in the game. If you were starting a team – which catchers do you take before him?”
Schoenfield:“Considering the injury issues right now with Joe Mauer and Buster Posey, if I’m starting a team it comes down to Wieters, Alex Avila or Carlos Santana, and I’m inclined to give the very slight edge to Wieters based on his defensive edge over the other two.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “The O’s sent a contingent (including Showalter, and Ferreira) to the Dominican recently to scout Yoenis Cespedes. It appears that Baltimore would have to pay an ‘O’s tax’ to obtain the 26 yr old OF. Would you advocate Baltimore being willing to offer 6 years $60M for Cespedes. Would you think that contract would be what it would take for the O’s to sign him?”
Schoenfield: “If you’re keeping Adam Jones, I don’t think you pay that kind of money for Cespedes, who may not hit quite enough to be an elite corner outfielder.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal labeled (http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/MLB-deal-unfair-to-small-market-teams-112211) the new CBA a dagger to small market teams. Do you agree with that assessment?”
Schoenfield: “I think it’s too early to know how this will play out. I still have trouble understanding how a cap on draft spending and international spending would HURT small-market franchises. Amateur players would appear to know have less leverage; doesn’t that help small-market teams?”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported last December (2010) that Chicago was shopping Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin as a duo. During the 2011 Winter Meetings, Dan Connolly from the Baltimore Sun tweeted that multiple sources have confirmed that the O’s have interest in the pair. Floyd, the Annapolis native, turns 29 in January. For his career Floyd is 58-55, with a 4.50 era. The RHP has 4 consecutive seasons of at-least 30 starts, and 187+ ip. In 2011, Floyd was 12-13, with a 4.37 era. In 193.2 ip, Floyd allowed 180 hits, 22 homers, 45 walks, with 151 k’s. He had a .685 OPS against (.743 for his career), and a G/F ratio of .84 (.82 career). Floyd is owed $7M in 2012, with a $9.5M club option for ’13.
Quentin turned 29 in August. For his career the RH hitting OF/DH has a .836 OPS. He has had 4 consecutive seasons of 20+ homers, including a career high 36 in 2008. In 2011, Quentin was limited to 118 games after spraining the AC joint in his left shoulder making a diving catch. In those 118 games, Quentin had 55 xbh’s, and a .838 OPS. Quentin is arbitration eligible for 2012, and a Free Agent for ’13. Quentin had horrible UZR/150 numbers in the OF in ’09, and ’10, but had solid enough numbers in ’08, and ’11. He is probably best suited for DH, but serviceable enough to be used in both Left and Right. I would imagine that if Chicago is going to move these two, their GM Kenny Williams is doing so to reduce salary. Based on that, there should only be so much going back to the White Sox. I would think Tillman, and Avery would be attractive to Chicago. Tillman has the tools to be a future Floyd, and would be under their control cheaply for years. Williams loves athletic prospects, and Avery qualifies in that regard.Would that be enough to get them back? If not, would Chicago have interest in Johnson? (Johnson is arbitration eligible for ’12, and ’13.) There is apprehension among some in Baltimore, that Matusz could be included in such a trade, with those fans concerned about selling low on the Southpaw. Do you see a trade for the White Sox pair as feasible without the inclusion of Matusz from the O’s?”
Schoenfield: “I don’t see the Orioles trading Matusz; I think the better risk is hoping he bounces back rather than selling low. Tillman and Avery for two years of Floyd and one year of Quention? Sounds reasonable (although personally I’m not a fan of Tillman and wouldn’t be interested.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “What would you like to see the O’s accomplish between now and the start of Spring Training?”
Schoenfield: “As much as fans love to see action, there isn’t much for Baltimore to do right now. I wouldn’t mind them settling on one of Mark Reynolds or Chris Davis and finding a real third baseman.”
Note from Baltimore Sports and Life: You can discuss Mr. Schoenfield’s comments at the BSL Message Board (http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/forum). We will be posting the responses from other writers and analysts to these questions as the week goes on.