With the Orioles Pitchers and Catchers reporting to camp tomorrow, Baltimore Sports and Life has reached out to Satchel Price for his thoughts on the O’s.
You can find Price’s work with SB Nation Midwest, MLB Daily Dish, and Beyond the Boxscore at the following links:
You can find Price on Twitter at:
Baltimore Sports and Life thanks Mr. Price for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Baltimore Sports and Life: “In Tsuyoshi Wada and Chen Wei-yen, the O’s have added two lefties to their rotation (or at least as rotation possibilities). Wada (who turns 31 in February) is described as a cerebral, soft-tosser. Last year the Japanese native was 16-5, with a 1.51 era. In his 184.2 ip, he allowed 7 homers, 40 bb’s, with 168 k’s. The 26 year old Chen is known as a power arm, whose velocity dipped in ’11, as he dealt with a leg injury. In ’11, the Taiwanese native was 8-10, with a 2.68 era. In his 164.2 ip, he allowed 138 hits, 9 homers, 31 bb’s, with 94 k’s.
Wada: 107-61, 3.14 era, 1,444.2 ip, 1,263 hits, 142 hr’s, 395 bb’s, 1,329 k’s
Chen: 36-30, 2.48 era, 631.1 ip, 518 hits, 47 hr’s, 153 bb’s, 500 k’s
Chen appears to be a lock for the rotation, while Spring Training will decide if Wada joins him or begins in the bullpen. Do you find it realistic to believe this duo could combine for 350 innings, at a 4.50 era for Baltimore?”
Price: “I think that expecting a 4.50 ERA over 350 innings from those two guys would be setting pretty high hopes. There aren’t many pitchers that can reasonably be expected to pitch 175+ innings annually, and asking two guys with zero MLB experience to do so seems like a lot.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “My interpretation of the trade of Guthrie for Hammel and Lindstrom was that the O’s received fair (maybe better) value back. Hammel profiles similar to Guthrie overall (though Guthrie regularly exceeds his FIP, while Hammel regularly does not), and is arbitration eligible in ’13. The O’s will hold a $4M club option on Lindstrom for ’13. Guthrie will be a FA after this year. While it is possible the two obtained pitchers could be flipped later, my problem with the trade was that the O’s did not get any youth under long-term team control back. Duquette has said such youth was not available. Would you have held Guthrie until the non-waiver deadline, and attempted to move him then; or would you have made the trade as is?”
Price: “Frankly, the Orioles should have traded Guthrie in 2011, because they essentially held onto him for too long. By waiting until Guthrie was just one year away from free agency, Baltimore essentially cornered itself into taking a less-than-ideal return instead of getting solid prospects in July 2011.”
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. I think the truth about Matusz is probably somewhere in the middle, but he appears very unlikely to earn a spot this 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?”
Price: “I’m a big Zach Britton fan, but it’s hard to really expect much from the other two. Matusz looked so bad in 2011 that it’s hard to envision him really succeeding at the big league level right now. I’m more optimistic about Arrieta, but I wonder how many bats he’ll miss once he’s pitching in the zone more frequently.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “The O’s had a league average offense last year. The primary changes will be moving Chris Davis (1st), Nolan Reimold (LF), and Wilson Betemit (DH) into the everyday lineup. Would you take the over or under on these three collectively combining for a .750 OPS and 50 homers?”
Price: “I could see a .750 OPS from those three, but I’ll note that getting a combined .750 OPS from your first baseman, designated hitter and left fielder shouldn’t really be considered a success.”
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? Your expectations for him in ’12?”
Price: “I’m a huge, huge Wieters fan. I think we could see a huge breakout in 2012, and even if he doesn’t improve he’s still essentially an All Star at this point. For next year, the only guys I’d take over Wieters would probably be Alex Avila and Mike Napoli. Long term, Avila might be the only catcher that I’d take long-term over Wieters, but I honestly think that Wieters may be the best young catcher in the sport.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “I would be pleased to be wrong, but I believe the O’s will reach a buyout with Roberts during Spring Training. Hardy spent a lot of time leading off last year, but would prefer not to be used in that capacity, and has a relatively low career on-base % anyway. Who should leadoff for Baltimore? Markakis? Reimold? Antonelli (if he were to start over Andino at 2nd)?”
Price: “If Markakis keeps hitting for power like he did in 2011, he actually may be the best fit for the leadoff spot. His strong OBP skills would obviously be valuable there, and he no longer hits for the kind of power that commands a spot in the middle of the batting order. Obviously you’d like to see Markakis hit like a No. 3 hitter, though.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “Reynolds was abysmal at 3rd last year. The prior two years, he was below average, but ‘livable’ at the position. I’m pleased the O’s are giving him another chance at 3rd instead of moving him across the diamond. What would you need to see from Reynolds this year, to advocate Baltimore picking up the $11M club option in ’13?”
Price: “Honestly, I’d end the whole Reynolds-at-third base experiment. It’s not working, and he’s a major liability there. He’s a good hitter, and he can provide some value at first base or DH, but the Orioles need to find a new third baseman. Between Antonelli, Betemit, Adams, Davis and Josh Bell, the Orioles have enough options to try something new.”
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. Like Matusz, I tend to believe that the truth lies between those two extremes. In ’11, Jones had a Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) of .339, and Isolated Power (ISO) was .185. 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. Jones avoided arbitration for this year with a 1 year $6.15M contract. Most agree he can be a piece of a good team, but not a franchise player. 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?”
Price: “It really depends on how the Orioles evaluate Jones. If they believe that he may be due for a breakout in 2012, I don’t think you can deal him unless some other team will blow you away. Basically, if some team will treat Jones like he’s already a young star and return that kind of value, it may be worthwhile to trade him. But at this point, he’s just an above-average player and an enigma, although scouts continue to believe that he’s capable of further improvements. If the Orioles believe that Jones is near his peak already, trading him makes a good deal of sense.”
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.
Some of the moves made include:
1) Amateur Scouting Director Joe Jordan has been replaced by Gary Rajsich (formerly the National Cross-checker for Toronto).
2) 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.
3) Boston’s Southeast Cross-checker Danny Haas has been hired as the National Cross-checker for Baltimore.
4) 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. Ferreira has stated the O’s are looking into adding a Venezuelan academy.
5) Ray Poitevint has also joined the International Department, as Executive Director International Baseball.
6) Former Phillies General Manager Lee Thomas has been added as an assistant to Duquette.
7) Rick Peterson has been hired as Director of Pitching Development.
8) Stephen Walters has been hired as an Economic Advisor.
What are your impressions of the Duquette hire, and the staff he has assembled? Do you believe the O’s would have been any better off had LaCava been hired instead? Do you believe adding a young up-and-coming Executive as Asst. GM should be a priority for the organization?
Price: “I really don’t believe that it matters who Baltimore hires to put in the front office as long as Angelos is the owner. Until Angelos is no longer the dominant voice in the organization, the Orioles will always have issues. There are reasons for why many of the young executives that changed organizations over the winter didn’t show any interest in the O’s.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “Between the lines, the 40 man roster has been upgraded, but only with minimal incremental improvements. Heading into the off-season, I wanted to see the O’s either commit to a full-rebuilding or augment what was already here with known game-changing talent. With the O’s doing neither, I deem this the primary mistake of the Winter. Your thoughts?”
Price: “Totally agree. Waffling between going all-in and rebuilding is never a good strategy. I appreciate the efforts to establish a larger presence internationally, but spending money on stopgap veterans is wasteful.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “As Spring Training prepares to begin, I am looking at the O’s roster as:
Britton, Chen, Arrieta, Hammel, Hunter
Johnson, Lindstrom, Gregg, Strop, Ayala, Wada, and 1 of 3 out of Simon, Patton, Eveland
With Matusz, Tillman, Bergesen, O’Day, and Berken to AAA.
Teagarden, Antonelli, Chavez, and Flaherty or Miller
General thoughts on this roster? What upside do you see? What do you dislike?”
Price: “The Orioles are basically a lock to finish in fifth place. It’s partially because the other four teams in the division are quite good, but the reality is that this team isn’t particularly good.”
Baltimore Sports and Life: “Going into ’11, we polled 19 writers and analysts on their projected record for the O’s. The average pick was 78 wins. The O’s failed to reach those expectations, winning just 69 games. Baltimore has not reached the 70 win plateau since ’06, nor been at or above .500 since ’97. In 2012, Baltimore wins how many games? What would have to occur for you to consider the season a failure or a success?”
Price: “It’s probably going to be another long year at Camden Yards. I’ll guess that the Orioles go 71-91 in 2012, improving a couple games over 2011.”
Note from Baltimore Sports and Life: You can discuss Mr. Price’s comments at the BSL Message Board (http://baltimoresportsandlife.com/forum). We will be adding the responses of several other writers and analysts to these questions during the next few days.