O’s Q&A with DJ Short, NBC Sports

As 2012 fast approaches, Baltimore Sports and Life has reached out to D.J. Short for his thoughts.

You can find Short’s work with NBC Sports / Hardball Talk at:
http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/author/djshort/

You can find Short on Twitter at:
http://twitter.com/#!/djshort

Baltimore Sports and Life thanks Mr. Short 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 The departed Amateur Scouting Director Joe Jordan has been replaced by Gary Rajsich (formerly the National Cross-checker for Toronto).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?”

Short: “Well, first we have to be honest and recognize that Dan Duquette wasn’t the Orioles’ first choice…or their second…or even their third. It was easy to see why Jerry Dipoto bowed out – the Angels are in a much better position to compete, clearly – but it says a lot when someone like Tony LaCava decides to return to Toronto. It’s not like GM jobs come around very often. Like it or not, this search didn’t do anything to change the perception that Peter Angelos is a control freak. In fact, it probably enhanced that view. It’s already pretty clear that Duquette is going to make the international market a priority, what with his efforts to sign Chong Tae-Hyon, Tsuyoshi Wada and Chen Wei-Yin. It will be interesting to see what impact the new CBA has on signing amateurs out of Latin America, but Ferreira’s track record obviously speaks for itself. My only question is, how long are Ferreira and Thomas expected to stick around? They are both 75 years old. As for the O’s shaking up their scouting staff, most of that is above my pay grade as an outsider. But with video and statistics so prevalent and easily accessible these days, I can see what they are trying to accomplish.”

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

Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Reynolds 3rd / 1st
Wieters C
Davis 1st / 3rd
Reimold LF
DH
Andino 2nd

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?”

Short: “One of the big criticisms last off-season was that the Orioles signed veteran players like Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee for the purposes of generating buzz and/or adding an extra win or two in the short-term when those funds could have been allocated toward the draft or the international market. Giving fans a reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season is certainly important, but I generally agreed with this criticism. It appears that one of the goals of the new CBA is to get teams to direct their budget toward spending on major-league talent. This is potentially dangerous for the Orioles, who are not one player acquisition away from contending. I’m not in favor of overpaying Prince Fielder in order to lure him to Baltimore. Rebuilding now would seem to be the appropriate course of action, but the Orioles only have a few valuable trade chips, the majority of which they would reportedly like to keep. It’s a tough balance.”

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?”

Short: “I’m not sure if this is really an either or situation as far as extending or trading him by Opening Day, but my guess is he’ll still be with the Orioles. Jones at least showed some more power last season, but he hasn’t made much progress with this plate discipline. He’s 26 years old right now, so at least he’s entering what should be his prime seasons. There’s also a wide range of opinions on his defense, so I’m honestly not sure what to believe. He obviously has a lot more value if he can stick in center as opposed to a corner outfield spot, where his offensive output would be pretty underwhelming.

The Orioles don’t have many marketable trade chips, as I mentioned above, but Jones is one they should look to cash in on. We heard some conflicting reports earlier this month about a potential deal with the Braves involving Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. It doesn’t really matter whether it was true or not, but this is exactly the sort of deal the Orioles shouldn’t be doing. Prado and Jurrjens will both be free agents before the Orioles will be legit contenders. If they deal Jones, they need prospects and/or long-term assets in return.”

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?”

Short: “It’s certainly an interesting dynamic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the close relationship between Angelos and Showalter played a part in a number of potential GM candidates turning them down for interviews. However, it’s important to remember how desperate Duquette was to get back in the game. He has nothing to lose.”

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?”

Short: “Anybody who tells you they know what to expect from Matusz is kidding themselves. He showed plenty of promise after the All-Star break in 2010, but just about everything went wrong for him last season, starting with the strained intercostal muscle during spring training. Can’t give up on him yet, but he’s a huge wild card going into 2012. I still think Arrieta has a chance to be a decent backend starter, but his command needs to improve. Only two pitchers (with at least 200 IP) have a higher walk rate over the past two seasons. Britton is the biggest bright spot here. He was never as good as his numbers looked when he started last season 5-1, but his solid ground ball rate (52.8) gives him a chance to succeed in the AL East.”

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?”

Short: “If I was building a team to win right now, it would be Yadier Molina. If I wanted a catcher I could have for the next several years, it would be Wieters. I think he’s quietly becoming one of the best all-around players in the American League.”

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?”

Short: “Most seem to believe it will take more than $50 million to sign Cespedes. I have never seen him play, so I can’t say with absolute certainty whether he’s worth that sort of investment, but I think the Orioles should be targeting younger players. 19-year-old Jorge Soler might be a better fit.”

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?”

Short: “I sort of touched on this earlier. I’m over-simplifying things here, but we’ll probably see a lot more teams go overboard to sign marginal free agents, like the Pirates just did with Clint Barmes, then go overslot to sign a second- or third-round draft pick. It puts a roadblock up where smaller market clubs have a chance to compete. Too bad.”

Baltimore Sports and Life: “With that CBA providing a $2.9M international cap on each team for the ’12-’13 signing period (beginning July 2nd), will Jorge Soler get a contract in excess of $15M from someone?”

Short: “As long as Soler signs before July 2, he won’t be subject to the cap. The Rangers gave Leonys Martin $15 million and he’s four years older, so my guess is Soler will probably sign for more.”

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?”

Short: “I wouldn’t give up young player inventory for either. Quentin only has one year of team control left and Floyd will be a free agent after 2013. Both should be targets for win-now teams. That isn’t the Orioles.”

Baltimore Sports and Life: “What would you like to see the O’s accomplish between now and the start of Spring Training?”

Short: “I’d like them to learn from their mistakes last off-season. Hopefully they’ll give themselves some more flexibility out the DH spot and not sign an aging free agent. Bringing back Luke Scott could make some sense, since he can play the outfield and first base if need be, although I expect he’ll have multiple offers on the table.”

Note from Baltimore Sports and Life: You can discuss Mr. Short’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.

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About the author


Chris Stoner   

Majority Owner

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, ESPN 1300, FOX 1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. You can find Stoner on Twitter @BmoreSportsLife, and you can reach him via email at Chris.Stoner@baltimoresportsandlife.com.


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