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Davis, Otani, & Hays

The Baltimore Orioles 2018 schedule came out yesterday, and the timing was good as the lights on their 2017 season effectively completely turned off.

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

Some quick hits on a couple of O’s related topics:

Topic 1: Chris Davis’s 2017 Season Can Not End Soon Enough

Entering play today, Davis has an fWAR of 0.3.  That’s horrible.  Davis at a .740 OPS is one of the leading reasons this team won’t be playing in October.

Also these first two years of the contract don’t inspire confidence going forward for the rest of the deal.

It’s not revisionist history to say that many did not like the contract when it was signed. 

Personally, I’m still comfortable with the contract. Especially with all of the deferred money. But if he doesn’t post a season like ’15 next year, that will be pretty depressing. That ability should still exist.

That said, he’s about to post his 3rd sub .800 OPS season in 4 years. That’s a trend that can’t be dismissed.

He has to commit to changing his current approach. He’s hit for some average before at the ML level. He certainly did at the MiL level.  He has power to all fields. He shouldn’t be trying to pull the ball as much as he is.

I know Walt Hriniak’s approach of going back up the middle with liners is long out of vogue and that everyone currently talks about launch angles, etc., but he really just needs to be thinking of using all fields, and hitting line drives. If he does that, his natural power will take over.

His K% in 2015 was 31%.  Last year it increased to 32.9%.   This year it’s up to 37.2%. 
37.2% is insane, even with the acknowledgement that he’s always been a guess hitter.

You’ve got to be better Crush.

Topic 2: Japanese Star Shohei Otani Will Be Posted

I believe the Orioles entered 2017 with just under $6M in International Cap dollars available for them to spend.

During 2017, we’ve seen the O’s continue their recent history of trading International Signing Bonus slot money for non-prospects.

The logic has been, “We’re not going to use that money on obtaining International talent, so we are going to utilize those dollars to bring back a live body.”

I’ve hated that overall approach by the Orioles, but I haven’t blamed O’s Executive VP Dan Duquette, I’ve blamed O’s Majority Owner Peter Angelos.

Angelos tenure has Majority Owner has existed since ’93. No matter who has manned the Front Office, the O’s approach to International talent has remained consistent. Clearly there is no interest from the Ownership in allocating their spending in that fashion.

It’s a completely baffling thought-process, as logic dictates that if you directed your funds to scouting, signing, and developing that young International talent; you would ultimately save money as an organization (i.e. the development of assets under long-term team control vs. having to fill out your roster with costlier external Free Agent talent).

So, knowing the philosophy of Ownership – I’ve been okay with Duquette’s approach. Basically he was making sure the Signing Bonus slot money was utilized in some fashion, and some ‘talent’ joined the organization.

However, it makes one want to cry when you read that Otani is leaving significant money on the table in Japan to come to MLB for 2018. As MLB clarified last December, there was no Otani exception to the latest CBA.

Had the O’s not traded away their International Cap Dollars, they’d be in a better position to potentially obtain Otani.

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports in the first link above that, “The process for Otani to come to MLB would work as follows: First, the league and Nippon Professional Baseball need to agree on a new posting system, according to sources. While the current version caps the posting fee paid to the Japanese team at $20 million, the sides continue to negotiate new terms and are expected to settle on a new deal before November, sources said. The fee is likely to remain flat, allowing Otani to shop for his preferred team, as opposed to the past, when it was part of a blind bidding and handcuffed the player to the major league team that bid the most.”

Based on that, I think our poster Mackus has posted the only plausible scenario which could make Baltimore Otani’s preferred destination, “The Orioles should offer him a one- or maybe two-year deal with a promise to non-tender him after the season.  Only way I see us being having a shot. Basically would cost the $20M posting fee which would be paid to his Japenese team plus whatever of our international bonus allotment we still have available (maybe $2-3M?).”

Topic 3: Why Hasn’t Austin Hays Been Playing?

On September 3rd, Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said Hays being promoted to Baltimore would be premature. Several days later the promotion occurred.

Since Joey Rickard was the O’s RF in the series immediately prior to Hays’ promotion, I had anticipated an easy switch. Hays into the everyday lineup in RF, and Rickard to the bench as the 4th OF where he belongs.

Instead, we’ve yet to see much of Hays (0 for 3 so far).

Was Buck irritated by the promotion? Is that why he hasn’t been playing?

By the metrics, Rickard has had a plus year with the glove; but off the bench he could be utilized as a defensive replacement if needed.

Also, Hays is recognized as a plus fielder by all accounts.

If you look at how the roster currently exists, and start projecting to ’18; you can make a sound argument that Hays represents the best internal option to man RF for the Birds next year.  (Mancini in LF, Trumbo at DH.)

Giving him an extended look now, and utilizing that sample (albeit it would be limited either way) as part of the evaluation process to determining Hays path for next year should be happening.

If the counter to that is that Hays couldn’t play this week, because you didn’t want to insert him into the middle of the race for the 2nd WC – I’m going to again come back to Rickard. Joey enters today with a .631 OPS. The bar wasn’t that high.

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Chris Stoner

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director. You can reach him via email at [email protected].

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