A week from today the Baltimore Orioles will have their annual FanFest event. In less than a Month (February 19th), their Pitchers & Catchers will report for the start of Spring Training. Once again we venture around the web to see what others are stating about the O’s, and to give our own reactions.
(Discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Baltimore Sports Report: 8 Internal Candidates For Orioles GM
They Said: Considering the lengthy (and sometimes embarrassing) search that ensued prior to Duquette’s hiring and the short time frame before Spring Training, I think the best route for moving forward in the front office might be hiring from within. Is there anyone that might be a good fit?
We Say: If Duquette’s move becomes official, I have the full expectation that Showalter, Anderson, and Graham will share the job on at-least a temporary basis while a larger search is held. It would be very easy at some point to lift the interim tag. That would disappoint me. There are plenty of highly qualified external options that are interested in this potential vacancy (and I’m not talking about the names the O’s leaked previously – Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, and Kevin Towers). There is zero reason that a larger search should not occur. Let’s play a hypothetical where Duquette leaves for Toronto tomorrow (Sunday the 25th). Name the Showalter, Anderson, Graham trio as the temporary replacements. Spend Monday through Friday (the 26th through 30th) interviewing two candidates per day. On Sunday the 1st have second interviews with the three finalists. On Tuesday the 3rd, announce the hire.
That type of window should not be overly compressed for the O’s. After all, the Duquette to Toronto rumors broke December 7th. There has been plenty of time to establish a list of prospective hires, and compile necessary background information. It would be a disservice to the organization to not bring in numerous potential options and go through that process.
Where I do agree with BSR, is with their allusion to where we are on the baseball calendar. It would be difficult for an external hire to bring in ‘their guys’ this year. That would probably have to wait until next October. While unfortunate, I don’t think that should prevent the O’s from going and finding their new face of Baseball Operations now (again, should things become official with Duquette leaving). I also don’t think the internal options represent optimal choices vs. what is available to the O’s if they do a larger search.
CSN Baltimore: Four weeks from Spring Training, the O’s have questions
They Said: Do the Orioles have to keep Ubaldo Jimenez? Jimenez celebrated his 31st birthday, and he’s hoping this year will be much better than last year. A healthy and productive Jimenez in the spring creates an issue for Showalter: six starters for five spots. Of course, the Orioles can try again to trade Jimenez, but there’s nothing new on that front. That tried early in the offseason, but couldn’t.
They can send Kevin Gausman to the minors, but they don’t want to do that. Or they can try and trade one of their other starters, Wei-Yin Chen or Bud Norris, both of whom are entering their free agency years. That doesn’t seem likely.
Jimenez’s effectiveness is sure to be one of the big stories at camp.
We Say: Unless Chen or Norris are moved, the O’s should be going into the year with Jimenez pegged for the bullpen. BSL’s Jeff Long wrote about the approach Jimenez should take if he was in the pen, and then a status report once he was moved there.
I have not given up hope for Jimenez as a starter. Jimenez has always had control issues, but last year was absurd as he struggled with his mechanics. Just getting back to his career norms would make a significant difference. There was some changes made in September, but you don’t want to make too much out of that. Jimenez fought his mechanics on a pitch-by-pitch basis last year. He has to show some positive consistency first. Nobody expects him to be the guy he was in the 2nd half of 2013, but if he gets locked-in mechanically for a stretch – it is possible the upside which caused the O’s to sign him shows again.
That said, his contract should not mean that a rotation spot is waiting for him to begin the year.
As an aside, the other alternative not mentioned by CSN Baltimore was Gonzalez. If Jimenez looks strong in Spring Training (and again Chen or Norris have not been traded), you could potentially use Gonzalez out of the bullpen if you decide you want Jimenez starting when the seasons starts. There is no scenario in my mind where Gausman being sent back to AAA becomes an acceptable scenario. Hand him the ball every 5th day.
MASN: Quick Update on Reimold
They Said: The Orioles were on the verge of signing outfielder Nolan Reimold to a minor league deal last month on the final day of the Winter Meetings, but it didn’t get done and other teams joined the mix. I’ve heard that the Indians are the most aggressive suitor at the moment and may have moved past the Orioles.
We Say: In a Winter where basically nothing has been accomplished, even a Minor League contract for Reimold will illicit nothing but groans from O’s fans should it happen. Count me as one that would welcome the signing though. I’ve always been a Reimold fan, and a Minor League deal means nothing. There is no risk. He goes to the Minors and if he performs, maybe he earns another shot in the bigs at some point. If he does not perform, there was nothing lost. In 2014, Pearce took advantage of an unexpected opportunity and had a breakout season at age 31. You won’t convince me that Pearce holds any talent advantage over Reimold.
MLB Pipeline.com: Christian Walker #7 1st Base Prospect
They Said: Walker has quickly made it to big league-ready status following a college career that included consecutive national championships and just two-plus years in the Minors. While his first full season was solid, he really broke out in year two, leading the organization in home runs and RBIs.
We Say: There continues to be conjecture in O’s circles that Dariel Alvarez could force his way onto the Opening Day roster. If you are going to consider that possibility, there should probably also be some consideration for carrying Walker. If you carried Alvarez and him starting in RF, then you would have De Aza in LF, and Pearce as the DH. If you carried Walker, you would have De Aza and Pearce on the corners, and Walker at DH.
Alvarez turned 26 in November.
2014 (AA & AAA combined): 532 ab’s, .306 baa, 15 hr’s, 87 rbi, 37 doubles, 3 triples, 21 bb’s, 62 k’s, .330 on-base %, .472 slugging %, .802 OPS.
Walker turns 24 in March.
2014 (AA & AAA combined): 532 ab’s, .288 baa, 26 hr’s, 96 rbi, 25 doubles, 2 triples, 56 walks, 132 k’s, .357 on-base %, .489 slugging %, .846 OPS.
In Alvarez’s favor is a strong arm, and additional experience. Maybe more of a line-drive / gap-power bat? More contact. He would give the O’s another OF, while Walker would be relatively locked into DH (with occasional starts at 1st). Walker could help himself as a player if he showed he could be a competent (Pearce esque) LF.
In Walker’s favor appears to be a higher offensive ceiling, with more raw power now. Might pile-up significantly more k’s, but also looks more willing to take a walk.
I don’t love a scenario where either player is starting in the bigs during 2015, and being depended on. If one player were to get that nod, I can see the logic in Alvarez having a leg-up; just think if you are going to consider that – Walker should be in that conversation as well.