I’d like to thank Andy MacPhail and the Orioles for at least doing a little something this week at the MLB Winter Meetings. It’s been a nice distraction from thinking about that gut-punch Ravens loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
Let’s take a look at what the other team in town has been up to… (for these moves, I’ll defer to some O’s bloggers whose opinions regarding the orange and black are much more sophisticated than anything I can give you right now, with my one track – purple – mind.)
Trade with Diamondbacks for Mark Reynolds
The first move of substance was a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The O’s sent relief pitchers Kam Mickolio and David Hernandez to Arizona for the feast or famine (home run or strike out, basically) Reynolds, who will play 3B in Baltimore. This move was enough for one of the fellas over at Eutaw Street Hooligans to declare “this is my happiest day ever as an O’s fan.”
Reynolds is a masher who strikes out a ton and walks a whole lot as well, he may be the definition of a true three outcome player. Why is this a bad thing? Old school baseball guys see his sub .200 batting average and 200 plus strikeout totals and immediately write him off as a bad player. Well, old school baseball guys are stupid and I will attempt to tell you why.
The majority of the offensive game (especially on the Orioles over the last decade) is played without runners in scoring position. And when there are no runners in scoring position, an out is an out. Whether it is a strikeout, a flyout or a groundout. The only time one kind of out is worse than any other kind is when you ground into a double play, which is impossible to do if you strikeout. What is the difference in striking out 200 times and grounding out 200 times?
Next useless old guy baseball stat, batting average. Mark Reynolds hit .198 last season and will never sniff .300 in that category. So, what does this tell us? I’m not really sure but I do know that he walks a ton and his career low for on base percentage is .320 which tells us that he is still on base more often than the average MLBer and all but 5 Orioles regulars (including Brian Roberts) last season. The point of getting a hit is to get on base, so why is it more important to old guys that you get on base by getting a hit rather than taking a walk? Does anyone have an answer for me? If you are going to bring up that it matters when there are runners in scoring position then you should probably check some stats first. I totally agree with you that a hit is a better outcome than a walk with RISP but even still a walk is not a negative outcome in that situation. Oh yeah, Reynolds also hit a respectable .276 with RISP last year and also had an OPS of 1.033 in that same situation. So that means that in the small percentage of plate appearances where a hit is clearly a better outcome than a walk he understands that and is able to raise his batting average significantly.
Trade with Minnesota Twins for J.J. Hardy
Making a move to upgrade the offensive production at the shortstop position, the O’s then made a deal with the Twins for J.J. Hardy, dealing minor league RPs Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobesen. I’ll let Heath of Dempsey’s Army take it from here:
In a market where legitimate shortstops were scarce, the Orioles got the best one available. Hardy will be 27 next season and is a good bet to be a league average hitter. Unlike Jason Bartlett, (who the O’s were linked to earlier in the week) he’s also a very good fielder. He represents a huge upgrade over Cesar Izturis. Speaking of Izturis, in terms of UZR, Hardy’s just as good with the glove as Izzy was, maybe just a hair better. A glove like Izturis who is a league average hitter? It’s a big swing in talent for the shortstop position.
Resigned Koji Uehara
Last, but not least, the O’s also resigned pitcher Koji Uehara. Here’s Chris Stoner of Baltimore Sports and Life, on the signing:
He missed all of April, and basically all of May and June as well. After the All-Star break, he put up the following numbers: 33 games, 35 ip, 26 hits, 5 bb’s, 45 k’s, 5 homers, .200 baa, (.594 OPS for the season) That is excellent production.
Uehara is a joy to watch pitch, because he is capable of working up/down, in/out. His velocity is mediocre/poor, but his movement is outstanding. With his control, there is no reason why he can not continue to help the O’s. If he could stay relatively healthy, he would have a chance to accumulate the numbers that will garner him far more attention.
Luke Scott Says Stuff
While these moves serve to arguably all improve the team to some degree or another, none of them made the kind of splash to garner the O’s any sort of national attention (like, say, the Washington Nationals coming out of nowhere and backing the Brinks Truck up for Jason Werth). However, Luke Scott was down in Orlando for the meetings, and got the O’s ALL KINDS of attention, albeit completely unwanted.
Luke, the O’s resident gun-toting Ted Nugent enthusiast, had a conversation with Yahoo! writer David Brown. In it, he, among other things, revealed himself to be an Obama “birther.” That is, one of those people who believes our President was not in fact born in the United States.
DB: You don’t think that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, do you?
LS: He was not born here.
LS: That’s my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go — within 10 minutes — to my filing cabinet and I can pick up my real birth certificate and I can go, “See? Look! Here it is. Here it is.” The man has dodged everything. He dodges questions, he doesn’t answer anything. And why? Because he’s hiding something.
This prompted the Orioles organization to quickly distance themselves from Luuuuuuuuuuke’s comments, which picked up a great deal of traction from outlets such as Fox, The Huffington Post, and others.
I have no desire to use a sports blog as a platform to make any sort of political rant. In Luke’s case, he would be wise to at least pick a better forum to spout off on his beliefs. He was at the damn Major League Baseball Winter Meetings…presumably, on his employer’s dime – an employer who, by the way, is a well known liberal-leaning fellow. Luke, save this kind of stuff for the pages of Guns ‘N Ammo, or whatever other NRA-approved publication would be happy to print your thoughts. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut, keep hitting the ball a long way, and stop embarrassing not only the guy who signs your checks, but many of the people who cheer for you every night.