Archive for December, 2009

Orioles Sign Gonzalez And Atkins

December 17, 2009

The Orioles have signed LHP Mike Gonzalez to a 2 year contract worth between $12 – 16 million. They also signed 3B/1B Garrett Atkins to a 1 year deal worth $4.5 million with a $8.5 million club option for 2011.

Grades –  Gonzalez: B, Atkins: C-

I like the Gonzalez signing. Hes a left handed pitcher with a 90-96 mph fastball and a nasty slider. He’ll come into spring training being the heavy favorite to win the closers role. He strikes out alot of batters, although he walks his fare share as well, and hes very good against left handed hitters. He’ll be a slightly better version of George Sherrill making approx. $7 million a year. In 2009 he pitched to a 5-4 record with a 2.42 ERA over 74.1 innings, striking out 90 batters, walking 33, and saving 10 games. He was a type A free agent so the Orioles will lose their second round pick to the Atlanta Braves, which I don’t think is too big of a deal since the club has shown the propensity to pay overslot for fallen talent. Gonzalez has had injury issues in the past and pitched a career high in innings last season, but hes closed in the past and should allow other pitchers like Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara to pitch in roles most helpful to the team. Its not a slam dunk signing, but we grabbed arguably the best reliever on the free agent market on a short term, mid level money contract.

The Atkins signing doesn’t excite me much at all, but there wasn’t much out there and it does have some upside. Atkins had a huge 2006 season with the bat, but hes declined significantly each year since then (.965 OPS in 2006, .853 in 2007, .780 in 2008) before bottoming out in 2009. He hit to a .226/308/.342 line with 12 doubles, 1 triple, 9 HR, and 48 RBI in 2009 (.650 OPS) despite playing half his games at hitter friendly Coors Field. Hes not known as a good fielder at third base and he won’t have the thin air to aid him in 2010. Maybe Terry Crowley can help him rediscover his hitting stroke and we’d have a bargain on our hands. We could play him at either third or first depending on who else we sign this offseason so theres some versatility there, plus we shouldn’t have any problem moving him or benching him if/when 3B Josh Bell and/or 1B Brandon Snyder are ready to come up to the majors. We won’t miss out on any big time corner infielders because of this deal as everyone on the market has their downsides. At least we got Atkins on a fairly cheap one year deal and if he bounces back to his old self we can retain his services for another year.

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Millwood Acquired In Trade For Ray

December 9, 2009

The Orioles have traded RHP Chris Ray and a Player To Be Named Later to the Texas Rangers for RHP Kevin Millwood and $3 million.

Grade: B+

This was a great trade by Andy MacPhail. Millwood isn’t anything great, but he’ll most likely give us 190-200 innings at ~4.50 ERA and provide some veteran leadership for the younger pitchers coming up. He was 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA over 198.2 innings in 2009 with 123 strikeouts and 71 walks. Hes a solid pitcher similar to Jeremy Guthrie which will be important to keep our bullpen healthy and rested. The Orioles will pay him $9 million in the last year of his contract, which is a better deal than what they would most likely find in the free agent market. We could trade Millwood before the trade deadline if a prospect is proving ready or we could potentially receive two draft picks at the end of the year assuming he is a type A free agent and declines arbitration. This move will allow the Orioles to sign a “high risk, high reward” pitcher coming off an injury like Erik Bedard or Kelvim Escobar.

Losing Ray isn’t much of a loss, there was a chance he could’ve been non-tendered on Saturday or released before opening day anyway. He was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA over 43.1 innings in 2009 and hasn’t been effective since 2006. There were rumors circling that the Orioles were offering Felix Pie, David Hernandez, or Brandon Erbe for Millwood, which would have been terrible. But MacPhail is sticking to his word that he isn’t dealing his good prospects. Ray is easily replaceable and this trade should give a guy like Kam Mickolio a chance to start the year in the bullpen. Its hard to find anything not to like about this deal. Onto the next need.

Moeller Re-Signs

December 5, 2009

The Orioles signed C Chad Moeller back on a minor league contract and invite to spring training.

Grade: C+

This seemed like only a matter of time. He’ll be the heavy favorite to win the backup catcher position in spring training in the competition with Michel Hernandez and Craig Tatum. Moeller is a great guy to have at back up catcher; he doesn’t demand alot of playing time, he can work with Wieters on improving his catching skills, and he works well with the young pitchers. The Orioles would be exciting if Moeller repeated his performance from 2009, but over more games.

Top 25 Prospects: #11 – 25

December 2, 2009

11. Chorye Spoone – RHP – 24 years old

GCL Orioles: 0-1, 4.38 ERA, 12.1 IP, 11 K, 2 BB
Short A Aberdeen: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 3 K, 3 BB
A+ Frederick: 0-2, 9.42 ERA, 14.1 IP, 12 K, 14 BB

Spoone was a top prospect for the O’s before he was derailed by injuries. He had labrum surgery and wasn’t expected to be back until 2010, so the fact that he pitched 29.2 innings in 2009 is pretty encouraging. Its rare, but if he can get back to the pitcher he was before the surgery he can shoot up this rankings in a hurry.

12. Pedro Florimon – SS – 22 years old

A+ Frederick: .267/.336/.428, 32 doubles, 5 triples, 9 HR, 68 RBI, 26 SB
AA Bowie: .091/.130/.091, 1 RBI

Florimon had an interesting year. He started out on fire before cooling off a bit. All reports say he will be a great fielding shortstop and everything depends on his bat. He hadn’t hit much since joining the Orioles organization until he burst onto the scene early in 2009. It remains to be seen if that was a fluke or not. He’ll start at AA Bowie in 2010.

13. Jesse Beal – RHP – 19 years old

Rookie Bluefield: 5-5, 4.26 ERA, 74 IP, 41 K, 8 BB

Beal is a young pitcher that has alot of potential. Hes a control pitcher who gets ground balls and the quality of his pitches have room to grow. He could stall out a bit and become a Jason Berken type or he could blossom and be a John Maine type. He’ll most likely start at short A Aberdeen unless he has a great spring.

14. Steve Johnson – RHP – 22 years old

A+ Inland Empire: 8-4, 3.82 ERA, 96.2 IP, 102 K, 42 BB
AA Chattanooga: 1-1, 1.69 ERA, 10.2 IP, 15 K, 3 BB
AA Bowie: 3-2, 2.84 ERA, 38 IP, 37 K, 17 BB

Johnson came along with Josh Bell from the Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade. Hes a gutsy pitcher who has had alot of success despite the scouts saying he lacks any real quality pitches. Hes a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher that has struck out alot of batters in his minor league career. He profiles best as a relief pitcher, but hes a hard worker so he could stick as a back end starter.

15. Xavier Avery – CF – 19 years old

A Delmarva: .262/.306/.340, 15 doubles, 8 triples, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 30 SB

Avery is a raw player that has a way to go to meet his potential. If everything breaks right he could be a Carl Crawford type. He has great speed, but needs to work on how to use that on the baseball field (base stealing, routes to the ball in the outfield). 2010 will be a big season for him as we should start to know what we have in him. He could either repeat at A Delmarva or be promoted to A+ Frederick.

16. LJ Hoes – 2B – 19 years old

A Delmarva: .260/.299/.318, 19 doubles, 2 HR, 47 RBI, 20 SB

Hoes had a very disappointing 2009 campaign after showing alot of promise at the end of 2008 at short A Aberdeen. He showed the ability to work the count and draw a walk, but that seemingly disappeared at A Delmarva where he only drew 23 walks compared to 80 strikeouts. Hopefully he learned from his experience and can get back to displaying the skillset the Orioles drafted him for in 2010. He’ll either start at Delmarva or A+ Frederick.

17. Ronnie Welty – OF – 21 years old

A Delmarva: .290/.373/.425, 24 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR, 67 RBI, 13 SB

Welty is well rounded player that is average to slightly above average in all categories. He has some potential to develop more power and is a pretty good outfielder. He’ll look to keep improving his offensive skills at A+ Frederick to start 2010.

18. Mychal Givens – SS – 18 years old

DNP

Givens was the Orioles 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft. He was signed at the last second and didn’t get a chance to play in 2009, but he has alot of tools that could develop into a solid shortstop. He was also a highly touted pitcher in high school so he has that to fall back on. I’m pretty confident he’ll start out at Rookie Bluefield unless he really lights it up at extended spring training.

19. Troy Patton – LHP – 24 years old

AA Bowie: 6-2, 1.99 ERA, 63.1 IP, 47 K, 18 BB
AAA Norfolk: 1-3, 6.45 ERA, 44.2 IP, 26 K, 14 BB

Patton started off dominating at AA Bowie and was promoted to AAA Norfolk where he hit a wall. He really struggled to adjust despite pitching in a pitchers park. He was coming off of labrum surgery so it could’ve been the innings catching up to him after not pitching for a long time. I think he’ll improve next year with an extra year removed from the surgery. He was a top prospect in the Astros system when the Orioles traded for him. He’ll start 2010 in AAA Norfolk’s rotation.

20. Bobby Bundy – RHP – 19 years old

Rookie Bluefield: 2-7, 5.10 ERA, 54.2 IP, 38 K, 19 BB

Bundy was a very promising pitcher when the Orioles drafted him out of high school in 2008. He still is, but I’m sure they expected him to perform better than he did in 2009. He worked hard to come back from the injury he sustained in his senior year of high school, but wasn’t in shape when it came time for spring training. He’ll get a chance to redeem himself in 2010 where he’ll most likely start at short A Aberdeen.

21. Luis Lebron – RHP – 24 years old

A+ Frederick: 2-3, 3.00 ERA, 11 SV, 33 IP, 52 K, 20 BB
AA Bowie: 1-0, 1.98 ERA, 9 SV, 27.1 IP, 39 K, 13 BB

LeBron is a strikeout machine, but he needs to limit his walks. He was a little old for the competition, but theres no denying those strikeout numbers. He reminds me of James Hoey’s ascent of a couple years ago. Hopefully he doesn’t turn out like Hoey, whose fastball proved to be too straight for major league hitters. He’ll start at either AA Bowie or AAA Norfolk in 2010 and could reach the majors at some point.

22. Matt Angle – CF – 24 years old

A+ Frederick: .289/.370/.347, 17 doubles, 4 triples, 1 HR, 32 RBI, 40 SB
AA Bowie: .357/.438/.393, 1 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 SB

Angle is a light hitting, good fielding speedy center fielder. Hes probably pretty close to being at his potential and could make a good 4th outfielder/pinch runner/defensive replacement in the majors. Hes a guy that knows how to play the game and will have a decent major league career because of it. He might be able to start in center field on a bad team, but his career has 4th outfielder written all over it.

23. Oliver Drake – LHP – 22 years old

A Delmarva: 8-9, 4.34 ERA, 130.2 IP, 104 K, 42 BB

Drake started off hot and slowly faded as the season went along. Thats to be expected for a guy pitching in his first full season in the pros, but it was still disappointing after what he showed in the beginning of the year. He’ll look to rebound for A+ Frederick in 2010.

24. Rick Zagone – LHP – 23 years old

A Delmarva: 4-5, 4.66 ERA, 63.2 IP, 59 K, 27 BB
A+ Frederick: 1-3, 5.10 ERA, 67 IP, 59 K, 22 BB

Zagone started off on fire for A Delmarva but started struggling after a couple of months. He was promoted to A+ Frederick despite that and had a similar performance for the Keys. His stuff probably isn’t good enough to stick as a starter, but hes tough on lefties so he could excel with a switch to the bullpen. I see a career as a LOOGY in his future. He should return to Frederick to start 2010.

25. Rhyne Hughes – 1B – 26 years old

AA Montgomery: .252/.340/.500, 11 doubles, 15 HR, 46 RBI, 4 SB
AAA Durham: .313/.361/.533, 22 doubles, 2 triples, 7 HR, 26 RBI
AAA Norfolk: .264/.346/.444, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HR, 7 RBI

Hughes was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in August. Hes a power hitting first baseman that should compete for the starting first baseman’s job in spring training. I doubt he wins it, but hes a nice guy to have sitting at AAA in case of injury. I was surprised they decided to promote Michael Aubrey instead of Hughes at the end of 2009.

Keep An Eye On: Ryan Berry, Cameron Coffey, Jake Cowen, Vito Frabizio, Randy Henry, Michael Ohlman, Ashur Tolliver, Aaron Wirsch – These are guys that I don’t know much about but were drafted with the potential to become to prospects.