Archive for January, 2011

O’s Sign Starter Duchscherer

January 31, 2011

The Orioles have signed RHP Justin Duchscherer to a one year contract worth $1.1 million if he makes the team. The deal could be worth as much as $4.5 million if he reaches all his incentives.

The Orioles were looking for a veteran starting pitcher to compete with Chris Tillman for the final spot in the rotation and take some pressure off of the young starters and they made an excellent choice in Duchscherer. He hasn’t pitched a full season since he was a reliever in 2006 but when hes healthy Duchscherer is very good. He has a career ERA of 3.13, even better since converting back to starting in 2008. Last year he was 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA over only five starts before getting hip surgery. Its a low risk (cheap, incentive laden contract), high reward type of signing. If he stays healthy theres a good chance he’ll put up the best numbers on the staff and we’d only have to pay him $4.5 million. If he breaks down again or misses significant time then we’ll pay much less (his incentives are based on games started) and Tillman or Zach Britton will get their chance in the rotation. I didn’t want the O’s to block Tillman or Britton with a Kevin Millwood type guy who eats innings but isn’t very good but Duchscherer represents a chance to get a number two or three starter on the cheap while giving our prospects more seasoning. Chances are there will be an injury or two over the course of the season and those guys will get their opportunities. This has been a great offseason and the team is pretty much set at this point. The only thing remaining would be if we can sign Vladimir Guerrero to DH, moving Luke Scott to left field or if we go with a Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold platoon in left and maybe sign another bat for the bench.

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Minor League Signings

January 28, 2011

I’ll keep a tally of all the players the Orioles sign to minor league deals with invites to spring training here.

LHP Clay Rapada – 29 years old – 1-2, 1.82 ERA, 2 SV, 59.1 IP, 61 K, 21 BB for AAA Oklahoma City, 0-0, 4.00 ERA, 9 IP, 5 K, 7 BB for Texas in 2010 – Most likely the favorite to win the left handed specialist job in spring training. Hes dominant against left handed hitters.
LHP Nick Bierbrodt – 32 years old – 1-1, 6.57 ERA, 1 SV, 37 IP, 32 K, 25 BB for Colorado minor league affiliates in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
INF Nick Green – 32 years old – .240/.290/.388, 18 doubles, 3 triples, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB, 242 AB in AAA during 2010 – More middle infield depth. He’ll start out at AAA Norfolk and only be promoted if the injury bug hits the O’s again.
LHP Mark Hendrickson – 36 years old – 1-6, 5.26 ERA, 75.1 IP, 55 K, 20 BB for the Orioles in 2010 – I didn’t want the O’s to bring Hendrickson back but its fine since its a minor league deal. I’m hoping he starts out at AAA Norfolk, he’d be nice depth to have there. Rapada seems like a better fit to be the second lefty in the bullpen but spring training will sort that out.
OF Jeff Fiorentino – 27 years old – Played the 2010 season in Japan – Fiorentino returns to the Orioles for the third time in his career. This time hes purely minor league outfield depth.
RHP Chris Jakubauskas – 32 years old – 1-6, 5.09 ERA, 40.2 IP, 33 K, 15 BB for the Pittsburgh minor league affiliates in 2010 – Minor league relief depth.
RHP Mark Worrell – 27 years old – 2-4, 5.84 ERA, 37 IP, 34 K, 14 BB at AAA in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
LHP James Houser – 26 years old – 1-4, 5.08 ERA, 56.2 IP, 48 K, 24 BB for Florida minor league affiliates in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
RHP Josh Rupe – 28 years old – 2-4, 2.92 ERA, 10 SV, 52.1 IP, 49 K, 23 BB for AAA Omaha and 1-1, 5.59 ERA, 9.2 IP, 8 K, 7 BB for Kansas City in 2010 – Interesting arm, minor league bullpen depth.
RHP Ryan Drese – 34 years old – 5-3, 3.12 ERA, 52 IP, 16 K, 16 BB for Mexican winter ball in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
OF Randy Winn – 36 years old – .239/.307/.356, 8 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 6 SB combined between New York (Yankees) and St.Louis in 2010 – Minor league outfield depth. Injury insurance.
RHP David Riske – 34 years old – 2-1, 5.54 ERA, 13 IP, 11 K, 6 BB in the minors and 0-0, 5.01 ERA, 23.1 IP, 16 K, and 8 BB for the Brewers in 2010 – Hes coming off Tommy John surgery from 2009 and has had pretty good success in his major league career but hes a long shot to make the Orioles at any point this year. Worth a shot though as minor league bullpen depth.

Lefty Reliever Signed

January 25, 2011

The Orioles have signed LHP Clay Rapada to a minor league contract.

The 29 year old Rapada pitched in the Texas Ranger’s organization last year, mostly for AAA Oklahoma City. He had a 1.82 ERA and 2 saves for them over 59.1 innings with 61 strikeouts and 21 walks. He held batters to a .158 average in AAA and .188 in his 13 appearances with the Rangers, lefties going just 1-21. He pitched 9 innings with a 4.00 ERA, 5 strikeouts, and 7 walks in the big leagues. He’ll compete for the second lefty job in the bullpen during spring training. Troy Patton, another competitor for that job, was arrested for a DUI in Texas over the weekend most likely assuring he’ll start at AAA Norfolk. Pedro Viola is another guy competing for that role but I’d say its almost a guarantee he starts in AAA as well. The only real competition for Rapada would be if the Orioles signed LHP Joe Beimel, who they have a minor league offer out to as well. Either way I think Clay is a good fit. Hes proven he can fill the Will Ohman role and get lefties out. Or hes good insurance at AAA if we need him later in the season.

Arbitration Update

January 18, 2011

This post will be updated as the players eligible for arbitration sign their contracts for 2011.

Adam Jones – Signed a one year deal worth $3.25 million.

Jim Johnson – Signed a one year deal worth $975,000.

Jeremy Guthrie – Guthrie filed for a $6.5 million salary, the Orioles filed for $5 million. He signed a one year deal worth $5.75 million.

Luke Scott – Scott filed for a $6.85 million salary, the Orioles filed for $5.7 million. He signed a one year deal worth $6.4 million.

JJ Hardy – Signed a one year deal worth $5.85 million.

Felix Pie – Signed a one year deal worth $985,000.

O’s Sign Gregg

January 4, 2011

The Orioles have signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a two year deal worth $10 million that includes a vesting option for 2013 based on games finished.

The Orioles just finished upgrading the infield with the addition of 1B Derrek Lee and have now turned their attention to the bullpen. RHP Koji Uehara was re-signed last month and now Gregg joins him, Mike Gonzalez, and Jim Johnson as late inning relievers. The O’s needed him after trading David Hernandez and other potential bullpen options (Kam Mickolio, Jim Hoey, Brett Jacobson) for 3B Mark Reynolds and SS JJ Hardy and with the uncertainty surrounding Alfredo Simon. Gregg saved 37 games for the Blue Jays in 2010 with a 3.51 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 59 innings. He also walked 30 batters. I think he can help the bullpen as hes been durable over his career and hes fairly consistent for a reliever. Hes saved at least 23 games in each of the last four seasons, spanning three teams. I don’t think saves are a great indication of talent but he also averaged a mid threes ERA and solid strikeout rates over that span. He walks alot of batters so him and Gonzalez could be frustrating to watch at times, which is why I would have Koji as our closer to start the season.

The contract is a little high on the salary side, MacPhail is paying for those saves a bit, but I don’t mind the two years. Hes 32 years old so even with a slight decline we should expect an ERA slightly below or above four with at least an 8 K/9. The vesting option I’m leery of. Hopefully we don’t use him as the closer in 2012 so theres not as much of a chance that the option vests and we can let him sign elsewhere while obtaining a compensation draft pick. The best thing might be that we don’t have to give up a pick for signing him, which would’ve been the case had we got Grant Balfour or Rafael Soriano. A team in our position shouldn’t be giving up draft picks for middle of the road relievers. For 2011 at least, it makes us a better team. The bullpen is starting to come together now. We have Gregg, Uehara, Gonzalez, and Johnson for the back end and Jason Berken, Jeremy Accardo, Rick VandenHurk, Adrian Rosario, and any other relievers signed will battle in spring training for the other three spots. Reports indicate the Orioles would still like to add a left handed reliever, maybe a Will Ohman reuinion? I’d prefer someone else because I think he had a bit of luck in his performance last season but it wouldn’t be the worst signing. MacPhail also wants to add a veteran starting pitcher and a bench player that can hit. As we get closer and closer to spring training the roster is coming together and I’m happy with how its looking.

Alfredo Simon Accused Of Murder

January 3, 2011

I never expected to write a headline like that on my Orioles baseball blog… but there it is. RHP Alfredo Simon is the main suspect in the murder of one man and critically injuring of another. There was some incident in the Dominican Republic where Simon lives on New Year’s Eve where he allegedly tried to shoot a gun into the air but instead hit the two people. Former Oriole Miguel Tejada is paying for Simon’s defense attorneys and he says he had nothing to do with the incident. Lets hope thats the case. Even though Simon wasn’t great last year and I didn’t have him penciled in as a member of the bullpen for 2011, he has a live arm and was coming off of tommy john surgery. He would be nice depth to have at AAA Norfolk in case of an injury or under performance. If the allegations are true than he obviously has no place on this team. First of all he wouldn’t be able to gain entry into the US, if hes not in jail already, and I highly doubt the Orioles would keep him on the roster. We’ll see how things play out and take it from there. An ominous start to the new year..

UPDATE: Its being reported that ballistics have determined that the bullet used in the shooting wasn’t from the gun Simon turned into the police. Thats a good development for his case but this thing still has a long way to go. I still think its a long shot that Simon would be able to show up for spring training.