Archive for January, 2012

O’s Sign DH Candidate

January 24, 2012

The Orioles have signed DH/3B Wilson Betemit to a two year deal worth $3 million with a $3 million vesting option for 2014.

On the same day the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a ridiculously stupid 9 year, $214 million contract the Orioles sign who will probably end up being their primary DH. I would’ve liked to have seen Fielder here, but I think we can all agree hes not worth what he got and the O’s had no reason to top it. Betemit is a guy that has played all four infield positions and can give you innings at first, second, and third in a pinch but his best tool is his bat. Last year he followed up the 2010 season (when he had a .889 OPS over 315 plate appearances) with a line of .285/.343/.452 with 22 doubles, 4 triples, 8 homeruns, 46 RBI, and 4 stolen bases over 359 plate appearances split between the Royals and Tigers. As a switch hitter he is more effective from the left side of the plate (.817 career OPS against RHP, .684 against LHP) so he’ll get most of the at bats from the DH slot against righties with, I assume, one of Mark Reynolds/Nolan Reimold/Jai Miller being the DH against left handed starters. Betemit’s vesting option guarantees him a third year after 700 plate appearances. That doesn’t appear that hard to reach but it allows the Orioles to release him before then if hes not performing up to their expectations. The 2012 Orioles are starting to come together. There could be another minor signing or two and maybe a trade before spring training but I wouldn’t expect any big shake ups at this point, to the dismay of alot of fans I’m sure. We’ve improved. By how much remains to be seen.

O’s Add Another Left Handed Starter In Chen

January 10, 2012

The Orioles have signed Taiwanese LHP Wei-Yin Chen to a three year contract worth around $12 million with an option for the 2015 season.

I really like this signing. Dan Duquette continues his foray into the international market, signing his second left handed pitcher that was a successful starter in Japan. I liked the Wada signing even though he most likely ends up in the bullpen, but Chen has more upside. Hes only 26 and throws much harder, sitting between 90-92 and reportedly hitting up to 96 mph. He has a slow curve ball, an inconsistent slider, and worked on a forkball in 2011. If he was a pitcher in our farm system he would probably slot anywhere from 4-7 in our top 10. He had a career record of 36-30 with a 2.59 ERA over five seasons in Japan. In 2011 he was 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA over 164.2 innings with 94 strikeouts and 31 walks. He dealt with a minor leg injury for some of the season.

The O’s get great value at about $4 million a year. Sure there is some risk associated as Chen (and Wada) have to adjust to the lifestyle and five man rotation of the major leagues but he could be a steal. At worst hes a left handed power arm out of the bullpen but he could also end up as a middle of the rotation starter, which would be a steal at that price. Spring Training will be interesting as we learn more about Chen, Wada, and the rest of our new additions to the roster. We now have alot of depth at SP and I like that the young guys like Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, etc. will have to earn their places in the rotation, unlike recent years where they were handed spots. As it stands we have Jeremy Guthrie, Chen, Wada, Tommy Hunter, Dana Eveland, Arrieta, Britton, Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, and Alfredo Simon all fighting for rotation. Theres also alot to choose from for the bullpen as well. Its not something we’re used to but its nice to have. We also have the ability to trade from the depth if Duquette so chooses. Hes not done molding this team yet.

More Minor Trades

January 4, 2012

The Orioles have traded 1B Brandon Snyder to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations and also traded their own cash considerations to the Oakland Athletics for OF Jai Miller.

Snyder was the Orioles 1st round draft pick in the 2005 draft. He rebounded from a disappointing start to his career by becoming one of the O’s top prospects after solid seasons from 2007-2009. Once he got to AAA he stalled out and wasn’t able to continue his development enough to stay in the majors. Last year for Norfolk he hit .261/.312/.406 with 21 doubles, a triple, 14 homeruns, and 71 RBI. He got 13 at bats for the Orioles, hitting .231. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good. At least he’ll be in a good hitting environment with the PCL and the Rangers home ballpark. This trade opens up the first base job at Norfolk for Joe Mahoney to move up from AA Bowie.

Miller is an interesting player. He plays above average defense at all three outfield positions and his on base percentage and power numbers have increased steadily over the past few years, along with his strikeouts. He had the best season of his career in 2011 but it was in the hitters haven PCL. He hit .276/.368/.588 with 24 doubles, 4 triples, 32 homeruns, 88 RBI, and 16 stolen bases over 410 AAA at bats. He’d be a nice player to stash at AAA Norfolk in case of an injury or trade but unfortunately he would have to pass through waivers to get there as hes out of options. He’ll be given a chance to make the team out of spring training and maybe a spot will open up before then. There are rumors of potential trades of Adam Jones (maybe to the Braves for SP Jair Jurjjens and prospects?) and/or Nolan Reimold (to the White Sox for SP Gavin Floyd?). I have a feeling all these minor moves are going to eventually set up some bigger transactions in the coming weeks. Only time will tell.