Friday, December 9, 2011

O's confuse fans with questionable trades

When the Orioles traded for Taylor Teagarden last week, the move seemed defensible. In exchange for minor league pitcher Randy Henry, the O's had acquired a backup catcher under team control for a few more seasons. It's not particularly ideal to give up any kind of prospect for a backup catcher, but the O's must not have viewed Henry very highly anyway.

However, it was also announced that the O's had acquired the catcher for Henry and a player to be named later. Apparently, it's not enough to just give up one prospect for a backup catcher who is out of options. That thrown-in player ended up being minor league infielder Greg Miclat. Miclat played in Double-A Bowie last season, and at 24 he's a little old at that level. He doesn't possess much power (.437 slugging percentage in 495 plate appearances last season). But he has showcased the ability to get on base (.371 on-base percentage), and he did steal 50 bases while only getting caught three times.

So maybe Miclat is a 4A player. Or maybe his major league ceiling is a utility player. But does it really make sense for the O's to trade Henry and Miclat, two average-ish prospects outside the team's top 15, just for a backup catcher who hasn't shown that he can hit in the majors? Without any options remaining, Teagarden's time with the Rangers may have been limited, and the O's seem to have paid more than he's worth. It's nice to have some insurance in case Matt Wieters gets injured, but still.

Unfortunately, Dan Duquette, the team's general manager (or executive vice president of baseball operations), also made another trade. This time the O's dealt for Dana Eveland, a Dodgers left-hander with a career pitching line of 5.52/4.38/4.70 (ERA/FIP/xFIP) in 360.1 major league innings. Eveland, 28, gets a lot of ground balls (career 50.5 GB%), but he doesn't strike out many batters (5.94 K/9) and gives up a few too many walks (4.50 BB/9).

Between Triple-A and the Dodgers, Eveland did pitch better last season. But that doesn't mean he's necessarily turned any kind of corner or was worth multiple prospects in a trade. (Here's a good Baseball America write-up of Jarret Martin and Tyler Henson, the prospects sent to the Dodgers.) Since he's arbitration eligible, Eveland may have even been a non-tender candidate. So for a backup catcher and a fifth starter/reliever type, the O's traded away four prospects. If the O's had simply been patient and done nothing, they could have eventually signed both players if they were non-tendered. But no, Duquette pulled the trigger on acquiring both. It's hard not to believe that he just made a few trades just to show that he could.

Maybe the O's just didn't like these included prospects that much. But dealing away multiple prospects for spare parts? No thanks. Those four minor leaguers may not have high ceilings, but neither do Teagarden and Eveland. Those two are also both over 27 years old.

Until the O's fully embrace the notion of rebuilding and truly explore every possibility -- yes, that means maybe trading Adam Jones or anyone valuable, really -- the O's will keep spinning their wheels and trying to sell fans on guys like Eveland, who will probably be pitching out of the bullpen by the end of the season.

No comments:

Post a Comment