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February 5, 2011

Guerrero move spurs questions

There was obviously an awful lot of time spent the past two weeks discussing the Orioles’ pursuit of free agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero. Now that the pursuit has ended with the club and the slugger agreeing to a one-year, $8 million pact last night, I think it is worth taking a look at several questions about the signing.

Why, all of a sudden, did the Orioles raise their offer from between $3 and $5 million to $8 million when no other suitor for Guerrero had publicly emerged?

This is probably the million dollar question – or should I say $4 million one? - and unfortunately, it’s hard to answer, especially since officials involved in the negotiations won’t comment until Guerrero passes his physical, making the deal official. This we do know: the Orioles had offered between $3 and $5 million and as late as a couple of days ago, they had no plans to up the ante because they feared that they were bidding against themselves. Obviously, they had a change of heart to present Guerrero with the contract that they did. Was it because they learned that there was, indeed, another team out there willing to pay Guerrero that kind of money? Was it a case of Guerrero’s agents telling the club that it was going to take the Orioles no less than $8 million to land the player who was prepared to either sit out to see what develops or go to a contending team for less money? Or was it a matter of owner Peter Angelos listening to his restless and frustrated fan base, who have been calling for Guerrero for weeks, and deciding that the club had to get this guy no matter the price? I suspect we’ll know more about this in the coming days, but what transpired yesterday represented a strong reversal from what the club had been saying all along about their plans in the Guerrero negotiations. It also goes against just about all of Andy MacPhail’s tendencies since he took over as president of baseball operations.

How does the Guerrero acquisition affect the roster?

Luke Scott, the Orioles’ DH and best hitter last season, will become the team’s starting left fielder, leaving Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold in competition for the fourth outfield role. Pie is the favorite because he had a better year than Reimold in 2010, he’s better defensively – and the fourth outfielder will probably be used a lot as a late-game defensive replacement for Scott – and he also is out of options. The club can send Reimold down to Triple-A Norfolk without losing him, so that would be the path of least resistance. It’s unlikely that there is room for both on the big league roster. As things stand, the Orioles’ four-man bench will include Pie/or Reimold, utility infielder Cesar Izturis and a backup catcher (either Craig Tatum or Jake Fox). That final bench spot will depend on whether manager Buck Showalter decides that he needs an extra outfielder or infielder. The candidates for that final spot include Fox, Randy Winn, Robert Andino, Nick Green and Brendan Harris.

Does this signing make a trade more likely?

While I’ve been given no indication that the Orioles are involved in any serious trade talks, they certainly are in position to move either Pie or Reimold. As of now, I expect the Orioles to hold onto them both at least through a good part of spring training. Pie and center fielder Adam Jones have had some injuries over the past couple of years. Scott’s defense in left is also a question mark and Guerrero isn’t getting any younger. The more outfield depth the better. However, if another team loses an outfielder in spring training or isn’t happy with how its current group is performing, the Orioles would certainly listen on Pie and Reimold. Team officials would still love to add a proven veteran to the middle of their rotation and that piece just isn’t available via free agency. Neither Pie or Reimold would be enough to get that type of starter, but perhaps if the Orioles included a young pitcher or two, another team would bite. I’m not saying this will happen so please don’t misunderstand, but a situation where Scott starts in left, Reimold starts in Triple-A, Pie gets traded and Winn makes the club as a fourth outfielder wouldn’t stun me.

How will the lineup look?

The meticulous planner that he is, Showalter almost certainly has had this figured out for weeks, though don’t expect him to let us in on his plans just yet. My prediction is this: 1. Brian Roberts; 2. Nick Markakis; 3. Derrek Lee; 4. Vladimir Guerrero; 5. Luke Scott; 6. Mark Reynolds; 7. Adam Jones; 8. Matt Wieters; and 9. J.J. Hardy. However, I could see switching Jones and Reynolds, at least until Reynolds gets comfortable with his new team and in a new league. I also wouldn’t dismiss batting Jones second, and then moving Markakis to third in front of Guerrero, Lee, Luke, Reynolds, Wieters and Hardy. Either way, if Roberts stays healthy – and he said again last night that he feels great and his workouts have been going real well - this lineup is drastically improved.

What will the Orioles’ Opening Day payroll be?

I cannot provide an exact number, but I should at least, get you in the neighborhood. The Orioles still haven’t settled with their two remaining arbitration players, Jeremy Guthrie and Luke Scott. A “significant” portion of Guerrero’s contract is deferred, according to Ken Rosenthal at www.foxsports.com. And Justin Duchscherer’s contract could be worth $700,000 or $4.5 million depending on his ability to stay healthy, make the Opening Day roster and achieve incentives. However, before the Duchscherer and Guerrero signings, the Orioles’ payroll for 2011 was at about $82 million, representing a $10 million or so increase from last season’s payroll. When you add Guerrero and Duchscherer into the mix, that leaves the payroll in the low $90s.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 9:36 AM | | Comments (65)
        

Comments

If 8 million is what it takes to get him to Baltimore, so be it. We must start to get the upper tier of Free agents in order to be competitive. I just wish they would have put up this type of money at the start of the Free Agent process and signed a #2 level pitcher.

Is there any chancve the club could pry Carlos Zambrano away from the Cubs? I would think he's worn out his welcome there with all his temper tantrums and that hissy fit that got him suspended last year.

Jeff:

Good recap. The sentiment seems to be they still need another arm (and I know that applies to 70% of the teams in the bigs). How serious are they about moving to get somebody - how well can we expect this rotation to do (and what is the rotation)


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Jeff Z's reply: I don't think they feel sense of urgency now. But that will change if a couple of young starters have rocky springs and some others experience injury problems. Problem is I just don't see teams trading useful starters in early February, and there are none left on free agent market.

Don't mess anymore with this roster. We're back in the hunt for a wild card. Reimold,Tatum Green , Harris ,and Winn are insurance at Norfolk. Andino, Fox, Izturis and Pie are the bench. I think we got what we wanted ,going forth. All aspects of the team are greatly improved. I see a possibility of 90 wins if most stay healthy. I can't wait for April!

I like the first proposed lineup. I don't think Jones is someone you want at number two because he doesn't walk and he doesn't move runners over.

Jeff, great job covering this...enjoying your foray into Twitter as well :)

I like lineup #3 switched up a bit

Roberts
Jones
Markakis
Vlad
Scott
Lee
Wieters
Reynolds
Hardy

I buy the left/right game if you can play it, and Markakis and Scott would benefit from the Vlad/Lee protection.

What Super Bowl?

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Jeff Z's reply: Thanks Marty, hope you are doing well.

i would like to see pie as the fourth outfielder. he can play center field too. i think the biggest question on adam jones is weather he develops a better eye when up to bat. how many sucker pitches will he swing at this season. i agree with you jeff keeping reimold at tripple a is hold card if anything would happen to pie or scott.

Who cares why Vlad is coming here. Everyone bellyached for him, he makes the batting order, at least looking at it on paper, awesome. I think the investment in Vlad is mostly financial. He will drive ticket sales up. Attendance will rise to 2.5 mill or higher.

Nolan Reimold is not an adequate back up for center field. That cinches Pie as the 4th outfielder barring a trade that changes the whole dynamic.

I don't think the O's are done. I still think they are going to make a trade for a starter. And I still think it will involve Scott, Tillman and maybe one of those guys fighting for the last bench spot.

Who has an extra pitcher to get rid of?

Also, who do you think gets dropped from the 25 roster to make room for Guerrero, Hendrickson and Duchscherer?

If Vlad can repeat last years numbers and Reynolds, Lee, and Hardy can come close to 09-08 numbers and the starting pitchers continue to progress. This team has a chance to win 85-90 games this year. The O's will have to spend over 100 million a year to compeat, because they are drafting players in the first round like Hobgood, Snyder and Rowell.

I never understand why fans get so hung up on payroll numbers. I could care less what they make as players. If it's one million or ten million, I'm not paying that salary. All I want to see is a winning team. Payroll is for the owners to worry about, not the fans.

As a an Orioles fan who loses interest about the end of May for the Past 10 years or so the 4 million raise actually has me excited for the Season.

I think hiring Buck may have been the best move the O's made. There's at least some reason to believe this team could be over 500 and with some luck contending for a wildcard spot.

so far as Jones, I think the big thing this year that will help him cut down on his chasing pitches out of the strike zone is that he will have absolutely no pressure on him. With the lineup that we have now, he will be able to relax and wait for a pitch to hit. He won't be trying to hit a home run every at bat. Or at least we can hope haha

It is all up to one man now: Matt Wieters.

For months it's been said the the team will have to overspend. So now they did. Shouldn't there be happiness? If this fails - no one can say it was a Garrett Atkins lowball deal. At least the wallet was opened.

Talk Pettitte into coming back in June....

Maybe Showalter said "Hell, yes!" when asked if he could use Guerrero. It's a 1 year deal for a reasonable salary (for his production level) so I don't see this as a radical earth-changing divergence from the Plan.

Well Jeff, Welcome to my fantasy! Couldn't resist that one!

I firmly believe this is a move that would have never happened unless the fans, and later the Baltimore Sports writers started to call for it.

Thanks to all you guys for jumping on board and calling for this move. I do think this smells more of Angelos then McPhail, I think Peter is sensing the discontent of the fan base and pushed to get it done.

This is a solid baseball move and one that will thrust the O's into wildcard contention. I'd look for Buck to possibly hand Andino and outfielders glove and try and develop him as a supersup in ST to fill that last roster spot.

Pretty clear Buck will go with 2 catchers, Fox could get the nod there due to his flexibility to backup the corner infield and outfield positions and the fact that he's a better pinch hitter. Since there's so many other guys to DH, Wieters will just get days off and not be DHing on his off days.

I'd love to see Riemold start the year at AAA and get some defensive reps at 1B while he gets his mojo back. The move also will provide more pop to Norfolk's lineup with Riemold and Bell anchoring it, and it will provide some real depth a phone call away for a change.

My take is that there's no better confidence builder for a young staff then an offense that puts those crooked numbers up on the board. Stick with those young starters and let them grow up togehter. With Buck pulling the strings they will prove that they're ready for prime time.

Jeff, do you think Vlad gets Simon's roster spot? It would seem that he's not going to get things resolved in time to have any chance to report. Isn't there an inactive status that he can be assigned to for being unavailble for nonbaseball reasons?

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Jeff Z's reply: From what my colleague Dan Connolly wrote earlier this week, the Orioles likely will keep Simon on the 40-man until he fails to show up by the mandary report date. That is not set in stone and that was written before they signed Vlad and needed a 40-man spot so perhaps that has changed. And yes, as dan wrote, they can put him on a restricted list, and the guess is they will.

You nibs RedSox>All

I suspect that most will disagree; but I think the player that could go and possibly bring a decent starting pitcher is Adam Jones. We would need to work on Pie's defense in center but I like him batting second for this team with Markakis hitting 3rd. Pie did pretty well late last year. I think Jones is a "head case" that refuses to listen and I don't think he will ever lay off the outside slider.

The Orioles do not need to trade for a middle of the rotation starter. I like the young pitchers they currently have in their rotation. I would like to see the Orioles retain both Reimold and Pie for depth.

Well...it's about time!! Finally someone in the warehouse got the message that the fans have been sick and tired of all the excuses! Andy has worked hard and Peter has stepped up...some...and it looks like we at long last may have a team we won't have to be embaressed about! Maybe after like 15 long suffering years we can be proud of our team and stand toe to toe and maybe even step ON SOME TOES..this summer and dare I say fall?? All the teeth gnashing about the 8 vs 5 million is silly. So what? They cut and gave away players for last few years late in the season just to save payroll so use some of that stockpiled $. AND - if this team performs you will see the stands fill back up again! As for Reimhold - he was as close as you could get to being roadkill..fishbait...thrown overboard and any other term you want to use for "USELESS" last season from start to sad end! He is going to start at ground ZERO and has a LOT to prove before you even need to worry about Nolan! The best thing for him is go to triple A and show us all he is the OLD Nolan who came within a sore achieles (spell?) away from being Rookie of the Year and not the instant bum he became for WHATEVER the reasons! I love Nolan for what he showed his first year in ability and especially hustle etc. But the one we saw last year - well...you had to cover your eyes and shake your head most of the time. He was as lost a soul as you will find in the baseball world. Good luck to him and the O's will welcome him back if and when he is ready to COME back! TOO many good++ ball players..that is NOT a problem! Go O's and thanks for giving us hope again..because up and until Buck showed up we have been HOPE LESS!!

LOVE your first lineup Jeff.

I don't like Jones at the top of the order, and having Wieters at the bottom will take a load of pressure off him.

Here's a question for you. When do you think was the last time the Orioles had so few question marks in the batting lineup going into a season?

I know people could get hurt and under-perform and all that, but I honestly can't remember a better lineup from the past 15 years.

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Jeff Z's reply: Tough one to answer PJ. I've been covering the team since '05 and this lineup is certainly better - at least on paper - than any of the ones I've covered. You'd probably have to go back to the late 90's.

I like this line-up. ROBERTS,JONES,MARKAKIS,GUERRERO,LEE,SCOTT,REYNOLDS,WIETERS,and HARDY.

I'd like to see them make a trade involving Scott. They can get value for him. I just don't know if he's going to be able hold up as the starting LF all year. Plus, now that we have a few more heavy hitters, we could use some speed to even it out. My lineup would be
1)Roberts
2) Markakis
3) Lee
4) Vlad
5) Reynolds
6) Jones
7) Weiters
8) Hardy
9) Pie or whoever starts in LF

I like Scott, I just think that he's the piece of the puzzle that they can live without and get good value in return.


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Jeff Z's reply: Good post Jeff, but I don't necessarily agree about Scott. DHs like Guerrero, Thome, Manny and Damon had a real hard time getting jobs this offseason. Most accepted far less money than they originally wanted. Scott is due to make around $7 million in arbitration. I just don't see teams wanting to pay that much and trade some useful pieces to get him. Just my opinion but you do have to ask yourself if a team wanted some left-handed pop and a DH type, why didn't they just offer Thome more than $3 million?

All I can say is WOW! I can't wait to finally go to a game again. This is certainly the best group of players and management the Orioles have had since the mid 90's. I really believe from what I saw at the end of last season the young starters have clearly made great improvements. This will be an exciting year to watch and really one of the most formidable lineups in all of baseball. Forget about the huge number of strikeouts Reynolds will have This is a long ball team with some average speed. They look solid defensively except for left field, but hey when the other team is trying to catch up most of the game, defense in left is good to be the only problem. This bullpen is solid, the starting rotation could be very surprising, and the offense is in the top 5 in the AL and probably the top 8 in all of baseball. If the O's fail this year I would be shocked. The Orioles are going to scare every team that they play especially after the second third of last season when they didn't have the roster they have now. I don't know how any O's fan can possibly be negative about the product we have now. This is a great baseball team that is almost certainly post-season bound! Ravens2488 those crabcakes are looking better all the time. :)

This shows the franchises is finally becoming committed to winning. Also the new coaching staff is thinking proactively. You can't win in the AL East with a "decent" lineup, you need to be able to strike some fear in opposing teams.

Regarding defense, I've made the point before: Scott's defense doesn't hurt you much in left field b/c of Jonesy's range. Last year Jonesy was taking a lot of fly balls in right center that Markakis could have easily caught. This means that Jonesy can be shaded somewhat more to left, leaving Scotty with a smaller portion of the outfield to worry about.

Pie is the obvious choice as fourth outfielder for the reasons mentioned above. Plus Reimy had a really poor season in which he not only didn't hit but was also a defensive liability. So Reimy has to go back and prove that he once again belongs in the majors.

You know, if you blanked out the word "Orioles" or "Baltimore" along with the specific player names such as Reimold or Pie or Scott or Andino, you might think you were reading about the Red Sox or the Yankees or the Phillies addressing their line-ups and minor league depth. I have followed the O's since 1954, and especially the last decade and a half or so, we've NEVER had this kind of discussion. What a great problem to have: TOO MANY GOOD PLAYERS! I'm almost 2000 miles from Camden Yards, but I absolutely have to get to some games this year. I'm already looking at the schedule to see when they play in KC and Oakland and Minnesota. Please, boys, let's have meaningful wins and losses in September this year!

After a painfully long hiatus, the Orioles have decided to re-join the AL East.

Jones should bat second.
When Roberts gets on, you want someone up next who you don't mind asking to give himself up.
Jones is that guy. Plus, he can also supply punch when needed. I think it will make him a better player.

Your best hitter shoulf bat third.
That is Markakis.
Lee should not automatically be inserted third. On this team, Nick is the best hitter.

Roberts 2B
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Guerrero DH
Scott LF
Lee 1B
Weiters C
Reynolds 3B
Hardy SS

Pie plays LF CF RF
Izturis plays SS 2B 3B
Andino plays SS 2B 3B 1B OF
Tatum plays C

I like Jake Fox a lot.... but the acquisition of Guerrero bumps him.

You've got to go with Andino's speed and versatility (and surprising power) over Fox.... and Tatum is the superior catcher.

Gotta separate Vlad, Scott and Reynolds in the lineup. They are the same type of hitters--bashers who K a lot. Can't have 3 free swingers back-2-back-2-back.


.

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Jeff Z's reply: I understand your point and Vlad is certainly a free swinger, but he doesn't strike out a lot. He struck out 60 times in 643 plate appearances last season. He's also struck out more than 70 times just twice in the past 9 seasons. Markakis, by the way, has struck out 93 or more times in each of the past four seasons.

To everyone who is suggesting Jones or Pie in the two hole, I suggest you don't make any important decisions for while.

I don't mean to be rude, but it's pretty obvious that your critical-thinking skills are a bit off right now.

I mean, seriously. We've got Nick Markakis, Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero - perfect fits for the two, three and four holes - and you want to put Adam Jones and his 4:1 K:BB ratio in the two spot?

Wow. Just... Wow...

Maybe we're looking at this new acquisition all wrong. Instead of just coming in and bringing his monster numbers with him, Mr Guerrero's real job is to teach Adam Jones how to hit low and away sliders off the plate. The real value of this trade won't be in Guerrero's numbers, it will be in how much Jones' numbers improve once he learns to stand up straight at the plate and hit the ball on the first bounce like Vlady does.

Hi Jeff,

Does this mean you've confirmed that the Vlad contract is roughly $8 million guaranteed at present value? I.e. not much deferred, excluding incentives, etc.?

Thanks.

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Jeff Z's reply: I don't have the exact amount but I believe between $2 or $3 million is deferred.

Jeff,

I just have to say I think it's great that you answer not a majority, but a rather large amount of our comments on here. I was actually speculating on the $8 million dollars when I saw it, and I immediately thought it had to do with respect. The Orioles know that Vlad has felt underappreciated this offseason, and he clearly wanted a much bigger deal than even 1-year, $8 mil. Is it possible that we played this waiting game with him to determine whether or not he truly wanted to come to Baltimore, then upped his contract to $8 mil to ensure that he wouldn't become discontent during the season? It seems unsound business practice to pay more than you need for a player, but paying a guy enough to keep him happy, rather than what his market value is, (especially for a career .320 hitter) seems like it may be a good idea.


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Jeff Z's reply: No, I don't think that's it. I think they weighed all the benefits, and probably figured that is the number they needed to get if they had a chance to get him.

Wait? Why is everyone saying Luke Scott should start in left? He has always been the most inconsistent hitter on the team. He's a stiff.

Ever since Terry Crowley changed Felx Pie's swing, he has been much better when healthy, He's a better pure hitter, better fielder, needs to improve his base running. I'd much rather trade Scott/Reimold and keep Pie (unless we're pursuing Prince Fielder...)

Doesn't anyone remember when Scott went 4-for-70 a couple years ago????

I was looking over various lineups past and present. I have come to the conclusion, that you can't have Mark Reynolds bat 6th or lower. Oriole management have been touting him as our future 3rd baseman for the next few years. I am actually starting to buy into that, despite his ability to strikeout. He does have the potential to hit 40 plus homeruns. So without further ado, here it is.

1.) Brian Roberts 2B
2.) Adam Jones CF (2009 Version of AJ)
3.) Nick Markakis RF
4.) Vlad Guerrero... Woo Hoo!
5.) Mark Reynolds 3B
6.) Derek Lee 1B
7.) JJ Hardy SS
8.) Matt Wieters C
9.) "Whomever" is left standing in after the Left Field Competition and trades

I think the Orioles ought to trade Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie together. I think it would maximize their value if put together. Now, I know I might be told I am "Nuts", it wouldn't be the first time and certainly not the last. I just can't see paying Vlad and Luke all that money together. I just can't. Jeremy Guthrie is a good pitcher, who deserves a chance to pitch on a team that has a winning track record and on a team that can drop him down the rotation a notch or two.
I think the Orioles should go with a youth movement concerning their starting rotation. Lastly, I would hold onto Tillman, I think the lad has a lot of potential and a live arm. I have seen at his worst Giants (2010) and Best (Rangers & Tigers 2010). So, unless they can get Edinson Volquez from the Reds (maybe Pie and Tillman), I would not trade Tillman. I know a lot of you have the itchies to trade Tillman or drop him to AAA. I don't agree, I think some quality time with Mark Connor should do the trick. Time will tell!

Hey Skins Fan, the Nationals are a better team for you to follow. Everyone knows Vladdy and Markakis do NOT K much. Thanks for playing though.

Vs LHP

Roberts, Jones, Lee, Vlad, Reynolds, , Markakis, Hardy, Weiters, Pie

Vs RHP

Roberts, Markakis, Lee, Vlad, Scott, Reynolds, Jones, Weiters, Hardy

Should produce some O. IF the SP can get the ERA around 4.15 the Os could really make some noise. In fact, this club could lead the league in IFs.

I cant wait til Vlad singles in a run on short-hopped pitched ball!

How did you get around 82 million? My calculations for with Duchscherer and Vlad(excluding Scott,Guthrie) was at 71 million

Like the line-up w/Jones up 2nd. It does a really good job breaking up the right-handed hitters. S-R-L-R-R-L-R-S-R. Makes pitching match-ups harder on opposing managers in late innings.

One of the most positive things about any proposed lineup is that Weiters and Jones are at the end of it. Most of last year, they were batting 3rd and 5th respectively. Weiters moved down as he never turned his offensive production around, and I think I remember that Jones moved to the 5th spot. I think that was a factor in both of them not progressing (especially Weiters). Both will now see better pitches, and hopefully make the progress expected of them in the big leagues.

This is one of the most positive aspects of the moves this year. People are beaming about wild card hopes, and it would be great if it happened. But I don't expect it. Rather, I see these short term power veteran moves (Lee and Vlad) as key to getting the development of Adams/Jones and the starting pitchers back on track. Too much was on the young shoulders last year, and all, save Matusz, regressed.

This year could be pivotal in a sustained Orioles resurgence.

Jeff,

I keep hearing trade Pie or Reimold, but realistically, these two guys don't have much trade value right now and I think the same applies to Luke. I would think if Luke could play LF and do an adequate job defensively while still putting up good #s that would squash the notion that he's only a DH and add some value to trading him if Pie or Reimold show they are ready to take the next step and become everyday players.

If Vlad has a monster year, I could see him resigning with the O's. Every team could've signed him this year, but didn't and next year you add Big Papi to the free agent mix and I don't see Vlad being in any better shape in free agency than this year.

I know Vlad is friends with Pedro. It would be amazing to see Pedro on this staff. I doubt it would happen, but that would be way cool!

This seems in response to Pettite decision to retire. O's realized Vlad would not settle and instead would elect to sit out. His agents basically told O's he wanted $8M or else. Payroll for roster is $87M if two arb. cases are settled down middle. "Cots contracts" website sums that up.

Jeff, like the proposed lineup just have a question about it.

Why would we have Scott bat ahead of Reynolds? Wouldn't it make more sense to have Reynolds batting 5th and Scott 6th?


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Jeff Z's reply: I put Scott in there to break up the right-handed hitters. Lee, Vlad and Reynolds would be three straight right-handed hitters. However with Markakis 2nd and Luke 5th, it makes it more balanced.

skins_fan;

If you go to the team stat page at MLB.com, add up all the strikeouts for the 14 AL teams, divide by 14 to get an average per team, then divide by 9 to get the number per batting order spot, you'll see that about 120 Ks is the average per batting order spot for the season.

If you then look at Scott's numbers and pro-rate them over about 675 plate appearances (about the number you'd get playing every day) you'll see that he is barely above average in stikeout frequency at a little over 130.

Reynolds Ks are are concerning, but certainly not Vlady nor Scott either.

I am pleased and excited about the O's signing Vlad! It should be a fun 2011 at Camden Yards.

I would make my lineup with one correction:

Roberts 2B
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Guerrero DH
Scott LF
Weiters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Hardy SS

I would switch Weiters (C) and Lee (1B) so that Lee can protect Weiters and Weiters would have a better pitch selectin.

Jeff,

I like your lineup, but you need to switch Lee and Reynolds. Reynolds has trouble hitting breaking balls which he will get more of batting 6th.

My suggestion is based on my study of ball/strike counts on Reynolds.

Batting 3rd, especially with either Roberts or Markakis on base, or perhaps both, Reynolds will get a dose of fastballs which he will crush. Plus with Guerrero hitting 4th they won't want to chance walking Reynolds.

Lee can hit anywhere.

Never thought I would live to see it, but the O's new look, combined with the Ravens' pathetic and sickening second half playoff meltdown against the Steelers, could create the opportunity for the Orioles to finally take back this town.

Jeff,
The money is not an issue, as the Orioles have made more that that in extra profit already since they switched vendors. The deal brought the Orioles more of a cut of the profits.

My 25 man roster w/ lineup and rotation:

1. (S) Roberts 2B
2. (L) Marakais RF
3. (R) Lee 1B
4. (R) Guerrero DH
5. (L) Scott LF
6. (S) Weieters C
7. (R) Reynolds 3B
8. (R) Hardy SS
9. (R) Jones CF

Bench
(L) Pie OF
(S) Izturis 2B, SS
(R) Fox 1B, C
(R) Andino 3B, SS

Rotation
(R) Guthrie
(L) Matusz
(R) Duchscherer
(R) Arrieta
(L) Britton

Bullpen
MR (L) Hendrickson
MR (R) Acardo
MR (L) Viola
SU (R) Johnson
SU (L) Gonzalez
SU (R) Gregg
CL (R) Uehara

I move Weiters ahead of Reynolds, assuming Reynolds has a greater chance of being the last out in an inning. Leaving Hardy and Jones to set the table for the top of the lineup. Probably a pipe dream to expect Britton is ready at the beginning of the season, but the sooner he gets here and adds a second lefty to the rotation the better the team will be. Tillman and Bergeson will get their chances throughout the year.

Starting Scott in left is a big mistake. Pie needs to start in left and Scott should rotate between outfield and 1st base.

You might be interested to know that by upping their offer by another 3 million it will take 106,000 more fans over the season at the average ticket price to cover the increase. The O's can draw that many more fans without any trouble with this new lineup.

The uncertainty of Luke Scott's arbitration leaves him open to be traded. If Scott goes to arbitration the Orioles might want to dump his salary because they overpaid for Vlad Guerrero. Scott has value to land a pitching prospect and a ML-ready power hitting outfield prospect or vice versa. Pie and Reimold have no value with other teams yet. Since Scott is a DH/OF, AL teams like the Tigers, the Mariners, the Angels are a few teams that would be interested in Scott. I'd say hold on to him through Spring Training then trade Scott before camp breaks for the regular season.

I think there's another possibility or maybe even two. I'm not saying that Vlad wouldn't put his full effort if he reluctantly agreed to a $3M deal, but maybe the front office didn't want to take that chance, so they gave him what he wanted to be happy.

The other possibility could be that the front office learned how the Orioles themselves felt about acquiring Vlad. Maybe once they learned everyone was excited about the possibility they ponied up and paid the man.

After all, I think one of the best things you can do for a team, especially before the start of a season, is get everyone excited about the upcoming season.

I applaud MacPhail and Angelos on this offseason.

Now let's PLAY BALL!

With all them non-speedy, big-bat guys in the middle of the lineup, it only makes sense to put your two speediest guys at 1 and 2 of the lineup, Roberts and Jones. I'm sure Buck has figured this out by now.

Jeff,

There is not alot of base stealing speed in the lineup outside of Roberts. Jones is probably the favorite to bat 2nd. But Reynolds probably has the next best MLB base stealing record amongst the starting players. What do you think of a starting lineup with Reynolds 2nd in the lineup, sometimes? The team won't need 40 HRs from Reynolds with Markakis, Guerrero, Scott and Lee in the middle of the batting order. Do you think Reynolds could make the adjustment. Couldn't it help decrease his strikeout rate and increase his batting average?


.........................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I don't think that would be a good idea. You want your No.2 hitter to be able to handle the bat, move runners and have good patient at-bats. You're paying Reynolds to hit home runs, not do those things. You don't want him worrying about doing the little things. You want him to hit the ball out of the ballpark. As for stolen bases, don't sleep on Reynolds either. He stole 24 bases in '09 but didnt run as much last year because he wasn't healthy very often. But yeah, I think you'll see Jones and Markakis run a little more under Buck.

The prospect of Scott being this team's everyday leftfielder reminds me of Ken Singleton and Bobby Bonilla playing the outfield for the O's.I Iiked those guys but they were a step slow(at least) playing defense. Packaging Scott and Tillman for a middle of the rotation starter makes a lot of sense. I'm looking forward to the days when the highlight of the season is not the deals the O's make at the trading deadline.

I can't remember the last time I was this optimistic about the O's heading into spring.
We have a legitimate offense now, with a lineup that will make any pitcher in the league take us seriously.
If Weiters progresses and BRob stays healthy, this team will score a lot of runs.
The bullpen looks like one of the better ones in the league, the only real question is if the starters can continue to pitch like they did down the stretch last season.
The O's may not be quite ready to compete for a wild card slot, but they will definitely be a major factor in the division this year that no team will be able to ignore.
If they can avoid a lot of big injuries, the losing streak surely comes to an end this season.
I'm hoping that Nolan Riemold shows up in Florida ready to take back the position he lost. If he has a great spring, and Pie does too, that will make a wonderful problem for Buck to solve.
After this horrid winter (I'm in VT) I am really looking forward to reading the reports from ST.
Thanks for the great reporting Jeff.

My hope is that both Reimold & Pie are kept. Vlad will be a great 1 year addition but after that the chances become less that he stays in Baltimore. When that happens you want to be able to move one of your experienced & young outfielders to that spot.
If you trade either one & Vlad leaves after this year there will be a serious hole in the roster that didn't have to be there.
Right now on paper...this lineup has more pop than the Yankees. If our pitching can keep us close for the bats to do their job...I'm thinking wild card 2011.

Jeff, the Rangers had an $8.5 Million offer on the table at the beginning of the off season for Vlad so the basement for Vlad's services was set then, whether realistically of not, and I imagine that is where Vlad, rightfully so, and his agent figured would be as low as they would go, no?
Regardless, GLAD to have VLAD!
I say sandwich Scott in the middle of Lee and Vlad and watch the balls fly!

Absolute best potential lineup

1. BRob, 2B (might set team runs scored record!)
2. Markakis, CF (.330 BA Avg might result from all the fastballs he'll see over the plate)
3. Lee, 1B (Even a return to half of his '09 nyumbers is an improvement over the junk we ran out there last yr)
4. Scott LF (Early start is important or he may see more pine than he wud like and cud tailspin by sulking/certainly still trade bait)
5. Vlad DH (Boo HaHa, Yankees Lose...Yankeeees Lose!)
6. Reynolds, 3B (his power warrants this slot as much as Vlad's league low walks per abat)
7. Weiters, C (watch early to see if sophmore slump is behind him, way to good a hitter coming up to continue struggling w the bat. Wud drop lower vs lefties)
8. Jones, CF (removed from the spotlight, cud flourish in 7, 8, or even 9 hole
9. Hardy, SS (how many teams have a 20 hr guy in their 9 hole?)

The BLEACHERS ARE GOING TO BE ROCKING THIS SUMMER!
NATTY's ON ME!

Note: Jones & Weiters flipflop spots based on opposing pitcher being leftie or rightie.

As usual, not brooks, aka "Mr. Baseball", a legend in his own mind, can't seem to disagree with a post without attempting to belittle the poster.
I believe I explained why I thought Jones should bat second.
I'll explain it again:
Brian Roberts is one of the best leadoff men in baseball.
He's going to get on at the beginning of a game (or in later innings for that matter) pretty often.
The next guy up should be prepared to advance Roberts into scoring position, either by hitting behind him or by sacrificing.
Jones is very adept at both.
You gonna ask Markakis to sacrifice ?
You gonna ask Lee to sacrifice ?
Give it a rest, not brooks.
Your word is not Gospel here.and it never was.
You need to go to Wal-Mart and pick up some manners.

The Orioles don't have the pitching to win the AL East but they will compete hard and will be in the hunt for a Wild Card until rather late. It is amusing that down the road in Washington, with possibly the worst starting pitching in the major leagues, the Nats might regress and fall out of contention by June, the time of the year the Orioles are pretty much out of it.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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