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February 16, 2009

Orioles: Wieters can't be rushed

Everybody is excited about top prospect Matt Wieters, and rightfully so. He dominated the competition just about everywhere he played last year, which makes it easy to imagine he will do the same at this level as soon as the Orioles allow him to join the major league starting lineup.

Of course, that's a possibility with a young player of his potential, but there is only one logical reason to push him out there on Opening Day and there are plenty of good reasons to send him to Norfolk to dominate another level of the Orioles player development system.

The reason you start him ASAP is because you need people to come back to the ballpark after more than a decade of attendance in decline. He's got a chance to be the catching version of Evan Longoria and who better to lure back a disaffected fan base?

The reasons you don't:

1. He's not ready, which is something the Orioles have to care about even if you don't.
2. He needs more experience handling pitchers and it won't hurt him to get another hundred minor league at-bats.
3. He's got six years under club control and you don't want to waste a minute of that on a false start.
4. The O's can actually increase that to nearly seven years by holding him back for a couple of months.

I'll stand by for all the angry and sarcastic barbs about the Orioles caring only about saving money, but there's more to it than that. There is real economic and strategic logic in slow-playing Wieters, since his effort this year -- no matter how good -- probably would not have a major impact on the competitive potential of the team.

If he turns out to be as good as everybody thinks he might, then keeping him tied to the Orioles for his seventh year in the majors is way more valuable than having him in the lineup for every minute of his first year at the big league level. Scoff at the front office for thinking that way if you want, but it makes perfect sense.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:40 AM | | Comments (53)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

Well put Pete -
As a life-long O's fan, I know there is no way this team will be competitive this year (.500 at best). I really like what AM has been able to accomplish so far with the ball club. The slow and steady way isn't that exciting right now, but it is what this team needs to stick with.

You gotta slow play Wieters. There is no real value in bringing him up till June. He'll be our starting catcher for the next 10 years, we can wait a few more months.

1) There is NO indication that he is not ready. If he's not ready, sure leave him in the minors, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
2) Of course it won't hurt him to get more at-bats, but will it really help him? He has to adjust to the big leagues at some point.
3) Do you want to waste a minute of those cheap six seasons with him in the minors?
4) This is a very valid reason. However, it doesn't take "a couple of months" to gain that seventh season, just a couple of weeks.. The couple of months will, however, delay his arbitration eligibility.

..............................................................................................
Pete's reply: The six years is major league service time, so time in the minors does not affect it. You made my argument with that one.

You are amazing...

...............................................................................................
Pete's reply: And you are very perceptive.

You're absolutely right about this Pete. There is no upside to having Wieters start the season in Baltimore. I'm sure he'll be in the majors before my birthday (June 16).

Some reasons why Wieters should be rushed...

1. The O's haven't had a catching prospect this promising since Al Pardo. Or was it Don Pardo?

2. In the wake of the recent steroid talk it wouldn't hurt to have a catchy PR slogan, like "We Have Wieters, Not No Cheaters."

3. The loss of Ramon Hernandez leaves a gaping hole behind the plate, if not in the postgame spread.

4. The Norfolk nightlife has been the ruin of many a poor boy...and God, I know, I'm one.

5. If he doesn't start the season in Baltimore, the front office will have to resort to off-the-wall promotional events to draw fans in April, such as "Freeze Your Tongue on the Flagpole Night;" "Nude Snow Wrestling Night;" and "Yodel in the Empty Stadium Night."

Sarcastic enough, Pete?


.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: No, I want it to cut like a knife.

Sad when all of your decisions are based on saving a buck

THANKS Peter and Andrew!

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: Not when it's the right decision.

Pete-I agree 100% No negatives can be found to him spending the first couple of months in Norfolk. And as the Evan Longoria arrival showed up it can be a successful transition if handled correctly. And I am pretty confident that unlike the Rays buying out Longoria's years that won't happen with Weiters!! Sorry Matt! The O's just don't do business that way! Nothing personal!

agreed.

Pete,
With Scott Boras as his agent, why wouldn't you take advantage of that extra year? The longer we have him under control, the longer the O's don't have to deal with Boras. Like you said, it makes perfect sense.

Unless your name is Jack, I don't see how you would fail to see the logic in holding him back for a month or two. Let him and the young prospect pitchers grow together in the minors, and they will be that much more bonded to one another when they are all in Baltimore together. I've waited 12 years for a quality product in Charm City, I will gladly wait one more. And maybe I'll venture to Norfolk or Bowie to get a glimpse at 2010 and 2011.

Pete,

I agree and disagree at the same time. The money thing will be an issue no matter if it is 6 or 7 years, and holding someone back because of what could happen in that time frame is just wrong. If he has a great spring and our back up catchers show nothing, there is nothing wrong with bringing him up early, because they will have to deal a long term contract with him in three years probably.. I do not think it is a good idea to rush anyone but lets face the facts, lets say he hits, catches and seems to be handle pitchers well you have to make a decision what is best for the player and the club and I hope that is a tough decision, Zaun, as much as like the guy as a player has averaged only 87 games at catcher for the last three years and less than 330 at bats per year, he has only had one season where he caught in more than 103 games, and he is not getting younger, at 38 you do not start catching more, you do less. With that said your back up catcher most likely will get a lot of playing time. Look at what you have at backup catcher in camp, do you really want these guys at the plate 250 to 300 times? Remember Nick Markakis never played one minute in Triple A, and he adjusted pretty quickly to the MLB game.

I think that if you are looking to save money you keep him down, have Zaun catch almost every game for the first month, then bring him up. However I do agree if he is not ready you have to keep him down at Norfolk for more grooming, but really it should come down to what is going to bring the most success to this team this year and the next three years, not what is going to happen when it is the year 2015 or 2016. Just look back five years and there are only two Orioles left from that team on the roster(Mora and Roberts), and one guy that was signed back as a non-roster invitee (Parish) for this year.

Financially things will take care of themselves if the Orioles reach the playoffs in the next couple of years. I remember a time when people once begged me to see if I could get them tickets for a game at Camden Yards, I miss those days, and really there is only one way to get them back, and we all know what that is.

If he was a 1st baseman or a outfielder that's one thing, but a catcher needs his full training in the minors. Our G.M. looks like he has the proper hold on this situation, and with Zuhn on the team for later in the year. It looks good.

I agree Weiters needs to spend some time at Norfolk because we need to see how he handles more breaking pitches than he's seen so far.If he can continue to rake AAA pitching then he's ready for the next step. If the O's get off to a slow start then people will start squawking to bring him up sooner.Weiters has said that no matter where you are you have to learn pitchers and hitters as you go along. If pitchers are saying he's easy to throw to then adjusting to the majors shouldn't be that big a deal.

I agree that it makes sense to extend his time in the organization. That extra year in his prime has a lot more value than a month or two at the beginning. Pete, how long do they need to keep him down before they get the extra year?

Pete, I agree with you 100%. Don't rush the kid. All of these borderline pitchers are going to need Zaun behind the plate, at least to start he season. What's another two months after 11 years? More importantly - and this goes back a couple of days - how DO you pronounce "Danys?"

.............................................................................................
Pete's reply: I don't know. Everybody calls him Danny.

I agree with you that the club is using sound reasoning if they at least start Matt in AAA this season.

What I don't necessarily agree with is that he's not yet ready to play with the big club. I think you might not be considering the development value that a month and a half of spring training holds for a player like Weiters.
IF we needed him to be ready to start by opening day, I have no doubt that this exceptional kid from Goose Creek, South Carolina could do it and do it with no less flair and sucess than he's going to have later this season.
The thing is, Andy and Dave have planned this situation perfectly and will stick to that plan..... and that's fine. It shows that they're doing their jobs patiently, intelligently and confidently..... and the Orioles will be the long-term beneficiary of that plan.
But make no mistake..... this kid is ready to begin his march to being counted along with Ripken, Murray, and the Robinsons as one of the greatest Orioles to ever wear the uniform..... and he's ready NOW. .

The team was too stupid to hold Nick Markakis for two months in the minors in one of their many lost seasons, and it just cost them $10 million. With Andy McPhail, they're finally getting less stupid.

Pete-
You are right on target with this one. Having seen many of Matt's games at Bowie last year, there are many times when he is clearly a man among boys. That being said, there were also the few days where he was 0-4 with 3 K's and looked like he had a lot to learn. There is no doubt that his arm is major league ready, but did not call pitches for a single game in his career until he got to the Orioles farm system, so he has alot to learn still about handling major league pitchers. A little more seasoning at AAA and some mentoring from Zaun will bode well for years to come. With Zaun in house to handle the catching chores for now, the Orioles can market the newly extended Markakis, and guys like Pie and the beefed up Adam Jones and look forward to Weiters' arrival. With so many good young pitches in the system now, how long has it been since we as Orioles fans have legitimately had something to look forward to??? Too long, in my opinion! I'm happy to wait a few more months for Weiters, especially if it makes it easier to keep him arund an extra year!

That extra year of club control is crucial considering he is a Boras client. I don't care if Wieters is better than Babe Ruth, putting off potentially dealing with Boras for an extra year is worth ANYTHING!

Hi Pete,

I blog on many other sites, though you and Roch have great insight. I must say about your wisdom, is very profound and greatly admired. Where I am from, with such great wisdom, you would be a general or captain of industry.

Keep up the good work and remember, the Orioles are better than the Gorky Park Seamen baseball team. So I am happy.

Pete - your 100% correct. Put his hind parts in No'folk until the All-Star break or beyond. Don't listen to the nay-sayers.

p.s. - Dan Connolly really misses you!

Peter, I hope the Orioles bring Wieters up on May 1. That way they have the best of both worlds. They get to keep him for an extra year and we get to watch him develop and work with the pitching staff for the most of this year.

I don't recall another prospect being 'scheduled' like Weiters has before (i.e., he'll be up in a month or so), but I say: "What's the rush?"
If he's half as good as everyone says, he'll be worth the wait, and he won't make that much diference in the first 50 games anyway. And bringing a possible star to his first game on Opening Day, against the Yankees no less, it's most likely too much pressure no matter how mature he is.
I can't wait to see him at Camden Yards but not rushing is the right choice.

Pete; I get points 1,3 and 4 of your argument in favour of starting Weiters in AAA, but not point #2. What possible difference can 100 ABs and 20-25 games behind the plate do for his development? Most of a full season sure, but 20 games won't make much difference.

The potential problem that I see is if he thinks the same way about it as I do. What's he going to think if they bring him up in the first two weeks of May? He might see that it was the monetary end of things that drove the decision. How will he react to that? If he's mature enough he'll understand graciously. If he isn't then it might cause some resentment on his part.

If he isn't ready then put him in AAA until August and then bring him up to finish the year. He can get his growing pains over with then and be ready to start fresh in 2010.

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Pete's reply: I think the extra 100 at-bats and 25 games could mean a lot to his development. If he dominates at Triple-A, even for that short time, he'll come up even more sure of himself. If he catches 25 games, he'll be more up to speed when he takes the field at the major league level and more likely to have success right away.

Pete -- great insight! Question: how does the major league service system work in Matt's case? How long do they have to keep him in the minors before it makes sense regarding that 7th year of club control before he becomes an unrestricted free agent?

Thanks!

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Pete's reply: There are two different dates, and I don't have them at my fingertips. I will find that out when I see one of the front office people who keep track of that sort of thing.

The Orioles have rushed many a prospect, I'm happy with the approach they are taking. Weiters' big league debut is just something to look forward to midway through the season. Our 2011+ teams could be contenders.

Pete,

I rarely disagree with you but I have to on this one. What is the difference between learning how to handle pitchers in the big leagues as opposed to in AAA. Whether he is up or down the club would be lucky to win 75 games. I'd rather him take his lumps in the big leagues and learn up here. At least it would give fans something to watch.

I think that the Orioles need to find whatever it takes to hold on as long as they can to Wieters, and the Orioles can get that one more year out of him when he leaves at the end of his contract and becomes another billion dollar free agent signing for the Yankees.

You are right on Pete. People may think it's "the Orioles being cheap" but we need to remember who Wieters' agent is. Boras is not going to have him sign an extension before he becomes a free agent and then you can't predict what other teams are going to do. On top of that, what is more likely to occur - the O's being contenders in 2009 or 2015?

I'm with Schmuck --

Better almost seven years than just six. That's the realistic part of it.

Once he's elegible for free agency, only the Yankees will be able to afford him. (Unless we're back to filling the yard again.)

Sad when all of your decisions are based on saving a buck . . . Just as sad as when all your posts are based on lies and ignorance.

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Pete's reply: They why, pray tell, are you here?

Pete, this is for the hardcore hater Jack. I notice you never have anything positive to say about anything the O's do. We have had 11 seasons to forget but I believe most people have to acknlowledge that AM has changed the direction of the club in a positive way. You have to trim the fat to get better and he has done that. Would you have liked it better if AM went out and overspent to put the same type of team on the field we have had year in and year out for the last decade? Criticism is okay at times and is needed in certain situations but every time I pull up this Shcmuck's blog, your bashing the O's. Since you are probably a misplaced yankee fan, while don't you take your negativity to a new team and let us that bleed orange and black foster a feeling of optimism about this young and up and coming team. There are some bright spots that are directly the result of what AM has done; Jones, Markakis, Weiters, Pie, Hill, Matusz,Huff. Give them a chance and a little time. It's sad that you can't see the blueprint is finally coming together.

Pete, this is for the hardcore hater Jack. I notice you never have anything positive to say about anything the O's do. We have had 11 seasons to forget but I believe most people have to acknlowledge that AM has changed the direction of the club in a positive way. You have to trim the fat to get better and he has done that. Would you have liked it better if AM went out and overspent to put the same type of team on the field we have had year in and year out for the last decade? Criticism is okay at times and is needed in certain situations but every time I pull up this Shcmuck's blog, your bashing the O's. Since you are probably a misplaced yankee fan, while don't you take your negativity to a new team and let us that bleed orange and black foster a feeling of optimism about this young and up and coming team. There are some bright spots that are directly the result of what AM has done; Jones, Markakis, Weiters, Pie, Hill, Matusz,Huff. Give them a chance and a little time. It's sad that you can't see the blueprint is finally coming together.

I believe you have the best 25 come up to a ball club regardless of contract and what could happen in the future, especially a long road of six or seven years. You going to let Boras intimidate you? I hope not and I am sure McPhail does not let him do so. Who knows what will happen, and I am sure if Matt wants to be here in the future will be determined over the next couple of years.

Pete,

You better ban that Chris Joseph guy or your fantasy of opening a hula shirt shop at Lake Tahoe will take a step closer. That is if you're lucky enough to not be reassigned to blogging about the Wiz.

"Freeze Your Tongue on the Flagpole Night;" "Nude Snow Wrestling Night;" and "Yodel in the Empty Stadium Night."

Priceless.

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Pete's reply: It's going to be a Hawaiian golf shirt shop in Squaw Creek.


RE: Pete's reply: The six years is major league service time, so time in the minors does not affect it. You made my argument with that one.

Presumably he is going to be called to Majors relatively shortly; that's why the Orioles traded away Ramon Hernandez. Thus, once he passes the date when where he gains that 7th season of club control, he would be spending "cheap" time in the minors. Seeing as how Longoria played his first Major League game on April 12 of last season, that is a very, very short time that must be spent in the minors.

Pete,

I agree with you soundly, if he is not ready and I don't mean him being our best catcher in camp (which he is) but being developed to the level he can be. I work in an organization that has a motto "people first, mission always", and if he is held back JUST to save some MLB time, that's flat out WRONG!

Taking advantage of players is part of the divide between Management and players and creates a lack of trust AND drives free agent pricing, they remember these things! Doing the right thing would be the perferred option and if he needs 2-4 months or the whole season at Triple A, I'm ok with it, IF its for the RIGHT reason.

AM will do what's in the best interst of Weiters' and the O's. I agree with many of the posters on this site that 2009 is a developmental season. Although I want to see Weiters ASAP, the wait will be well worth it. BTW, he will tear up AAA!

Pete,
A "year of service" is defined by MLB as 172 days in the majors. There are approximately 182 days in each team's major league season. Thus, the O's only need to hold Weiters down in Norfolk for about two weeks to get that seventh year with regard to free agency. However, because Weiters is likely to be a "Super Two" type player (it would take too long to explain what that means here), if he is called up before late May (I estimate May 27-29) he would be eligible for salary arbitration after the 2011 season. If called up in late May or early June, he will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2012 season. The Orioles save a ton of money keeping Weiters down in Norfolk until late May.

Anyone remember the Birds "bonus baby" catcher
Frank Zuppo. I think they rushed him. All I remember are two pop fouls right around the plate in 1 game. Ole (young) Frank dropped 'em both. Never heard of him again.

Anyone remember the Birds "bonus baby" catcher
Frank Zuppo. I think they rushed him. All I remember are two pop fouls right around the plate in 1 game. Ole (young) Frank dropped 'em both. Never heard of him again.

I agree with you completely. If they bring him up to start the season I'd be so upset.

I agree with you Pete. Having seen Matt at Bowie in the regular season and playoffs where he looked lost at the plate I think Norfolk will serve him well. Its better for his sake also as the pitching in Baltimore will need the help of an experinced catcher in Greg Zaun to help them devolep their potential whatever they have. The O's need to think of these players also. And having a experinced catcher will help them more and Matt would have to sit while they are getting their act together. Better to bring him in when he's ready to play a major part of the catching duties.

i agree completely. lets wait a couple months, give him the innings and give us an extra year on his contract. No reason to rush, we obviously are not contending for a ring this year.

roy's blog makes sense. Zaun's D and gravitas saves the O's at least half a run a game! When Weiters comes up, what if he splits catching duties with Zahn and does a little DHing? It would ease him into the catching role, he could watch and learn from Zaun.. what are his minor league numbers avg and powerwise batting rh and lh?

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Pete's reply: I agree that Zaun is a decent acquisition, but if he saved the team a run a game, he'd be worth $15 million per year.

Let weiters at norfolk till may
it cant hurt that much.Plus I
can wait a few weeks & it
will be warmer for his debut.

Keeping Weiters at Norfolk for six weeks is not likely to destroy the career of the O's best prospect since 1982, nor is it likely to make any difference in the O's quest to vacate last place. He's not THAT good.

Does anyone know why Matusz is on the 40-man roster and why Wieters is not?

Frank Zuppo - unibrow - but that was before we were primetime & could lure talented scribes from the O.C.

Pete:

I will promise that these will be my last comments on this topic.

First, Longoria was called up as quickly as he was last year because Aybar was injured. The Rays had also signed him to a 6 year extension which eliminated the arbitration years without affecting his ultimate right to free agency - good move on both sides. Will we be able to do the same with Wieters when he is brought up?

Second, don't expect him up soon. Remember there is the Super Two Exclusion in the arbitration rules (player is ineligible for free agency, is without a contract, cannot agree to a new contract, played at least 86 days in the majors in the previous year, and is among the top 17% for cumulative playing time with at least 2 years and less than 3 years experience). This exclusion is why the Rays gave the extension to Longoria. You don't really help with arbitration by delaying a player for a month if he is going to play regularly thereafter. After his first three years he still is arbitration eligible (yes, Pete, the players association has lawyers). Hence, to extend control means keeping him in the minors for a lenghtly stay. I my first evaluation of this in January, I said if he starts in the minors he will stay there all year.

Third, your idea works as far as free agency is concerned. Keep him down a while and gain a year. Problem: you run into arbitration. With a catcher who might hit like Piazza. Can you say Ryan Howard contracts? Remember who his agent is. Boras ain't signing extensions with anyone.

Since I don't see any real advantage in terms of monetary issues, you must think that Wieters really really needs more minor league experience. Like the extra years in the minors have changed Pie into a five skills rather than five tools player. Wieters is apparently the real thing. Everyone seems to think so. No ifs, no ands, no buts. Let him come up and experience ML pitching. It took Markakis a few months to get it - same way for people named Mantle and Mays. But who knows, he might come up looking like Pujols (or Williams or DiMaggio or Piazza). And, if you think he needs experience handling a minor league pitching staff, well, duh. Don't have to go much further than Camden Yards to find that!

This monkey business isn't smart. Wieters has already quietly said "he understands the business." He is a nice kid. But he is smart and well represented. Don't expect even one home town discount. What goes around comes around.

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Pete's reply: Longoria signed a little while after he came up and got a very modest contract, in relative terms. I'm guessing Boras would not sign Wieters for that amount. You're right. No hometown discount. Since you've promised this was your last comment on this, I guess I get to respond and get no argument. The only reason to bring him up to start this season is to please fans who are itching to see him. And it's a bad reason. He might be handling minor league pitching at this level, but he won't be facing minor league pitching. Let him dominate at Triple-A for a few weeks. Won't hurt him a bit.

leave matt in norfolk until june,
with the young pitchers and a
outstanding prospect catcher the
orioles have time on their side.

we have waited patiently for over
11 plus years, the longest drought
in o's history.

two things that define the orioles' fans
50,000 show up to watch them end
the 21 game losing streak...

the 1982 end of earl weaver playoff
loss to milwaukee. the fans stayed
to see earl off eventhough it was
one of the most exciting finishes
in o's history....

Wieters should play in the majors when he is ready period. If he shows in spring training he is ready he deserves to make the club. Manipulating the rules and holding him back just to save money is unethical and equivalent to stealing money from Wieters. If I were him I would remember if the club held me back to save $ and it would not be a good memory.

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Pete's reply: The club already has given him $6 million. I don't think he's going to be upset. Being ready is a judgment call, and the Orioles are the ones who have paid for the right to make that judgment for whatever reason they want. The compensation and service system was put in at the behest of the union, so I don't think the O's have to apologize for using it to their advantage when they can.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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