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October 30, 2009

Orioles: Moeller explained

Most of you probably know this already, but I thought I'd clarify the Chad Moeller situation for anyone who didn't get to the end of Jeff Zrebiec's story on the subject. The Orioles declined his $850,000 major league option yesterday, but that does not mean he will not return as Matt Wieters backup next season. In fact, I would guess that his return is fairly likely.

The option was declined to free up room on the 40-man roster in anticipation of the finalization of the club's reserve list. The O's have to determine by Nov. 20 who will be protected in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft in December. That's also why several players were outrighted yesterday and a few more may be today.

The club has told Moeller that it will basically honor the terms of the option that was declined if he later accepts a minor league deal and then makes the major league roster out of spring training. He has the option of accepting a guaranteed roster spot from another team in the meantime, but the Orioles want him back and he is open to coming back if somebody doesn't offer him a more secure situation.

Moeller isn't an impact player, but he bonded well with Wieters last season and seemed to have a positive effect on his development. He's also a terrific guy who is well-liked in the clubhouse, though that's not an important reason to keep him.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:39 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Just baseball


Moeller also works well with the young pitchers. His clubhouse presence on this young team is important. I'm looking forward to having him back as an Oriole in 2010.

Probably the first time "Chad Moeller" and "important" have been used in the same comment. Excepting the Moeller family, of course.

The Orioles used to have a reputation for being good to players, but not in recent years, really since the Xavier Hernandez debacle. Paying Moeller this salary if he makes the team out of spring training would be heard around the league.

Steve D--Thanks for providing the second time!

Here's a request from a regular reader who knows a lot about the sport of baseball but not much about the business of baseball. It would be a big help if the Sun would post a sports dictionary or glossary of sports terms. I have no idea what it means to be "outrighted," and I recently was at a loss when I read a Schmuck post about an Orioles "cross-checker." Maybe I'm just a lot more ignorant than the M.A.R--mythical average reader--of this blog. But I suspect there are a lot of us out here.

Pete's reply: Jake, a glossary would not be a bad idea, though I'm not volunteering to type it in. Basically, being outrighted means being taken off the 40-man roster and placed on a minor league roster. Players must pass through waivers to be outrighted and can be taken by other clubs for the waiver price, but must be put on that other club's 40-man roster and stay in the majors unless passed through waivers again. A crosschecker is just the scout who overseas a group of regional scouts. He basically looks at scouting reports and then goes out and sees the players to confirm them.


There are resources all over to help those of us who are more ignorant than the MAR... for instance, I just typed the word "outrighted" into google. Here is the first search result:

"A player who is outrighted to the minors is removed from the 40-man roster but is still paid according to the terms of his guaranteed contract."

He may be a nice guy and a a good influence, but I still don't understand the logic in paying a back-up catcher almost $1 million who can't hit and can't throw out runners (only 2 all of last year).

Greg, the negotiated minimum salary is $400,000, so any backup catcher would make that much. And you won't get any vet for the absolute minimum, you'll have to pay more than that.

Put it this way... if the O's want a veteran presence at backup C, at $850,000 they're already spending as little on their backup catcher as they could.

"Moeller started out on a tear, batting .292/.346/.583 in April, but he couldn't keep that up all year. He did finish better than expected though, hitting .258/.313/.438 in an even 100 PA. That kind of production from a catcher is actually pretty good, and even in limited time Moeller was worth 0.5 Wins Above Replacement. If he could keep that level of play up over a full season, he'd be around an average (2.5 WAR) player. I'd certainly take that from a back-up catcher, and so I think it's pretty likely that the O's will exercise the $0.85 M club option they have on his contract. After all, Moeller was worth $2.3 M this year while being paid just $0.8 M. That's a nice little bargain to have...

Moeller's .324 wOBA was 25th in baseball amongst catchers with at least 50 PA."

Didn't consider the 40 man roster implications, but bringing him back for less than a million bucks is a fine move.

I hope Andy & Co. are actively seeking Adam LaRoach to fill the 1st. base void. He could make a nice living with the fans in Eutaw St. area. Easily a 25/30 HR & 100 RBI guy. A much more proven track record than say...Jay Gibbons. Offer 3 years at 7 million each with incentives & a 4th. year option at 5 million.

Pete's reply: If Adam LaRoche is "easily" a 100-RBI guy, how come he has never driven in 100 runs?

(from last blog)I love you guys! Yes, Derek Lee...duh (thanks b). Christian, don't hate...your parents gave you a lot of responsibility by giving you that name, live up to it!

Yes, its a lot to give up maybe too much. Points are:

1. You wanna play with the big boys, you gotta PLAY with big boys. I love Reimold, but he's the 4th best LF in the AL East (maybe 3 unless the yanks sign Holliday). We can find someone else to the be 3rd-4th best LF (and have decent #s) and have the 1st or 2nd best 1b.

2. We keep saying the Os need a basher in the 4 hole, he's not there in FA. Take a shot on Glaus, Delgado, etc short term...sure, in fact in OPCY those guys could have big years. If you're looking for a guy to be an anchor for years, you're gonna have to give up something to get it. Who would you offer for a 25 year old 1b whose averaged 40 hr and 111 RBIs the last 4 years? And I believe have under team control for 2 more years? Don't give me Hernandez, Luke, Wigginton, and Fiorentino or some of the other ridiculous offers we've seen on this page.

Worried about production at the tail end of the deal? Check out A-Rod's deal...I think he gets 17 million the final year.

3. To make the playoffs out of the AL east, you probably have to be one of the top 3 teams in all of baseball. The SUX have AVERAGED 92 wins this decade and finished 1st ONCE! The last 5 times the SUX have finished 2nd they had 95, 95, 95, 98, 95 wins. That's the bar the Os have to jump over.

If the Os wait for this nucleus to develop, they will have a fun team to watch starting year after next, with some improvement next year and maybe even an 86-88 win season in the next 5 years which doesn't get them into the playoffs. At some point, they gotta make a bold move if they're gonna compete for the playoffs. Give up a solid to very good LF, a Pitching Prospect thats not Tillman or Matusz or Bergesen, an 8th inning reliever, and a AA starter for a BEAST of a cleanup hitter? Maybe even another A or AA SP?

And yes, there's a risk when it comes to re-signing the guy. Again, you wanna aspire for 85 wins a year, don't do it. Wanna win the 95 MINIMUM it takes to sniff the playoffs, bold moves are required. And you don't make the deal in a vacuum. Make that trade, sign Glaus and a LF to platoon with Pie, and you've got a tough lineup.

When the SUX trade for Gonzales or Fielder this off season, what are we going to see on this board? Waaaaa, the Os don't do what it takes.

Keep drafting well, stay cognizant of organizational depth, and it can be done.

Thanks for the definition of "outrighted."
Can you do the same for "cross-checker?" My google search turned up a jumble of stories, but no definition.

My understanding is that a cross checker is the guy who teams send for the second report on the guys their local scouts have uncovered and selected as worth further scouting. I think teams have both regional and national crosscheckers.

There's been a lot of suggestions tossed around about who te O's should target in the tepid free agent pool. I think there's some merit in avoiding it all together. Many names thrown out there are risks-injury or performance-wise and in the long run, we should pass.
Let's promote from within. For example, the O's surely wouldn't have traded their best reliever for Josh Bell if they didn't expect him to be their full-time 3b so why not give him the job in '10? Surely he can match Mora's sub-apr production and can only bet better!
We need to avoid the patch-job signings and while next year will surely be another losing one, I guess we should expect competitivess in '11. Littering our roster with stop-gaps may only result in a few more wins and the downside is that in the long run, we stay in this type of mode forever. I'd rather endure another 65-70 loss season if it meant the team finally gets competitive with a younger team. Why grab guys no one else wants ? For example, Pedro is a true warrior and everything, but he's now become a 5-6 inning pitcher..I'd rather see those starts given to someone who'll be part of our future. Sure Beltre may very well hit 20 hr but he'll want more than a 1-2 yr deal so throw Johs Bell out there and save the 5-6 mill/yr for someone else.

Better wake up and smell the coffee......if you were a free agent why would you come to the Orioles to play?
So you can face the Yankees 19 times a year...and the Red Sox 19 times a year......and Tampa Bay 19 times a year!!!!
Really......why would you come here? The team is in LAST place......we dont stand a chance of competing for why would you come here?
The only way the Birds are going to get better is thru their young players and thru trades.
Why would the Birds trade their best reliever for Josh Bell......because he has potential and can play sooner then later. The O's will add him to the mix some time next year. San Diego will rape the O's in a trade for Alex Gonzales....they will be unreasonable in their demands.
Getting a #1 pitcher in the free agent market is not going to happen. Once again why would a pitcher want to sign with the Orioles? Unless of course he is a masochist. Tampa Bay also had problems signing free agents when they sucked.....they built their team thru young players and smart trades. Once they won the World Series then they had some appeal to the free agent market.
We must understand that the Orioles are the ugliest girl at the dance right now. Nobody really want to party with us. Why do you think Trembly is coming back....who the hell else are you going to get!!!!!

Terry P: I would "love" to endure a 65-70 loss season! Bring it on. These 90 loss seasons are killers.

Bo n Crabs: Tampa did not win the World Series.

I guess the best question is why? Can't find someone with an upside? It would be ok if he caught every 7th game but ole Dynamo Dave seemed to catch someone other than Wieters every third game! Hey and I think it's great that he is a nice guy, and since they finish last he's on the right team! Duh!

Keith Rowe;

You're a little overly optimistic about how many games Weiters is capable of playing. There wasn't a catcher in MLB that caught 140 games last season. Only a small handful caught as many as 120.


My guess as to why a team would sign a catcher who, "can't hit and can't throw out runners", would be that he has an idea how to get guys out and might be able to pass on that knowledge to the young pitchers we have. Also, bases are generally stolen more on the pitcher than the catcher.

The online poll about keeping Hendrickson tells me that at least 88% of O's fans have no clue about building a baseball team. You must have guys like Hendrickson and he was actually very good out of the pen....So glad that AM is making decisions and online polls won't decide things....glad the online poll didn't determine that we release Pie last year after 40 at bats and 15 games

TerryP, I know you meant to say you would be willing to endure another 65- to 70-win season, not -loss season.

Anyway, I generally agree with you on the task at hand. However, I have two reasons why I would support a few "patch-job" signings as you call them.

First, the shift to younger players shouldn't mean they get promoted to The Bigs by default. Younger players can develop a positive consistency playing in the minors while working to earn their promotion. Having players being overwhelmed by six months of competition against established major leaguers will lead to another collapse and probably less development.

Second, there should be a veteran presence beyond the coaching staff who knows how to go about their business during the dog days of August. Any greenhorn can be all charged up in an adrenaline-filled April. Besides, a few more wins might shake the culture of losing a little bit.

I understand spending an extra $5-20M just to go from 64 to 75 wins may not seem very gratifying. It needs to be looked at as an investment. Not only will the youngsters benefit from the type of experience a coaching staff can't provide, it may also give a signal to future stud free agents that the Orioles want to win to a point they are willing to bend over backwards to do so.

The Orioles -- rightly or wrongly -- are perceived as a team more interested if everyone else is doing the bending over. There is only one way to change that culture or perception.

The free agent cupboard may yield a nice find or two even if it is barren of any genuine studs. The stop-gap need not be a strategy taken to the endpoint, but it could be a stepping stone. Plus, there's no reason that type of signing couldn't be traded to an eager contender.

Now if Andy MacPhail has a stellar trade or two at his disposal, all bets are off. No need for a stop-gap strategy then. As I said, I think I generally agree with you. I just don't think a youth movement strategy needs to be a youth-only movement strategy.

To all, we need to stop being influenced by Tampa Bay. What they did in 2008 was remarkable. There is nothing wrong with borrowing that page from them.

However, the Rays are in a different financial situation than the O's. They were hanging fairly close to a playoff berth this year when they traded Kazmir.

The team felt they needed to get something in return as they did not believe Kazmir was returning in 2010 anyway. In Tampa's psoition, I'm not so sure I disagreed with their manangement.

The remaining players were furious, and that, too, is understandable. If it had been the Orioles, it would not have been so understandable. It would have been Mike Mussina all over again.

The Orioles can borrow from the Rays; they need not follow their example.


I think we just might find out over the next couple of years that we already have the core of a good batting order.

Jones still has a way to go, but he's outperforming Torri Hunter at the same age. Hunter didn't put up big numbers until age 26. Jones is still 24. We all know what Nick can do and the potential of Weiters to hit 25+ HRs. I think Reimold has the potential to do the same. He took a very nice step this year.

I'm sure there must be some difference between the leagues that he and Matt Holliday played in that explains why Reimold's minor league numbers dwarf Holliday's, but they are still intriguing enough that I'm not dead certain that we won't want to hold on to him a couple of years from now.

I just think that 12 years of losing and seeing precious little of quality talent come up through our system that we're conditioned to believe that the All Star calibre players we need necessarily have to come from somewhere else. I think there is a reasonable chance that we're already looking at them.

@ Bill: you are right on about Mark Hendrickson, as this is the type of guy that you want on your team. He was awful as a start early on, but excellent in the pen and when the O's needed him to start down the stretch, he did a very nice job. I can't imagine that Mark is asking for the moon so I do hope that Andy gets this done, as there are enough problems in that pen so why create another one

@ waspman: I think Kazmir had 2 years and 22 mil left and the Rays felt like they had enough depth at the minor league level. I agree with you that the O's and Rays aren't in the same boat. Tampa needed a closer and if the situation was reversed, the O's would've gone out and got a closer because even though they play like the Royals and Pirates, they blast past them in the payroll so while Tampa might not be able to add, the O's would be able to, but it's getting to that point that will be tough.

A sequel to the infamous MASN commercial, where the two chicks try to get it on with Bird is in the works so here is the leaked script: Chick 1 "we come here every game and all you do is stare at him, aren't you ever going to say anything?" Chick 2 "I don't know what to say to a guy like that" Chick 1 whistles and Ernie Tyler turns around holding a huge bag of balls and she says "Ernie, nice balls"........Screen flashes to the orange logo that says This is Birdland, for tickets, call 888-848-BIRD or go online at

Ferg/waspman. You are correct- I meant 65-70 wins...I also note my numerous spelling mistakes in my last post..must have been the after-work drinks!
Anyway, waspman. I agree with your line of thinking, with the sprinkling of a veteran or 2 to help with the youngsters. It has to be the right type of vet-not a malcontent (like Payton) who felt he should play every day and whined when he didn't. Someone like Hendrickson should be brought back as he wants to, can still contribute and he seems to know the game and has been around(and he won't cost an arm and a leg!).
I also think that the Tampa approach is not necessarily our blueprint for success. I agree with throwing the young players into the fire and building from within but let's not forget that Tampa failed with some of their free-agent signings(Floyd/Burrell) and I'm sure they regret trading Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce.
Conversely, they were wise to build around a young starting staff. They are now almost at a surplus, which explains why they decided to trade Kamzir(which looks like a good move because he may always be wild).
Hopefully, the O's reach the stage that they have 5-7 solid starters so they can actually trade one for a solid offensive threat.
As it stands, I don't expect any big free -agent signings this year, which might not be such a bad thing.

Great newspaper column today, Schmuck. As it pertains to underwear-gate it is too bad high school officials do not have the wisdom of Lee McPhail (Andy's father no less) and the ability to see that when it comes to rule infractions like too much pine tar on a bat one should take into account "the spirit of the game".

bob c, you may be correct as we never really know til we see the players play the next few years. I like jones, i do see similarities with he and torii hunter. Reimold is a nice player and i love his plate fact, he'd make a much better 2nd place hitter than jones as his obp will be 40-50 points higher. also believe 5 yrrs, 90 mil or whatever it was the angels signed hunter for is ridiculous...the guy's obp going into that contract was under .330. Again, my point is you can finesse your way into an AL Central or West championship. The AL East is about blunt force trauma. The Os will win 8-10 more games next year wth no moves, just because the rotation is basically set going into ST and Reimold, Markakis, Jones, and Weiters (presumably the meat of their order) will improve, I'd think. They probably have the core of a good lineup. Do they have that hitter that wll develop into a guy NOBODY wants to face? I don't think so and would love it if one of them proves me wrong. Prince Fielders don't come along very often. The Os should kick the tires on him and other power hitting corner infielders because outfielders are easier to find. Man, what I wouldn't give for these current hitters to prove me wrong.


Yeah, I sure would like to see a Prince Fielder type of hitter too. I think its going to be a couple of more years before we do though. While it is definately getting better, we still don't have the depth in young talent to be able to deal a large piece of it away, nor is a Fielder going to want to sign until the potential of our young guys is realized and starts showing up in the win loss column.

I see us being better this year but not yet a winner. If at this time of year next year we're looking back at Bergesen and Matusz having put up a season of good numbers, Tillman or Arrieta having solidly nailed down a spot, and Markakis, Weiters, Jones and Reimold having the seasons they're capable of, we'll be a team good free agents will want to sign with.

While its tough to get guys to want to come and play for a sad sack club that is going to get hammered by NY and Boston, I've got to think that being in the AL east is a selling point if you have a well run, talented club that gives guys a chance to be the best by beating the best.

i also noticed Moeller counseling Matusz often in dugout.
hope he comes back.

I'm sure Chad is a wonderful person, both in the clubhouse and on the road, and he probably can even double as the bus driver in a pinch. That said, one must remember that his bat is not team friendly. I'd suggest the club'd be better off with a backup catcher with power who plays more than one position. They're out there. For instance, Ryan Doumit has just about worn out his welcome with Pittsburgh, and Jake Fox can be pried away from the Cubs if the price is right. The club needs to think outside the box on this one.

Ryan Doumit? Jake Fox? Why in the world would either one of them want to be a backup ? The O's have a developing star in Wieters. What they need is exactly what they have/had; Chad Moeller. He's a model backup catcher - good defensively, can hit some, handles pitchers well and is a mentor to Wieters. And yes Schmuck, being well liked in the clubhouse is a reason to keep him around unlike Zaun who appeared to be an aloof, pain in the butt like his uncle, Rick Dempsey.

Chad Moeller is a good defensive catcher? Better check the numbers again, because he can't throw out anybody and that is a skill I want in my backup. At least play the position well, any offense you give is a bonus.

I'd like the Orioles to get Yorvit Torrealba to be the backup. He made over $3 million last year, but he won't come close to that number this season because he's not a starter anymore.

Peter, about Adam LaRoche, I think the poster meant that batting 4th in this lineup, Adam LaRoche could be a 100RBI guy. I mean if Kevin Millar can do it basically by default and so could Jeff Conine, then a guy like LaRoche should be able to as well.

BTW, what are you hearing on the Dan Uggla rumors? The Orioles seem interested in him to move to 3B. RH power bat, suspect defense...since 3B options are pretty slim (I wouldn't mind taking a flier on Glaus) I think that might not be a bad move at all.

I've also seen some hints of Lyle Overbay trade so he can play 1B. Hmm, not so sure about him.

Pete's reply: Yes, I've heard the Uggla rumors and would not be surprised if there is something to them.

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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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