« Get this! Ravens favored | Main | Going rogue »

November 18, 2009

Orioles: Making sense of today's roster moves

The Orioles moved six players onto the 40-man roster today in anticipation of Friday's deadline for submitting their protected list to MLB. The O's added pitchers Brandon Erbe and Luis Lebron and infielders Josh Bell, Brandon Snyder, Rhyne Hughes and Pedro Florimon, bringing the roster to a full 40.

That leaves a few recognizable players exposed to the Rule 5 Draft -- including shortstop Blake Davis and recently acquired pitcher Steve Johnson -- and leaves room to question why certain journeyman-type players are still on the 40-man. The Orioles kept pitcher Chris Waters, for instance, even though he didn't seem to be on the radar when the Orioles needed help at several points last season.

There is a plausible explanation: If there are some players still on the 40-man who seem more expendable than some who were left unprotected, keep in mind that somebody is going to have to be moved off the roster for every player acquired or signed during the offseason. If the entire roster was filled out with young players the team does not want to risk losing on waivers, that would create a disincentive to upgrade the roster through free agency.

The team instead is gambling that -- in the case of Johnson -- no major league club is going to pick up a pitcher who has never played above Double-A and keep him at the major league level for the entire 2010 season. That's probably a fair bet.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 7:16 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Just baseball



Everything I have heard about Brandon Waring has been positive. Is he at risk of being lost thru rule 5? Could you explain how rule 5 works and how players become eligible to be lost?

Many thanks.

That was a good explanation, Pete. It makes sense, and is surprisingly encouraging. I sure hope you're on to something!

That is a plausible explanation but who the hell is Luis Lebron?

Brandon Waring is NOT eligible for the Rule 5 draft. He was drafted in 2007, which is less the the four year minimum for a player of his age. Also, he may have had to have been with the O's for four years, though that part of the Rule 5 draft is mildly confusing since he was traded to the O's.

I hope that helps.


Luis Lebron is a player who you may become much more familiar with in the next year or so. Steve Melewski wrote a blog entry about him recently, entitled "He had a breakout year in the O's Minors in 2009". You can read the entire thing here:

"Breakout year" may be a bit of an understatement about how this young man performed coming off a major injury. Here are his stats:

"Between Frederick and Bowie he went 3-3, 2.54 with 20 saves. In 60 1/3 innings, he gave up just 28 hits with 33 walks and 91 strikeouts. Opponents hit just .137 off him last season."

The jaw-dropping statistic that grabbed me in that line is that over half of his outs (91/181, 50.3%, 1 out of every 2) came from strikeouts. Now nobody expects this to continue at higher levels, but it's obvious that the guy has some talent.

And this type of pitcher is exactly the kind that you could see a team taking a chance on in the rule-5 draft, because there's a good possibility he could come up to the majors and at least be serviceable out of the pen.

Good move in my opinion, and I really look forward to seeing Luis Lebron pitch in Baltimore next season.

I also would find it hard to believe that any team would give up a spot to Steve Johnson with his inexperience.

Pete, in the big picture, the O's have a hell of a lot more pressing needs than resigning Hendrickson, but I still think he is important given that he can be used as a left handed specialist, long relief and a spot starter so were you a little surprised that the O's didn't push harder before someone else can jump in? I know about the 40 man roster implications, but a lefty with a pulse is gold in baseball and one that showed the versatility that Mark did last year, has to mean something to other teams?

There are now 3 first basemen on the 40 man roster. Plus Scott and Wigginton can play first base adequately. It look doesn't like they would acquire a free agent at 1st to block their development.

Are the O's seriously considering Uehara as a closer? A definite upgrade to the pen if he stays healthy, but a closer? If they don't sign a possbile closer (Myers, Putz?), it might get ugly in the 9th.

Also, while your "take" about the O's kept the likes of Bass, Liz, Castillo and Waters while exposing Johnson, Perrault, Beato, etal makes sense, there seems to be plenty of "droppable" pitchers on the roster when they trade for or sign a player. Saving too mediocre level, and expendable, pitchers vs. pitchers with definite potential long term seems questionable, esp. w/Johnson. Pitt., SD, or KC could keep him for a year w/o much risk.

Of course, the O's, hopefully, have a better feel for the market than the fans and a plan that makes all of this work for them.

Sorry for the poor grammar in paragraph 2. Some very poor editing on my part, omitting 2 words that help it make sense:

Also, while your "take" about why the O's kept the likes of Bass, Liz, Castillo and Waters while exposing Johnson, Perrault, Beato, etal makes sense, there seems to be plenty of "droppable" pitchers on the roster when they trade for or sign a player. Saving too many mediocre level, and expendable, pitchers vs. pitchers with definite potential long term seems questionable, esp. w/Johnson. Pitt., SD, or KC could keep him for a year w/o much risk.

I know it's early in the FA season, but doesn't MacPhail seem to be less than intent on filling the vacant power slots at first and third. Maybe he knows something of which the rest of us are unaware. I looked at minor league stats of the players he put on the roster to protect them. Did you know that 25 year old firstbaseman Ryan Hughes had 32 homeruns and 105 rbis last season in AA/AAA? Does the team have another player in system with better power numbers?

Nice explanation, Mr. Schmuck, of the fact that not every roster move is about the 'value' of the player. There are very few examples of Rule 5 players making it, and most of those stories involve some painful moments. Committing to keeping a low-minors player on your MLB roster for an entire season is a powerful disincentive to dip into the Rule Five draft.

I'm sorry if this sounds rude, but to say teams won't take a pitcher in the rule 5 draft because of his inexperience above AA shows a complete lack of understanding of modern baseball.

Players frequently jump from AA to the majors now. AAA has become a parking place for experienced players who aren't really good enough to play in MLB.

Moreover, if you look at pitchers taken in the rule 5 draft, many are from as low as A ball. Teams taking them are interested in their stuff, not their record.

If no other team takes Johnson in the rule 5 draft, it will be because they don't think he has the stuff to get MLB hitters out.

Perhaps Johnson can learn control and deception and have a Josh Towers-like career. But I'm afraid this non-move shows what the Orioles brass really thinks of his future. On the day of the rule 5 draft, we will find out if the rest of MLB agrees.

Peter, if a Rule 5 player is NOT kept a full year in majors, he automatically is returned to the team that lost him. Correct?
Thank you.

Don't kid yourself, people. Johnson in gone and never coming back. He could be as good next year as Bergesen was this year. Some team is going to pick him up; I love what McPhail is doing with the club but this is just a bonehead move. Stupid, frankly. And S. Johnson is gone.

With teams trying to trim payroll, I think Johnson could very well get selected. Not the end of the world for the O’s but maybe a little egg on their face not realizing his value after trading Sherrill for him and Bell. He is a guy that has slid under the radar during his minor league career. If you look at his numbers, he has been very good in some tough leagues for someone that has been one of the youngest pitchers at every level he has pitched. Remember, Johnson signed when he was 17, just like Erbe. There has always been a buzz about Erbe and Spoone because of velocity, but Johnson is no slouch at 88-92 with a very good feel for pitching. Isn’t that what it’s about really? Pitching. We have spent years trying to teach hard throwers (Cabrera, Liz) how to pitch and field their positions. Johnson has always done those things since he was in high school. Don’t be surprised if a few teams realize his potential and take a $25,000 look see.

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "v" in the field below:
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.

Schmuck column archive

Upload a photo of yourself or a friend wearing the new Peter Schmuck T-shirt, which is on sale at

Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to sports blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected