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December 9, 2009

Orioles: Arms sale

I'm really not sure if it's because the word is out that the Orioles have a lot of payroll space or just that it's apparent the O's need a quality veteran starter, but good teams are beating a path to their door to try and unload expensive arms.

Of course, everybody knows they've been holding trade conversations with the Texas Rangers about right-hander Kevin Millwood, but there also have been other overtures. The Atlanta Braves are dangling Derek Lowe just a year after signing him to a big free agent deal and the Phillies would like to unload Joe Blanton to avoid a salary arbitration hit.

Millwood still seems to make the most sense if he can be picked up for a medium pitching prospect, because he has just the one year left on his contract and the Rangers might be willing to absorb $3 million of his $12 million guarantee. Blanton made $5.475 million last year and stands to get a pretty good raise in arbitration after going 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA and 163 strikeouts, but he probably would require more talent in return.

Lowe won 15 games last year and has averaged 15 wins over the past eight years with the Red Sox, Dodgers and Braves, but his hits/inning ratio was very high and -- more importantly -- he has three guaranteed years remaining on his $15 million per year contract. That's a lot of cake for a 36-year-old guy.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:01 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Just baseball


Pete, any explanation as to why the O's are more inclined to make the Millwood trade vs. just signing a FA from the Harden, Bedard or Sheets group. Less money (short of incentives which wouild be a good thing) and no prospects trraded for the later, though the health issue can be an issue with each. Not opposed to trading Hernandez (not that my vote counts) but Millwood isn't anything that special; just better than what they have now.

Lowe is the guy that I wanted the O's to get last winter. He's not young, but he's durable and he's pitched very well wherever he's gone.

Pete, I know age is important, but don't you think a guy who's in his mid-30's and has been durable his entire career would still be a better gamble than an injury prone guy who is much younger? I have no issue with the O's trying to steal Bedard, but if the Braves are looking to pretty much dump Lowe, I think the O's would be dumb not to do it because they have the money and the sad part is not many free agents are going to want to come here so if you can get one by trade, go for it!

There is an old saying that you can never have too much pitching. That being said, is it possible that the Orioles now have so many promising young arms in the organization that they are going to have a problem getting guys enough innings? Eventually, don't some of these pitching prospects become expendable for an established veteran?

Todd... hate to burst your bubble but Lowe has not pitched very well wherever he's been. He was terrible in Boston, he was good in Los Angeles (which was entirely due to pitching half his games in Dodger Stadium), and was terrible last year in Atlanta. There's a reason why the Braves are shopping him, and it's not because they have too many starters. It's because they realized about June last season that the contract they signed him to was ridiculous and they were going to be stuck paying this shleprock $15MM per year through 2012 unless they could dump him on someone else.

No Lowe, that guy is trash. 15 million, are you kidding me?! What on earth were the braves thinking? Us trading for him would possibly be the dumbest thing ever. Would that make him our highest paid player?

No Lowe, that guy is trash. 15 million, are you kidding me?! What on earth were the braves thinking? Us trading for him would possibly be the dumbest thing ever. Would that make him our highest paid player?

We need Bedard. He is the guy with the most upside of all of these pitchers. Millwood started out very well last year but his last 2 months he looked bad. I agree that Lowe is too expensive, too old and, gives up too many hits against National League teams to bring into the AL East. Joe Blanton is just an ordinary Joe. Bedard has pitched great when healthy so it wasn't like he went out and had a great contract year. He was great for us in his last full season here and just needs to get healthy to get back to where he was. The O's have a lot of young pitchers in the rotation and it would be nice to send a guy like Bedard to the hill every 5th day to set the tone for the young guys. The season is long and when you have a losing streak of 3-4 games, you need a pitcher that can go to the mound and everybody has the confidence in him that they will have a great chance to win. That is why the teams that get into the playoffs and win always have an ace. He keeps all 25 guys confident and will usually end a losing streak or start a winning streak when he pitches. They say momentom is only as good as your next day starting pitcher and if that guy is an ace, you can carry that momentom from day to day. It would also be funny to get him back in light of the trade in which we robbed Seattle for Tillman abd Jones. That trade may off set the Glenn Davis trade in years to come in Orioles lure.

Pete, I hate to belabor the point but, how come we don't hear any talk about Jon Garland? He's a reliable 200 IP, 4.0 ERA guy, does not require draft compensation, and would likely be cheaper than Millwood or Lowe. I refuse to believe the O's couldn't have him for 3yr/25M.

David Hernandez is the guy everyone calls Mid-level but I'm against trading him. He's a high strikeout guy who seems destined best suited long term as a reliever. I personally finally like our bullpen prospects with Uehara, Hernandez, Mickolio and Johnson (and maybe Berken) in the middle. We still need a closer and a lefthanded specialist but otherwise I think there's potential. Keep Hernandez and tell Texas it's Berken or nothing!

Lowe reminds me a lot of Scott Erickson. High salary for a ground ball pitcher plus every fourth start is an "adventure" with HR balls. (Remember, the O's teed off on him in Interleague play this past season.) He is a serviceable 1 or 2 starter until our young arms come around.

Pete - read your article on the interest in baseball. The best part of the O's season now is winter meetings through May. Kind of like looking through the employment section and envisioning what jobs you could have if you quit your current one. It's always fun to imagine. And at least for the 1st few weeks, we'll see what the O's look like before we assume they're the same as the past 15 years. Anticipation is much better than reality.

Exactly, Liam. Anybody who thinks the O's should give Lowe $45M needs to have their head examined. And yes, it would be $45M because after he stinks it up this year, nobody will want to trade for him.

Why the love affair with Bedard all of a sudden? Fans griped about him when he was here - bad attitude, lacked fire - and he's done nothing to make himself more attractive since then.

I agree, the upside is very high, but fans shouldn't ignore the very real possibility that he will make fewer than 15 starts and be hampered by injury after injury. If thats the case, the second honeymoon will be over in a hurry.

How does Millwood make any sense? He is an okay pitcher with a career ERA over 4.00. Last year was only the third time his ERA was under 4.00 in his career -- definitely not an ace. He does not eat lots of innings and his strikeout ratio is in decline. So why pay $9 million and give up a prospect for this?

Why no talk about getting Javier Vazquez from Atlanta in a package deal with Soriano?? Vazquez has started at least 32 games for ten consecutive years, and Soriano could step right into the closer role. Vazquez has only one more year left on his contract @ $11.5M, so assuming the O's aren't in serious contention, they could then flip Vazquez at the July 31st trade deadline and call-up Arrieta to get him a taste of the bigs for the final two months of the season.

The reason you don't hear about Garland, not only from the O's standpoint, but league wide is his crappy attitude. He has been shipped around the last few years (CWS, Angels, D-Backs, Dodgers all within the last 2 years!!!) and no one shed a tear as he left town... I heard the Nats are interested in him, but other than that I have not heard another team mention this guy, especially not a contending team...
We do not want this guy in Baltimore...

The only way I would take Lowe is if the Dodgers agreed to pay all his salary and that isn't going to happen. No way on Lowe. As far as Millwood goes, I'd want the Rangers to take more of the $3 million of his $12 million contract. Rangers have to take at eat about 5 or 6 million before I'd deal for him. I wouldn't mind a deal being made to get 3b Kevin Kouzmanoff though. Especially since he can move to 1b when Bell is ready. As far as Bedard goes, only way I sign him is at no more than a couple mil a year with a heavily incentive laced contract. He can earn a lot more if he pitches and stays off the DL.

Bedard is by far the best pitcher of those named in your post--by far. The only question is whether he can stay healthy. If they can sign him to an incentive-laden deal, by all means they should go for it and pencil him in for Opening Day. The problem is that big-market teams are so apt to just throw money at guys regardless of the risk that it probably won't be possible to sign him for something sensible. After him, I'd go after Blanton before Millwood and Millwood before Lowe. That Lowe deal was/is ludicrous, notwithstanding the views of the two nimrods on Roch's blog who were constantly clamoring for the O's to sign him last off season.

I say roll the dice,sign Sheets and Bedard for 2 years each. Can it turn out any worse than the 40mil the O's spent on the BP 3 years ago or the Ponson,Bell,Benson and Gibbons deals. Texas wants to dump Millwood so they can sign Sheets. What's that telling you?

daydreamer... any of the pitchers you mentioned will require taking a BIG risk. With Millwood you know what you are going to get. 4.50 ERA, pretty healthy guy. If he pitches to a 4.00 ERA, great. If the team hits, there's 14 wins.

Other thing is he's in a contract year, ideally he will pitch well and they can trade him for prospects at the deadline.

How does it help the young pitchers to be around an overpaid late 30s pitcher who is frustrated that he no longer has his stuff. Bring in jamie moyer maybe but millwood? he had a fluke year. he is clearly trending up on ops against and will be 800+ in 2010. Lowe was at 795 last year. both will be below avg pitchers from now on. age is ruthless - wins or a lucky era one year can confound, but ops is a stable measure and it's holding its nose.

Indianapolis Weather: Snow Showers with winds gusting to 50 MPH and temperatures falling to 25 degrees by late afternoon. Blustery tonight, low 13.

Hi Pete, I trust you are not cavorting about in that goofy Hawaiian shirt, or you might end up on the DL. Hope you took along your Nanuk of the North gear.

Doug: Bedard is coming off Labrum surgery and that type of injury usually takes 24 months for a full recovery, if ever. It can be a career ender. No need to risk it, the O's need a healthy arm.

Josh: I am with you on Garland, he is the best thing out there in the Orioles range.

Rumors are that Chris Tillman's name keeps coming up in trade talks, both with Texas and San Diego and others. The Orioles may have to give up something to get something.


Very true. All are somewhat risky, but potentially better upside than Millwood.

The big reason to make the deal is not how he'd do but that he's on the team. Going after a FA may not get the O's anyone since they may not want to take any of the O's "confederate money" and/or go to the AL East. The trade gets Millwood on the roster whether he likes it or not.

I'd still try to sign a FA pitcher if possible and take my chances. Great upside, low risk with the right kind of incentive laden contract and an opiton. It won't rush the kids if they need more "seasoning" and you can never have too much pitching. As you said, he is always tradable if the kids really come through during the year. Plus, you can pick up the option for 2011 or get draft picks if they are Type A. Lots of possiblities if you can a good one to sign.

surely rich harden has the most upside of any of the fa pitchers mentioned. when he has been healthy he has been fantastic...

Pete's reply: Yes, and he has never won more than 11 games in any season. Millwood is not as talented, but he has averaged more than 12 wins per year for the last 12 years, including four seasons of 16 wins or more. I know which one I would take.

I'm open to the idea of Blanton. The other two are a waste of time.

I'd be careful about signing Millwood. He was over used in the first half of the season last year with pitch counts routinely in the 115-120 range, averaging 7 IP per start with an ERA of 2.64.

He couldn't keep it up though. His 2nd half numbers took a real hit. IP per start down from 7 to 5.67, ERA up from 2.64 to 5.02, hits per 9IP up from 8 to almost 10. Put another way, his second half performance was pretty close to what Guthrie did for us last year.

That's not to say that Millwood can't do well for us but likely only if he is more judiciously used. He's only thrown 200+ IP in a season once since 03 and that 4 years ago in 06.

Are, say, 190IP over 32 starts with an ERA of 3.80 the kind of numbers to pay 12 million for. Why not. We've got all kinds of cash for one year. Are they good enough to justify trading any young talent that turns out, plus possibly blocking the path of an Arietta or any of the other young guys we've got coming up. On that I'm not so sure.

PS to my last post. I would pay 12 million and give up some talent for Garland. He's more likely to throw 200+IP and IS the kind of guy you hope one of your young guys will become.

The smartest position McPhail could take is to push very hard for Rich Harden, while simultaneously staying in contact with Bedard as a back up plan.

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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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