Hopefully Baseless Orioles Rumors

First there was word last week that the Orioles were thinking about making a two year contract offer to David Ortiz. Then today, apparently the O’s inquired on Huston Street. Even if it’s very unlikely that either of these moves were made, that there could even be real discussions* about them is so very depressing.

* Looking at every possibility is fine, though doesn’t sound like an efficient use of time. Staying on bad ideas is, well, bad.

(1) It sounded like Dan Duquette shot down* the idea of bringing in a high-priced DH, and it doesn’t seem to makes sense. The counter to that is; Duquette might not want Ortiz, but what if Buck does?.

* “We did have Vlad Guerrero last year. I’d much rather sign those Dominicans to contracts when they’re coming out of the amateur market rather than pay them a lot of money in the big leagues. We have to sign a few more of those before we look to a high-priced DH, I think.” Exactly right.

Signing a 36 year-old DH to a two-year contract (almost certainly for quite a bit of money – perhaps as much as $15 M a year) is just a terrible idea for a team that is hoping to get over that 70 win threshold (#LoweredExpecations*). Sure Ortiz had a good year in 2011 – .309/.398/.554 (he’s not Vlad – he’ll take a walk) – but he’s probably not going to get the O’s any surplus value with his production. That is, he won’t be a bargain as an asset, and could very easily be a liability (not like players declining in their late 30s is new).

* Breaking the string of losing seasons is a common goal to hear from O’s fans, but at this point they need to stop the streak of sub-70 years first. They haven’t gotten their since 2006. Because of that, and the organization being poorly run, I may start using the #LoweredExpectations tag more often on Twitter. At this point I’m not expecting them to be smart – just don’t do anything stupid!

Even if the demands were reasonable and he could be a bargain it still probably doesn’t make sense to sign him (though at a given price point – say, the league minimum – it’s almost surely a fine idea to bring him on-board, at least as a trade chip). The one small positive that could potentially arise is that Kevin Gregg might be upset enough about having Ortiz on the team that he would retire. Otherwise it’s pretty much a no real upside, potential downside move.

(2) Really? A fifth place team is going to give up talent (he’s still under the Rockies’ control, after all) to bring in an OK relief pitcher? This goes even beyond handing out too much money for saves (Mike Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg) – they want to pay him $8 M and lose players from their own organization as well? Lunacy.

It seems that part of the impetus for potentially making such a move is Buck’s desire to move Jim Johnson to the starting rotation. Really though, all you need to do to do that is… move Jim Johnson to the starting rotation. You don’t need to “replace” hisinnings. If JJ provides more value as a starter than as a reliever (assuming there are free spots in both places), then you make the switch independent* of your other personnel (again, assuming that there are free spots in both places, which I think there probably are).

* Say you have a 10 WAR rotation and a 2 WAR bullpen. If JJ moves from the latter to the former, and personally goes from 0.5 WAR to 1 WAR, then the team is better (if his spot in the pen is taken by a replacement level reliever and he himself takes the spot of a replacement level starter). It doesn’t matter that the bullpen is now down to 1.5 WAR, since the team is better off (12.5 to 12).

As a fun thought experiment… would Colorado accept Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter for Street (who is both worse and more expensive than Koji Uehara)? They probably should*, but I’m not sure they would (though who knows, maybe the Rockies just want to dump his salary).

* Street’s ERA the last four years is like 3.50. Hunter could maybe get his to 3.75 or so in the same role, for a fraction of the price.