In the following post I am going to lay out how I think the Orioles should build their roster this trade deadline and upcoming off-season. No questions will be asked, only answered.
The Orioles lineup has failed to live up to the expectations laid out at the start of the year. Almost every single player has fallen short of numbers given to us by the front office. But the Orioles can still build a good lineup around a core of players. Wieters at catcher, Hardy at shortstop, Jones in center, and Markakis in right. If you can extend Hardy that gives you four solid players to build around. That leaves you with five questionable positions: 1B, 2B, 3B, DH, and LF.
I have a very hard time seeing Luke Scott being a part of this team in any long term capacity. The fact that he is left handed and has raw power makes him appealing to teams that need a hitter during the pennant race. The Mariners, Angels, and Braves are the three teams that come to mind. Between now and the break Luke could get hot and increase his value, but if we assume that he keeps up his current pace he will have about 10 long balls, and keep his current OPS of .734, a decline from the .904 number that he had in 2011. We know the Mariners could use Luke both at LF and DH, the Angels however would be much less likely to pursue Scott since they already have Abreu and Vernon Wells. The Braves would also be unwilling to give up much since they are fine in LF and have a solid bench. Now the question is, what are the Mariners willing to give up to get a middle of the line hitter. Well, probably not much. You may remeber a few years ago, the M's traded Shin-Soo Choo for Ben Broussard. We can't expect that sort of a deal. So instead, trade Luke Scott for a AAA relief pitcher and Chone Figgins. Yes, I know that he is signed for two more years after 2011 and he has struggled for Seattle. In 170 OPACY at-bats he has hit .330 and if you compare the dimensions, Oriole Park and Angels Stadium are clearly more hitter friendly than Safeco. Getting Figgins could greatly help the top of the lineup. Figgins, when he is on can draw walks and steal bases and considering the decline of Roberts, having a top of the lineup guy would be a great help. You would have to get the Mariners to eat part of the contract though.
I have already stated that I think that Figgins should be a part of this team. If that route were not taken however, you have to call Josh Bell up. It's time to see whether or not he can produce at the Major League level. If so, then you can keep him up and if not then we know it is time to move on. Either way, you have to move Reynolds to DH and keep him at least through 2012. I think we are all starting to see that he can produce in that special Mark Reynolds way with lots of K's and long balls, just keep him of the field.
With no doubt remaining that Vladdy will not be a part of this team next year it is clear that trading him would be most beneficial for the ball club. However, not that many teams are looking for him since he really cannnot play the field. The only two teams that I could see a trade happening with would be the White Sox and the Twins. But sadly, Vladdy has put up such poor power numbers that the best you could get out of a conteding team would be a AAA pitcher. At this point I would pull the trigger on any deal that nets potential major league talent.
This is probably the most difficult position to fix. Neither Riemold nor Pie seem to be starting material. But in 2012 I think I would start with platooning the two of them to perhaps see if Riemold can regain some of his power. There really isn't much in the FA market, unless you took a gamble of Carlos Beltran a move I wouldn't mind seeing considering the numbers he has put up so far this year. I know that Beltran is a Vladdy like player, but signing him to a 1 year deal might prove to be beneficial for Baltimore, as long as he can stay healthy. However, you run a simiilar risk as you did with Derrek Lee in that Beltran hasn't played in the AL in a very long time. Still, if you take a chance Beltran could produce good power numbers in Oriole Park.
I actually am of the opinion that Lee should be resigned for another year. Unless the Orioles sign Prince Fielder which is probably less than likely, Lee provides excellent defense and one can hope that his second year in the American League results in better power numbers. But, unless of course the Orioles do sign Fielder, it is doubtful that a better option could be found. This gives you a year to perhaps trade for some talent. Of course, I would advise MacPhail to go as hard as possible after Fielder. Unlike Vladdy or Derrek Lee, Fielder will actually put balls and fans in the seats.
All that being said, there really isn't a ton of talent available to the Orioles this deadline. Still, there are improvements that can be made as we wait until some of the younger players in the minor league system develop. Here is a potential lineup for the start of 2012, in no particular order.
SS Hardy / Andino
1B Lee / Fielder
LF Riemold / Beltran
3B Figgins / Bell
Clearly this solution doesn't help the team get any younger, but until folks such as, Manny Machado and Xavier Avery start coming up to the bigs the best solution for the offense is to try and surround the core of four or five players with players who can pass as acceptable. That means that you try to sign Prince Fielder but you also take a gamble on a player like Figgins or Beltran. In addition, you can attempt to build your bullpen by trading players like Scott and Lee instead of trying to spend big money on relief in the offseason.