The Orioles traded two prospects, Kyle Simon and Gabriel Lino, for three months of Jim Thome. I didn't hear about any money exchanging hands so I'm guessing that Thome will cost around $612,500 since he signed a 1Y/$1.25M contract during the offseason. Unfortunately, there may be another Transaction Scorecard involving Jim Thome in a few weeks. But as of July 1st, the O's are in contention so let's go to the articles.
First up are ESPN's Christina Kahrl and ESPN Stats and Information (no author listed).
Kahrl seems sympathetic toward the trade under the belief that Thome will provide an upgrade over what the O's have used at DH.
There’s a certain kind of wisdom to it when you have bench bats worth playing, but that was not this Orioles team, not when it's been picking from among the likes of infrequently healthy Nick Johnson, minor league veteran Steve Pearce, Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty or career fifth outfielder Endy Chavez. Or what might be more simply referred to as "bad choices."
Over the past two seasons, as a 40- and 41-year-old, Thome has hit .254/.357/.484 for the Twins, Indians and Phillies. This year, DHs around Major League Baseball have put together a .257/.331/.435 line -- which might not sound great, but it’s a better line than what MLB teams are getting from their first basemen or left fielders. But Thome’s been better still, despite the rust that started forming in his infrequent DH role until interleague play helped get him back in action.
In contrast, ESPN Stats is less optimistic about the trade.
The problem is that the Orioles are the one team that Thome has been successful against this season. Now that the Philadelphia Phillies traded him to Baltimore, he'll playing for the Orioles, not against them.
Thome is hitting .083 with no home runs and no RBI against National League opponents this season. Against AL East opponents other than the Orioles, he's hitting .143 (2-for-14) with two solo homers. Against all AL opponents other than the Orioles, he's hitting .184 (9-for-49).
Since the O's/Phillies series in early June, Thome has posted an OPS of 1.008 with 4 HRs in a small sample so I don't know if it's fair to say that Thome has been only successful against the O's (another small sample).
John Sickels doesn't offer a trade analysis but he did post an updated scouting report about Simon and Lino.
Kyle Simon, RHP: Simon was a key cog in the University of Arizona pitching rotation, beginning as a freshman in 2009. As a junior in '11, he went 11-3, 2.72 with an 86/11 K/BB in 129 innings, prompting the Orioles to select him in the fourth round of the June draft. In 14 starts for High-A Frederick this spring, Simon is 2-8 with a 3.96 ERA, a 49/21 K/BB ratio, and 86 hits allowed in 73 innings. He also has a 2.55 GO/AO ratio.
Born August 18th, 1990, Simon is big at 6-5, 225, but his fastball has just average velocity at 87-92 MPH. The heater has sink to it and he gets more than his share of grounders. His control is generally solid, but he isn't a strikeout artist. His low-angle delivery can make him tough on right-handed hitters, but his slider, cutter, and changeup all need some sharpening for him to succeed against left-handed hitters consistently. Given his ability to throw strikes and eat innings. Simon could develop into a back-of-the-rotation starter, or he could find a spot in relief.
Gabriel Lino, C: The Orioles signed Lino out of Venezuela in 2009. Born May 17, 1993, he is a right-handed hitting catcher with a strong throwing arm and considerable power potential. He is also quite raw, hitting .218/.232/.340 in 206 at-bats for Low-A Delmarva, with 16 walks and 64 strikeouts. Lima has good size and strength at 6-3, 195, but he lacks feel for the strike zone. He has thrown out 27% of runners this year, but has also given up 14 passed balls and 12 errors in 51 defensive games. As with his hitting, he has good physical defensive tools, but is still learning how to play baseball.
Baseball America also gives an updated scouting report on both players.
A 6-foot-5 sinkerball pitcher who ranges from 88-92 mph, Simon has kept the ball on the ground and hasn't hurt himself with walks during his first full season in the Carolina League. Of course, he hasn't missed many bats either, and his strikeout rate (6.1 per nine innings) and WHIP (1.47) do not indicate dominance of high Class A competition. Simon turned in his finest start of the season last time out (two hits, no runs, seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings) and shows feel for a changeup, slider and cutter, so he has back-of-the-rotation or middle-relief potential.
A classic arm-strength-and-power catching prospect, Lino hasn't shown much with the bat in low Class A thus far, but he works well with pitchers and has shown enough feel for the strike zone at a young age to expect offensive growth. He has gunned down 27 percent of basestealers in South Atlantic League play, ranking ninth out of 10 qualified catchers, while also committing the most errors (12) and passed balls (14) among league catchers.
Camden Depot doesn't like giving up Lino and doesn't see the O's making the playoffs.
The Likely Outcome
In all likelihood, I see this as happening. Thome hits pretty well and leaves the team at the end of the year. The Orioles will likely finish in fourth or fifth place, but with a record that is about 15th to 18th best in the league. Kyle Simon will fade out in AAA at some point. Gabriel Lino will eventually get a cup of coffee, impressing people on his defense and making them wish he could square up more.
Dan Connolly likes it. Veteran presence, prospects are a gamble, you know the story.
But that’s a risk you have to take if you are the Orioles. Who knows if they’ll be in contention at the end of July? So filling an obvious hole now with a veteran character guy makes sense.
And here are the tweets related to the trade.
Kevin Goldstein of BP.
RHP, 21. Plus sinker, mediocre secondaries, can't miss bats. RT @JonHeymanCBS: it is kyle simon going to philly for thome.
Keith Law of ESPN.
Really, really low. "@PapaDominic: @keithlaw what's the ceiling on the prospects traded for thome?"
Overall, the results are mixed. ESPN Stats and Info and Camden Depot fall on the nay side while Connolly and Kahrl are more favorable toward the trade. And I suspect there is also a great deal of indifference about the trade which isn't being expressed explicitly by columnists and bloggers. In reviewing the trade, the O's are giving up two weak prospects. Lino is all about youth and potential. There appears to be some disagreement about his upside with Law being pessmistic while others are optimistic given his power and defense. At this point, Simon is a sinkerballer who doesn't miss bats. If he's lucky, maybe he could turn into another Jim Johnson, but Brad Bergesen is more likely if that.
While I can't say I like this deal, I'm fine with it. At least for now, the O's are fighting for a playoff spot. The likelihood of the O's continuing their march to October is dubious especially given their recent performance. But as of today, the O's are in the playoff hunt and the GM is responsible for putting together a team that will win a championship. The obstacles of making the playoffs shouldn't lead Duquette to stand still or sell off parts. However, the very real barriers to October baseball should affect how Duquette manages risk in potential moves. Obviously Bundy and Machado are off limits, and I can't see a realistic scenario where I feel comfortable giving up Jonathan Schoop and Nick Delmonico. Lino and Simon are pushing the boundaries of my comfort level, but small improvements can be very important for playoff teams. Even if Thome is a 1 win improvement, in theory, that 1 win could be the difference maker. Of course, the O's making actually making the playoffs doesn't look good in practice. But Duquette is acting in ways which is consistent with someone who is trying to make the playoffs and this move is probably one of several acquisitions in the works to help him reach his goal. Until the O's are knocked the out of the playoffs, I think that's the right way to structure his plans for the team in the immediate future as long as risk and the future are managed in a sensible and conservative way. Of course, YMMV on whether or not Lino and Simon fall under sensible and conservative so have it below! 90 wins or bust baby!
EDIT: New Links
Mike Newman from Fangraphs weighs in about Lino.
Newest Phillies prospect Gabriel Lino is still an embryo in his development and will require significant time and patience if he is to realize his potential. With a .218/.282/.340 line in full season baseball, the South Atlantic League has proven to be an extremely aggressive placement for the young catcher. Maybe a demotion to Williamsport of the New York Penn league will jump start his bat, but don't let the poor numbers fool you. Lino has the tools of a major league catcher and a good one at that. Without question, Lino ranks as one of the top-5 catching prospects I've scouted in person in terms of talent and ceiling.
And Kevin Goldstein tweets about Lino.
New Philly C Garbriel Lino: 19 yo Venezuelan with plus defense potential and some raw power, but not sure he'll ever hit.