Twenty four hours separate us from the trade deadline, and the Orioles have been quiet since acquiring Jim Thome from the Phillies on June 14th. In a previous column, I noted how exciting of a time this is as a fan of the Baltimore Orioles; The Birds are 2 games back of the wild card with 60 games remaining, and attendance is up over 5000 fans per game. Now I consider myself a rational thinker (OsFan21 disagrees I'm sure), and I have posted my thoughts many times on the Camden Chat pages of who the Orioles should acquire (from my obsession with Carlos Lee, to my man crush on Norishika Aoki, to my preference for the speedster Juan Pierre). The Orioles needs have changed over the last two weeks, as has their standing in the wild card race and so should their trade targets.I know Orioles fans, and those belonging to the intelligent blog, Camden Chat, are divided on what the Orioles should do in the next twenty four hours. I have heard message board outcries from both extremes: to trading players like Jim Johnson, to dealing players like Manny Machado, etc. for a Zach Greinke. I would be utterly shocked if the Orioles made a huge move, acquiring a star player, even though they have been rumored with many different names. Trading a player like a Jim Johnson, or a Nick Markakis, although I concede it does make sense from a baseball standpoint, would alienate members of the fanbase and hurt revenues. The Orioles are merely looking for an incremental upgrade at 3B, LF and/or SP. Three of their recent rumored likely targets are: The Chase Headley, Juan Pierre, and Joe "Tommy Hunter clone" Blanton.
People have differing opinions on whether DD should deal for a LF or a 3B, mainly due to the fact that the Orioles' position as contenders is debatable, and Orioles fans have differing opinions of current options at LF and 3B. While many have thought, including myself, an acquisition for a cheap LF or 3B that would cost perhaps one fringe prospect at most, while taking on salary would be a fantastic acquisition, I have now changed my mindset with the promotion of Lew Ford.
Don't get me wrong, I do not think that Lew Ford is a 2 WAR player, nor do I even think that he will even be a regular in left field. However, I think that his promotion to Baltimore signals that the Orioles will not acquire another incremental offensive upgrade. The reason behind this is the current make up of our roster. Andino is coming back from the DL tomorrow, and there are no bats with minor league options. However, EME intelligently opined yesterday that Thome could be placed on the DL to make room for Andino, which would make sense. If the Orioles were to acquire a bat, someone would have to be DFA'ed. The candidates for DFA'ing with acquisition of a bat would be the following: Lew Ford, Endy Chavez, Ryan Flaherty, Omar "coming" Quintanilla. Now, I highly doubt that DD would DFA Omar after trading for him and considering his strong stint with the Orioles, and I doubt that with 1 month before September callups that Flaherty would be returned to the Cubs, since he can be stashed in the minors after next year. It is possible that Ford or Endy Chavez could be DFA'ed if the O's acquire a bat, but I do not think the O's will acquire a Juan Pierre/Reed Johnson type will cause the Orioles to DFA a player. I understand that Endy has been terrible, but he is a valuable glove to have in left field, especially as a late inning replacement for Chris Davis. For those Mark Reynolds haters, I would be absolutely shocked if the Orioles DFA'ed him, but it is likely Mr. Duquette will try to trade him through waivers, assuming we are unable to unload him before the non-waiver trade deadline. It would also be pretty shocking for the Orioles to wait until two days before the trade deadline to promote Lew Ford, and subsequently DFA him. For this reason I find the Orioles unlikely to acquire a non-Headley bat before the deadline in a standard 2-team deal.
I know many will think of me crazy, but I think that the only scenario the Orioles acquire a non-Headley bat, is through a 3-way deal. I know there are many Betemit/Reynolds haters, but there are many teams that I believe would benefit by taking on either the inexpensive platoon bat of Wilson Betemit, or the homerun, onbase, strikeout, legend that is Mark Reynolds. Many disagree with me, and that is fine, but I could see Betemit and Reynolds as upgrades for the Pirates or Dodgers. A possible three way deal is what I would propose: Phillies get: Ryan Adams & C-level prospect from LAD/Pitt, O's get Juan Pierre, LAD/Pitt gets: Reynolds, with the O's picking up $1mil of his salary. This deal would allow Ford/Pierre/Endy in left, moving Davis to 1B and would give the Orioles some speed. Being able to keep Andino and Quintanilla would allow for potential those two to spell Betemit against lefties, with Andino representing a large defensive upgrade over Betemit. It is in my opinion that a 3-way deal is the best, most affordable option for the Baltimore Orioles.
I apologize for not talking much about the Orioles need for pitching, obviously that is a greater need but it also comes at a greater cost. The Orioles are looking for incremental upgrades such as Joe Blanton, John Lannan, Jason Vargas, and even Joe Saunders. Due to the impressive recent performances of Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, and the recent slip in the standings, I believe that the Orioles need for to deal prospects for the Joe Blantons of the world has somewhat dissipated. I am unsure if Joe Blanton is worth giving up two C-prospects and taking on his ~3.5 mil salary, when we have a cheaper version of Joe Blanton, Tommy Hunter, as the 5th starter. With Hammel coming back soon, and the cost of a starting pitcher being at a premium, I do not think that the Orioles should overpay for essentially a .5 WAR better version of Tommy Hunter.