CCC: Medium risk, high reward.




J. Johnson




C Wieters

1B Reynolds

2B Andino

3B C. Davis

SS Hardy

LF Reimold

CF Cespedes

RF Markakis

DH Scott


Rapada LS

Patton LS/MR

O’Day CL

Berken MR

Strop SU

Bergesen MR

Cabral MR

Simon MR/starter





Traig Catum


- Unless otherwise stated, I used Fangraphs’ version of WAR.

- I used $5M/WAR as the free agent rate.

- At the end of each section of the roster (i.e. rotation, bullpen, position players), I added the contribution of "replacement players." These are not necessarily "replacement-level players"; rather, they are the players who are called up to replace injured or ineffective players


- Traded Adam Jones for 1 Top 26-50 hitter.

- Used Sky Kalkman’s Trade Value Calculator.

- Played it conservative with Jones’ value. I estimated that he has basically plateaued, so he puts up 3.0 WAR marks in his two remaining years of team control.

- MLBTR estimates Jones’ 2012 salary at $5.8M. Kalkman says that "We estimate arbitration players will earn 40% of free agent value in their first arb year, 60% in their second, and 80% in their third..." Taking the MLBTR estimate to be 60% of Jones’ free agent worth, I estimated his 2013 salary to be $7.73M. I rounded that up to $8M to account for error.

- According to the MLBTR reverse-engineering of the Elias Rankings, Jones is just barely a Type A free agent. I’m assuming that teams will value Jones’ as if he is a lock for Type A. Victor Wang’s research on the value of prospects suggests that draft picks from a Type A free agent are worth $5M.

- According to the Trade Value Calculator, Jones has a net value of $22.0M. Wang’s research says that a Top 26-60 hitter is worth $23.4M. Maybe I’m overvaluing Jones by $1.5M here, but I think that a lot of teams would spring for this deal.

- Any other combination of prospects totaling about $22M would probably work.

- Signed Yoennis Cespedes for 6 years, $60M.

- $10/yr, 2012 – 2017

- I think of this signing and the Jones trade as one deal. Since Jones will provide about $22M, the Cespedes signing is more like a 6 year, $38M signing.

- Signed Jim Johnson to a contract extension for 3 years, $14.25M with 2 team options.

- 2012: $3M, 2013: $4.5M, 2014: $6.75M, 2015: $9M (Option), 2016: $9.75M (Option)

- 2015 option vests at $9.5M and 2016 option increases to $10 with 400 IP in 2013-2014.

- Yearly IP escalators: $0.25M for 120 IP, $0.25M for 140 IP, $0.25M for 160 IP, $0.25M for 180 IP, $0.5M for 200 IP, $0.5M for 220 IP.

- This deal is based on Joakim Soria’s extension from 2008. They’re different pitchers – Soria had two consecutive excellent seasons under his belt; Johnson is closer to free agency – but Soria’s deal is a pretty good starting point.

- For Johnson’s 2012 salary, I gave him a $0.5M raise over MLBTR’s estimate of $2.5M.

- The increase from 2012 to 2013 is 150%, equal to Soria’s increase in his last two years under team control ($4M in 2011 to $6M in 2012.)

- Since final-year arbitration players are usually paid about 80% of their free agent value, the increase in salary from the final year of arbitration to free agency is 125%. 2014 is Johnson’s first free agent year, so another 150% increase seems like it should be enticing.

- The 2015 and 2016 options mirror Soria’s final two option years.

- The total possible value is $43.75M over 5 years. For that to happen, Johnson would have to pitch 220 innings each year for from age 29 to 33.

- This contract guarantees him $14.25M. Using the MLBTR salary for 2012 as a base, Johnson would be expected to earn about $10M over these years if he went to arbitration and free agency ($2.5M for 2nd time arbitration in 2012, $3.333M for 3rd time arbitration in 2013, and $4.167M for 1st year of free agency in 2014.)

- I think that this contract is appealing enough that Johnson would take it, but it’s small enough that it won’t become a huge burden on the budget. While it allows Johnson to make more money if he is effective as a starter, it also helps the team save money if he’s used in that capacity. If he shows that he is more suited to the closer role, then he makes near the market rate for a 1 win reliever.

- Signed Matt Wieters to a contract extension for 6 years, $41M with two team options.

- 2012: $1M, 2013: $4M, 2014: $6M, 2015: $8M, 2016: $10M, 2017: $12M, 2018: $16M (Option), 2019: $20M (Option)

- I used the extensions given to Brian McCann and Ryan Braun as the basis for this contract. Those extensions were both signed earlier, but Wieters hasn’t shown the same offensive production as McCann and Braun.

- Wieters’ estimated earnings via arbitration and free agency over the life of the extension: $33.75M.

- Used Giovanni Soto as a comp.

- I think that this contract is fair to Wieters, but he might turn this down and go year-to-year because his agent usually prefers that route.

- Traded Jeremy Guthrie and $4M for 1 Grade B hitter.

- MLBTR projects Guthrie as an unranked free agent in 2013.

- Estimated Guthrie to be an average starter, 2.0 WAR.

- I went with MLBTR’s salary estimate again, $8.3M.

- 2 WAR is worth about $10.4M, so Guthrie’s excess value is $2.1M. I’m throwing in an additional $4M to get a Grade B hitter (worth $5.5M according to Wang).

- Traded Kevin Gregg and $5.8M for 1 Grade C picher 23 years or older.

- Gregg makes $5.8M. I’ve covered his salary in return for a middling prospect.

- I’m predicting a tiny bounce back. Gregg was pretty awful last year, with -0.1 WAR over 59.2 IP, but he was worth 0.8 WAR as recently as 2010. A 0.3 WAR Kevin Gregg with $5.8M cash is worth about $1.9M net value. My trade partner is probably someone in the National League (easier league) who wants "veteran leadership in the clubhouse" and "more than 20 saves each year for the past five years." Victor Wang says that a Grade C pitcher 23 years or older is worth $1.5M, so I’m probably trading Gregg for a reliever in the Pedro Strop/Wynn Pelzer mold.

- Maybe this trade doesn’t go down; maybe nobody is interested in Kevin Gregg for free. In that case, I would probably release him and hope that some other team picks him up at the league minimum. He’s really just a waste of a roster spot since he can’t contribute anything to the team after 2012

- DFA Jo-Jo Reyes

- <insert Beatles joke>

- DFA Zach Phillips

- Phillips has potential, but he’s struggled with command in the high minors. He might pass through waivers, so I’m going to free up a roster spot here.

- Selected Cesar Cabral in the Rule V draft.

- Cabral hasn’t advanced past Double-A, but he has shown an excellent ability to miss bats. He struck out 70 batters in 55 innings (11.45 K/9) split between High-A and AA in 2011, and 80 over 79.1 innings (9.08K K/9) between A and High-A in 2010. He’s posted decent walk rates (2.38 BB/9 in 2010 & 3.44 in 2011) and homerun rates (0.11 HR/9 in 2010 & 0.49 in 2011) in the minors, so he should be able to hold his own in the majors. Even if he struggles in the bigs, Cabral will only be in his age-23 season and he can be optioned down to the minors at the end of the 2012 season.

- Signed to minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training:

- Juan Miranda

- 1B depth: Miranda walks a lot. He could become a decent bench bat.

- Kenshin Kawakami

- SP depth: Kawakami has been killed by homeruns, but he was good back-of-the-rotation starter for the Braves in 2009 and 2010. He might take a minor league deal if he doesn’t want to go back to NPB.

- Robinson Tejeda

- RP depth: Tejada gives up a lot of homers, but he can strike out batters. His 2009 was excellent, so I gave him a minor league deal see if we can catch lightning in a bottle.

- Lastings Milledge

- Platoon bat: Milledge could get a callup, but he’ll need to hit almost exclusively against lefties. His career splits (.348 wOBA vs. LHP, .304 vs. RHP) show that he could be useful as a platoon bench bat.



In 2011, Orioles starters pitched 881 innings and picked up 5.7 WAR. I’m projecting the 2011 staff to get to 930 IP and 8 WAR. That WAR mark would have ranked 25th in baseball last year.

- Zach Britton: 3 WAR 180 IP $0.442M

- He put up 2.5 WAR and 154.1 IP in 28 starts last year. If you extrapolate that to 33 starts, you get 2.9 WAR and 181 IP. Should be able to reach the prediction as long as he stays healthy.

- Jake Arrieta: 1.5 WAR 150 IP $ 0.442M

- I used Guthrie’s 2011 as a comparison for Arrieta’s 2012. Arrieta’s xFIP in 2011 (4.52) was right near Guthrie’s FIP (4.51). Guthrie’s WAR prorated to 150 IP is 1.65. Arrieta should be able to hit the 1.5 WAR mark if he can recover from his surgery and doesn’t get destroyed by homers again.

- Jim Johnson: 2 WAR 180 IP $ 4M

- This move is necessary, but less crucial to the plan than others. We know that Johnson has a "starter’s repertoire," but it’s still hard to place his value as a starter. In 2011, there was a 0.17 difference in FIP between relievers and starters (3.83 for relievers, 4.00 for starters). That would put Johnson in the 3.39 to 3.59 range (2011 FIP + 0.17 to xFIP + 0.17), which runs from Tim Hudson to Yovani Gallardo. So Johnson has the potential to be a 3-4 win pitcher by these back-of-the-envelope calculations.
If we look at Johnson’s peripheral statistics, it becomes clearer that he has the ability to be a good starter. Tom Tango’s Rule of 17 suggests that when a pitcher transitions from relieving to starting, BABIP increases by 17 points, strikeout percentage decreases by 17%, HR per contacted PA increases by 17%, and walk rate stays the same. I calculated these changes based on Johnson’s 2011 stats and his career line.








Actual 2011







Starter 2011







This method suggests that Johnson would have been worth nearly twice as much in 2011 if he had spent the entire year in the rotation and averaged less than 6 innings per start. Fangraphs puts Johnson’s 2011 at 1.6 WAR, so he probably would actually be closer to 3 WAR in the rotation. That makes me feel safe about projecting him for 2 wins, and it looks like he could easily beat that projection.

- Tommy Hunter: 1.5 WAR 200 IP $ 0.442M

- In his 11 starts last year, Hunter put up 0.6 WAR over 68 innings. If you prorate that to 33 starts, you get 1.8 WAR over 205 IP. Hunter’s walk rate might regress back to his career average, but any regression in his homerun rate would make up for that.

- Alfredo Simon: 1 WAR 100 IP $0.442M

- Simon pitched 94.1 innings for 0.9 WAR in 16 starts last year. His peripheral stats suggest that he’ll probably do the same thing in 2012. If he spends more time in the rotation, he could be more valuable.

- Brian Matusz: 0 WAR 50 IP $0.442M

- I’m expecting Matusz to spend time on the DL or in the minors. He could have a big rebound and do much better than replacement level, but I’m not counting on it.

- Replacement players -1 WAR 70 IP $0M

- In 2011, Rick VandenHurk, Mitch Atkins, Chris Jakubauskas and Jo-Jo Reyes combined for -0.9 WAR over 67 innings. The names will be difference, but the performance will be the same.


The 2011 O’s bullpen pitched 565.2 innings for 2.5 WAR. My projection has the 2012 pen accruing just 1.1 WAR over 500 IP. That WAR would have placed 28th in baseball last year.

- Clay Rapada: 0.4 WAR 50 IP $0.442M

- Rapada could be an excellent major league lefty specialist, but he should never be allowed to pitch against righties. His career line in 34.2 IP versus lefties is 3.14 FIP, 9.35 K/9, 3.89 BB/9, and 0.52 HR/9. Compare that to a career line of 9.39 FIP, 4.00 K/9, 8.50 BB/9, and 3.00 HR/9 in 18 IP versus righties. Sure, the sample sizes are small, but his splits are huge. If Rapada spends the entire year in the majors and pitches only to lefties, I see him picking up about 0.4 wins.

- Troy Patton: 0.5 WAR 60 IP $0.442M

- Patton won’t be able to sustain the homerun rate he put up in the majors last year, but he should be able to decent value over 60 innings.

- Darren O’Day 0.3 WAR 30 IP $1.3M

- I don’t expect O’Day to be healthy, so he could easily beat this projection.

- Used the MLBTR estimate of his arbitration salary.

- Jason Berken: 0.1 WAR 60 IP $0.442M

- If he’s healthy, he should be useful as a multiple-inning reliever.

- Pedro Strop: 0.5 WAR 70 IP $0.442M

- Strop showed a lot of potential in 2011. I’m just looking for him to have a full season in the major league pen.

- Brad Bergesen 0.3 WAR 60 IP $1.4M

- If Bergesen’s homerun rate comes back down, he should be able to provide some value.

- Used the MLBTR estimate of his arbitration salary.

- Cesar Cabral 0 WAR 50 IP $0.442M

- Just hoping to keep him stashed in the bullpen

- Replacement players -1 WAR 120 IP $0M

Position players

In 2011, Orioles position players produced 14.8 WAR over 6156 PA. I’m projecting my 2012 roster to get to 19 WAR and 6200 PA.


- Matt Wieters 4.5 WAR 550 PA $1M

- I’m expecting Wieters to take a small step forward offensively while maintaining his defensive performance from last year.

- Mark Reynolds 1 WAR 600 PA $7.83M

- Hopefully the position change and some time at DH will prevent Reynolds from being the worst defender in baseball.

- Robert Andino 2 WAR 600 PA $1.5M

- This may be a bit of a stretch, but Andino could be solidly average if he can maintain his 2011 walk rate and BABIP.

- Used the MLBTR estimate of his arbitration salary.

- Chris Davis 1 WAR 500 PA $0.442M

- The strikeouts are worrisome, but Davis’ minor league numbers suggest that he could be a very good hitter.

- J.J. Hardy 3 WAR 500 PA $7.42M

- I’m predicting that Hardy misses some time again, but that he’ll be excellent when he’s on the field.

- Nolan Reimold 3 WAR 600 PA $0.442M

- With consistent playing time and some regression in his BABIP, Reimold could easily be a 3-win player.

- Yoennis Cespedes 2 WAR 600 PA $10M

- Nobody really knows how well Cespedes will hit in the majors, but I’m guessing that he could be at least average over a full season.

- Nick Markakis 2 WAR 700 PA $12.35

- More of the same from Nick.

- Luke Scott 0.5 WAR 400 PA $7M

- I’m retaining Scott as a potential trade chip. If he hits well, someone will want him at the trade deadline; if not, he’s gone after 2012 anyway.

- Bumped his MLBTR arbitration estimate of $6M up to $7M.


- Ryan Adams 1 WAR 400 PA $0.442M

- Adams will spend time at 2nd and 3rd. If his bat plays in the majors, he could be the starting second baseman in 2013.

- Matt Angle 0 WAR 150 PA $0.442M

- Generic all-glove, no-bat 4th OF.

- Matt Antonelli 0 WAR 300 PA $0.442M

- Antonelli will get a fair amount of playing time since 2nd and 3rd are pretty wide open, but I’m not expecting much from him.

- Traig Catum 0 WAR 200 PA $0.442M

- Generic back-up catcher.

- Replacement players -1 WAR 100 PA $0M


My plan is intended to be medium risk, high-reward. The long-term deals in the plan are designed to retain the core players while allowing some room for payroll flexibility. My projections suggest that this team would win about 71 games. If things break right in 2012, they could blow away that projection. But even if that doesn’t happen, this roster is set up to have the potential to break out for several years.

Baseball-Reference pages for all players
Fangraphs pages for all players – thanks to birdman for the link and basis for analysis on Johnson

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