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Camden Chat Roundtable: Looking ahead to the second half (part 2)

The conclusion of the roundtable focuses on what the esteemed Camden Chat writers think will happen in the second half of the season.


We're back with part 2 of the Camden Chat mid-season roundtable. Just as with yesterday, the questions have been answered by punkrawka, AKA Steve, Vuff/Alex, twistedlogic/Matthew, and RyanP. We also have duck for the second part as I accidentally but egregiously omitted his answers yesterday. He's requesting I use the name Bill with his answers, even though I even call him duck to his face.

On to the questions! As always, please feel free to answer them yourselves in the comments (or just mock other people's answers, whatever is your style).

How many home runs do you think Chris Davis will end the season with?

Steve: I'll probably be pretty middle-of-the-road in guessing 55. Enough to break the franchise mark, but not enough to beat the so-called "clean record" of 61 or even sniff at the "tainted records." But you know what? I'll be ecstatic if I'm right about this one. What a breakout year.

Alex: Slumps and regression aside, this depends on his ability to stay healthy, how often he gets intentionally walked, and how many lefty starters he has to face over the final 66 games. This year, Davis is hitting a home run every 9.6 PA against righties, but every 14.6 PA against lefties. If we round a bit to make the math easy, he'll probably get about 270 more plate appearances this year. If 2/3 of those are against righties (which is his current 2013 rate), then we're looking at about 18 HR in 180 PA against righties and 6 HR in 90 PA against lefties, putting him at 61 and tying Roger Maris. I'll take that.

Matthew: 60.

Ryan: 60, if he doesn't get injured. Davis is in unpredictable territory here. There are only two data points to go on: Reggie Jackson mashed 37 taters before the break in 1969 but hit only 10 more afterwards; meanwhile, Barry Bonds hit 39 before the break in 2001 and hit 34(!) afterwards.
Is Davis closer to Jackson or Bonds? I averaged their second-half performances, which gave me 22 dingers to add to Davis's 37, then I added one (because he's awesome) to put him at 60.Aside from the statistics, I also don't think he'll get much to hit in the second half. He's proven that both his power and plate discipline are for real. He's already fourth in the majors in IBBs.Pitchers will avoid the strike zone against him as much as they can.

Bill: He ends up with 58. There's much less than half of the season left (just 66 games) and he's on pace for 62, but the pessimist in me doesn't see that lasting. Chalk me up for 58. A little regression, but not much.

Buck Showalter calls you up out of the blue and asks your opinion on the starting rotation. Which five would you go with, and what would you do to the others (bullpen, trades, etc.)?

Steve: First off, if Buck Showalter called me for advice, I'd be very worried about how things were going. But my rotation, in order, would be as follows: Chen, Gonzalez, Tillman, Feldman, Gausman. Britton I keep in the bullpen or at Norfolk, ready to take Gausman's spot if the results don't materialize after 3-5 starts (but I truly believe they would if we'd put Gausman on a plan and stick with it). Hammel would be "hurt" and take a lengthy rehab stint to work on mechanics and command, or just to sit in the corner and think about what he's done. Steve Johnson I would keep in the minors after he comes back from injury. Everyone else (Freddy Garcia, T.J. McFarland, Tsuyoshi Wada) I would keep exactly where they are.

Alex: Chen, MiGo, Tillman, and Feldman are pretty obvious keepers, so Hammel's the only real question mark here. Out of our other options, the only one who looks really appealing is Gausman. As much as I'd like to give Gausman another go at it this year, I have a hard time imagining Hammel being much better in the bullpen than he is in the rotation, and he's presumably not getting DFA'd. So, as much as it pains me, I'd keep Gausman in the pen and can't see another trade: the O's can't get an "ace" without giving up too much, and getting another Feldman isn't enough of an upgrade to merit bothering.

Matthew: Feldman, Gonzalez, Tillman, Britton, Hammel. It's a the rotation right now, and I feel as though Duquette will be looking to make a move for another option. I don't know whether or not any trade will occur, but I can't imagine the O's front office is entirely confident with guys like Hammel riding 5+ ERA/FIPs into a playoff race. Gausman's slider doesn't look major-league ready right now, so he really should be working on that at AAA, but I expect he'll be back down the line.

Ryan: Chen, Tillman, Gonzalez, Gausman, Hammel. Not great, but this would put our better pitchers up front so they start more frequently. Maybe having Hammel at the back end would make it easier to juggle his starts so they are away from offensive ballparks (like, err, his home one). His home/road splits are pretty stark. Maybe Buck can figure out a way to start him only on the road.

Bill: Go with Wei-Yin Chen / Miguel Gonzalez / Chris Tillman / Scott Feldman / Kevin Gausman and banish Jason Hammel to the bullpen. Gausman isn't going to do much worse than Hammel does, and has the potential to do much, much better. As much as I'd love to have Matt Garza, I don't give up the prospects for him. And I don't think there's another pitcher I'd go get, either. The problem is, who goes from the bullpen once you move Hammel? The easy answer is Jairo Asencio back to AAA, so I'll go with that. Otherwise, leave the ‘pen as it is. I don't see a hitter worth the potential cost when in-house options are available in Henry Urrutia and Wilson Betemit.

Do you think the Orioles will make any trades and if so, what position will they fill? Do you think they should? Why or why not?

Steve: I think the Orioles should stand pat right now. After the Feldman trade, the biggest weakness on the team is DH, which will go a long way toward fixing itself when Wilson Betemit comes back. At this point, the only trades I would make wouldn't be so much to address needs as to add by subtracting (trading dead weight like Reimold for some organizational filler or something like that). The only other way I consider trading for a specific need is a major injury to an everyday player.

Alex: I can't really see much of anything happening trade-wise. If Roberts hadn't come back, I'd probably be pushing for Chase Utley, but that seems very unlikely now, and I suspect Ruben Amaro would want too much in return anyway. It's probably best to stand pat at this point, as while Dan Duquette seems to have done a good job of adding depth, the team doesn't have a lot that I see as both valuable and expendable.

Matthew: I'd like to see the O's try and grab another starting pitcher (one better than Scott Feldman). I like the current look of the team and don't see any major holes outside of SP, 2B, and DH, but I just can't see HBGM picking up another 2B. Whether or not Wilson Betemit returns and hits in his half of the DH platoon is TBD. If he does, the team looks better than it does right now. If he doesn't, an upgrade is needed. My guess is that the O's stand pat, however, unless something big comes along (like a Jake Peavy....)

Ryan: I think/hope the O's will pull out another big trade before the break. (This is only so I can make myself look good for having argued for an aggressive move.) Scott Feldman is an upgrade but isn't the answer to anyone's problems. I would like to trade some relievers (of which the team seems to have a surplus) and minor leaguers for a decent DH or another starting pitcher, preferably one with a heavy sinker or a high strikeout rate that will keep them afloat in OPACY.

Bill: Can't see Dan Duquette, our beloved Honey Badger GM (even if he's actually Executive VP for Baseball Operations) making a big trade. Henry Urrutia may be promoted to try and fix the DH slot any day now, Wilson Betemit is due back some time this year as well, and Steve Pearce could be at least replacement-level at DH once he's healthy. A platoon of Urrutia (LHH) and Betemit (RHH) might work out pretty well, but is pretty much guaranteed not to suck more than Nolan Reimold or Chris Dickerson have. With Chen back, HBGM now gets to play "Find A Competent MLB Starter!" with just one rotation slot instead of two. He has internal options for most of the team's problems.

I think Duquette has already made his move - the Scott Feldman trade will be a much bigger deal in hindsight than we see right now. I don't see a reasonable trade that dramatically improves the club without giving away the future. I'd take my chances on Kevin Gausman learning on the job than trading him and/or others away for Matt Garza.

What are your predictions for the second half? Who will win the A.L. East? Will the O's make the playoffs? Will Brian Roberts stay healthy for the rest of the year?

Steve: I think Boston will win the AL East unless they suffer some devastating injuries or their rotation tails off a lot. They have a good cushion built up and haven't shown a lot of weaknesses just yet. The only way I see the Orioles changing that is if they can dominate the 12 head-to-head games against Boston in the second half. If they win nine of those games, things get interesting in a big hurry. September is going to be enormous for the Orioles' fate -- we play 20 straight games against divisional opponents to end the season. This thing is going to come down to the wire. But if I have to make a prediction, I think the Orioles will get a wild-card spot, which means we'll all be having heart palpitations for one night in early October where anything could happen.

As far as Brian Roberts, I just can't see it. This last week before the break was a wonderful thing to see, but I'll be shocked if Roberts plays more than 20 more games for the Orioles. Happy, but shocked

Alex: I hate to say it, but I think the Red Sox are going to win the division. At the very least, I'm not feeling good about the O's chances of beating both the Sox and Rays to that title. Anything can happen in September, when there's a lot more intra-division play, but I expect the O's to battle the Rays and Rangers/A's for a wild card spot, perhaps right up until game 162 once again. Their chances depend a lot on whether the offense can keep scoring enough runs to cover for the pitching, and whether or not Wei-Yin Chen's return has as large an effect as I hope. And I probably wouldn't give Roberts more than a 50-50 shot to stay healthy; I just hope he's decent enough that if the O's miss the playoffs, we aren't lamenting Buck's unwillingness to have the Flaherty/Casilla duo playing instead.

Matthew: I'm going with Tampa Bay to win the AL East. Clay Buchholz misses more time for the Red Sox and their current rotation doesn't maintain a top level of success. Wil Myers has a huge second half, David Price returns to some resemblance of his former self, and the Rays overcome an annual DL trip from Evan Longoria. The O's miss the playoffs, but fight down to the wire in an extremely close wild card race. Brian Roberts does not stay healthy. Nolan Reimold is DFA'd before he graces the DL again.

Ryan: I think the Red Sox will win the AL East. They've shown themselves to be capable of doing so. Tampa Bay will challenge them, though, and the O's can hang at that level. So there's a decent chance at a wild-card spot.

Bill: I just don't see how Boston is doing this, but they keep doing this. So I'll pick them to win the division by two games over the Orioles. The O's take the second Wild Card spot, and play Oakland in the Wild Card game. The Yankees fade just enough to stay behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay, as Alex Rodriguez's return cause more problems than it solves, and Derek Jeter's further diminished speed and range become a real issue as he becomes a station-to-station base runner and devolves to falling-down range at shortstop. And there's no way Brian Roberts stays healthy the rest of the year.