A funny thing has happened since the Orioles stopped being an absolutely miserable baseball team: I don't care as much about the individual players. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having players that are fun to root for, have a good story or personality, etc., but like our fearless leader Dan Duquette, the sentimentality is gone.
That doesn't mean I don't pay attention to the former Orioles when I notice their names in a box score or on a highlight show. I especially take note of those who were especially terrible as Orioles to see if I should be annoyed at their talent now, or those who many people wanted to retain to see if those people were correct.
So what of the players who helped make 2012 magical and 2013 enjoyable? Are there any that I'd like to see still on the team? Any who are playing so well that I wonder why they couldn't do that in an Orioles uniform? Are there any who I'd still want on the team?
Nate McLouth - LF, 2012-2013
In the 106 games the Orioles played in 2012 before calling up Nate McLouth, they used nine different players in left field, including Ryan Flaherty and Wilson Betemit. The position was a black hole, but McLouth changed all that and staged a career renaissance at the same time. He brought patience to the lineup that the Orioles lacked, and when Nick Markakis was injured he filled in admirably in the leadoff spot. He was one of the few Orioles who hit in the 2012 ALDS and he came within inches of hitting a game-tying home run in game five that could have made him a postseason hero.
After playing a full season for the Orioles in 2013 that was decent but not as magical as his 2012 run, McLouth hit free agency and signed a two-year, $10.75M contract with the Washington Nationals. He was slated to be their fourth OF but has seen semi-regular playing time with Bryce Harper on the DL. McLouth is still showing patience at the plate with an OBP that is 144 points higher than his batting average. The bad news is that his batting average is .144. Technically he's hitting better than David Lough, but when you're that bad at the plate it's not much to quibble over.
Joe Saunders - SP, Aug-Sep 2012
The Orioles traded for Saunders in late 2012 in attempt to solidify their starting rotation for the playoff stretch. They were successful. After one terrible start to close out August, Saunders pitched to a 2.75 ERA in six September starts and averaged 6 ½ innings pitched per game. His biggest game, of course, was on October 5, when he started in the first Orioles playoff game since 1997. He out-pitched Yu Darvish as the Orioles won to advance to the ALDS.
Some fans wanted Saunders to return for 2013, and I admit that I thought he could be a good choice for the right price. But it never appeared that the Orioles went after him seriously, and he signed one-year, $6.5M contract with the Seattle Mariners. He went on to post a 5.26 ERA/4.71 FIP with them, good for a WAR of -0.3. He is currently under contract with the Texas Rangers, but went on the disabled list after just one start. He returned to them last night and pitched five shutout innings.
Mark Reynolds - 1B/"3B", 2011-2012
Reynolds came to the Orioles via trade in December 2010, a flawed but lovable slugger. He hit 37 home runs in 2011 but his miserable defense at third base almost completely canceled out his offensive contributions. In 2012 his offense dropped off some, but he won over the hearts of the Orioles fans by absolutely destroying the New York Yankees, the team the Orioles spent most of September fighting with over first place. In two September series against the Yankees, Reynolds had a total of eight hits, seven of which were home runs. For the whole season Reynolds hit .294/.410/.804 against the Yankees. Yes, that .804 is his slugging %, not his OPS.
At the end of October, with the city of Baltimore still on a high from the O's playoff appearance, the Orioles declined the $11 million option on Reynolds' contract. He was still under team control, but rather than pay him the roughly $9 million he would get through arbitration, the Orioles instead elected to non-tender him.
Despite lip service from both sides that they'd love to work out a deal, Reynolds ended up signing a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cleveland Indians. That upset some Orioles fans, especially when Reynolds OPS'd 1.019 in April 2013 with eight home runs. But his performance dropped off quickly after that and the Indians released him in August. He signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers before the 2014 season and made the team. He has 12 home runs for the Brew Crew but just a .293 OBP (not including last night's stats).
Scott Feldman - SP, Jul-Sep 2013
Feldman came to the Orioles as they struggled to stay in contention in late summer 2013. Traded for failed prospect Jake Arrieta and enigmatic reliever Pedro Strop, Feldman made 15 starts for the Orioles and had his ups and downs, posting a 4.27 ERA/4.15 FIP. Like Reynolds and Saunders before him, there was talk of mutual interest for Feldman to return to Baltimore, but nothing came of it. He signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Astros instead.
Feldman has made eight starts for the Astros this year, with a 21-day trip to the DL between starts four and five. He has put up an impressive 3.02 ERA but his FIP of 4.15 is nearly identical to how he pitched in Baltimore this year. It seems unlikely that the low-3 ERA will hold up, in my opinion. My question to you is this: Would you trade Ubaldo Jimenez's contract (4 years, $50 million) for Feldman's?
As for Arrieta and Strop, both are still with the Cubs. Arrieta started the season at AAA but has put together a nice stretch of five starts since May 3rd (3.20 ERA/2.70 FIP, but just 5 innings pitched on average). Strop is no different from the pitcher we saw in Baltimore. He's striking out a ton (10.7 per nine) but also walking a ton (5.7 per nine), but has only allowed runs in four of his 15 appearances.
Jason Hammel - SP, 2012-2013
Unlike some of the others on this list, it's fair to say that most fans were happy to see Jason Hammel go. After Hammel's excellent (and out of character) 2012 that helped the team get to the playoffs, Hammel was terrible in 2013. It was his worst season since his early days with the Devil Rays, and there was no pretense of him coming back when he and the Orioles parted ways.
Hammel signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cubs, where he has been enjoying a very good season so far. In 10 starts he is averaging about 6 ½ innings per start with a 3.08 ERA, and so far has dropped his walk rate, increased his strikeout rate, and cut his HR/9 in half. This Jason Hammel would definitely look good in the Orioles rotation, even with an A.L. ERA bump.
Brian Roberts - 2B, 2001-2013
I think most fans who had a desire to see B-Rob stay with the Orioles for 2014 would admit that they were doing it at least a little bit out of sentimentality. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Yankees, where he is hitting .242/.309/.362 in 44 games. That's not very good, but I have to point out the myriad of players the Orioles have had play 2B this year are hitting .249/.276/.363.
Jim Johnson - RP, 2006-2013
JJ's rough 2013 made it easier to say goodbye to him when he was traded to the Athletics in the off season, but he was a very good pitcher for the Orioles for about six seasons. His trade seemed like something of a salary dump, but his troubles have also continued into this year. He was demoted from the closer position after a rough few weeks, but lately his performance has been better (although a glance at his gamelog shows that he has pitched a lot in low leverage situations).
Other Ex-Orioles from 2012-2013
Robert Andino - He was never very good at the plate, but his attitude and his clutch hits over the Red Sox endeared him to many of us. He's now at AAA in the Pirates organization.
Wilson Betemit - In 2012 he did the only thing he does well, hitting righties at .302/.357/.502. In 2013 he was hurt. Now he's in the minors, playing at AAA for the Rays.
Chris Dickerson - He was bad at baseball but good at celebrating with teammates. He's currently living it up with Andino.
Lew Ford - Sweet Lou got one more chance at the big leagues in 2012, but now he's back with the Long Island Ducks, where he serves as both the hitting coach and the center fielder.
Freddy Garcia - It's still hard to believe the Sweaty Freddy played in 11 games for the Orioles last year. He was horrible, so the O's traded him to the Braves where he started a playoff game for them! He's currently pitching in Taiwain.
Mike Morse - Ooh, this guy. He only played in 12 games for the Orioles last year, but they were awful enough to make me hate him. He's now with the Giants, hitting the snot out of the ball. Of course.
Danny Valencia - Valencia had just 170 PAs for the O's in 2013, but they were good ones. He's currently in Kansas City as a bench player, hitting .279/.338/.393 in 68 PA.