Since taking over the reins in 2012 Dan Duquette has shown that he will take a chance on most anybody. The strategy coming from the Orioles front office appears to be to collect as many cheap lottery tickets as you can and hope one or two of them pay out big. This strategy has paid dividends over the past three years as players have come from relative obscurity to produce big for the Orioles.
In 2012, the big addition was Nate McLouth who joined the team after getting cut by the Pirates and signed to a minor league free agent contract in late May of that year by the Orioles. McLouth tore up the International League and held down left field in Baltimore from August on. Or Miguel Gonzalez who was snatched up from the Mexican Leagues and given a shot in Norfolk as well and has held a spot in the rotation for the Orioles ever since July of 2012.
More often than not though, these tickets fail to materialize. The Franciso Peguero, Miguel Tejada, Jamie Moyer, and Johan Santana sorts of the world have toiled away in the minors without ever getting the call to Baltimore. However, missing with those acquisitions provides little downside and the remote chance at major upside. Yet, in 2014 the downside has been greater and the misses have loomed larger for the Orioles.
The inspiration for this post came from the below tweet from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Parmelee has been crushing AAA pitching for two and a half months, is left handed, and has a solid approach at the plate. He is really a first baseman, but has played in the corner outfield spots and can do so well enough. The Orioles need production, badly, from those corner outfield spots. And the former first round pick still waits in Norfolk and the Orioles have a good shot at losing him, apparently soon.
In years prior, Parmelee may have been called up and given a shot to stick, much like Nolan Reimold recently. However the other lottery tickets Dan Duquette collected in the off season have failed to produce and those expensive tickets are harder to throw away.
Between the losses of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis the Orioles had to recreate two everyday players out of what they had and what they could afford. The Orioles rolled into the season with Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider, Delmon Young, David Lough, and Steve Pearce as the quintuplet to make up for the production lost between Cruz and Markakis in the corner outfield spots. So far, no one has stepped up to earn more playing time and one has already been traded away. .
|Alejandro De Aza*
Alejandro De Aza's statistics are those he compiled while on the Orioles.
A little explanation on the table. If you did not know, OPS+ is a statistic that adjusts the OPS for a hitter based upon park and league factors and then places that number on a scale. The middle of the scale is 100 with each number above or below 100 representing a percent better or worse than league average. Therefore, a 90 OPS+ means that a hitter has a 10 percent lower OPS than all other hitters after adjusting for park and league. The WAR used in the table above is provided by baseball reference.
Between the five of them, not a one has produced an above average offensive performance and combined they have produced maybe one average regular day player. The leader of the pack Travis Snider has teh bulk of his WAR buoyed by strong defensive metric numbers which can be fickle in small sample sizes so his overall value may even be inflated a tad. After a stellar 2014, Steve Pearce has crashed down to earth, although he is picking it up of late as his role has been reduced back to first base and corner outfield against left handed pitching. David Lough in a small sample size has not been able to provide anything other than defensive value. Delmon Young has had all of his power sapped from his bat and still has no patience at the plate while continuing to provide sub par defense. Lastly, Alejandro De Aza was playing so poorly he was designated for assignment and eventually traded to the Boston Red Sox.
Furthermore, between the five of them, they accounted for $13.5 million in salary to start the season. De Aza, the most expensive is already gone. Snider and Lough, the two most obvious candidates for relegation both have team control beyond this year and Snider was acquired in the off season for two not inconsequential prospects. Delmon Young may be close to the chopping block with Reimold, a right handed hitter, and Pearce already on the team, but Buck seems to love Young. Lastly, Pearce has proven himself a versatile player and has been hitting better as of late so ditching him seems unlikey as well.
If the Orioles want to bring up Chris Parmelee or any other corner outfield option they are going to have to start making tougher choices. The most obvious candidate to me for the great DFA in the Sky would be Delmon Young, but again I cannot exactly see the Orioles dumping him so easily. The next would be Snider because he and Parmelee have similar skill sets, but Duquette put quite a lot down on Snider producing and building off his strong 2014 second half so they may be reluctant to let him go as well. Regardless, the time is coming to make a decision, or the Orioles might lose one of their lottery tickets to a division rival.
The obvious problem here is the commitment of a large chunk of payroll to five players who have preformed poorly to put it mildly. These lottery tickets did not come on minor league free agent deals and shrewd waiver wire pickups. They were bought by prospects and significant payroll commitment. Duquette searched for answers to fill holes and so far only has found more questions. I don't know that Chris Parmelee is the answer to this latest question, but right now the Orioles need someone to be.