The Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette, is known for thinking outside the box. During his time in Baltimore, he has done a lot of great business, including the signings of Nelson Cruz, Nate McLouth and Steve Pearce as well as the trade for Mark Trumbo this past offseason. Of course, there have also been some decisions that came back to bite him; the biggest of which, so far, has been the trading away of eventual Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Ugh.
The point is, baseball deals with a lot of unknown factors. Will this guy develop? Is he injury prone? Can he handle the spotlight? Is he a head case? Yada, yada, yada. But what if we wiped all of that away and gave Duquette a fancy time machine (stay with me here). Instead of scouring the waiver wire or trade market, all he had to do was go back in Baltimore history and pluck a former star and plug him right into today’s game. Who should he pick and why?
Let’s lay down some ground rules. In this scenario, Duquette can only pick one player. It would be great to round up all the Hall of Famers again, but that defeats the purpose of them adding to this year’s team. It could be someone recent, like Wei-Yin Chen, or someone from the beginning of the team in the 50’s. But, they have to of been Orioles, not St. Louis Browns. As great as George Sisler was, according to Baseball Reference, we’re not going to consider him.
OK, hopefully that all makes sense. Here now are some of my picks for players that would add the most to the 2016 Orioles in no particular order. Remember, these are all independent of one another. Tell us your pick of these guys or others throughout history in the comments section.
Jim Palmer, RHP
The tall, lanky, pitcher-turned-broadcaster is the obvious choice for this Orioles team. As a group, the starters have a 4.97 ERA, which puts them at 26th in MLB. Palmer’s career 2.86 ERA would look pretty great in place of someone like Wade Miley. Not to mention Cakes was a horse, averaging 249 innings per 162-game season. Simply put, he is the best pitcher in team history and would be a welcome addition.
Mike Mussina, RHP
If we look at statistics, Moose was not as dominant as Palmer, who came a generation before him. And his stand-offish demeanor may not have earned him many fans along the way, but this guy was a phenomenal pitcher. The righty’s career 3.68 ERA doesn’t scream “incredible”, but his career 123 ERA+ is just two points lower than the Hall-of-Famer Palmer. And you have to remember that Mussina pitched through the entire “Steroid Era”, which may have inflated his numbers some. Slot him in against today’s offenses and he would be an impact arm again.
Eddie Murray, 1B
Chris Davis has not been a bad first baseman this year, but he could stand to be a lot better. Murray was one of the best at the position in baseball history and he had his best years in Baltimore. While an Oriole, he slashed .294/.370/.498 and had a 56.3 WAR over 13 seasons and played Gold Glove defense. Murray’s addition would lengthen the lineup and take some pressure off of Crush, who moves to DH in this scenario.
Brady Anderson, OF
Man, that 1996 season! A slash line of .297/.396/.637 with 50 home runs and 110 RBI? Yeah, that would slot in somewhere on this team. As would Anderson’s overall athleticism, which is something the Orioles seem to lack at times. Although manager Buck Showalter may not use it much, Brady was a good base stealer, leading Orioles history with 507 swiped bags. Adam Jones probably wouldn’t let the center field spot slipe, but Anderson is a team player. He takes over for either Hyun Soo Kim in left or Trumbo in right to provide better defense.
Melvin Mora, UTL
I grew up in the dark ages of Orioles baseball. They made the playoffs in 1997, when I was four years old and not paying attention to baseball yet, and then never made it again until 2012, when I was a sophomore in college. During that stretch, Mora was one of my favorites, so this is a bit of a homer pick, but if this was the 2004-version of Mora, he would be quite the addition. That year, he slashed .340/.419/.562 with 27 home runs and 104 RBI. While he eventually became exclusively a third baseman, he had the ability to play all over the field. If he was the pick, the O’s would send Ryan Flaherty back to Norfolk and use Mora as the everyday utility man.
Jake Arrieta, RHP
It’s not meant to twist the knife anymore, but the modern version of Arrieta would be PERFECT for this 2016 squad. While he has not been quite as dominant this season as he was last summer, he is still pretty darn great. That 2.75 ERA, 15-5 record and 147 ERA+ is going to earn him some Cy Young consideration again. Meanwhile, the O’s rotation is a mess. The advantage that Arrieta has over Palmer or Mussina is that he is performing right now, in this era. Would Moose or Cakes translate from their time? I think they would, but it is open for discussion. The problem, he stunk as an Oriole and returning to Baltimore may cause him issues.
If I had to pick just one guy from O’s history, I’m going with Palmer by a good margin. Judging based off of both stats and how he speaks during MASN broadcasts, the guy knows pitching inside and out. His game is as much cerebral as it is physical and that would be a nice addition to both the field and the clubhouse, teaching a guy like Dylan Bundy the nuances of the game. I’m for Cakes all the way.
Of course, I left off legends like Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson. My reasoning: they didn’t fill a need as much as others, and this would have been a boring article if all I did was list the Hall-of-Famers for you. However, you can certainly pick them if you so choose.
Thanks for reading! Who would be your pick? As mentioned before, it can be one of the players listed above or any other Oriole in history that you prefer. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter and Facebook.