Subscribe: Camden Depot
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
cashner  duquette  gausman  league  minor league  minor  movement  orioles  pitch  players  rotation  season  tillman  year 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Camden Depot

Camden Depot

Baltimore Orioles Affiliate in ESPN's Sweetspot Network

Updated: 2018-03-23T15:47:42.150-04:00


How Does The O's Rotation Compare To Other AL East Teams?


The Orioles got better with the addition of Alex Cobb. That's a good thing! But while it makes sense to now feel more confident in this version of the starting rotation, it can't be considered a great group of starters, and maybe not even a good one.

Maybe that's somewhat of a gloomy outlook. Still, back in February, I looked at how Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy stacked up against other American League teams' top two starters (by Steamer projections at FanGraphs). Gausman and Bundy weren't the worst, but they ranked near the bottom. Since then, the O's have signed Andrew Cashner and Cobb. Cashner projects below both Gausman and Bundy, but Cobb's Steamer projection of 1.7 fWAR is slightly better than Bundy's. Even with Gausman and now Cobb now fitting in as the O's top two starters by Steamer, the O's would only leapfrog one team in the rankings.

Let's try something different and examine five starters for AL East teams. Let's also look at PECOTA, ZiPS, and Steamer projections for 2018. I used the following lists of starters for each team:

Blue Jays: JA Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman, Jaime Garcia
Orioles: Alex Cobb, Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman
Rays: Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Jake Faria, Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Andriese
Red Sox: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz
Yankees: Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery

You can gripe about a name or two (due to injuries) or the order, but it's close. Note that the Rays are going to use a four-man rotation and a bullpen day, so I used the best-projected swingman option in their bullpen.

After combining the totals (WARP for PECOTA; fWAR for ZiPS and Steamer), here's what you get:

Blue Jays6.613.210.4
Red Sox12.817.314.2
Sources: FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus

The Orioles rank last across the board, by a large margin. Now, you can argue that the O's hope to get more out of their group of starters, and that some of them have exceeded their projections in the past. Tillman has out-pitched his peripherals before, as have Cobb and Cashner. And maybe you also give Cobb and Tillman bonus points for past success in the AL East. These are projections, after all -- nothing is set in stone -- but they're not useless.

It's unlikely that all five O's starters are going to pitch as the best versions of themselves, and talent wise, they're probably no better than fourth or fifth in the division. Maybe, again, that simply shows how deep the East is and how tough it is to come out on (or near) the top.

That doesn't mean the O's were foolish to add Cobb or that it was a bad signing. I'm thrilled that they brought him on-board, and it's scary to think about the team heading into the season without him in the fold. But even with Cobb, a lot has to go right for the O's to have a shot at a playoff spot in 2018. They've overachieved before, and they'll have to do it again. This time, though, with some of their best players scheduled to become free agents, the stakes are higher than ever.

Should Pedro Alvarez Just Be The DH?


In 1938, the United States was climbing slowly out of the great depression.  It was a time where the free wheeling days of robber barons hoarding cash with largely ineffective charities was more fully understood.  The older generation was familiar with how the poor were treated with grueling work schedules, no days off, chained in work rooms and searched upon exit to ensure no stealing, young children pulling twelve hour days instead of going to school, and little liability when it came to product defects.  The younger generation, informed by the Great Depression, know how the rich did everything they could to remain rich while squeezing every drop out of the middle class.  These experiences led most of the country to embracing Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal approach and believed that the federal government could stop how private businesses abused the poor and middle class.Hugo Black authored the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.  It was a compromise.  His vision of the bill granted more rights to the worker and gave an impression of what we would think of as European socialism-infused democracy.  The final bill had a great impact on society.  It is why we think of eight hours as a work day and 40 hours as a work week.  It established overtime rules.  It put limitations and prohibitions on types of child labor.  The act established the federal minimum wage.Over time, the act was amended and often extended.  For instance, Dwight D. Eisenhower called for the expansion of coverage for work that fell under the minimum wage laws in 1955.  Typically, the act is altered once or twice every decade.  Minimum wage slowly moves upward.  More and more types of work fall under the scope of the act.  And, powerful lobbying groups are sometimes able to nip lawsuits in the bud by having congress pass special exemptions for types of work.  For instance, the 1996 Small Business Protection Act exempted tipped employees from minimum wage.Over the past few years, Major League Baseball has been lobbying hard to ensure they can exempt minor league players from FLSA.  It would be beneficial for MLB to get this because they want to end the court cases that might force them to pay minimum wage and overtime.  The claim from Major League Baseball is that minor league players are exempt because they are seasonal/recreational employees, which would be akin to carnival workers.  Some arguments on the periphery have included that players in the minors are more or less involved in internships where (1) employee and employer understand what compensation will be delivered, (2) that the work benefits the employee more than the employer, and (3) that the employment is a needed aspect to a final occupation.  The internship argument tends to be more of a garnish than a main argument because internship arguments would often be undermined by exclusivity rules in the contracts the players sign.Minor league players have argued that the current system exploits players.  I cannot find the current Minor League Baseball agreement, but the numbers communicated to me are these:Monthly SalaryDominican Summer League: $300Rookie League: $950Short Season A: $1150Low A: $1300Hi A: $1500AA: $1700AAA: $2400Players are not paid by the club for spring training or instructional leagues.  Short season payment covers two to three months.  Full season payment covers five months.  This means the yearly expected salary for minor leaguers at various steps would be:Yearly Salary on LevelDSL: $900Rookie: $2850Short A: $3450Low A: $6500Hi A: $7500AA: $8500AAA: $12000If a player repeats a level, he is usually entitled to a raise of about $50 a month.  If you are in the minors and score a 40 man roster spot, your pay increases to $88,000.  If your first contract expires (six full seasons after you sign it) and you are a free agent, you can negotiate for a higher salary if a team is willing to hand you one.  As you can [...]

Gausman is Finding His Inner Tanaka


Kevin Gausman is a stud.  That is how he has been viewed for a long time.  He looked like a polished strong mid-rotation arm coming out of LSU.  In the minors, he overpowered batters with his fastball command and splitter.  In the majors, there are moments or streaks where his fastball and splitter are riding hot while he also drops a fairly respectable curve or slider (depending on the year).  However, those moments and streaks are not common enough for Gausman to be mentioned as a top of the rotation arm or even a mid-rotation arm for any club with serious playoff consideration.This issue with Gausman is not a new concern.  His breaking balls were always more about potential than where the stood in the moment.  He doesn't get tight spin and he doesn't get much consistency in that spin.  He largely has no feel for the pitch and uses it more as a show me, change of pace offering.  That means his effectiveness is dependent upon pitch movement that runs away from a left hander or into a right hander.  For a right handed pitcher, that often means limited movement of pitches that largely stay in the same plane for a batter.  In other words, Gausman is always playing around the barrel of the bat.Above you can see a generic chart for what pitches tend to do.  Sliders and curveballs, even cutters, can break away from a right handed hitter with varying downward movement.  The two plane movement helps a pitcher avoid the bat and maybe even the barrel.  Gausman's best pitches come in that top quartile where the movement varies mostly in the vertical, which means if anything flattens out it might well go pretty far.It is a fairly unique way for a pitcher to pitch.  In fact, here is a list of starting pitchers over the past five years who have thrown both four seamers and splitters for 60% or more of their pitches. Name FA% FS% Sum Kevin Gausman 65 15 80 Taijuan Walker 59 16 75 Jorge de la Rosa 34 31 65 Jake Odorizzi 42 22 64 Nathan Eovaldi 53 9 62 The fact that this combination is so rare among starting pitchers suggests that it is simply hard to do this and be successful.  There is a long list of pitchers who are four seam fastball and changeup style pitchers who have been quite lauded, but never lived up to their enormous prospect hype. Dewon Brazleton comes to mind.  When they do appear, like Rich Harden or Johan Santana, their changeup is a more traditional offering than a splitter.  That said, it is a rare combination with respect to finding great success.Gausman says his curveball is in excellent shape this year, which is something that it feels like we hear every year before the regular season begins and everything unravels.  What is interesting is that he also noted that he picked up a new sinker grip from new Oriole Andrew Cashner.  The piece in that links notes that Cashner's sinker tails into right handers and away from left handers, which all sinkers do (unless you are Charlie Morton).  That pitch may help Gausman, but he is still working that top left quadrant.Last year, Cashner's sinker came in at -8.2 inches horizontal movement (2.8 inches off his four seamer) and 7.6 inches vertical movement (2 inches below his four seamer).  Gausman's old sinker (he did not throw one last year) had a similar -8.2 inches horizontal movement (same horizontal movement as his four seamer last year) and a similar 7.5 inches vertical movement (about two inches different than his fastball.  The difference primarily is that Gausman has a really good boring four seam fastball that took away an axis of movement with his sinker.  If he could get a little more movement from his sinker then it could be a multiplanar pitch working off his fastball instead of one that sees two more inches of drop.If it were to become a solid offering, then he would be spending a lot of time with his four seamer, splitter, and sinker.  This is a combinatio[...]

The Orioles Have Room To Improve At Many Positions


The Orioles, overall, weren't good last year. They started the season hot, faded, then somehow battled back to make things interesting in late August (68-65 on the 30th) before really fading and losing 22 of their remaining 29 games. Their end-of-season record (75-87) was tied for third-worst in the American League. Their run differential of -98 was also third-worst.

Still, the 2017 Orioles had their moments, and there's some hope that Buck Showalter can right the ship for one last hurrah. You might see how it could happen. It's easy to point out the current flaws with the O's roster, but talking up the best of some of their key (and well-paid) players who had down seasons is possible.

That's important, because just look where the O's ranked in FanGraphs' wins above replacement at every position last year:

AL Ranks
C: 3.7 (2nd)
1B: 1.4 (9th)
2B: 3.7 (4th)
SS: 1.1 (12th)
3B: 2.7 (7th)
LF: 0.1 (14th)
CF: 1.4 (12th)
RF: 1.2 (13th)
DH: -1.4 (t-10th)
SP: 5.5 (t-13th)
RP: 2.3 (t-11th)

Other than catcher and second base, there wasn't much to get excited about. And now, Welington Castillo and his 2.8 fWAR are gone. Fortunately, Caleb Joseph is in line for more work and might be underappreciated by FanGraphs' metric. Baseball Prospectus' WARP, which factors in the well-regarded FRAA to better account for catcher framing, had Joseph much closer to Castillo (2.8-2.1) despite about 100 fewer plate appearances. Throw in some upside from Chance Sisco (though there may be less now with him dropping in top-100 lists) and things don't look so bad at catcher.

The list of O's players who underwhelmed last year is long: Manny Machado (102 wRC+), Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Seth Smith (gone), Wade Miley (gone), Kevin Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez (gone), Jeremy Hellickson (gone), Chris Tillman, and plenty of fringe major league pitching options. Try painting a picture of the O's competing for a playoff spot without Machado, Davis, Trumbo, Gausman, and Tillman performing much better. It's almost impossible.

Maybe Gausman and Dylan Bundy put things together next season and get needed support from Andrew Cashner, Tillman, and Nestor Cortes, or Miguel Castro, or Mike Wright, or Gabriel Ynoa, or someone else. Maybe the O's even use some of their (assumed) payroll room and upgrade the rotation. Maybe Zach Britton comes back feeling well in June and gives the bullpen a shot in the arm. Maybe Machado, Davis, and Trumbo start mashing again -- and things look even better when Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini, and Tim Beckham keep hitting. Maybe Austin Hays is the real deal or Colby Rasmus bounces back in a major way -- or both! And maybe Adam Jones turns back the clock for another year.

You might not buy into this team. I don't, really, but that's also not the first time that's been the case and I've been wrong. Spring training is a time for hope, and it's fun to envision one more run for this group of players.

Where is Dan Duquette? or Is this Brady, Year One?


Who is in Charge?It is blurry.There is an idea that takes all sorts of forms: Dan Duquette is not really the head of the Baltimore Orioles operations.  The arguments vary.  One is the well-tread idea that Duquette is playing out the string that Andy MacPhail spun.  The other that we have yet to really explore here is that, what one rival executive once told me, "the two-headed monster in Baltimore" is going through a process where one head is atrophying.  What was once an equal partnership has gradually faded into something quite uneven with Buck Showalter and, perhaps, Brady Anderson taking over the organization.In years past, much of the credit for overriding Duquette was placed at the hands of Peter Angelos.  As you may remember, when Chris Davis' last team control season winded down in September, Angelos made a rare public comment about how important it was to re-sign Davis.  As the off season dragged on and Davis was deep into negotiations with the Tigers, supposedly Angelos gave Duquette some wiggle room.  If they failed in signing Davis, the money could be allotted to Justin Upton.  However, baseball folks in Detroit convinced their owner to let go of Davis and sign Upton.  Davis then quickly signed a much deferred and option-less deal in Baltimore.Much more publicized was Brady Anderson's involvement in re-signing two other major allotments over what seemed to be against Duquette's preference.  Anderson was key in the negotiations between the club and Darren O'Day, stealing him at the last moment from the Washington Nationals.  Fast forward, and Anderson was key in finally convincing Mark Trumbo to return to the club.  The Trumbo deal was rumored to have been connected to Buck Showalter's desire to beef up their designated hitter position, a role in which Trumbo has largely failed in his entire career, than to leave that to Trey Mancini who is an ill fit in left field.That leaves us with this season where every acquisition has been more closely linked to Buck or Brady than Duquette.  Andrew Cashner, a long-time Buck Showalter favorite, was someone who Brady Anderson was in direct contact with since November.  The same is true with Chris Tillman.  Finally, the Colby Rasmus announcement appeared to be devoid of Duquette with Rasmus extolling the virtues of Buck Showalter.As always, it is hard to tell where the Orioles leadership begins or ends.  Nothing concrete, but rumors did suggest that the Manny Machado trade discussions may have not been conducted by Duquette either.  One gets the creeping and nonsensical idea that Duquette is basically left out of the decision making that has largely taken place this off season.  It may well be that that the Machado rumor is false and that these minor deals are considered minor by the front office, so Duquette lets his competing forces in the front office and clubhouse have those responsibilities while he tries to fill a major ticket item or two.However, players are getting signed.  Big ticket items are no longer plentiful.  Rotation slots are all locked up except for one.  If last year was a sustainable budget, the Orioles have 30-35 MM left to spend.  Maybe Duquette is targetting Lance Lynn and Mike Moustakas, but they are doing everything they can to make the press report that the club is not interested in those segments of the market.So, what is left?  I do not know.[...]

The Orioles Aren't Rebuilding, But They're Not Reloading Either


It's a normal response to frequently ask what the Orioles are doing. They don't operate like other teams, and they don't often do what you want them to. Sometimes that's good, and it has led to wonderfully unexpected things in the Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette era. Hopefully you didn't overlook the return to relevancy.Regardless, this offseason has been a disaster for the Orioles. The O's weren't open to trading franchise player and soon-to-be-free-agent Manny Machado, but then soon after the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton, that changed. The O's entertained offers, but they never received one that was enticing enough to pull the trigger. They were also at least willing to discuss a trade for Zach Britton. In late December, Britton ruptured his right Achilles' tendon and will miss a chunk of the season.There's a lot more, of course. Important players are entering the final year of their deals. Contract extensions are not being discussed. Showalter and Duquette are also working on expiring deals. There is almost no part of this team's future that is set in stone other than knowing it's going to be frustrating.Did you want the Orioles to sell early and get a head start on rebuilding? Too bad. And, well, if you wanted them to go all in -- or, to use Duquette's own word, "reload" -- that ship seems to have sailed. The very reasonable goal heading into the offseason was to inject some life into the starting rotation and add a competent left-handed outfielder to help balance out the lineup. The Orioles have kinda/sorta added to the rotation while also hoping fans will talk themselves into Colby Rasmus or Alex Presley (added on minor league deals).The Orioles could have done almost anything to their starting rotation and it would have been viewed as a modest upgrade. Still, instead of tackling the deficiencies head-on and at least meeting last year's payroll, the O's have opted to only move the needle in minor and relatively inexpensive ways.So far, the Orioles have signed two noteworthy starting pitchers. The first, Andrew Cashner, is fine. He's a No. 4 or (preferably) No. 5 starter, and he signed a two-year deal with a club option. The hope is he's not the next Yovani Gallardo. With the second signing, Chris Tillman, the hope is that he's healthy and doesn't pitch the way that Chris Tillman pitched just last season. The O's signed Tillman to a major league deal, for $3 million guaranteed and a bunch of incentives, while a couple other teams were interested in inking him to a minor league deal. Again, while not an amazing option, he's fine. With so many unknowns also in the fold, Tillman has had past success in a tough division.Added to a very good rotation, Cashner and Tillman could round it out as long as they aren't being counted on to perform better than adequately. But Cashner and Tillman aren't joining a great or even above-average rotation. That's not a knock on Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy; it's just the way it is. Those two guys need more help, and the kind of help they need is more than Cashner and Tillman.One hope all along is that the O's are just waiting in the weeds to sneak in and sign Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn. (There's no way they sign Jake Arrieta.) But, well, Roch Kubatko doused those hot stove dreams on Tuesday morning:The Orioles checked on Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, determined that there wasn’t a financial match and moved on from the trio.That's pretty much been the report all along, unless the prices for those two drop significantly and they accept a short-term deal. Without them, the O's are still surely going to bring in another starting pitcher. The need (more want) for a lefty starter won't go away. And they could always bring in someone like... Scott Feldman, apparently.The O's plans under Duquette always involve waiting, but what does waiting around do now if the O's don't intend to use any of their assumed payroll room? And yes, it's assum[...]

The Orioles Shouldn't Tear Down - An Alternative View


Almost six weeks ago, Matt Kremnitzer wrote a piece entitled How Can the Orioles Win You Over? His thesis was that many fans aren't very happy with the Baltimore Orioles organization, primarily because the fans don't know or understand what the Orioles are planning to do in 2018. The offseason had been frustrating, so what can the Orioles do to change our outlook?How do I feel about the Orioles? As I've written on this site, the Orioles are not the team I root for. I grew up in Chicago and have been a Cubs fan for close to fifty years. I do have a history with the Orioles. I'm a 1983 Georgetown graduate (Hoya Saxa!) and earned my Master's degree (1986) from College Park when the Orioles were DC's team. I've been living in the Hampton Roads, VA area, for 25 years; the Orioles and Nationals have shared local press and cable TV coverage. And, for the past 11 years, I have datacasted games for the Orioles AAA affiliate, the Norfolk Tides. Over the years, I've seen six games in Memorial Stadium and eleven in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.I'll provide a brief summary of datacasting for those who may not know exactly what that is. Most of you probably know about GameDay, the program that provides on-line, near-real-time pitch-by-pitch updates of all major league games. GameDay is also available for all AAA and at least some AA minor league games as well. I sit in the press box in front of a computer and, using a special program, enter each pitch into a central server from which GameDay app users receive their updates. When a ball is put into play, I enter those results as well. Perhaps I'll write an article covering everything I do later this season; you might find what happens at a minor-league game interesting.One of the side effects of my datacasting is that I have become less emotionally involved with my teams. I've become somewhat of a baseball professional (I do get paid for datacasting), although I do get to - have to - watch and pay attention to the games as games. But I can't allow myself to get emotionally involved. I have to see each game, each inning, each batter, each pitch as an independent event, not a part of a season with a pennant race - or I'll quickly find myself missing pitches, forgetting to advance base runners, and otherwise not performing my function well. I can be thrilled by David Washington hitting a game-tying home run, but I have to get right back to business with the next pitch.And that feeling has crept into my fandom. I don't watch the Orioles or even the Cubs the same way I did before. On the occasions when I do get to watch or listen to the Orioles play, I want them to win - but I don't have a strong interest in whether or not they've won games I haven't watched or listen to. The game is over; the O's have won or lost; I'll be watching another game tomorrow, or next week, or in a couple of weeks, whenever.So I'm happy that the Orioles haven't begun a total tear-down. I'm happy that they haven't traded Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones and Kevin Gausman. Because the Orioles are more likely to play better with those players than without them. Because I'll be more entertained watching the Orioles if those players are still around.You may say, "Joe, you're a Cubs fan. Surely it was better for the Cubs, better for you as a Cubs fan, that the Cubs were terrible for three seasons and built the team that won the World Series." But, as I look back on it, I'm not sure that it was. Winning the World Series was great. But, at least for me, of all the moments of the 2016 season and post-season, the only one that wouldn't have been as good if it had occurred in a 2013 regular-season game was Game 6 of the NLCS, in which the Cubs won the pennant. And I'm sure there were many Cubs fans who suffered through years of games in which the team wasn't trying their hardest to win and never got to see the finished product.You don't have to agr[...]