Baltimore Orioles: Grading Each of GM Dan Duquette's Offseason Moves
Since the time of him being named to the position, the Orioles front office hasn't made any huge moves thus far. Duquette is too busy worrying about acquiring depth to help fuel this train-wreck of an organization.
He can't sign big name guys because they don't want to come to a loser of 14 consecutive seasons. And owner Peter Angelos won't pony up the necessary funds to convince them to consider Baltimore a legitimate destination.
And he can't swing any trades because the only players other teams would want are those that Duquette won't trade without being incredibly overwhelmed by the offer.
Yes, he's stuck between a rock and a hard place. Still, he's been able to acquire some depth, as well as initiating the beginning phases of what will be the Orioles organization of the future.
Let's examine how he's done so far.
Taylor Teagarden, Catcher: B
The move of acquiring Taylor Teagarden from the Texas Rangers deserves such a high ranking as a 'B' because, in my view, Teagarden is one of the better options for a backup catcher out there.
Duquette gave up two low-level players for Teagarden, and the jury is still out on how those players are expected to progress. Obviously, the Orioles organization didn't see them as a part of their future, and while some scouts feel the same way about the players the O's gave up, others think they can make an impact for the Rangers in a few years.
Due to that uncertainty on their futures, I didn't rank the move any higher, even though I initially wanted to.
Teagarden is great behind the plate; he provides an okay bat for a reserve catcher with decent enough pop. He is expected to be the backup catcher coming out of spring training for the O's, barring anything surprising. And hopefully, he can provide some stability for them in that role over the next few seasons.
A reserve catcher plays more than any other bench player during the grueling 162-game season. It's better to have someone who's capable than someone who isn't, and Teagarden is certainly capable.
Dana Eveland, Starting Pitcher: C-
Most Orioles fans were upset with this move, simply because it occurred late in the Winter Meetings after constant quotes from Duquette stating that he was working on multiple deals.
So, people got their hopes up, only to be given a possible fifth starter at best out of the meetings in Dallas.
The reality is that the O's didn't give up much of anything for him, and they added depth to their starting pitching, an area in which they sorely lacked. Granted, Eveland won't be taking the world by storm, but he should be serviceable in a long-man, spot-starter-type role; and he can fill in if one of the other starters get injured.
He's depth. Nothing more, nothing less. And that's why he wasn't rated lower than a "C-." If you look at the move in a practical sense, there really isn't anything bad about it, but there's nothing too outstanding about it either.
There's always the remote possibility that he could explode into a beast of a starter, much like Cliff Lee did a few years back...
But, yeah, don't bet on it.
Endy Chavez, Outfielder: B
Endy Chavez is a good defender with plus speed who can play any outfield position, and his bat isn't terrible either.
He's been on two playoff teams during his career—the 2011 American League champion Texas Rangers, and the 2006 New York Mets, who lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series that year.
Of course, that was the series where he made that incredible catch to rob a home run, then doubled the runner off first base. That play goes down as one of the best ever in playoff baseball, and it pretty much defines Chavez's career.
When considering a player for a fourth outfielder role, Chavez is definitely one of the better options out there, so I was excited when I saw that Duquette signed him on for the 2012 Orioles roster.
However, that will mean nothing if the O's just go and have a losing record again this season.
Matt Antonelli/Ryan Flaherty, Utility Infielders: D
These two players are pretty similar pickups. They're depth pickups, and they'll be competing for the same role in spring training, which is to contribute to the parent club in a utility-infielder fashion.
They're both projected to get some time at second and third base, and with much doubt surrounding Brian Roberts' (pictured) future, the more depth, the better.
It's very likely that one of these men will be seeing a lot of time at second base during the 2012 season, because almost all Roberts has done these past two seasons is summed up by this slide's accompanying picture: Watch. He's been battling a couple different injuries, and he is currently dealing with concussion symptoms that he's been experiencing for over a year now.
It's safe to say that not only his 2012 season but also his career is in jeopardy at this point.
Even still, it'd be nice to see some accomplished players brought on to help in the depth of the second base position, as opposed to a couple career minor leaguers.
But, hey, what can ya do?
Tsuyoshi Wada, Starting Pitcher: C
The Orioles signed left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two year, $8.15-million deal with an option for a third year at $5 million after a phenomenal 2011 season in Japan.
Wada is described as being a crafty pitcher who doesn't have an overpowering fastball but relies on precise location and good movement on his secondary pitchers. He's been compared to the likes of former-Oriole Jamie Moyer.
He's projected as a third, fourth or fifth starter, but he could likely be the No. 2 out of spring training behind staff-ace-by-default Jeremy Guthrie. He provides depth to the starting rotation and marks the second time that the O's have signed a Japanese player, the first being pitcher Koji Uehara prior to the 2009 season.
Hopefully, Wada will pan out and prove to be a nice arm for the O's, much like Uehara did. And hopefully, he'll have better stamina in America than Uehara did, who was forced to convert to the bullpen, where he enjoyed great success in Baltimore.
I'm sure that the O's would take Wada as a good bullpen arm, but right now, they need good starting pitching. If Wada can help provide that, he's earned his money.
It's hard to judge a move when the player hasn't played ball in the U.S. before, so for now, he gets a "C," or in other words, an average rating.
International Market: A
Dan Duquette has done a nice job trying to expand the Orioles' interest in the international market, and he has begun focusing many resources towards that area.
The O's were also in on a Korean pitcher before he decided to stay where he was, and they're showing interest in another Asian hurler while also scouting heavily in the Latin America area.
They've been taking a look at all the big names as well as investigating some unknowns, and they really are just trying to see how much they can expand and find in foreign markets.
Obviously, a project like this is a long drawn-out process for even the most loaded ballclub financially, so it's going to take a while before the players from those areas really start having an effect on the O's and we can adequately judge how Duquette's plan panned out.
But for now, I really like his work and how much of an effort he's making towards improving the club overseas.
He deserves an "A" for his work in that area.
Ever since his hiring, Duquette has been quite busy shaping the Orioles into what he thinks they need to be in order to obtain the best possible chance to compete.
His additions show that he fully understands the O's desperate needs for quality depth and expansion into foreign market. And he's pulling all the strings he can to improve those areas as quickly as possible.
However, I'd like to see more depth—and better depth—added before the start of spring training in February 2012. I understand how hard that is for a GM of a losing team to do, especially when the organization is as broken as the Orioles are, but it's a necessary thing to do.
His moves thus far have been nice and sound, but if the team were to go into the 2012 season with just these players, they'd be in for a rough time. That's why his overall score has been brought down to the just above-average range, even though it isn't entirely his fault.
In a perfect world, Duquette will give manager Buck Showalter (pictured, left) a lot more depth and at least a couple better players to work with next year, or it could be a really long season for us Orioles faithful.