Re-Grading Every Orioles Offseason Acquisition or Move
After making the playoffs in 2012, the Baltimore Orioles took a step backwards in 2013 and failed to qualify for the postseason.
However, thanks to career seasons from Chris Davis and Adam Jones, coupled with breakout performances from Manny Machado and Chris Tillman, the excitement surrounding the team was as high as ever heading into the offseason.
For the first few months, the Orioles remained quiet. However, when February rolled around, they made a huge splash.
Let's take a look at how their two big February signings have performed thus far, along with the other moves they made this offseason.
Each grade is based on initial expectations and how each player has performed to date.
Traded Jim Johnson
The Orioles' closer situation is in shambles right now.
Despite Tommy Hunter's 11 saves—which ranks third in the American League—his 6.06 ERA is unacceptable.
Don't even get me started on his zero 1-2-3 innings as a closer this season. Zero!
While guys like Darren O'Day and Zach Britton could potentially replace Hunter as the O's closer, neither of them really fit the mold.
O'Day has been a fantastic reliever throughout his tenure in Baltimore, but he doesn't necessarily possess the "stuff" you like to see in your ninth-inning man.
Britton, who began his Orioles career as a starter, is currently a long reliever. Making the transition to closer midseason is not ideal.
So, less than two months into the 2014 season, Orioles fans who applauded the departure of Jim Johnson are probably wishing he was still around.
While he was inconsistent at times, he had a track record and a ton of experience—which is exactly what the Orioles are lacking right now.
Here's the silver-lining, though:
By trading Johnson and subsequently failing to sign Grant Balfour (failed physical), the Orioles had the money to sign Nelson Cruz.
Oh, and Johnson isn't doing too hot in Oakland (7.00 ERA and he's already lost the closer role).
Signed Free-Agent Pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez
Ubaldo Jimenez is known to vastly improve as the season progresses. Take a look at his ERAs by month last season:
|Month||ERA that month|
Here are his ERAs by month so far in 2014:
|Month||ERA that month|
|May (4 starts)||2.19|
Judging by this statistic alone, it appears Jimenez is rounding into form quicker than he did last season.
Seeing as how he finished 2013 with a 13-9 record and 3.30 ERA, that's definitely good news for Baltimore.
One main reason for Ubaldo's improvement over the course of 2013 is that he began to gain more control each month.
This appears to be happening in 2014, as well.
After walking 17 batters in 27.1 innings during April, he's walked just six in 24.2 innings so far this month.
Possessing some of the best stuff in baseball, Jimenez controls his own destiny. When he isn't administering free passes, teams are going to struggle to get hits, let alone put runs on the board.
Though his numbers so far this year probably aren't what many Orioles fans expected, the extreme improvement from April to May is great news.
Signed Free-Agent Outfielder/DH Delmon Young
When the Orioles signed this former No. 1 overall pick in January there was very little buzz surrounding the move.
Maybe that was because they only offered him a minor league contract.
Or maybe it was because Young has had a fairly underwhelming career and has often been labeled as lazy and out of shape.
While he hasn't shocked the baseball world or put up All-Star numbers so far this year, Young has actually been a pleasant surprise for the O's.
It started in March, when he showed up to Spring Training looking trim. Per MASN's Roch Kubatko, Buck Showalter said Delmon was in "as good a shape as he’s been in in a long time."
Young continued to impress in April, batting .353 despite playing in just nine games.
His .222 batting average in May is far less impressive, but nonetheless, he has established himself as a solid DH option for Baltimore.
Seeing as how the O's are paying him just $750,000 this was a pretty risk-free move.
To be able to get a guy who possesses a ton of natural ability and has the potential to have a breakout month at any time, I'd say it was a good one, too.
Signed Free-Agent Outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz was without question the best signing the Orioles made this past offseason.
In fact, it might have been the best signing in all of baseball.
Through the first quarter of the season, Cruz ranks among the leaders in all of baseball in multiple hitting categories, and he's already firmly entrenched himself in the MVP conversation.
|Category||Cruz (through 44 games)||MLB Rank|
Oh, and the Orioles are paying him...wait for it...$8 million.
That's roughly the same amount the New York Mets gave Chris Young (.206 BA with 3 home runs and 11 RBIs).
And its half of what the Red Sox are paying Mike Napoli (.267 BA with 5 home runs and 22 RBIs).
Well done, Dan Duquette.
Traded Danny Valencia for David Lough
While David Lough has struggled from the plate (.175/.233/.225 slash line), he's played fantastic defense in left field and has been a threat on the base paths (team-leading four steals).
That's exactly why the Orioles traded for him.
Would Buck like to see more production at the plate? Absolutely.
However, when the O's need some extra pop, they can move Nelson Cruz to left field and Delmon Young to DH.
As long as Lough continues to do his thing in the outfield and runs the bases with the same speed and aggression he has thus far, this trade can't possibly be labeled as a bad move.
However, until his batting average improves, it can't be labeled a positive one, either.
Signed Free-Agent Ryan Webb
Ryan Webb fits perfectly alongside O'Day and Hunter at the back of the Orioles bullpen.
While O'Day is a submarine pitcher and Hunter is a fireballer, Webb relies on his sinker ball to get batters out.
In many ways, he's actually quite reminiscent of Jim Johnson.
So far this season, Ryan has pitched 19.2 innings and has a 3.66 ERA to show for it. He also possesses an impressive 18/5 strikeout-to-walk-ratio.
That ratio was 54/27 last season, so hopefully that's evidence enough that Webb has found increased control over the strike zone.
Solid signing by the O's.
Signed South Korean Pitcher Suk-Min Yoon
Yoon has been pretty bad for Triple-A Norfolk.
He has a 1-5 record and a 6.75 ERA thus far. On top of that, he's given up 59 hits in 40.0 innings pitched.
Obviously, it's far too early to start criticizing this signing. Yoon will need a few more months to adjust.
However, nothing he's done so far has been very impressive.
(All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference)
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