"Grow the arms and buy the bats."
That's the philosophy Andy MacPhail said he was going to try to rebuild the once great Baltimore franchise with.
So here we are, three years later. The arms have been grown: Brian Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft; Chris Tillman, stolen from the Seattle Mariners in the one-sided Erik Bedard trade; Jake Arrieta, Triple-A superstar, and on the verge of joining the big league rotation any week now; and, Zach Britton, one of the more promising, underrated arms in the minors.
Now, how 'bout those bats?
The O's made a wild run at Mark Teixeira a few years ago, but aside from that, they haven't really made a huge splash via free agency, and have done nothing so far this season to salvage their despicable season. Trading in Felix Pie and Justin Turner for Corey Patterson and Scott Moore isn't going to solve this team's offensive woes.
In other news, the Brewers have dropped subtle hints that All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder might be on the market.
My question is: what would it take to bring Fielder to Baltimore?
No question, he would provide an instant impact, and his left-handed stroke would be perfect for the short right field wall at Camden Yards. He would also give this lineup a power threat and RBI machine that it's been lacking since the first time Miguel Tejada came to Baltimore.
And better yet, Fielder is young enough that he might still be around when (or if) the Orioles get back around to contending.
Here's what I'm thinking it would take:
1) Jake Arrieta —capitalize on the fantastic start to the season that Jake is having. He's a bulldog on the mound, a true inning eater, and a solid starter that the Milwaukee organization is lacking. He has a pretty high ceiling, and if the starting thing doesn't work out, he has the power game that would work at the back of the Brewers' bullpen. At best, though, he could be a No. 2 starter.
2) Brandon Snyder —he isn't having the best start to the season, but he usually does better in his second go-around at a level so I'm not that worried. He'll hit, that's what he does. The only question is if he'll ever develop any power. Shipping him off would clear any obstacle in the way of Fielder holding the position for five-eight years. He would give the Brewers another solid bat for the future.
3) Troy Patton —Patton has proved he's healthy after undergoing surgery right after being acquired from the Astros in the Miguel Tejada trade, but he hasn't been able to harness his command, which was once his greatest attribute. Sending him back to the NL might give him some familiarity, and he could develop into a solid back of the rotation kind of guy.
4) Pedro Beato —I know he's been largely a disappointment for the O's, who picked him up in the supplemental round a few years ago. He was supposed to be a huge splash as a starter, but that plan fizzled out and now Beato is learning to be a reliever. He's done a pretty good job too, with an ERA under 2.00 and much fewer walks than he issued as a starter. Beato could be a eighth-inning guy, or even emerge as a serious closer candidate. Milwaukee could use one of those.
And if that's still not enough to net Fielder, I'd even toss in an advanced arm like a Ryan Berry, or another bullpen guy like Dennis Sarfate or Brett Jacobson.
A four, or possibly five-for-one deal oughta get it done right?
Then Part II is to restructure this lineup. No more Markakis at No. 2 one night, then No. 4 the next. Build it around Fielder, something like this:
1) Roberts—when healthy, of course. Under contract until 2015.
2) Jones—tell him no more horsing around, and no more HR's. He's a No. 2 hitter, period.
3) Wieters—sitting later in the lineup hasn't worked. Try moving him up. It works for Mauer.
4) Fielder—finally, a legitimate cleanup hitter. Gone are the days of Ty Wiggington.
5) Markakis—what the O's really need out of Nick the Stick is power. Move him down and force him to trade his singles for homers.
6) Reimold—when healthy of course...if that's possible.
7) Bell—work the rookie in slowly, near the bottom of the lineup. It worked for Markakis.
8) Angle—let Matt Angle and Jones split the CF duties, and put another speed threat in the lineup. Angle would thrive at the bottom of a lineup.
9) Izturis—I got nothing...at least he plays somewhat solid defense.
Come on , Andy...buy some bats.