For the last two seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have finished strong. In 2010, the late-season charge was led by an influx of players returning from injury at virtually the same time as the late-season addition of manager Buck Showalter, who led the club to a 34-23 finish.
In 2011, the Birds won 14 of their last 22 to finish the month over .500 and knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs on the final game of the regular season.
Unfortunately, strong finishes were the highlights of both seasons. The Orioles have won just 135 games out of 324 over the past two seasons. That is roughly a .417 winning percentage, and has become the norm in Baltimore for the past 14 years.
The Orioles' pitching has continued to be their Achilles heel. Their team's 4.89 ERA was the worst in baseball by almost a third of a run. The only reasonable locks for the rotation are Jeremy Guthrie and Tommy Hunter, while Zach Britton will be the No. 1 in-house option to make the rotation outside of those two.
The rest of the candidates are messy to say the least.
Names like Alfredo Simon, Jo-Jo Reyes, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Chris Tilman don't inspire much, if any, confidence moving forward.
The Orioles could look to pursue free agents to be like C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle, but even if they could persuade either to come to Baltimore, they'd likely have to overpay for a pitcher who is over 30 and has likely seen his best years. It is obvious that the situation isn't anywhere ideal for the Orioles to capture either.
The Orioles bullpen is also likely to see some major overhaul in its future. Young arms like Troy Patton and Pedro Strop provided quality innings late in the season, but the closer role is wide open and only Jim Johnson is guaranteed to continue to play a significant role in their pen moving forward.
So, given the Orioles' struggles and a need to make a big splash in a free-agent market that promotes overspending and buyer's remorse, it begs the following question: "Should the Baltimore Orioles trade Adam Jones to a contender for a package of prospects?"
Now, Adam Jones has never had more value. He has played the bulk of a full season for two straight seasons, playing in 300 out of 324 games the last two seasons after missing roughly 50 games between '08-'09. He has also set his own personal record for run/power production with a 83 RBI, 25 HR and 264 TB season in '11. He also has a Gold Glove and All-Star Game selection on his resume.
Here are two scenarios with those two given teams.
LHP Eric Surkamp, 1.94 ERA between A+/AA in 24 G/23 GS, 5.74 era in limited ML action
OF Francisco Peguero, combined to hit .312 between A+/AA knocking in 46 RBI in 87 G (71 with AA)
Should the Orioles trade Adam Jones to a contender?
LHP Kelvin Marte, 12-6, 3.47 ERA in 25 GS over 147 2/3 IP for A+ San Jose
RHP Addison Proszek, combined for a record of 1-1, 3.45 ERA in 31 IP in relief for Rookie/A+ levels, very big kid, 6'5", 255 lbs
OF Adam Jones
Next is Tampa Bay.
LHP Alexander Torres, 9-7, 3.08 ERA with 156 K in 146 1/3 IP for AAA Durham
OF Brandon Guyer, hit .312 with 14 HR, 61 RBI for AAA, struggled in limited ML action
LHP Jake McGee, career 4.09 ERA, 2.2 K/BB ratio in relief for the Rays between '10-11
C Stephen Vogt (27), hit .298 with 17 HR, 105 RBI between AA/AAA and could be a candidate to DH if Scott departs.
Who do you think would give the Orioles the best package for Jones?
OF Adam Jones
C Caleb Joseph
In both trades I looked to focus on acquiring a top SP and OF from their systems as well as interesting add-on pieces. I hadn't thought of adding Stephen Vogt to the Tampa trade, and I realize that it is a very curious pick given Wieters, but the guy had a killer season in AAA and still has a few years of being young and won't likely figure into Tampa's plans in any way.
Now, I leave the rest to you. What would you try to get for Jones? Would you trade him at all? Am I asking too much or not enough?