Well, within one day of my last posting about the Orioles’ glaring hole at first, they went and signed Cpt. Leadership Jeff Conine. Therefore, my dreams of asserting my will on the Brain (T)rust at Camden Yards has been temporarily thwarted. However, I am resilient and will therefore continue my quest to put together a plan for what I consider to make the most sense for improvement for the team, given the market’s current state. Therefore, today I turn my attention to what was one of the biggest holes on the field last year for the team, RF. As we all know, Sammy Sosa was a bust of monumental proportions. Few could have imagined that in trading Sosa for Jerry Hairston, the Orioles would receive the short end of the stick, but alas we did as Sosa’s OPS of .671 will attest (compared to Hairston’s .704 OPS). It would be extremely difficult to sign a player who would NOT provide an upgrade at RF, but I will attempt to outline a few possibilities that I would find tasteful for next season and perhaps future ones.
Reggie Sanders The greatest part of Reggie Sanders is that he is the quintessential hired gun. Therefore, any contract we could sign with him could be for only one year. My only problem with Sanders is that he is now 37 and could drop off in production drastically very quickly, however, I would be willing to take that risk in order to give both Majewski and Markakis another year of seasoning. Last year, Sanders’ OPS was close to .900 which would be and extreme improvement over the Sosa debacle. Even assuming that he might drop .100 points from his OPS, he is still a huge upgrade over Sosa.
Gibbons/Byrnes Platoon Since Conine has arrived on the scene and most likely taken over 1st (or is at least part of a complex cycle involving all the wrong players revolving around it), I thought I would revise my platoon involving Jay Gibbons and plug in another player who happens to hit lefties quite well; Eric Byrnes. That is, over the past 3 seasons Byrnes has an OPS of .885 versus LHP. While that certainly still does not give the team a mashing right-field platoon, it cannot be disputed that it would indeed be an upgrade from last season. Note: As of this writing, Eric Byrnes was non-tendered by the Orioles, so this scenario is quickly fading.
Matt Stairs/Brian Jordan Platoon This scenario might be a stretch considering that both of these guys probably still consider themselves starters and worth multi-year contracts. However, if they can be convinced to take 1-year contracts to play part-time, then it starts to make sense. First of all, Jordan is as fragile as a faberge egg, but if he is relegated to play only against LHP, then his value becomes apparent. When healthy over the past three years (something that was sadly quite rare, but might be important to the Orioles during contract negotiations) he has managed to put together an OPS of .869 vs LHP. The biggest question with Jordan is whether or not his injuries has ruined his career, but signing him to an incentive laden contract (or perhaps even a minor league contract if we’re lucky) would not hurt the team too much if he turned out a bomb. Stairs on the other hand is an interesting case. Like Jordan his 3-year OPS has been .869 vs RHP, but there may be a problem planting him (literally it seems) in RF and expecting league average defensive play. However, the guy does tend to get on base at around a .360-.370 clip; something sorely needed by the free-swinging Orioles. It must be noted, that under NO circumstances must either of these players’ contracts exceed 1-year in length or $1.5M in salary. That’s my friends, is the definition of a tall task.
Adam Dunn There has been a rumor floating around that the Orioles discussed trading Bedard for Adam Dunn. If I were in charge then I would probably make that deal given the need for a slugging outfielder who can get on base regularly. However, what complicates this deal currently is the fact that worthwhile pitchers who might replace Bedard are disappearing at a phenomenal clip. However, as a preview to my SP edition, I would push hard to sign Millwood as that SP replacement for Bedard.