Sometime after Andy MacPhail took over as the Orioles’ President of Baseball Operations in mid-season of 2007, he said one of the first things he told owner Peter Angelos was that in the business of acquiring pitchers, you have to divide by two. Only half of the pitchers you either draft or trade for as minor leaguers, will make it.
In his first offseason running the Orioles’ rebuilding effort (and where have we heard that word before?), his two trades – Erik Bedard to Seattle for five players, including Adam Jones and Chris Tillman, and Miguel Tejada to Houston for five players – netted seven either minor league or major league pitchers. It was the first step in restocking the farm system.
In looking at the two deals the Orioles made Monday and Tuesday, the trade of Trey Mancini to Houston and Jorge López to Minnesota, the haul was a total of six minor league pitchers, one of whom, Seth Johnson, will have Tommy John surgery and won’t even pitch for a year.
As highly rated as the Orioles’ farm system has become under Executive Vice President and GM Mike Elias, it still needs an influx of starting pitching, just as the major league roster does.
This is especially true because of the expected promotions of Triple-A blue-chippers D.L. Hall and Grayson Rodriguez in the foreseeable future. Elias needs to backfill the projected shortage and unpredictability of arms down on the farm for the coming period of years.
The fact that there were no trades after Mancini and Lopez, except the cash transaction for Tampa Bay reserve outfielder Brett Phillips before the trade deadline, may suggest Elias was content at that point and thought the promotions of Terrin Vavra (last week) and Yusniel Díaz (Monday) were all the major league roster really needed.
In other words, there are no dire holes on the team for the time being in the eyes of the front office.
Just this morning, Díaz was optioned back to Norfolk, prompted by the Phillips pickup. At first blush, it was puzzling, indeed, that Díaz was called up for one game and then sent back down. One presumes an explanation is coming.
If there are dire holes, where are they?
Maybe at second base, where a large faction of fans can’t wait to see the erratic, .195-hitting Rougned Odor phased into a bench role so Vavra can assume the second base job? Since Vavra has been with the team, Ramón Urías has played second, and rather effectively, when Odor hasn’t.
It’s starting pitching that cries out for fortification, as usual, although not in the three wins against Texas. Yet Elias and manager Brandon Hyde are, to the untrained eye, banking on leaving the rotation pretty much as is, with potential Norfolk call-ups being plugged in when there’s a need.
And there are sure to be two more months, if not years, of needs.
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