Baltimore Orioles

Wednesday Morning Musings: Wieters to Washington, don’t forget about Burdi with the White Sox

Matt Wieters is headed to the Washington Nationals on a two year deal (with an opt-out after one) to become the starting catcher. This move seems to sure up on the only spot in their everyday starting line-up that had a glaring hole.

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post points out that the move is more than baseball, as the ownership groups of the Orioles and Nationals are “embroiled in a legal fight, one in which the Nationals believe the Orioles are denying them a fair share of the revenue generated by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.”

While the legal case is yet to be determined, the message that the Wieters move sends throughout baseball is clear. The Nationals believe that their window to win is relatively short, and that Wieters is an essential piece for this club to compete over the next two years.


In Arizona, the Chicago White Sox and new manager Rick Renteria are enjoying the fruits of their off-season trades. Young studs like Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito are all reportedly turning heads at camp. While these are all higher profile players, Renteria reminded the news media yesterday about Zack Burdi, the club’s 2016 First Round Pick.

It is hard to believe, but a former first round pick seems to be flying under the radar. Burdi, a 21-year-old right handed reliever, went from Class A to AAA last season in dominating fashion. Throughout the year, Burdi struck out 51 in 38 innings and only allowed 3 HR’s. Expect to see Burdi in the Sox ‘pen at some point in 2017.

The White Sox are in full rebuild mode, and it seems that they had an incredible off season. I would not be surprised if Joe Quintana and David Robertson are moved before too long.

Flyer-Sign-Suspend (formerly FMK): Chief Wahoo, Matt Wieters and Commissioner Manfred

The “locker room talk” game (I know, you come here to escape politics)  “F#%k, Marry, Kill” will debut on Baseball on Tap this evening in a new, more politically correct form. “Flyer, Sign, Suspend” is a bit hokey, but will serve as a means to summarize a few of the main stories in baseball.

FlyerMatt Wieters, Free Agent. When Wieters was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of Georgia Tech n 2007, there was plenty of fanfare. The two-time All-American hit .359 over his career in Atlanta while serving as the team’s starting catcher and at times, their closer. But Wieters is still without a job, and his agent, the always personable Scott Boras, is busy concocting some story about how the market is playing perfectly into their hands.

Ken Rosenthal made a list of eight potential landing spots earlier today. Of the bunch, the Colorado Rockies seem to be the best fit. As Rosenthal noted, the team has spent a lot of money this offseason, but the Wieters could be the last piece needed to make them a serious contender.

The Rockies would be well served taking a flyer on Matt Wieters who would work well with a young pitching staff and add even more pop to the line-up. Plug Wieters in at Coors Field with Blackmon, Desmond, Story, CarGo and LeMahieu? Boras would have to like the idea of padding stats on a one year deal. If the Rockies could pony up the bucks for Wieters, they would be legitimate contenders to take down the Dodgers in the NL West.

Sign: Rob Manfred, Commissioner. Even though Commissioner Rob Manfred is pissing off baseball purists by suggesting a few new rules, I respect that he is trying. I was appalled by the suggestion of putting a runner on second to start extra innings, but I could live without seeing the pitcher and catcher play a light game of catch in the middle of an inning to put a guy on first. While not all of the ideas are worth committing to, I think the Commissioner should be applauded for having the guts to live in reality. Baseball is an entertainment business, and any common sense approaches to make the game more interesting in a world filled with gnat-like attention spans is worthy of consideration. I’m willing to let Manfred tinker in order to ensure the long-term stability of America’s pastime.

Suspend: Chief Wahoo, Cleveland Indians. The time has come. Rob Manfred met with officials from the Cleveland Indians last month to discuss the future of this offensive logo. While the team has been phasing Chief Wahoo out of focus (and will continue to do so in 2017) gradualism in this case is unacceptable. The only reason Chief Wahoo is not as controversial as the Washington Redskins of the NFL is that the team’s name does not describe a physical trait. The character is offensive, as it plays upon stereotypes related to skin color and ignorance. If the logo had played on a stereotype related to just about any other minority in this county, it would have been eliminated a long time ago.

To think that this image is not offensive to a significant portion of the population is just foolish. It is time to suspend Chief Wahoo, forever.

The Winter Meetings: 3 Up and 3 Down

The Winter Meetings concluded in Maryland yesterday and the Hot Stove is a burnin’. Here is my take on the three teams that improved the most and those that made some questionable moves.

3 UP:

Chicago White Sox

Having only finished above .500 twice since the 2008 season, the time had come for a full rebuild on the South Side. By dealing their ace, Chris Sale, the Sox received top-prospect Yoan Moncada (2b/3b/maybe SS) and Mark Kopech (RHP). Many know about the talents of Moncada, but Kopech is also a top-tier prospect. In 134.2 innings on a Minor League mound, Kopech has a sparkling 2.61 ERA to go along with 172 k’s and 69 bb’s. While it must have been difficult to let Sale go, haven’t we all been thinking “when is that scrawny little arm going to fall off of that tall bag of bones?” Great move Chicago.

To add to this, the White Sox also traded the diminutive Adam Eaton to the Nationals for top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito (RHP) and Reynaldo Lopez (RHP). Both are considered by Baseball America to be top-100 prospects and each saw time in the Bigs last season. Adam Eaton, who had a top-15 WAR last season at 6.2, has never appeared in an All-Star Game or hit better than .300 in a season will head to D.C. and take over center field. While he is under team control under a great contract (a little under $30 million due through 2021), he reminds me of a Jayson Werth Lite. Not as strong, not as fast, not quite as hairy, not as good.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox got their guy in Chris Sale. While they paid a high price, they acquired an ace who is under team control at a reasonable price for the next three seasons. With the emergence of Rick Porcello, the Sox now have the depth in their rotation to make a run deep into October (assuming David Price never, ever pitches in the playoffs. Just kidding, kind of…)

San Francisco Giants

I get it. The money going to closers is insane. Mark Melancon, who absolutely sucked in Boston (6.20 ERA in 2007), is now the big money closer for the Giants, but he is exactly what they need. The Giants blew a league leading 30 saves last season and still managed to win the Wild Card and advance to the NLDS. With Melancon, a strong rotation that now features a steady Matt Moore and their usual collection of pesky position players, the Giants can expect to have a strong team in 2017 who can chase down LA.

Also under consideration: Rockies and Yankees.

3 DOWN:

Washington Nationals

The Nats were outbid on Chris Sale, who would have given them one of the most devastating starting rotations in all of baseball (Scherzer-Sale-Strasburg) and a chance at some great alliteration-based marketing. Regardless, they went right back to the same team (the White Sox) who had spurned them on Sale and offered a similar package for a guy who has never made an All-Star team and is named after the most mediocre pitcher in baseball history (the other Adam Eaton). Nats fans can’t be happy, thinking that Adam Eaton could be the outfielder they see for years to come as rumors start to swirl that Harper won’t be with the Nats past 2018, if not sooner…

Los Angeles Dodgers

So the Dodgers gave a ton of money (3 years/$48mil) to Rich Hill, a 37 year old who has never in his career thrown over 200 innings. Don’t they already have an aging lefty who can’t stay healthy? Yes, his name is Scott Kazmir. The Dodgers are spinning their tires and going nowhere as the Giants and Rockies improve.

Washington Nationals

Yes, the Nationals are listed in the “3 Down” category twice. I almost went with the Orioles (who haven’t done squadink while the Red Sox and Yankees improve) but I just can’t shake this trade. Baseball Reference (the most glorious website known to man) has a section named “similarity scores” that compares a player’s statistics to those of current and former players. Mike Trout is similar through age 24 to Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey and Hank Aaron. Fair enough. You want to know who Adam Eaton is compared to? DAVID DEJESUS. The Nats just traded their top pitching prospect (who is considered to be a future front line starter) for David freakin’ DeJesus. BEST CASE, he turns into Johnny Damon. But even then, the Nats traded far too much for a player of Eaton’s caliber.

Also under consideration: Orioles

 

**Photo credit of Chris Sale to Keith Allison** Check him out on flickr.