The trade deadline has come and gone, with the Orioles (probably correctly) deciding to stand pat. Some thoughts on the non-trades and other things:
Blanton is a decent enough pitcher; he does have excellent control. Since moving to the NL his strike-out rate has gone up (to above average), though he can be prone to the long-ball (some of that is surely his home ballpark). His 3.60 xFIP over the last three years is actually 25th in the Majors (min. 350 IP). Part of that is his 13.6% home run per flyball rate getting regressed though, and his 4.12 FIP is a far less impressive 69th (and his 4.75 ERA is 95th out of 103). Checking in on Blanton is smart, but with him still being owed $3 M for the rest of this season, I wouldn't expect much (if any) excess value there. And he's a free agent after the season (when he could potentially be signed on the cheap as a back-end starter with some mild upside).
Somewhat doubtful, but maybe Blanton even passes through waivers and the O's can take a crack at him this month.
A lot of Headley's offensive value comes from his walks (10% walk rate career, 13.5% this year) and moving out of Petco doesn't do anything for that. You'd think he'd get more hits, but his career BABIP is .339 as it is so there's probably not much (if any) room for growth there (it is .369 career on the road, but that's not likely to be sustainable). So Headley would hit some more home runs, but I'm not sure how much his production would really improve (relatively speaking). And above-average hitting third-baseman who's also a plus on defense (+9 UZR/150 career, +8 DRS/150) is a quality player - perhaps one bringing $30 M in value above his salary to his team through 2014 (he has two more arbitration years left).
Is that worth Jake Arrieta AND 2-3 good prospects? Arrieta's 6.13 ERA this year is ugly, and he's not exactly tearing it up in Triple-A (7 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 3.78 ERA), but his 4.03 ERA and 3.83 xFIP point to a potentially above average starter. Four years of control of an average-ish starting pitcher is pretty valuable - perhaps worth as much as Headley straight up. I'd have probably gone through with that, and maybe included one prospect (but not multiples, or one of the O's best). It might even make more sense to pick Headley up after the season instead of now, as his 2012 production doesn't likely mean a great deal to the Orioles (I'm still not confident they end up higher than 5th place in the East) and he might come cheaper no in the middle of a pennant race.
* Tyler Hanson is batting .271/.378/.486 in Triple-A for LA this year, while Jarrett Martin is striking out a batter per inning in A-Ball (though with a 5.6 BB/9). Not mind-blowing numbers, but Eveland did just clear waivers with no team wanting him for free.
* It came against Anthony Swarzak of the Twins on July 19th, who actually K'ed the side that inning.
You're a big numbers guy... That's pretty obvious. A couple of points about the Orioles season. Many say, you included, that the O's are just lucky to be 5 games above .500 with a shot at a wild card spot... maybe so. You point out how terrible the team's run differential is and that's the only stat you take into account when measuring how good they are. I've never seen you take into account the strength of their schedule (tied for the toughest in baseball with the Yankees). The Orioles play in the AL East and their Interleague play matches them up with the NL East arguably the two toughest divisions. They had two series with the Nationals (the best team in the NL) and a random series with the Pirates (first in the NL Central). To me the team's record is in spite of their luck which has been bad not good: Hardest schedule in baseball, terrible AVG with RISP... way below what they are hitting as a team, and their two best offensive players last year are underperforming (Hardy & Reynolds are both having poor offensive seasons... J.J. Hardy has a career low .275 OBP and Mark Reynolds 1 HR every 34 AB this season vs. 1 HR every 14 AB last season vs. 1 HR every 17 AB for his career). The only players making up the difference is Adam Jones developing into a true All Star player & the emergence of Chris Davis as a valuable offensive threat with power (we disagree on Davis I think he was a tremendous pickup from the Rangers last season).
While I disagree with the importance you place in such stats as UZR & FIP & SO ratios... I do agree with the premise of your post not to deal the O's top prospects unless it brought a permanent piece of the team for seasons to come. The one guy out there I wouldn't have mined taking a shot at was Garza, who to me proved that he could pitch in the AL East, eat a ton of innings, and has been extremely durable for the last 7 years. But I wouldn't have dealt either Bundy or Machado for him. The O's are one, perhaps two years away from reaching their full blossom. Even if they made the playoffs which is a huge if... they are deficient in too many areas to have a realistic chance in the post-season. Both Bundy and Machado and hopefully Gausman this year will be first rounders that pan out as above average to excellent Major Leaguers and will be on the Major League squad within the next two years... add them to what in my opinion is a shrewdly assembled team. The drastic improvement of the Orioles is not luck. I think it can be chalked up to the core maturing and improving (and by core I mean Adam Jones and Matt Wieters); some excellent trades and signings over the last two seasons and a manager who knows what he's doing and created an atmosphere where success is possible. Let's start with J.J. Hardy two years ago and then signed to a 3 year extension was the first move that really has paid dividends... while his offense is off from a career year last he has made the difference in a ton of games this year with his glove... The O's scored a ton of valuable assets form the Rangers last year I completely disagree with you about Chris Davis, who might be a better middle reliever himself than the one we got him for Uehara, plus Strop and even Tommy Hunter has been a serviceable 5th starter at times. But the best deal has to be Guthrie for Hammel and Lindstrom. Perennial loser for a guy who's become a better starter than Guthrie ever came close to plus a bullpen arm that throws smoke, throw in a bag of baseballs and no deal could look sweeter with 20/20 hindsight. And last but not least Wei-Yin Chen locked up for 4 years and just over 15.5 million. He was the most consistent pitcher in Japan for 4 straight seasons... if he stays healthy he's easily worth twice that amount, the guy flat knows how to pitch and his stuff is very underrated.
To me Blanton is a pile of garbage that would get demolished in the AL East against everybody except Tampa. I follow the Phillies and don't see him as an improvement right now over anybody except maybe Britton who's struggling at the moment, but Hammel should be moving back into the rotation before too many more times through the rotation. The way I see it the future for O's fans is brighter than you think. Going forward our pitching staff is actually very deep if not outstanding (*Hammel, *Chen, Tillman, Gonzalez, Britton, Arrieta, Matusz & Hunter) With Bundy and Gausman on their heels. That's 10 pitchers competing to be in the starting rotation... really 8 pitchers competing for 3 slots. That competition will get the best pitchers to rise to their rise to their proper roles in the rotation in 2013. Just because Arrieta, Matusz & Britton are struggling this year disn't mean they are worthless. They are all young high draft picks with high upsides, I wouldn't give up on them unless they brought a bona fide Major Leaguer in return. With this mix plus plus any free agents that might be added in the off season I'm actually bullish on the O's starting pitching going forward. Lots of question marks but also some real talent there too.
The key to the season may be the upcoming 10-game homestand. The O's have 3 against Seattle, 4 against the Royals and 3 against the Red Sox. They have to fatten up their record against these weaker opponents for a shot at the wild card. Throw in today's game against Tampa and we have to see a record of at least 7-4 or better in the next 11. With Hammel's return on the horizon, and if Reynolds, Hardy & Wieters get hot at all (and they are due) then the remaining games could be a lot of fun.