Keith Law did an interview with Steve Melewski that went up today, in which he basically echoed my thoughts about the Orioles (almost*) completely. I'm going to quote somewhat selectively (the things I agree with most), since you should read the whole thing.
* I do think he was slightly harsher than necessary, but I can understand taking the stronger position to get one's point across.
""The Orioles are not a club right now that is adding young talent, they have added veteran players to the roster. I don't get it, they are not winning 85 games this year and even if they did, what is that going to buy them? A couple extra fans in the seats? It won't put them in the playoffs," Law said."
They could win 85 games. It's just very unlikely, in my opinion.
""I feel like this is an offseason that may be coming from ownership or marketing, saying 'we can't lose 100 games again.' In that situation the baseball operations department should say 'do you want to win in the long term? Or do you want to just stink less in the short term?'"
When the Orioles signed Vladimir Guerrero and objected to the move in large part because of the $8 M price-tag (and even with the deferred money, the present value is still probably more than $7.5 M), Many people didn't like that point, making arguments including "it's not your money", "better Vlad gets it than it goes into Angelos' pocket", and "what's the big deal, the team can afford it". Some rebuttals to these are in my post today at Beyond the Box Score, and I'd really like to hear some more on the whole idea. Check it out.
The initial team projections are posted here. A more thorough walkthrough of how I put the individual ones together is in the Matt Wieters post here. The components I'm looking for are playing time (plate appearances), batting line (BA/OBP/SLG), and fielding.
Today we're looking at the Orioles' new shortstop; JJ Hardy.
After two years of ~635 PA, Hardy got to 465 in the majors his last year with the Brewers due largely to poor performance (he added 74 in the minors). Last year for the Twins, Hardy missed time with a wrist injury and only accumulated 375 PA. Hopefully that issue won't recur, but I wouldn't feel comfortable expecting more than 525 PA for 2011.
In what I'm calling "pretty damn stupid", the Orioles have agreed to a one year $8 M contract with Vlad Guerrero (with some of the money apparently deferred). I argued previously why signing Vlad wasn't a good move - and I never even considered the team would go up to $8 M for a guy with little to no leverage, and who doesn't improve the team by much, if at all:
"Vlad Guerrero was a great player in his prime, and is still a good hitter. He's no longer a great hitter though. He's turning 36 in a week, and his knees aren't exactly in great shape - that fully limits him to the DH spot. To be valuable from that position, a player really has to hit. Vlad did last year (.300/.345/.496) but not quite so much a year before (.295/.334/.460). Despite hitting .300 (or close to it), Vlad rarely walks (especially so if you take out the intentional ones) which keeps his OBP not much above average. He still has some power, but he's more likely to hit 20 home runs than 30 at this point. If Vlad were to hit .295/.335/.470 for the O's next year in 575 plate appearances, he would be worth about 1.2 Win Above Replacement. At $5 M per win, that's ~$6 M*. So even if you want to sign Guerrero, giving him more than $6 M wouldn't be a great idea (especially given the lack of demand for his services).
* I believe players who sign one-year deals tend to be cheaper though.
How much does a 1 win DH help the Orioles? Since Luke Scott isn't likely to get traded at the moment, he'd probably move to left-field. The difference between DH and left-field (positional adjustment) is about 10 runs, so Luke would pick up that value (well, scaled down for playing time). Then he'd lose a little based on his fielding. Luke has a career +6 UZR/150 in left-field, but he's only seen limited time out there in the last couple years (and his numbers were below average). He's probably still a better fielder than many people think, but somewhere between a tad and solidly below average wouldn't be surprising from him at this point (say, -3 runs). So we add 1.2 win for Vlad and another 5 runs or so for Luke switching positions. Largely gone are the current left-fielders though; Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold. I don't have fuller projections for the two yet, but initial numbers were in the neighborhood of a win and a half. So that wipes away a vast majority of the upgrade from adding Vlad. Basically, team's offense would be better (Vlad > Pie, perhaps a 10+ run gap), but the defense would be worse (Pie > Scott, by upwards of 10 runs).