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Take It To The Limit

Posted By Ron Burr On Jul 24 2009 @ 4:10 pm In Baltimore Orioles | No Comments

Don Henley and the gang provide the soundtrack of a look into who is going to be on this team on August 1st…


We are one week (!) from the non-waiver trade deadline (that “non-waiver” part is important. More in a sec…) and the Orioles look to be sellers in the market.  So I am going to take a moment to re-visit the Orioles potential trading chips…

George Sherrill – He is a lefty, he is a closer.  You would be hard pressed to find a contending team that can't use a guy who can shore up the back of the bullpen OR be a situational lefty, depending on their needs.  He has 2 more years before free agency, so the team can ask for a lot in return.  I make him the odds on favorite to go, with the only caveat being that MacPhail is going to ask for a lot for him, especially with the 2 more years before his being able to test the open market.  And since MacPhail will not pull the trigger until he gets what he thinks is fair (remember the Bedard deal dragging out and the Roberts deal eventually not being done?), Sherrill could easily be on this team until winter (or into next year).  

Danys Baez – He was my #1 guy to go last time I reviewed the team.  Right now he is #1-A.  He has been effective as a middle guy, a back of the 'pen guy, and as a closer.  While he has struggled a bit recently, he is still an attractive piece.  And with the pitchers the team has in the wings, he is probably the most expendable.  But he has durability issues and has had injuries.  He also has a good bit of money left on his contract, so the Orioles would probably have to eat a large chunk of that in order to get anything of real value in return.

Aubrey Huff – This will be interesting.  He has stated publicly that he wants to stay here and help with the rebuilding process (saying that he is seeing the same kind of things he saw in Tampa Bay before he was traded away from there), and is a good clubhouse guy (and with no Millar, he is that much more valuable to the team in that regard).  Some people say he is below average fielding 1st base, that he is more suited to be DH with occasional starts at 3rd or a corner outfield position.  I do agree that his most valuable position is probably DH, but I think he is adequate at 1st.  He makes the routine plays.  He is no Andres Galarraga, but who is anymore?  If the Red Sox are willing to put Ortiz at 1st in NL parks, surely a team that is close to playoffs is willing to do the same with Huff.  And as I said last time, the Orioles could easily pull a Bordick and re-sign him in the off season.  The big question is will they get more for him as a late season trade away or if they offer him arbitration and he signs with another team, thus giving the Orioles compensatory picks.  I still think he goes, but possibly not until August.

There has been talk of Jeremy Guthrie, but a combination of his struggles this year and the fact that the big arms are not ready to come up here yet (at least not en masse to make him truly expendable) make that highly unlikely.  Mark Hendrickson has been thriving in his long relief role, and he is on the hook for only $4 million next year, so it is not too probable that MacPhail will get enough offered in return for a trade.  Melvin Mora would have to revoke his no trade clause, and while he is still a good defensive 3rd baseman and is hitting well with runners in scoring position, he isn't hitting for power or overall average.  Honestly, I think this is his last year in the majors.  Luke Scott has been having a BIG year, and I think he is a piece that the team likes to have at its disposal, but if they get a good offer he will be gone.  There are teams still interested in Felix Pie.  He might wind up being one of those AAAA type players, players too good for AAA but not quite up to snuff for MLB.  Odds are his best place is in the NL, where he can be used as a 4th outfielder / defensive replacement, and can pinch hit / run for the pitcher in the middle to late innings.  I am now ready to call the Felix Pie Experiment over, although he might just pull an Arthur Rhodes and find a niche he is really good at and stick around the bigs for a few years.

One last thing to mention, and that is the “non-waiver” thing.  Remember, July 31st is the last day a team can trade a player without first putting him on waivers  For those who don't know, waivers is a system wherein a team wants to move a player off if its 40 man roster, but before they can they have to offer him up to the other teams, who get an option to put a claim on him.  The teams get to bid on the player.  If more than one team bids on the player, the team with the worse win / loss record gets him.  If a team puts in a claim on the player, the team that has the rights to the player has 2 days to work out a trade with the bidding team, take the player off of waivers, or allow the bidding team to take him.  The bidding team then has to assume the player's contract, pay the original team a waiver fee, and put the player on its own 40 man roster. A player cannot go through waivers again if he is claimed by another team when he is on waivers and the original team pulls the player off of waivers at that time in order to keep him on the roster.  If he is on waivers for 3 business days and no one claims him, then the team is free to release him, demote him to the minors, or release him outright.

Now all of that sounds rather complicated, but to put it in other terms, the waiver season (early August) is kind of like a flea market / bartering session during Christmas time.  There is a bunch of stuff out there being offered, and if you like it you say “I'll take it!”, then you and the seller haggle over price.  If you agree, it is now yours.  If you don't the seller keeps it.  The only difference is that if you two don't agree on a price, he still can't sell it to anyone else until after Christmas, so no one is going to have it under their tree.  

Every year at the beginning of August, a bunch of teams put a bunch of players on waivers.  Nothing is said about it until another team puts in a bid.  And this is where gamesmanship between contending teams gets fun.  Lets say the Orioles do not trade Huff by the end of next week.  They put him on waivers.  Now the Red Sox and the Orioles had been in negotiations to trade Huff, but they just couldn't make it work.  The Yankees are aware of the Red Sox desire for Huff, and they are locked in a dogfight with them for a playoff spot.  The Red Sox put in a claim on Huff, hoping that they can work out the fine details of the trade in the next 2 days.  But the Yankees don't want to let the Red Sox make their team better, so they also put in a claim also.  Since they have a worse record thant the Red Sox, they get the claim.  But they don't really want Huff, so they make no overtures to the Orioles on a trade offer.  Now the Orioles don't want to lose Huff and get nothing but a pittance of a waiver transaction fee in return, so they pull him off of the waiver wire and keep him.  Now the team cannot trade him until the offseason, since they cannot put him back through waivers again, and he cannot be traded after July 31st without being put through waivers first.

So we have (as I am typing this) 7 days annd a little over 3 hours to see who is traded to who, and then 31 days to see some real chess being played.  I for one cannot wait to see how it shakes out.

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