As we grind out the remainder of a lost season, the team continues to make the right moves, believe it or not.
The Orioles are something along the lines of 8-24 since the All Star Break. The pitching staff (with an average age of 17 the last time I checked. They are the only staff not allowed to drive themselves home after a night game due to state law) has given up more “taters” than the Idaho State Fair (except for the Milwaukee Brewers, and they are rapidly catching up to them). And the offense has become all but a non-entity more games than not. So why on earth would the team trade away Aubrey Huff?
Because it was the right thing to do.
The team made two great moves this week in trading Huff and signing 2nd round pick Mychal Givens, a shortstop out of Tampa, FL (a player that it looked like they wouldn't get under contract in time just a few days before the deadline to sign players).
Givens is one of those players who was rated as a 1st round player but fell because of asking price and the fact that he had a full scholarship to a good baseball school to fall back on. The Orioles did their due dilligence and thought they had no signing issues, but it wound up going down to the wire (the real reason will probably never be known since the issue was resolved in the team's favor. The team has no reason to talk about it and create bad blood between themselves and the kid, and the player just needs to get to work to show what he can do, and since he got what he wanted he has no reason to stir up any animosity with the team). But once again, the team gets a quality prospect at a position of need within the organization, and the entire organization gets that much stronger as a result. Kudos to Joe Jordan and the entire scouting staff on getting it done.
In the Huff trade, they were able to take a player that is basically a 6 week rental for a contending team (the Detroit Tigers), and got a player ranked in the top 10 by Baseball America from a highly respected minor league system. This also gives the team a chance to move one of the three 1st base prospects they had logjamming at AAA Norfolk (Michael Aubrey, Brandon Snyder, and recently added in the Gregg Zaun to the Tampa Bay Rays deal Rhyne Hughes). They chose to call up Aubrey, since he has some major league experience and is a left handed bat (which is the role that Huff filled). The Orioles are going to give Luke Scott some time at 1st to see if they can move him there (and depending on the outcome of his trial there, I wouldn't be too surprised of Nolan Reimold took some grounders there during the off season as Lou Montanez gets ready to come back from injuries). They also will have all offseason to look at Snyder and Hughes (assuming they play winter ball), and they can always re-sign Huff to a deal that would probably be a lot more economically friendly than if he had stayed and they offered him arbitration (which was the prevailing theory as far as Huff's short term future with the team as late as June or July of this year). Personally, I hope they do not re-sign him. I know he was popular amongst the other players, but this team needs to add veterans that have experienced success, that have contributed to playoff runs, that have played meaningful games in September. Huff has never done that, and I don't think that the month and a half that he will spend on the Tigers' bench will give him the weight he needs to be that voice. This offseason is the time for the team to add a veteran pitcher and a veteran bat that know how to not only make it through the grind of a season, but how to do it when every game means something other than the chance to be a spoiler for another team's hopes. A pitcher like Rick Sutcliffe was for the Orioles in 1992 and 93, when he showed Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald what to do (the team had experienced bats around in Cal Ripken and late with Bobby Bonilla, so they didn't need that as badly). This team has some quality, promising young talent both on the mound, in the bullpen, and on the field. What they need to do is to get rid of the players that cannot teach them how to win (Huff, Melvin Mora, Danys Baez, et al) and bring in players who can. So now all we have to do is figure out who the big free agents are and what it would take to bring them in.
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About the Author
Written by Ron Burr
Ron is a lifelong resident of Maryland and has been a passionate player and fan of sports for as long as he can remember. When he is not watching the games or explaining to his lovely wife why he is cursing at the television, he runs an improv/sketch comedy troupe, Drop Three. He can't hit a curveball or run a sub 4.5 40 yard dash, but he knows the games and loves talking about it with anyone. Differing opinions are welcome and encouraged!