As I’m sure most of you have heard the Orioles’ sent Koji Uehara packing to the Texas Rangers yesterday afternoon. In return, the Birds added first baseman Chris Davis and right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter to bolster their pitching staff.
Finally, it seems as if the front office knows what they are doing and they go out and get a starting pitcher! Even though Hunter only has started 44 games at the major league level in three plus seasons, he has an explosive young arm and the ability to become an ace in the future.
Davis is a powerful left-handed batter who can belt homeruns with the best of them, and is a skilled defender at first base. He will take over for Derrek Lee (who is headed for Pittsburgh of all places) and can spell Mark Reynolds at third base, as well as share the DH.
Along with Uehara, the Orioles will send an undisclosed amount of cash to the Rangers. This deal helps the Orioles because they finally bring on a young, proven starting pitcher, who has the ability to become one of the leaders of the Birds’ rotation in the future.
Baltimore tried bringing in Kevin Millwood last season to take the helm of the starting rotation and that failed miserably. They’ve relied on an inexperienced starting pitching over the last couple of seasons and their poor records reflect their decisions.
Although Davis had not spent as much time in the majors with the Rangers, he was widely regarded as one of their top prospect five years ago. He has proven he can hit homeruns at this level, and the Orioles need more pop in their lineup. Apparently Mark Reynolds and Adam Jones are the only Orioles who hit bombs. I think he’ll fit right in the middle of the Birds lineup.
The Rangers drafted the right-handed throwing, left-handed slugging first baseman Davis in the fifth round of the 2006 amateur draft when he was only 20 years old and he played for two seasons in their minor league system before being called up for the first time in 2008.
Davis wasted no time proving why the Rangers had their sights set on him in 2006. In his second year in the Rangers’ system with A+ Bakersfield and AA Frisco in ‘07, he smashed 36 HR and 118 RBI in just 129 games.
Over his career in the minors, Davis has collected 118 HR and 409 RBI over 470 games and 1999 plate appearances. He’s spent parts of six seasons in the minors, including 48 games this season.
Davis has appeared in 265 games with the Rangers and he’s crushed 42 HR while driving home 124 runners in parts of four seasons with the big club.
The Rangers called Davis up in late June for the first time in 2008 and he made his major league debut against the Houston Astros on June 26th. The native Texan recorded a single in his first at-bat and hit two homeruns in his first three major league games.
He spent the rest of the season with the Rangers and appeared in 80 games as he clocked 17 HR and drove home 55 runners while hitting .285. Davis collected 84 hits in 295 AB, scored 51 runs and doubled 23 times while platooning at first base with Hank Blalock, Ben Broussard and Chris Shelton.
Davis appeared in 113 games the next season with the Rangers and smashed a career-high with 21 HR & 59 RBI over 391 at-bats. In 44 games with Triple A-Oklahoma City, he hit only 6 homeruns and drove in 30. Davis played basically an entire season, as he appeared in 157 games between the minors and majors.
The Rangers’ front office felt he needed more time in the minor leagues to get more experience, so they sent him down to begin the 2010 season and he spent more time with Oklahoma City than the Rangers.
Davis played in 103 games with the triple-A club in 2010 and he smashed 14 homeruns while he drove in 80 and then was recalled to the majors towards the end of the season. With the Rangers that season, he only recorded one homerun and four RBIs in 45 games with the club.
He didn’t get nearly as much playing time in 2010 as he only recorded 120 at-bats at the major league level.
Again, Davis began the 2011 season with the AAA Round Rock and spent about half the minor league season with the team. He broke out of his shell and really impressed the Rangers front office more than they thought.
In just 48 games with the triple-A ballclub this season, Davis jolted 24 homeruns and drove in 66 runners in only 193 at-bats. He recorded 71 hits and sported a .368 batting average when he was called up to the majors.
This season with the big club, he’s only played in 28 games and he’s only appeared 76 times at the plate.
Davis obviously has proven that he can play baseball at the minor league level and he’s had some success at the major league level. I think that if the Orioles give him a chance, he can become an influential member of the Orioles new foundation.
With the right porch in Oriole Park, I think the lefty Davis will have success at driving the ball out of the ballpark. Eutaw Street will have a new member and his name is Chris Davis.
Quite frankly, I’m surprised Texas dealt Tommy Hunter because all reports indicated he was in the Rangers’ plan for the future.
Hunter debuted for the Rangers on August 1st, 2008 after spending the 2007 season with A- Spokane affiliate. He’s spent parts of five seasons in the minor league organization.
Over his time in the minors, he’s started 47 games and appeared in 63 overall games; Hunter sports a 22-17 record in the minors with a 3.75 ERA in just over 300 innings pitched (309.2 innings).
Hunter recorded 13 wins in 2008 while playing for three different minor league teams (A+ Bakersfield, AA Frisco and AAA Oklahoma City), which was impressive enough for the Rangers to call him up toward the end of the season.
In three starts with the Rangers, Hunter struggled to find his command yeilding 20 earned runs, 23 hits & 4 HR in just over 11 innings (a 16.36 ERA). Although his first three starts with Texas were atrocious, his second season was much improved.
In 2009 with the Rangers, he tossed 112 innings over 19 games started and won nine games, while losing only six in his first-semi full season and he sported a 4.10 ERA, which is about average, if not a bit below average in this day and age.
Hunter broke out in the 2010 season as he won 13 games for the AL Champs with a 3.73 ERA. Although he struggled throughout the playoffs last season, he gained valuable experience that many of the Orioles’ pitchers do not have because they’ve never been fortunate enough to make it that far into October.
A groin injury this season has limited Hunter to only eight games, and he has not started one yet as he’s made the shift to the bullpen. Hopefully, the Orioles will use him as a starter because that’s where they really need the help. Hunter sports a 1-1 record with a 2.93 ERA over 15.1 innings pitched; he’s allowed only 12 hits this season and five earned runs in relief.
Over his career with the Rangers, Hunter has a 23-13 record with a 4.36 ERA in 53 games (44 games started).
I can’t speak for all Orioles fans, but I think this was one of the better acquisitions that President of Baseball Operations for the Orioles Andy McPhail has carried out over his time in charge of the Birds’ roster.
The Orioles need to continue to build strong with young players and it seems like they are moving in the right direction. I think Davis can be the anchor of the Orioles batting order and they can build around him for years to come.
Although we are going to miss Koji’s staggering and jaw-dropping numbers and his out-of-control sideburns, I think it’s safe to say that we received two important and beneficial players for the future of the organization.
There is no need to continue signing veterans because it seems they never pan out (Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Vlad and Lee so far this season …and the list goes on). Great move by the Orioles on Saturday afternoon. Now, we can just look to the future and hope for the best!
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About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.