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Moose Milligan

If the Orioles didn't make any moves...

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ESPN is running this fluff piece that's kinda interesting, here's the premise:

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Imagine a universe in which baseball has an ironclad, two-way reserve clause. A reserve claws, as it were. We're not talking about the version that bound players to teams for decades before Marvin Miller and Curt Flood came along, when teams had all the power in deciding when or if a player ever had a chance to change teams. This version works both ways. Once you sign or are drafted by an organization, you are married. Forever.

In that universe, scouting and development become everything. They are essential areas now, but teams can overcome deficiencies there by opening up the vault during free agency or swinging a deft trade. But if teams aren't allowed to make transactions, the only chance they would have to differentiate their baseball operations efforts would be in the work they put in before amateur players entered the professional ranks.

We all do this kind of fantasizing at one time or another, imagining what it would be like if your team hadn't let a certain player go. If he finds stardom elsewhere, it stings. Legions of Red Sox fans probably scratched out prospective lineups for years that had Jeff Bagwell inserted into the No. 4 spot.

The fact is, relatively few players of distinction stay with only one organization for their entire career. But if they all did -- if they were all subject to that unbreakable two-way reserve clause -- we wouldn't have as much to write about, for one thing. However, we'd also have a slam-bang way to know which teams are the best at scouting and development.

With that in mind, I've taken all active players in my database and moved them (virtually) back to the organization with which they originally entered professional baseball. That trade you rue (or relish)? Never happened. That heartbreaking free-agent departure? Never happened.

And the ranking for our dumb franchise:

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20. Baltimore Orioles

No-Moves Power Rating: 78.4
Hitting rank: 18
Fielding rank: 23
Rotation rank: 22
Bullpen rank: 2

Lineup: 1. Mike Yastrzemski (CF), 2. Nick Markakis (RF), 3. Manny Machado (SS), 4. Trey Mancini (LF), 5. Christian Walker (1B), 6. Jonathan Schoop (2B), 7. Austin Hays (DH), 8. Matt Wieters (C), 9. Stevie Wilkerson (3B)

Rotation: Eduardo Rodriguez, John Means, Dylan Bundy, Jake Arrieta, Kevin Gausman

Bullpen: Josh Hader, Hunter Harvey, Mychal Givens, Zack Britton

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The nature of this exercise is to spread parity across the majors. The differences in organizational scouting success matter and they are amplified as players progress through the majors and transactions start to happen. We see this all the time. A team doesn't see upside for the group it has, so it trades players who can help teams closer to contention in exchange for players who can help down the line. That's a temporary hit on parity, which is something that should be measured only in multiseason windows. This exercise removes all of those kinds of deals. The Orioles are early in the rebuilding part of their own cycle right now, so almost anything would look better than what Baltimore has in spring training at the moment. That said, this stand-pat version of the Orioles could contend, if they could cobble enough depth for the position group and if their defensive strategies helped back up a decent starting staff that would be light on strikeouts. The offense would feature a lot of power -- eighth in park-neutral isolated power, per these projections. And the bullpen has the potential to be flat-out vicious.

 

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Some others not mentioned:

Active rosters:

(1) Oliver Drake 43'08 (Rays)
(2) Jonah Heim 4'13 (A's)
(1) Garrett Cleavinger 3'15 (Phils)
(1) Stephen Tarpley 3'13 (Miami)
(1) Stephen Brault 11'13 (Pirates)
(1) Zach Davies 26'11 (Pads)
(1) Stephen Crichton 23'13 (DBacks)

Minors:

(1) Jimmy Yacabonis 13'13 (Pads)
(1) Ryan Meisinger 11'15 (Cards)
(1) David Hernandez 16'05 (Nats)
(1) Donnie Hart 27'13 (A's)
(1) Wei-yin Chen TAI'12 (M's)
(1) Tim Adleman 24'10 (Detroit)
(57) Nick Delmonico 6'11 (Chisox)
(1) Parker Bridwell 9'10 (Twins)
(2) Caleb Joseph 7'08 (Jays)

Other:

(45) Pedro Florimon, Jr. DOM'04 (Free agent)
(1) Scott Copeland 21'10 (Free agent)
(1) Radhames Liz DOM'03 (Free agent)
(1) Pedro Beato 1'06 (Atlantic league)
(1) Ashur Tolliver 5'09 (Atlantic league)
(23) Michael Ohlman 11'09 (Atlantic league)
(1) Brian Matusz 1'08 (Atlantic league)
(7) Henry Urrutia CUB'12 (Japan)
(1) Mike Wright 3'11 (Korea)
(1) Ariel Miranda CUB'15 (Taiwan)
(1) Jason Gurka 15'08 (Mexico)
(1) Eddie Gamboa 21'08 (Mexico)
(8) Dariel Alvarez CUB'13 (Mexico)

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