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New Fangraphs article "The Orioles Stars and Scrubs Problem"


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Nice piece.

Whether you go by ZIPS or Steamer, the Orioles have exactly five good position players. In Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy, the Orioles have a core of talent that projects for roughly +15 WAR, meaning that they’d only need to get about +25 WAR from the other 20 spots on the roster in order to project as a legitimate contender for 2014. +25 WAR across 20 roster spots is not a particularly high bar, and with the head start that their Big Five give them, the Orioles should be a good team next year.
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In a nutshell, the Orioles have about 20 roster spots and $40 million dollars to generate 20 WAR in order to contend.

The $40 million is the obvious wildcard. We don't know for sure the payroll budget is $95-$100 million, but that's what we hear.

Problem: It isn't cheap or easy to get 1-2 WAR players but we need some badly at LF, DH, RF, 2B, at least 1 starting pitcher spot and maybe one more bullpen arm. The article projects Gausman as the #5 starter and Britton in AAA.

For my money, I'll roll with Markakis in RF, he has a decent shot at 2+ WAR. I'm hoping his injuries are over and he has a nice rebound.

Lough/Urrutia/Reimold can get 1-2 WAR in LF, at least its worth a shot given the low cost.

2B is a hole to be sure but I don't see a better option then Flahery/Weeks. Gotta suck that one up.

DH could provide 1 WAR with the LF leftovers and depth guys. Its probably not worth signing Cruz or Morales at $10 million+ to get 1.5-2 WAR.

There are options available with free agent pitchers. Garza or Burnett project 1.5-2.5 WAR with the added benefit of sending a starter to the bullpen, maybe get .5 WAR without signing a RP.

To me, the best bang for your buck (unless DD comes up with a brilliant trade) is to drop some money on an SP and hope they don't get hurt.

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That 40 mill for 20 spots sounds like a tall order.

He speculates that they'll eventually cave to either Morales or Cruz is disappointing (I'm becoming a pick snob...) but either would definitely help us.

The team needs more help then what an upgrade from .5 to 2.0 WAR will give them. I would rather roll with what we have then give up a pick and sign one of those guys to a 3-4 year deal.

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This is where the lack of talent pipeline causes DD to search for bargain bin treasures. If Bundy never blew out his arm, it would be viable possibility that he could have been a 4 WAR guy in 2014 making essentially league minimum. Much easier to get 15 WAR from remaining roster slots if have young, cheap, and good talent.

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Very good piece and a couple worrisome items.

Most observers, myself included, eventually expect the Orioles to eventually give in and sign either Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales to improve their offense; both are looking for multi-year deals in excess of $10 million per season, both will cost the Orioles a draft pick, and both project as roughly +1 to +2 WAR players for 2014 and even worse beyond that.

I'm not so sure this happens although from what I've read they lean more towards Cruz than Morales for his defense, so-called.

And then finally this:

Stars and scrubs can work, especially if you have a really large payroll or a prolific farm system, but it isn’t a magic formula for success, and in some cases, it can even be the wrong path.

It appears that we are in between. We don't augment our stars with the necessary payroll and we don't have the "prolific" farm system with which to replace players.

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This is where the lack of talent pipeline causes DD to search for bargain bin treasures. If Bundy never blew out his arm, it would be viable possibility that he could have been a 4 WAR guy in 2014 making essentially league minimum. Much easier to get 15 WAR from remaining roster slots if have young, cheap, and good talent.

To me the logical conclustion when your talent pipeline fails is two options:

1. Blow it up

2. Spend more money to make up for it

Given the 'Big 5' (as the article describes them) current status, I have to think #2 is the way to go this year.

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This is where the lack of talent pipeline causes DD to search for bargain bin treasures. If Bundy never blew out his arm, it would be viable possibility that he could have been a 4 WAR guy in 2014 making essentially league minimum. Much easier to get 15 WAR from remaining roster slots if have young, cheap, and good talent.

1.245 million to be exact. :D

And a valid point, while it is nice that he isn't using up service time his injury certainly complicated matters.

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That 40 mill for 20 spots sounds like a tall order.

He speculates that they'll eventually cave to either Morales or Cruz is disappointing (I'm becoming a pick snob...) but either would definitely help us.

Very good piece and a couple worrisome items.

Most observers, myself included, eventually expect the Orioles to eventually give in and sign either Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales to improve their offense; both are looking for multi-year deals in excess of $10 million per season, both will cost the Orioles a draft pick, and

both project as roughly +1 to +2 WAR players for 2014 and even worse beyond that.

I think you might have missed the "even worse beyond that" when he referred to their WAR output going forward. That won't really help us for what they'll cost.

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To me the logical conclustion when your talent pipeline fails is two options:

1. Blow it up

2. Spend more money to make up for it

Given the 'Big 5' (as the article describes them) current status, I have to think #2 is the way to go this year.

And if they are out of it at the trade deadline Hardy goes and you start seriously contemplating a sell off.

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All of these numbers are rounded, but the Orioles should basically expect to get nothing or close to nothing from what they currently have at LF, 2B, DH, and RF.

I don't buy that. I say we'll get 4-6 fWAR at those 4 positions. We got about 5 fWAR from those four spots last year, and that was with Markakis having by far the worst year of his career.

Cameron doesn't say enough about the pitching in this article. Our position players had the 4th-highest fWAR in the AL last year, so I'd say "stars and scrubs" worked just fine for the everyday lineup. The pitching is where we need to have guys produce at a low cost. Simply stated, we need to get some value from Gausman, Bundy, Rodriguez and Wright over the next two seasons to be contenders and stay within our budget, along with hopefully squeezing in a starter from the outside.

It's also hard to fathom why our budget should be around $95 mm in the next two years. I don't expect all the increased TV revenue to be spent in one gulp, but over a couple of years, there's no good reason why the budget shouldn't be over $110 mm, even assuming Angelos wants a piece of that money for himself.

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I don't buy that. I say we'll get 4-6 fWAR at those 4 positions. We got about 5 fWAR from those four spots last year, and that was with Markakis having by far the worst year of his career.

Cameron doesn't say enough about the pitching in this article. Our position players had the 4th-highest fWAR in the AL last year, so I'd say "stars and scrubs" worked just fine for the everyday lineup. The pitching is where we need to have guys produce at a low cost. Simply stated, we need to get some value from Gausman, Bundy, Rodriguez and Wright over the next two seasons to be contenders and stay within our budget, along with hopefully squeezing in a starter from the outside.

It's also hard to fathom why our budget should be around $95 mm in the next two years. I don't expect all the increased TV revenue to be spent in one gulp, but over a couple of years, there's no good reason why the budget shouldn't be over $110 mm, even assuming Angelos wants a piece of that money for himself.

Piece? What is this piece you speak of?

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I don't buy that. I say we'll get 4-6 fWAR at those 4 positions. We got about 5 fWAR from those four spots last year, and that was with Markakis having by far the worst year of his career.

Cameron doesn't say enough about the pitching in this article. Our position players had the 4th-highest fWAR in the AL last year, so I'd say "stars and scrubs" worked just fine for the everyday lineup. The pitching is where we need to have guys produce at a low cost. Simply stated, we need to get some value from Gausman, Bundy, Rodriguez and Wright over the next two seasons to be contenders and stay within our budget, along with hopefully squeezing in a starter from the outside.

It's also hard to fathom why our budget should be around $95 mm in the next two years. I don't expect all the increased TV revenue to be spent in one gulp, but over a couple of years, there's no good reason why the budget shouldn't be over $110 mm, even assuming Angelos wants a piece of that money for himself.

This is why I think the time is right to spend some money a free agent pitcher. The money should be there for the next few years. The need is there right now. The free agent pitchers are available.

The extra spots in our lineup aren't exactly in the 'scrub category', except for probably 2B. LF and DH arguable, but there is depth there.

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