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As the core changes... how will the O's core of position players change for the 2015-17 O's?


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For me, this offseason has felt more like a period of transition than a ramp up to another playoff run. I think part of that is because the core of the team changed this season and will (or should) change more before opening day of 2015.

This time last year O's fans felt good about having a very strong core; six players we could count on to run out there every day and produce.

Jones

Hardy

Machado

Wieters

Markakis

Davis

In reality, Machado, Wieters, and Davis did much less than we expected. Cruz and Pearce picked up the slack.

Now, Cruz and Markakis are free agents. After 2015, Wieters and Davis will be free agents (as will Pearce, De Aza, Chen, Norris, and O'Day.

By 2016, the O's core of position players from a year ago could be reduced to Jones, Hardy, and Machado. On the bright side, the starting pitching could include three near-aces in Gausman, Bundy, and Harvey.

Certainly, our core of position players needs to be addressed. And while there would be a comfort factor to Cruz and Markakis returning, and probably improve our chances of making it deep into the playoffs in 2015, it's also possible that their contracts could become anchors that weigh down and prevent the team from making changes that will need to be made.

The longer it takes for the Markakis/Cruz situations to play out, and the more time passes from the emotion of the 2014 playoffs, the more I want to see DD use the offseason to acquire more young talent and build some payroll flexibility for the next year or two so we can take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. In other words, the draft pick (and slot money) are beginning to look like a better idea than bringing back Cruz, and the image of David Lough in right field is growing on me.

At this point, with all the uncertainty we're facing, I think I'd be happy to see the O's sign Gomes and/or Torii Hunter, harvest the Cruz draft pick, and see where they are mid-season before making a decision to make a run for the playoffs or to trade Wieters and/or Davis. Uncertainty should not stop the club from working to get better, but reaching back to re-sign players to substantial contracts who are likely to decline doesn't seem to me to be the way to go right now, considering how many players will need to be replaced after next season.

What do you think?

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I think DD will put the best team he can on the field for 2015 and add salary controlled players for the long term. I think he can and will do both.

I think DD is paying for value. That is why he is limiting Markakis to 4/40 instead of 4/53. And that is why he is holding to 3/45 for Cruz. And if he loses players he will look at what bargains (value) are available in February to fill out the team.

We didn't know in November last year that DD would add Cruz and Jimenez in Feb., but he did.

We could see Pearce, Lough, Paredes and Alvarez fighting for the right field spot if Markakis does not sign. Markakis has set the offensive bar for replacement fairly low. Some combination of in-house players may be able to match what he has produced.

As far as what next off season brings. You listed the players that might leave but there are players that may be ready to be promoted. Bundy, Walker, Alvarez, Wright, Wilson and Tim Berry are a few. Some will progress this season and some will not. DD will supplement with players from other teams as needed.

I think the important thing is that the O's management team are up to the task of adding players as needed to keep the team competitive year after year.

One telling thing this off season will be the budget. If it is 120m then some player(s) will have to go to meet the budget. Its probably unlikely that the O's have Markakis, Cruz, Davis and Norris are on the same team this coming season at that budget. But if the budget is 130m then DD may be able to keep all the players. We will not know the budget but just have to wait and see what will happens.

We know DD adds players in season as required.

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I think I agree for the most part. I'm not so concerned about core guys. Those guys emerge. Schoop could be one. I am against giving Markakis a 4/40 type of contract and would much rather go with Lough and or Pearce in RF. As for DH, I have no problem letting Cruz go but I don't have a huge problem with a 3/45 contract for him either. Guys leaving as free agents will free up payroll so I think there will be some flexibility to replace some of those departures with FA's here and there. The key is not to get iinto to too many long term contracts. We need to always have some low cost regulars. It's important for Schoop to progress and it would be great if Lough can establish himself as a regular. It would be great if Christian Walker and/or Dariel Alvarez can be realistic replacements for regulars going into the 2016 season.

I hope Schoop progresses but I like that DD has added Navarro to compete for an infield spot. The depth is helpful if Schoop needs time at AAA.

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My biggest worry about the O's is the lack of position player talent in the farm system. I think Schoop is a huge key to the team going forward. If he fails to progress offensively, we could be a below average offense next season. But if he develops as hoped, we could be an above average offensive team for several years to come. Good offense at 2B is hard to find. AL teams averaged .692 OPS at 2B last year, and the O's were 12th at .618. We have power there, but the OBP has to come up, by a lot, not a little.

I don't think I want our future resting on the success of Lough, Alvarez and Walker.

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My biggest worry about the O's is the lack of position player talent in the farm system. I think Schoop is a huge key to the team going forward. If he fails to progress offensively, we could be a below average offense next season. But if he develops as hoped, we could be an above average offensive team for several years to come. Good offense at 2B is hard to find. AL teams averaged .692 OPS at 2B last year, and the O's were 12th at .618. We have power there, but the OBP has to come up, by a lot, not a little.

I don't think I want our future resting on the success of Lough, Alvarez and Walker.

That's my concern too. We don't seem to have a ton coming up, and we've sacrificed our ability to upgrade that with some of the short terms moves we have made/didn't make over the last few years.

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My biggest worry about the O's is the lack of position player talent in the farm system. I think Schoop is a huge key to the team going forward. If he fails to progress offensively, we could be a below average offense next season. But if he develops as hoped, we could be an above average offensive team for several years to come. Good offense at 2B is hard to find. AL teams averaged .692 OPS at 2B last year, and the O's were 12th at .618. We have power there, but the OBP has to come up, by a lot, not a little.

I don't think I want our future resting on the success of Lough, Alvarez and Walker.

Well said.

With teams looking for power bats, if we can retain Cruz, I would begin shopping CD and Norris to get back something young who can fill a position for several years to come. Both are likely to be gone after this year and while I would not give them away, if we can get a guy who can contribute now and is young I would move them. Someone along the lines of Andy Van Slyke + etc..

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I'm worried about second base too. Schoop needs to show significant offensive improvement or we're in trouble. Also, why are people down on Nick? Has Lough learned how to hit left handers this fall. Markakis is a shift buster, who can get on base. Duquette will get him at the right value. No need to worry that he'll be over paid.

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