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Looper a Brewer, one year deal with option


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I've been happy with most of AM's moves this offseason, but there's no way for me to sugarcoat the failure to sign Looper. Macphail blew it. He thought he could stick to his guns and get Looper to sign on his terms because he thought he was the only game in town. He was wrong.

As I've said before, the downside risk to guaranteeing a second year--and if Macphail had done that last week, Looper would be in the fold right now, despite his preference to play in the NL--is that our young pitchers develop quickly and Looper winds up blocking one of them for a year, or being an expensive reliever or salary dump.

That's a risk that AM should have been willing to take, given the downside risk of not signing him, which is yet another rotation slot filled by someone with an ERA north of 6 who can't make it through 5 innings consistently. We could very well play a majority of the season with four starters fitting that description, given the likelihood that Uehara can't handle a starter's burden for a full season and the chance that Hill's strike-a-phobia is incurable.

Of course there's always the chance that somebody will surprise us and become the next Jeremy Guthrie, but the cold hard fact is that there is nothing in the track record of Penn, Liz, Hennessey, Bass, Hendrickson, Waters, Liz or any of the other hopefuls that suggests that any of them can be even a replacement level starter in the major leagues for a full season in 2009. MacPhail has now committed the team to a 2009 starting rotation consisting of Guthrie, two coin flips and two Hail Mary's.

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The end of ST is not a great time to pick up rotation help.
This may be based more on wishful thinking than careful analysis -- but with all the concern continually expressed on this board about the possibility that we might lose an out-of-options pitcher who can't crack the 12 or 13 man staff (and it's a concern I happen to share!), isn't it likely that that there will be at least one or 2 gems sitting out there on the waiver wire at the end of Spring training from some other club(s) encountering the same situation? Of course, in most of these cases, we're talking about a young guy with potential promise (a Guthrie type) rather than a horse who will gobble up innings for us in 2009. So maybe it won't meet the immediate need as much as we'd like. But it could be an ideal time to acquire a valuable piece at basically zero cost.

Obviously, this may force us to react by waiving yet ANOTHER of these out-of-options pitchers. But if an upgrade is available, that's a good trade-off.

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I've been happy with most of AM's moves this offseason, but there's no way for me to sugarcoat the failure to sign Looper. Macphail blew it. He thought he could stick to his guns and get Looper to sign on his terms because he thought he was the only game in town. He was wrong.
Two things:

1) Looper for a guaranteed 2, or even worse 3, years would have been a very poor decision. There is no justification for guaranteeing 2010 or 2011 to Looper, you simply can't make a solid case for doing so, IMO. The benefit Looper would provide in 2009 over anyone we could get on a 1-year deal is certainly not worth having him in 2010 and 2011.

2) Looper DID NOT WANT TO PLAY IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE! Unless you are blaming MacPhail for not petitioning the Commissioner's Office to let the Orioles switch to the National League, there is no way you can complain about us not signing Looper.

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This may be based more on wishful thinking than careful analysis -- but with all the concern continually expressed on this board about the possibility that we might lose an out-of-options pitcher who can't crack the 12 or 13 man staff (and it's a concern I happen to share!), isn't it likely that that there will be at least one or 2 gems sitting out there on the waiver wire at the end of Spring training from some other club(s) encountering the same situation? Of course, in most of these cases, we're talking about a young guy with potential promise (a Guthrie type) rather than a horse who will gobble up innings for us in 2009. So maybe it won't meet the immediate need as much as we'd like. But it could be an ideal time to acquire a valuable piece at basically zero cost.

Obviously, this may force us to react by waiving yet ANOTHER of these out-of-options pitchers. But if an upgrade is available, that's a good trade-off.

As I look about the league I do not see rosters that are so full of starters that they are going to release a good one instead of putting him in the pen.

Maybe a reliever or two will be available.

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I still think they'll be able to go with a 12 man staff with at least two guys who can go multiple to long innings in the bullpen: Hendrickson; Sarfate; Pauley; Penn; Albers. Basically, if they can reserve two spots for the guys who are in competition for the rotation as long men/spot starters, imo, they can still go with 12.

They almost have to with the addition of Wigginton.

Hendrickson - may be decent out of the pen again this year. OTOH, he may be forced to be a starter for us.

Sarfate - I don't like relying on this guy at all.

Pauley - we can only hope, but we don't know much about this guy.

Penn - hasn't been health in years. Crossing fingers.

Albers - torn labrum last year. I don't exactly expect a work horse here.

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I've been happy with most of AM's moves this offseason, but there's no way for me to sugarcoat the failure to sign Looper. Macphail blew it. He thought he could stick to his guns and get Looper to sign on his terms because he thought he was the only game in town. He was wrong.

As I've said before, the downside risk to guaranteeing a second year--and if Macphail had done that last week, Looper would be in the fold right now, despite his preference to play in the NL--is that our young pitchers develop quickly and Looper winds up blocking one of them for a year, or being an expensive reliever or salary dump.

That's a risk that AM should have been willing to take, given the downside risk of not signing him, which is yet another rotation slot filled by someone with an ERA north of 6 who can't make it through 5 innings consistently. We could very well play a majority of the season with four starters fitting that description, given the likelihood that Uehara can't handle a starter's burden for a full season and the chance that Hill's strike-a-phobia is incurable.

Of course there's always the chance that somebody will surprise us and become the next Jeremy Guthrie, but the cold hard fact is that there is nothing in the track record of Penn, Liz, Hennessey, Bass, Hendrickson, Waters, Liz or any of the other hopefuls that suggests that any of them can be even a replacement level starter in the major leagues for a full season in 2009. MacPhail has now committed the team to a 2009 starting rotation consisting of Guthrie, two coin flips and two Hail Mary's.

I think you may be overstating the importance of not getting Looper, but I basically agree with everything you say here. +rep for realism.

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Looper with a 4.75ish ERA and 190 IP would have been something but its not like he was worth a lot more wins over a guy like Pauley.

He isn't really that good..He was just a guy to eat innings for a few months and then re-evaluate things with the big 3 come mid season.

This is no loss at all and we should be happy that AM didn't cave to some silly contract to bring a subpar starter to Baltimore.

I have to agree here. First off Looper had no intention of signing here, but really, with the team we are going to battle with this year, why pay Looper millions when we should be seeing what a guy like Pauley, Penn or Hill can do.

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This is good news in my opinion. Looper would have just been taking up a slot that a younger player with more upside could have used. Since both Hill and Penn are out of options they both need to make the team out of spring training. I sincerely hope we aren't going to just give them a few spring outings before deciding their fate with the big club. Hill in particular sounds like he will need a good part of the season to right himself. I'd rather see Hendrickson (or Baez) get Looper's starts so Hill can work on his stuff out of the pen.

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I have to agree here. First off Looper had no intention of signing here, but really, with the team we are going to battle with this year, why pay Looper millions when we should be seeing what a guy like Pauley, Penn or Hill can do.

No truer words have been spoken on this subject. I agree totally.

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I have to agree here. First off Looper had no intention of signing here, but really, with the team we are going to battle with this year, why pay Looper millions when we should be seeing what a guy like Pauley, Penn or Hill can do.

I think there is room for Looper, Hill, Penn, Hill and many more in the rotation. How many innings do you really think these unproven pitchers are going to get. Hill was out most of last season with a back injury. So if he projects for 15 starts before his back catches by to him, isn't that being generous? Penn has not been durable for 3 years. What number of innings against the best hitters in the world do you think he can go? Pauley is making the jump from AAA just like Olson and Liz did last year. They had to pull Burres from the rotation last year, how much better is Pauley?

I think we are going to see a whole lot of starters and its not going to be that there aren't enough innings to go around. It's going to be who can fill these innings without getting beaten up.

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