As we sit here in the middle of July, the Orioles are eight games out of first place in the American League East and a half-game up in the wild card race. So, after a good first half, the question is, should the Orioles try to make a trade to improve their chances of making the postseason this year? To answer this question, there really are a few other questions that you have to answer first. The next few paragraphs will take a look at these questions.
Question 1: Do you think that you will catch the Yankees? The answer to this question is probably the crux to whether or not you should make a trade for this year. With the unbalanced schedule, you will be playing mostly division rivals down the stretch, which is great for making up ground.
However, the Orioles are playing in the only division where no team is below .500 and contains the team with the best record in baseball. With this schedule, it is going to be hard to catch the Yankees for first place and a playoff series. So if you eliminate the division title, you are playing for a one-game playoff just to get to a playoff series—is that really worth it?
Question 2: Who is available to be had? When you listen to those who claim to know what is going on in the trade market, you hear a few names associated with the Orioles. Most prominently mentioned are Zach Greinke, Jason Vargas and other second-tier pitchers. Recently, they have also been linked to Juan
Pierre as well.
The good part about this is that they recognize their needs in the rotation and leadoff spot. However, will any of these parts allow you to beat Jared Weaver, James Shields, Justin Verlander or Chris Sale to get past the one-game playoff. I don’t really see a pitcher on the market that will beat any of the aforementioned with the possible exception of Cole Hamels and he is too rich for my blood.
Question 3: Who are you willing to give up? When looking at the Orioles minor league system who do you have that other people want. To get someone with the talent of Greinke at least one of two names is going to pop up: Manny Machado or Dylan Bundy. I don’t think that either of these two are worth losing for a team that is not poised to make a deep run into the playoffs this year no matter what. Bundy is currently either the number 1 or 2 overall prospect in baseball (depending who you talk to) and both Bundy and Machado played in the All Star Futures game.
It definitely is not worth parting with either or both of these for a three-month rental of Greinke or even Cole Hamels, if he could be had. At this point, I do not think that a second tier pitcher really cuts it for what the Orioles need to be a viable contender both this year and into the future.
One trade I would consider, if they could pull it off, would be Machado and others, not including Bundy, for Justin Upton. This type of trade would not only improve your club this year, but give you a 24 year old outfielder that you could build around with Markakis and Jones for years to come.
By now, it is probably evident that I would not mortgage future talent for a run at a one-game playoff. Sometimes this is hard to say, especially after watching a game like Saturday night, where you see the resiliency of a team that has won 10 consecutive extra innings games with a new hero every night.
I mean really, JJ Hardy is 0-for-28 before tying the game with a bomb in extra innings and then Taylor Teagarden goes opposite field with a two-run bomb to win it in the 13th in his first game as an Oriole.
This Orioles team seems to defy logic to still be holding on to the last Wild Card spot and being in second place in the division after having three different players have 0-for-20 (or more) streaks at the plate, four of five Opening Day starters being gone, with Jason Hammel headed to the DL when he gets his knee scoped, and playing in the toughest division in baseball.
While it is so much fun to be sitting with a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old watching the game and having them actually rooting for the Orioles, call me greedy, but I would like them to experience a good team for a while, not just for a roulette wheel spin on a shot at one game.