If The O’s Are Going To Let Wieters and Davis Hit The Open Market For 2016, Why Didn’t The Birds Load Up For A World Series Run This Year?

Sports and Bets — March 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm by

Sun columnist Peter Schmuck wrote a piece a few days ago in which he pointed out that negotiations between the Orioles and their two impending free agents for 2016, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, are non-existent.  He also pointed out that this probably means that both Wieters and Davis are destined for the massive dollars of the Major League Open Market in November of this year. From Schmuck’s column:

Orioles baseball operations chief Dan Duquette confirmed this week — as he did at this time last year — that he will not engage in contract negotiations during the regular season, and all sides appear content to let spring training proceed without any substantial negotiations. The Orioles, according to an industry source, do not plan to make a last-ditch multi-year offer to either player and are operating under the assumption that superagent Scott Boras intends to put both up for free-agent auction.

Well, isn’t that just lovely.

Letting Davis test the waters, or at least waiting to lock him up until the end of the season, makes sense.  Davis went from a historic Orioles slugger in 2013, to an Adderall suspended, below the Mendoza line train wreck in 2014. Davis has to know that batting .196 and getting popped for popping focus drugs isn’t good for his bank account of the future.  (Davis has since re-applied for an ADHD treatment waiver for 2016 and he’s looking to rebound this season.)  And while it’s likely that he’ll do that and that his average will needle back towards his career .253 number, or higher, it’s still wise for the Orioles to make sure that Crush isn’t just a one year superstar before giving him mega-dollars.  Everyone in Baltimore is hoping Crush goes back to being Crush, but he could just as easily remain the Mark Reynolds clone that he morphed into last season.  The dollar difference of the two is quite substantial and the Birds want to know who they’re dealing with.

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One could make the argument that the Orioles should take the same stance with Wieters because he’s coming off of major elbow surgery, but that argument wouldn’t hold any water.  The Birds already know what Wieters is; and that’s a Gold Glove winning catcher who will hit 20 home runs and knock in 80 while he bats somewhere between .240 and .260.   His defense is elite and his bat still has the potential to get even better.  He may experience a down season coming back from injury, but nobody, including the Orioles, feel that will be the case; and even if he did, he’s under 30 and would be as virtual a lock as any player to revert to his norm the following season.  His consistency is obvious to anybody that can read a stat line.  It’s strange that the Orioles seem so willing to lose a player the caliber of Wieters (Gold Glove winning catchers who hit 20 home runs don’t grow on Pratt Street) and that feels foolish, especially considering that the Birds have JJ Hardy and Adam Jones locked up.  Add Wieters to that financially secure mix and that takes care of the middle of the defense for years to come.  Plus, Wieters has an incredible reputation as the receiver for this pitching staff; and with the onus the Orioles have taken in regards to young and talented pitching, one would think that having a master behind the plate would be of the essence.  Wieters should be a priority to this organization and DD should lock him up before Opening Day.  But Schmuck, who is extremely believable, has informed us that this won’t happen, and that’s unfortunate.

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And it also leads us to the question that we asked in the title of this blog: If the O’s knew they were gonna let these two hit the open market for 2016, why didn’t they load up for this season?  Why didn’t they chase another top of the rotation starter, or re-sign Nelson Cruz?  Why didn’t they go after Melky Cabrera, or even Yasmani Tomas?  Why not trade for Justin Upton?  The Orioles are saying to its fan base that a healthy Matt Wieters and a rejuvenated and ready Chris Davis make them contenders- even with the departures of Nick Markakis and the aforementioned Cruz.  I happen to agree with them.  But if Davis and Wieters are that important to the team this year than why wouldn’t the Orioles have supplemented their “returns” with some sure-fire free agents, knowing that they are both probably both going to walk come November?  Why not make the push for a championship now while all the talent is here?  Counting on a solid comeback for both players is a calculated risk, but it would be more of a risk worth taking with some more big dogs in the line up. And if Davis struggles again this year and Wieters is slow in his quest to be 100%, then some quality veterans would have bolstered this lineup for a playoff push despite those possible troubles.  The O’s ran away with the AL East last season and they might win it again, but some big bats and a top of the market starter would have turned that might into more of a will.

The Orioles still do have the look of a contender, but they are by no means a loaded contender.   With a,”Go for it in 2015 because all our homegrown talent is still,” mentality they could have been, but instead the Orioles are a contender with question marks.  Question marks for 2015 and beyond.

cover: zimbio

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