Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: What Follows a Grant Balfour Busted Deal?


The Baltimore Orioles and Grant Balfour deal is apparently swirling downward in a fashion that reminds one of the water in a porcelain … ugh … forget that, that’s not a good picture. Geez! This is not good. The unofficial reports are that the physical exam has identified some nature of shoulder concern, and now the deal is disintegrating and may be flushed.

I was personally fairly positive about Balfour joining the Birds, seeing it honestly as a possible overall upgrade over the past season with its late-game difficulties. I would really like to hear that the final medical report was in fact nothing of concern after all.

But … If these reports are true and the deal is off, it raises the questions again about the role of closer for the 2014 Orioles. And again, it raises in me once more what is a front-burner irritation I have with the current fascination with a “designated closer.”

But in any event, the loss of the contract with Balfour would seem to leave the Orioles a bit thin on back-end-of-the-bullpen arms. The internal options of Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter, and Darren O’Day are all a bit sketchy when their overall good stats are broken down into right and left splits. Again, if the philosophy was to play match-ups with various pitchers handling closer situations (sometimes called a “closer by committee” approach), I believe this could be successful even with the current personnel. And this would include Ryan Webb as well – who does NOT have R/L splits issues.

But the prevailing philosophy in the Orioles organization will surely be to seek the common route of identifying a closer; and to do that without Balfour would seem to mean they will look to add another arm from outside the current organization.

It really is unfortunate that this entire Balfour scenario dragged on for so long, giving the Padres time to seal a deal with Joaquin Benoit – the former Detroit Tigers reliever who has some very good stats.

So now it is generally believed that next in line are two possible candidates: Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez.

Fernando Rodney is familiar to Orioles fans due to all of the games played against the Tampa Bay Rays. I have a lot of memories of him being pretty nasty to hit. However, it depends which Rodney you get. If you have the Fernando of 2012, there’s nothing quite like that … ERA of 0.60 with a WHIP of 0.777 in 76 games, saving 48. But his stats from all other years are very, very opposite, including 2013. Here are the past two years …

Year

Age

W

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

SO/BB

2012

35

2

2

0.60

76

48

74.2

43

9

5

2

15

0.777

5.2

0.2

1.8

9.2

5.07

2013

36

5

4

3.38

68

37

66.2

53

27

25

3

36

1.335

7.2

0.4

4.9

11.1

2.28

 

Chris Perez would appear to be the better choice. He is eight years younger and five inches taller, and his statistics are much better. A closer for the Cleveland Indians the past four years, his worst season was this past year. But the three years prior were all fairly good. Perez was an all-star in 2011 and 2012. So this raises the question if 2013 was an aberration, or is it the new trajectory that will be continued? Would the Orioles’ new “fresh set of eyes” make a difference for a guy like this?  His walks per nine innings tends to be a bit high for a closer. Here are stats from the past four years …

Year

Age

W

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

SO/BB

2010

24

2

2

1.71

63

23

63.0

40

15

12

4

28

61

1.079

5.7

0.6

4.0

8.7

2.18

2011

25

4

7

3.32

64

36

59.2

46

24

22

5

26

39

1.207

6.9

0.8

3.9

5.9

1.50

2012

26

0

4

3.59

61

39

57.2

49

25

23

6

16

59

1.127

7.6

0.9

2.5

9.2

3.69

2013

27

5

3

4.33

54

25

54.0

56

27

26

11

21

54

1.426

9.3

1.8

3.5

9.0

2.57

 

These charts have me really hoping that the medical report on Balfour will be deemed ultimately fine. Man, Duquette can’t get a break. Just when fans were beginning to feel that the Johnson trade worked out after all … then this happens.

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Tags: Baltmore Orioles Chris Perez Fernando Rodney Grant Balfour