Sep 11, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a two-run double in the third inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Davis & Koji Uehara Trade – a Case Study of Fan Reactions


It seems that whenever there is an Orioles trade or move that does not involve a household name (which is the vast majority) there is a significant fan reaction of sarcasm and skepticism. One will read comments like, “Wow, and I’ll bet they are printing thousands of World Series tickets now.”  Or something like, “When are they going to make a move for someone that the rest of us have at least heard of before?”

The fact is that the majority of all baseball transactions do not involve well-known names and current top-tier players. Most trades involve prospects, and since they have not yet arrived, any prospect is by definition another sort of –spect … suspect.

So I thought I would go back to the trade of Koji Uehara for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter and take a look at the recorded fan reaction at the time.

To put you into context, the date is July 30, 2011.  Koji Uehara has just found a groove and has been perfect in this last 11 innings over 10 appearances. Chris Tillman is optioned on the same day in order to bring up Zach Britton. The first baseman is Derrick Lee, though in a couple of days he will be sent to Pittsburgh.

Looking back at the comments on message boards that day, it is a mixed bag. Honestly, there were quite a few positive remarks, though the most caustic were certainly negative in tone and filled with sarcasm and skepticism. Naturally, nobody could have anticipated that two seasons later, Davis would club 53 homes with 138 RBIs. But still …

Negative Remarks (on some, I’ve edited out the unreadable, horrible grammar; and I’ve not included any names or handles, in order to protect the guilty) …

We got hosed badly; nice going Andy. Two injury rejects, and one of them a Luke Scott clone. HOSED!!!!

We could have pillaged the Braves, Reds, or Pirates system for Uehara, instead we get two AAAA players who have had NUMEROUS shots at the Majors and have not stuck around. A PROVEN MLB set-up man, who is making Major League history every night with his K/BB ratio, should have brought the TOP pitching prospect from any team wanting his services. Neither of these players are MLB Top 50 prospects.

Yes, two AAAA  players. Andy loves going thru other people’s garbage instead trying to find it off a tree; and yes we could have pulled something out of those teams – at least one very good prospect, not a Scott clone and yet another injured pitcher who dominates only us.

With Davis and Reynolds in the line-up they could strike out a combined 350+ times a year. Wonder if Hunter was the one MacPhail really targeted, and Davis was the throw-in. Still an okay deal for a mid 30-year-old oft-injured reliever. Wonder why MacPhail didn’t go for younger guys with a higher ceiling/more upside?

Looks like the O’s got two players like what they already have. Potential but most likely won’t make it big.

Chris Davis is the epitome of the “4-A” mega-star.

So they traded a class A reliever for a pair of B’s. He was easily worth a top prospect. Sad we were so desperate for a potential starter.

We let Koji go and keep Kevin Gregg? It is getting harder and harder to follow this team under the Showalter era! When will we learn to build the pitching staff and hang on to the good ones? Somebody in the organization does not get it.

And as I mentioned above, there were positive remarks, though not as many.

Positive Remarks

While I hate to see Koji go, I think it is a fantastic move. To get both a starter who we can plug right into the rotation and a really good first base prospect for a single relief pitcher is a great move.  Well done by the front office

I’m sorry… but that is the most idiotic statement – 4A players??? Look at Hunter’s stats last year for the Rangers (the AL Champions) and look at the power potential Davis has already shown in the majors….this was exactly the deal that we needed.

We’ll miss Koji, but I like this deal. There is potential there with both Davis and Hunter (yeah, I know how that potential thing can go) and I welcome change at this point.

So what did I write at the time?  I had to go back and look to be reminded. I have always REALLY liked Uehara because he throws strikes, and after that trade and that 2011 season, I wish we could have gotten him back to Baltimore. At the time of this trade I was not writing for this network, as I was simply then writing my own blog for my own amazement … but here is what I wrote:

Hate To See Uehara Go”

Koji Uehara, more than any other Orioles pitcher, is my kind of guy. He is the one thrower on the team (probably along with Johnson) who would not drive me crazy in the dugout if I were the manager. He throws strikes – lots of them, effectively.

I hate to see him go.

But I will not say that it is a bad move … today. Maybe next month or next year I will say it! But the reality is that there is no season remaining – beyond trying to find pieces for the future. Yes, we are back to that. Will the players in return be pieces for the future? It looks like they could be, but only time will tell.

So good luck to the little man with the giant, bright-colored glove. I’d find joy in seeing him succeed in postseason play.

We have sent away a quality baseball player. The Texas Rangers have gained an effective tool.

At the time, I was thinking of Koji pitching in the postseason for Texas. I had no imagination that it would be with the Red Sox.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Chris Davis Koji Uehara Tommy Hunter

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