Now that the dust has settled from the last-minute flurry of activity surrounding the trade deadline, what are the implications for the Baltimore Orioles, the final two months of the season in the AL East, and even for the playoffs?
The Andrew Miller Trade
As you know, the Orioles sent AA Bowie prospect Eduardo Rodriguez to the Red Sox for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Though highly regarded last season and looking good in Spring Training, the 21-year-old Rodriguez was not having a great season – posting an ERA of 4.79. And though he could still put it together and be a lights-out nemesis against the O’s for years to come, this strikes me as a reasonably good trade given all the circumstances and parameters.
Miller has some incredible statistics this season over 44.1 innings. Somehow he has five losses? How? His ERA is 2.32, but his WHIP is an awesome 0.898 and he strikes out almost 15 batters per nine innings. Batters are hitting a combined .168 against him, right-handers are .180 and lefties .150. Miller has been in 50 games this season, and it turns out he had a rough outing in a blowout loss to the Jays in April, and two difficult games against the Twins in May. But mostly it is very good and effective.
Around the AL East
– Toronto Blue Jays – Clearly the Jays feel pretty good about where they are at currently with the personnel they have. Though inactive at this deadline, they have been very active over the past two years and certainly believe they are seeing the fruit of their maneuvers. They are winning games – only 1.5 behind the Birds on the strength of two Nolan Reimold home runs. I am sad to say that I predicted this would happen.
– New York Yankees – The Yanks were not able to pull off any very large moves, though they have made some marginal improvements in their infield. Brian Roberts has been designated for assignment (and if you read NY blogs, you’ll realize that though he has not been playing particularly well, the real reason is a performance incentive that would have kicked in with just two more at-bats … so you know the economy is bad when the Yankees are counting the coins in their pockets). They got Stephen Drew from Boston, though if looking for an upgrade on Roberts, he is only hitting .179 – yet he probably represents a better chance for higher numbers over the final two months. They also have added Martin Prado from the Diamondacks for third base, who is hitting .270 currently. We’ll see if this is another “magical pinstripes moment” for either of these guys – seems to happen sometimes to some players who catch fire for a while just because they’re on the famed New York Yankees.
– Tampa Bay Rays – Even after the incredible winning stretch they have been on, the Rays went ahead and traded away David Price … gotta say I’m surprised at this one. Price ends up with the Detroit Tigers – who gave up a nice young lefty in Drew Smyly. The Tigers also ship out CF Austin Jackson in this three-team deal with the Mariners – just in time for the Orioles to see him this weekend.
– Boston Red Sox – All-out fire sale! Along with Miller to the Orioles, Felix Doubront goes to the Cubs (where the O’s might just see him in a future series), Jon Lester and the poor-fitting helmet guy known as Jonny Gomes goes to Oakland for Yeonis Cespedes (who might knock the Green Monster over!), and John Lackey heads to the Cardinals.
– AL East Summary – Simply stated, the Jays and Yankees are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged against the Orioles in their remaining games versus each other. The Rays should be a bit easier to deal with, and there should be no excuses for not handling Boston the rest of the season. Please don’t let them be a spoiler!
Regarding Other Opponents and the Playoffs
Even though some of the top players have gone to non-AL East opponents, the Orioles may still end up seeing them because the luck of the schedule. Lackey last pitched on Saturday. So if the Cardinals get him in a game quickly, his second outing for them should be just before they come to Baltimore next weekend. However, it is not like St. Louis does not have great pitching with the rest of their rotation.
The Orioles are fortunately done with the Oakland A’s, so the O’s won’t have to deal with Lester for the rest of the regular season. The same is true with Price in Detroit.
What does strike me more than anything else is that the A’s and Tigers have really, really positioned themselves for a playoffs short-series run. Imagine Detroit throwing Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and David Price at you for three consecutive games. These are the past three Cy Young Award winners.
But having said all of this, the Baltimore Orioles have shown an ability this year to compete very well against many of the best pitchers and beat them. And that is what it takes to be champions. To be the best, you have to beat the best; there is just no way around it. As Adam Jones says, “gotta keep grinding through it!”