Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Lavarnway Claimed, Quintin Berry Released


Mar 24, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) hands Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway (20) his catchers mask after Lavarnway attempted to catch a foul ball in the first inning of the spring training exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles today claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. To make room, the O’s have released outfielder Quintin Berry.

Given the opportunity to claim Lavarnway, none of this is a surprise. The Orioles are concerned – Scott Boras’ medically-informed assurances aside – that catcher Matt Wieters may not be ready at the beginning of the season. It was known that the Birds wanted to add more catching depth.

This puts five catchers on the 40-man roster. What does this say about confidence in Steve Clevenger? Probably it reveals a lack of certainty in his defensive abilities more than anything – given the high-level value placed upon such skills in this organization. One would think that the next Orioles move might involve a catcher being subtracted to create space.

Why Ryan Lavarnway?

Lavarnway is currently age 27 and was a sixth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2008. In fractional slices of four years with Boston, he has only hit for an average of .201, but that is only in a total of 97 games.

Considered at one time to be a top prospect, Lavarnway has a career minor league average of .283 with 92 home runs, although only seven of them have been in the past two years. As well, he has the capacity to get on base with a career OBP of .375!

The Orioles deserve to be on the receiving end of a change-of-scenery guy!

Maybe the Orioles could be on the receiving end of a change-of-scenery guy – and from the Cubs no less!  They owe the Orioles big-time after benefitting from Pedro Strop, Jake Arrieta, and Tsuyoshi Wada!!  I would certainly feel better about being a player at Camden Yards rather than stuck inside the tin cans called Fenway and Wrigley — gotta think the history of those places only goes so far.

As well, the Orioles have to be looking beyond 2015 and toward the likely post-Wieters era of catchers in Baltimore. If Lavarnway can get it together, even for a while, he could help bridge the O’s to the arrival of top catching prospect Chance Sisco.

Why Not Quintin Berry?

Berry is one of those guys you have to feel sorry for. All he does is play well, though he doesn’t quite have ALL the tools at the highest level.

Berry has had a lot of success at AAA and in his limited MLB experiences (batting .266), mostly with the Tigers in 2012, where he hit .258 in 94 games while also swiping 21 bases. He was a part of their playoff run and eventual loss to the Giants in the World Series, batting 5-for-29 through those games.

Beyond that, his limited plate appearances are with Boston in 2013 where he was a late-season call-up who went 5-for-8. He was a part of the Champion Red Sox through the playoffs, stealing one base in each of the three series. And with the Baltimore Orioles this past season, he appeared in 10 games, mostly as a pinch-runner.

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But the most amazing statistic is that he is a perfect 25-for-25 in stolen base attempts. I don’t even know how to research this quickly, but I would bet that there is not another player in baseball history who had attempted at least 25 swipes and had a perfect record doing it. (His career minor league number is 316-for-397; and at AAA Norfolk in 2014 it was 25-for-31.)

He is a really good guy, and I would hope that Adam Jones’ old high school teammate will find a place where he can stick and be a regular contributor.