Orioles fans reaction to the acquisition of Vance Worley was rather negative. And, that’s putting it mildly.
It’s not Worley who they object to. It’s the kind of move they object to, and they shouldn’t.
Nearly all the fans who weighed in on CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Facebook page panned the move.
“Dumpster diving,” one predictably read. “Another retread,” said another.
And those were among the milder ones.
The Orioles will be busy this off-season. They’ll try and sign at least some of their top shelf free agents, but there will be many more of these kind of moves, and there should be.
In 2012, some of the under the radar moves paid off. Nate McLouth was rescued off the scrap heap, rebounded sharply and helped the Orioles make it to the fifth game of the Division Series.
Miguel Gonzalez was a totally unnoticed signing, and he’s been an effective starting pitcher. No one knew who he was when he signed.
Many of these same fans would have decried the acquisition of Steve Pearce a few years ago, too, but he was essential to the 2014 AL East team.
Last year’s moves weren’t good, and Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is under pressure to make better ones this year.
Championship clubs need a combination of a strong farm system and smart acquisitions by trade, waivers, drafts and free agents to succeed.
The reason the Orioles have to resort to moves that fans decry isn’t because they’re cheap, another familiar wail, but because their farm system hasn’t produced enough in certain areas. Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman—the team’s top four starting pitchers in 2015—none were products of the farm system, though Tillman was picked up in one of the best trades in team history.
Of the pitchers who started games for the Orioles in 2015, only Kevin Gausman, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright are Orioles products.
The Orioles’ failure to replace Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis is well documented, but they couldn’t adequately replace them because they haven’t had many outfielders come through the farm system in recent years.
Dariel Alvarez, Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia, are all Orioles products, but Alvarez and Urrutia were Cuban defectors who signed at advanced ages, and Reimold returned to the Orioles after playing for two other teams in 2014.
When the Orioles contemplated signing Cruz in early 2014, the team also looked at Kendrys Morales. Cruz and Morales both had qualifying offers attached to them, and had little interest in the market.
The Orioles astutely signed Cruz and passed on Morales. He didn’t sign until June and batted .218 in 98 games.
When Morales secured a two-year deal at $17 million with Kansas City, I scoffed and thought it was the worst signing of the offseason.
The Orioles shuddered when they heard about the signing, thinking Morales’ legs couldn’t hold up.
Morales hit .290 with 22 home runs and 106 RBIs in 158 RBIs.
But, if the Orioles had signed Morales last December, the fans would have yelled “dumpster diving” and “another retread.”
Morales was an improvement at DH over Billy Butler, a longtime Royal, who signed for more money with Oakland.
Ryan Madson, who has a key role in the Royals’ bullpen hadn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2011 because of injuries.
Chris Young, who pitched for Buck Showalter in Texas in 2004 and 2005, didn’t sign with Kansas City until March, and he’s been an effective starter.
If the Orioles signed Madson and Young last offseason, most would have scoffed, too, but they were necessary pieces for the Royals.
Worley’s resume is fairly impressive. In 2011, he was 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA as the Phillies’ fifth starter behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
His stats were better than Oswalt’s that year.
Worley made $2.45 million last year, and is arbitration eligible. While he may not be a starter for the Orioles next year, he can compete for the fifth starter’s job, pitch occasionally in long relief. Perhaps Worley could slip into in the Tommy Hunter role and pitch effectively in the sixth and seventh innings.
So, relax fans. There will be many more of these kinds of moves, and they’ll probably involve players whose backgrounds aren’t as impressive as Worley.
On Oct. 5, when Duquette and Buck Showalter addressed the media, one quote stood out.
“We’re going to have a good team when we start the season. I don’t know who exactly will be on it,” Duquette said.
Duquette and Orioles fans are eager to find out who will be running down the orange carpet on Apr. 4.
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