Every Day I’m Shuff-a-lin’
The Tides have been losing, losing, losing — six straight and counting — on a road trip over the past week. The Baltimore Orioles made some moves affecting the Norfolk Tides’ roster over the past few days. They claimed catcher Luis Exposito from Boston on waivers. To make room for Exposito on the forty-man roster, the Orioles designated Josh Bell for assignment and then gave him to Arizona — technically, they traded him to Arizona for a player to be named later, but the chances are the PTBNL won’t be significant. Then, the Orioles optioned Exposito to Norfolk and released catcher John Hester.
None of these moves will have the slightest impact on either the Orioles or the Tides. Exposito is a 25-year-old backup catcher type. He’s a good defensive catcher with a marginal bat — essentially, he’s the same player as John Hester except three-and-a-half years younger. From the Orioles persepctive, I don’t see the point of having Luis Exposito, Chris Robinson, Taylor Teagarden, and Ronny Paulino all competing for the backup catcher job. From the Tides’ perspective, I don’t think Exposito brings anything to the table that Hester didn’t.
And the price of “upgrading” from Hester to Exposito was Josh Bell. I admit — make that I declare — that Josh Bell has been a disappointment. He’s always shown more athletic ability than baseball skill. He’s been frustrating — he’s struck out too much and he’s made too many throwing errors. On the other hand, he’s hit 33 home runs in a season-and-a-half at Norfolk, which is legitimately impressive. Defensively, Bill James wrote that a useful shorthand for a third baseman’s defense is his ratio of double plays to errors, with a 1:1 ratio being average. Bell’s ratio at Norfolk was 31;32, which tells me that he was better defensively than his error total. I still think Bell could have been converted into a corner utility player, able to play left field, right field, third and first, with a power bat.