Results tagged ‘ Mark Reynolds ’
That was an impressive 2012, wasn’t it?
The Orioles purchased Jai Miller in the 2011-2012 offseason, and put him on the 40-man roster. That move made some sense, because Miller had hit .276/.368/.588 in the Pacific Coast League in 2011, spiked by 32 home runs. Miller didn’t make the Orioles’ roster out of spring training and was sent to Norfolk. With Norfolk, he did hit 8 home runs in 211 plate appearances; two of which were among the most impressive home runs I’ve ever seen at Harbor Park. Unfortunately for Miller, he hit just .196/.308/.397; when he was sent down to AA Bowie, he wasn’t any better. For the season as a whole, he struck out 159 times in just 364 plate appearances, so he struck out in 43.6% of his plate appearances.
To put that in perspective, when Mark Reynolds struck out 221 times (in the major leagues) in 2009, he struck out in only 33.6% of his plate appearances. Last season, Brett Jackson was widely condemned for his strikeouts in his major-league time, to the extent that the Cubs are reworking his swing; he struck out in 41.5% of his plate appearances. Even Glenallen Hill, when he hit .210 and struck out 211 times for A-level Kinston in 1985, only struck out in 39.6% of his plate appearances.
In fairness to Miller, Harbor Park may have been the worst park in all of AAA for him. The nighttime visibility there is not particularly good, and the dimensions and altitude encourage an all-or-nothing plate approach. It’s not surprising Miller struck out a lot; I don’t think anyone expected him to strike out that much.
Miller has apparently given up baseball. He’s enrolled in the University of Alabama, where he will try to play football as a defensive back for the Crimson Tide.
Any cheap-shot comment?
Sure. I have a hard time believing Jai Miller will succeed has a defensive back, because as a defensive back he has to hit.
Does he have a major-league future?
Probably not. Waring is a Mark Reynolds-type player, a home run hitter who strikes out so much that his batting average is low. While Waring doesn’t strike out quite as much as Reynolds, he doesn’t walk as often or hit as many home runs either, so basically Waring’s good year would be Reynolds’ typical year. Both are slow; and although Waring is a better defensive third baseman than Reynolds he’s not good enough to win a regular job.
Because Waring is an all-or-nothing offensive player, it makes it hard for him to pinch-hit. Defensively, he’s too slow for even left field and thus is limited to third base and first base. He’s a right-handed hitter. So it’s going to be hard for him to take a bench job.
Waring will be 27 in 2013. One of the active leaders in career minor-league home runs is Mike Hessman, who has hit 364 minor league home runs. He’s gotten 223 major league plate appearances, but they’ve been scattered over five seasons. He’s hit 14 home runs in those 223 plate appearances, but he has a batting average of .188 and an on-base percentage of .272. Waring is on the Mike Hessman career path and could easily end up with 300 career minor league home runs.
I believe Waring will be eligible for minor league free agency if he’s not added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster,
It’s hard to write about the Norfolk Tides without straying into thinking about the Baltimore Orioles sometimes. The Orioles are the parent club of the Tides. The Tides players who are prospects are hoping to move up to the Orioles, so how players fit into the Orioles’ plans affects how they are used in Norfolk. Other Tides players are players whom the Orioles have brought in but failed to make the big-league team. Normally, the big-league team will bring in several players to fill a hole and some of the players who lose the battle end up in Norfolk. Right now, the Orioles believe — correctly — that they have a hole at third base, and there are several players who are or had been candidates for the job.
The Orioles 2011 most-regular third baseman was Mark Reynolds. While it’s easy to focus on Reynolds’ low batting average and lofty strikeout totals, Reynolds was actually a pretty good offensive player in 2011. He hit 37 home runs, which wouldn’t have been too impressive a decade ago but was fourth in the 2011 American League. He drew 75 walks. So, even though he had a .221 batting average, his walks and power made him a batter 19% better than the average American Leaguer. The real problem was his defense. He joined the Gary Sheffield-Joel Youngblood-Butch Hobson club with a .897 fielding percentage in 114 games at third base, and he demonstrated range about 30% below the league standards. In the 2011-2012 offseason, the Orioles announced that they would move Reynolds to first base.
That was a reasonable decision. The question becomes “Who is the new third baseman?” The first thought was Chris Davis, acquired from Texas in the Koji Uehara deal. Davis had been a third baseman in the Texas organization — and was moved to first base because he was just about as bad defensively as Reynolds. Davis isn’t any great shakes as a hitter, either; he has similar skills to Mark Reynolds but he’s not as good. He doesn’t have Reynolds’ power and he doesn’t walk nearly as much. After Davis’ impressive first season, he hasn’t had a season in which he’s been a league-average hitter.
In the offseason, the Orioles signed Wilson Betemit as a free agent. Betemit has been more of a third baseman than he’s been anything else, but he’s never had a major-league season with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. And, he too hasn’t been a good defensive third baseman, with substandard fielding percentages and range. The Orioles announced that Betemit would serve primarily as their designated hitter, and are conceding that he’s not the answer at third base.
So much for the major-league options. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook listed five minor-leaguers with rookie eligibility at third base in the Orioles’ organizational depth chart. Two of them, Nicky Delmonico and Jason Esposito, are 2011 draftees who have yet to play professionally. Delmonico was signed out of high school and, even if he’s put on and able to handle the fast track, is still three years away. If the Orioles think he’s ready, he’ll start 2011 at Delmarva; if not, they’ll hold him in extended spring training and have him play in Aberdeen. Esposito, signed as a college junior, is one level ahead of Delmonico, and will start 2012 at either Frederick or Delmarva. He’s two-and-a-half to three years away.
The other three candidates are closer to the big leagues. Ryan Flaherty was selected from the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, so he must stay on the Orioles’ 25-man roster all season (except for minor-league rehabilitation assignments) or be offered back to the Cubs. Flaherty is another power hitter; he has a career .475 slugging percentage in AA. Although he probably profiles best as a third baseman, the Cubs moved him all around the infield (probably because the Cubs have an incredible number of grade C+ prospects and it’s hard to find playing time for all of them.) Flaherty probably won’t end up in Norfolk; the Orioles will give him the benefit of the doubt and keep him in Baltimore so they won’t have to offer him back to the Cubs.
Brandon Waring is yet another low-average, high-home-run, high-strikeout hitter. In 252 AA games, he’s hit 44 home runs and struck out 315 times, with a .234 batting average. It’s hard to interpret his available defensive statistics, but BA’s summary states that Waring has improved his defense to slightly-below-average. Waring has never played at AAA, and in normal circumstances would be set to play at Norfolk this season.
But the circumstances aren’t normal, partly because the fifth name on the Orioles third-base prospect depth chart is Matt Antonelli. Antonelli was the Padres’ first-round draft pick in 2006 and reached the majors in 2008. He was drafted as an offense-first second baseman, and was on track until 2008, when his bat died. He missed almost all of 2010 (playing in 1 rookie-league game) and signed with the Nationals for 2011. His bat has recovered, but he now projects as a third baseman. The Orioles signed him to a major-league contract for 2012; he’s on the 40-man roster and may end up in Norfolk if he doesn’t stick in Baltimore.
The final candidate was Josh Bell, a former hot prospect who failed his real chance to claim the job in 2010. I’ve written a lot about Bell here and here, and there’s really nothing more to add. He was optioned to Norfolk early in the spring, and therefore he’s probably not in the Orioles’ plans.
This past weekend, the Orioles made their first “cuts” from major-league spring training. Most of the players were minor-leaguers who received invitations to major-league spring training, and they were assigned to minor-league spring training. The Orioles will decide where they’ll play at the end of spring training. Two of the players were players on the 40-man roster, and were optioned to Norfolk. While it’s not guaranteed that Ryan Adams and Josh Bell will be on the Tides opening-day roster, it’s likely. I’m surprised that Adams and Bell were optioned so soon.
In Adams’ case, I really thought that the Orioles would want to give him a better look. It’s becoming apparent that presumptive Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts isn’t coming back from his injuries soon, and I think Adams is a viable candidate for second base. I know that a lot of scouts and others don’t think he can handle it defensively, but I disagree with them — I think he’s a passable second baseman. And Adams is hitting 1-for-11 in six spring training games. I think the real reason is that Robert Andino had an apparently good 2011 as Roberts’ replacement. Adams isn’t a potential star, and I can understand why you don’t want to replace a player after a good year with someone who’s not clearly superior. Adams will probably play in Norfolk as insurance in case Andino reverts to his norms.
In Bell’s case, I thought that Bell would stay in major-league camp because it doesn’t appear that he fits in the Orioles’ plans, and it would make more sense to keep him in major-league camp to see if another team might be interested him. The Orioles don’t have a short-term answer at third base. They were dissatisfied with Mark Reynolds’ defense at third in 2011, and talked about moving him to first base with Chris Davis playing third. However, in spring training, Reynolds is playing third base, which is inconsistent at the least. The other options are Wilson Betemit, signed as a free agent this offseason, and Ryan Flaherty, selected from the Cubs in the Rule V draft. The opportunity is there for Josh Bell, but he’s failed to seize it and he’s doesn’t appear to be in the Orioles’ plans. In 2011, the Orioles drafted and signed Jason Esposito and Nicky Delmonico, both who project as third basemen. So why the Orioles still want Josh Bell is something of a mystery.
Could he be a major-league regular?
He probably could, but he probably won’t. Hester hit very well in Reno in 2009-2010, but otherwise he’s been a .260-range hitter, with fair power until last year at Norfolk. He’s an average defensive catcher. If he got a major-league job, I’d expect him to hit .240-.250 with 10 home runs and adequate defense. He’s not good enough to win a regular job, but in the right circumstances he could inherit one and hold it for a couple of years.
Do you want him as a backup?
He’s a good backup for a Matt Wieters-type catcher, because he does everything adequately. If I had a starting catcher who is a “partial” catcher – one who does some things well but other things badly – then I’d want a backup catcher who is a mirror image, whose strengths correspond to my regular’s weaknesses. Then, I’d try to match up based on my opponent. But Matt Wieters is a “total” catcher, who does everything better than his backups (or at least well enough so that you rest him when he needs rest, not when the backup is a better player.) I’d want a backup catcher who does everything fairly well, so that my opponents can’t exploit his weakness.
However, whoever Matt Wieters’ backup is, it’s not going to make the slightest difference. Wieters is going to play so much that the backup catcher won’t get enough playing time to impact the team. If you get into a discussion with someone who vehemently insists that catcher A should be the backup catcher over catcher B, you’re dealing with a chucklehead.
What was the point of the Mark Reynolds trade?
I mention that here because Hester was the Player to Be Named Later in last winter’s Mark Reynolds trade, in which the Orioles sent pitchers Dave Hernandez and Kam Mickolio to Arizona for Reynolds and, ultimately, Hester. Reynolds was acquired to be the Orioles’ third baseman, and he couldn’t do even a passable job at third base. Now the plan is to move him to first base and try the erstwhile first baseman Chris Davis at third.
Although Reynolds is not as bad a player as his batting average and strikeouts are frustrating, I think the trade was a desperation move. The Orioles seem to have given up on Josh Bell, and had no other viable third-base candidates in the system, so they felt they had to acquire someone. Reynolds had signed a reasonable contract, and the Orioles felt that they could surrender two of their bullpen arms to get him.
But it was still a stopgap move, a move to get the Orioles through the season rather than building a team that can truly compete in the AL East. Instead of acquiring stopgaps, they should be focusing on developing young players. That Dave Hernandez proved to be a better bullpen option than the pitchers the Orioles kept only highlights the irrelevance of the trade.
The Baltimore Orioles all but completed a trade with the Arizona Diamonbacks yesterday, sending pitchers Dave Hernandez and Kam Mickolio and acquiring third baseman Mark Reynolds.
By getting Reynolds to play third base, the Orioles are pretty much acknowledging that Josh Bell is not ready to play third base in 2011, and may be close to writing him off. Reynolds turned 27 in August, and is signed through 2012 at a very reasonable $6.25 million per year. By the time Reynolds’ contract has expired, Bell will be 26 himself.
Reynolds is better than Bell, no question. Yes, Reynolds hit .198 in 2010, but he also hit .260 in 2009. He strikes out a lot, as everyone knows*; but he draws 70 walks a year. If you look at his career numbers — .242/.334/.483 — you’ll see that he’s a better hitter than anyone on the 2010 Orioles except for Luke Scott and Nick Markakis. He’ll make the Orioles better.
Especially I don’t think they gave up very much. I’ve shared my opinions on Kam Mickolio already. I also saw Dave Hernandez pitch at Norfolk in 2009. He’s kind of the opposite of Pedro Viola; he doesn’t have great velocity but his pitches move. His pitches move so much that he doesn’t have great command of them. There are a few pitchers like him; they can’t command their best stuff and when they reduce their stuff to increase command, their stuff is very hittable. Most of the time, they never quite learn to command their best stuff; on the other hand, Carlos Marmol is like this. It’s fair to say that the Orioles acquired a cleanup-hitting third baseman for two guys who may turn out to be okay.
On the other hand, Reynolds isn’t a great cleanup hitter. He’s not a star; he fills a glaring hole. The Reynolds trade fits right in with Andy MacPhail’s history. Going back to his days with the Cubs, MacPhail has been a “tactical” GM. He’s been able to find available talent to fill holes relatively cheaply. That’s good, when you have a solid team with a couple of holes. That’s not so good when you’re building a team. The players you’ve acquired reach the end of the line just when the team’s on the verge of making it.
So, while I can’t fault the acquisition of Mark Reynolds, I have the nagging suspicion that it won’t matter much.
* Reynolds has just turned 27. He’s already struck out more times in his career than Gus Zernial, Bill Freehan, and Al Oliver.