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MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning April 14

By RealGM Staff Report

The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA). 

In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.  

All statistics are through Sunday, April 13.

Rankings from the end of the 2013 regular season are in parenthesizes.

1. (17) Milwaukee Brewers – 5.71

It's no surprise the Brewers hold the top spot in our first rankings of the season. They've won nine straight, including 6-0 on the road, and have the lowest ERA (1.80) in baseball.

2. (7) Oakland Athletics – 4.89

Sonny Gray has a 0.95 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched (three starts).

3. (3) Atlanta Braves – 4.67

A long-term deal hasn't ruined Freddie Freeman's drive. He's hitting .442/.519/.814 with four home runs and 10 RBI through 12 games.

4. (4) Los Angeles Dodgers – 4.23

Zack Greinke is nice to have when Clayton Kershaw is hurting. The right-hander has a 2.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings (three starts).

5. (11) Washington Nationals – 4.22

All five of Washington's losses have come against Atlanta in the early going.

6. (27) Seattle Mariners – 3.88

Robinson Cano has the Mariners in contention -- for now. The second baseman is hitting .333/.417/.381 without a home run in 11 games.

7. (20) San Francisco Giants – 3.82

The Giants have a .751 OPS, good for eighth in the game. Brandon Belt's five home runs (.577 slugging) have paced the offense.

T8. (10) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.56

If they decide to trade David Price, Chris Archer may be ready to assume his place atop the rotation. The young righty has a 1.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings.

-- (16) Los Angeles Angels – 3.56

Pujols has three home runs after hitting just 17 all of last season, but he still has a troubling slash line .240/.309/.500.

10. (1) Detroit Tigers – 3.54

Rajai Davis has been an underrated addition to the Tigers. He has five steals for the slow-footed club and is hitting .345/.412/.448 in eight games.

11. (26) Philadelphia Phillies – 3.47

12. (8) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.45

13. (23) New York Yankees – 3.44

14. (5) Cincinnati Reds – 3.43

15. (19) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.33

16. (29) Miami Marlins – 3.30

17. (2) Boston Red Sox – 3.19

18. (18) Colorado Rockies – 3.15

19. (T24) San Diego Padres – 3.13

20. (12) Kansas City Royals – 2.78

21. (6) St. Louis Cardinals – 2.77

22. (T24) Chicago White Sox – 2.68

23. (13) Cleveland Indians – 2.67 

24. (9) Texas Rangers – 2.58

25. (21) Chicago Cubs – 2.50

26. (15) Baltimore Orioles – 2.38

27. (28) Minnesota Twins – 1.95

28. (30) Houston Astros – 1.80

29. (22) New York Mets – 1.13

30. (14) Arizona Diamondbacks – 1.12

 

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AL East: Can The Champs Be Dethroned?

By Andrew Perna

The Boston Red Sox went worst to first last season and they enter 2014 as the defending World Series champions. All five American League East teams began last season with a legitimate shot at winning the division and that may be the case once again.

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox rode a host of middling signings to October glory this past fall and Ben Cherington is hoping to do the same in 2014. Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino will return, but John Farrell will be forced to rely on youngsters at third base (Xander Bogaerts) and in center field (Jackie Bradley, Jr.). Bogaerts seems primed to take the ball and run with it at the hot corner, but Bradley is an unknown as Jacoby Ellsbury's replacement.

Key Additions (2013 Stats):

A.J. Pierzynski: .272/.297/.425, 17 HRs, 70 RBIs in 529 PAs

Edward Mujica: 2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 46 Ks in 64.2 IP

Chris Capuano: 4.26 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 81 Ks in 105.2 IP 

Tampa Bay Rays

If they don't trade David Price, the Rays have a real shot at winning the division (and much more). That is the dilemma Andrew Friedman and the rest of the front office face as Opening Day nears. Like the Red Sox, they remain largely the same from last season but they did finish 2013 with 92 wins, which was enough to grab a Wild Card spot. Price leads a rotation that should only get better with experience and age.

Key Additions (2013 Stats):

Grant Balfour: 2.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 72 Ks in 62.2 IP

Heath Bell: 4.11 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 72 Ks in 65.2 IP

Ryan Hanigan: .198/.306/.261, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs in 260 PAs 

New York Yankees

After missing the postseason for the first time since 2008, the Yankees opened up their checkbook in search of reinforcements. A boatload of money later -- Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka -- the Yankees have their sights set on another World Series title. There is added motivation in New York this season as Derek Jeter prepares to hang up his cleats.

Key Additions (2013 Stats):

Jacoby Ellsbury: .298/.355/.426, 9 HRs, 53 RBIs in 636 PAs

Brian McCann: .256/.336/.461, 20 HRs, 57 RBIs in 402 PAs

Masahiro Tanaka: 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 183 Ks in 212 IP (Japan)

Brian Roberts: .249/.312/.392, 8 HRs, 39 RBIs in 296 PAs

Kelly Johnson: .235/.305/.410, 16 HRs, 52 RBIs in 407 PAs

Baltimore Orioles

They were late to the party, but the Orioles make several win-now moves in the latter stages of the offseason. They signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz with eyes on contending while their young core remains under contract and intact. The outcome of this season will have a huge bearing on the future's of Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, who will be free agents after the 2015 season.

Key Additions (2013 Stats):

Ubaldo Jimenez: 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 194 Ks in 182.2 IP

Nelson Cruz: .266/.327/.506, 27 HRs, 76 RBIs in 456 PAs

Jemile Weeks: .111/.111/.111, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs in 9 PAs

Suk-min Yoon: 4.00 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 76 Ks in 87.2 IP 

Toronto Blue Jays

After making major waves prior to last season, the Blue Jays didn't change much this winter. Alex Anthopoulos is hoping the further maceration of their roster will leads to more than the 74 wins they managed in 2013. It will be hard for Toronto to climb of last place, but they have a role model within the division (Red Sox). The only thing they are lacking is a few mid-level free agent additions.

Key Additions (2013 Stats):

Dioner Navarro: .300/.365/.492, 13 HRs, 34 RBIs in 266 PAs

How We Think They'll Stack Up:

1. Red Sox: Chemistry will break talent battle with New York.

2. Yankees: Jeter's career will end with a Wild Card berth.

3. Rays: A Price trade will set them back, but only a season.

4. Orioles: Jimenez won't pitch like an ace, gamble lost.

5. Blue Jays: They'll improve, but the division is just too deep.

Follow @RealGMBaseball all season for news, rumors and analysis.


Grading The Deal: Orioles Give Ubaldo Jimenez $48M

By Andrew Perna

The Baltimore Orioles grabbed the best available free-agent starter on Tuesday afternoon when they agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal with Ubaldo Jimenez.

The deal was made official on Wednesday and the Orioles will introduce the veteran right-hander on Thursday morning.

Jimenez, 30, went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts for the Cleveland Indians last season. He has a strong track record as an innings-eater, having thrown at least 180 innings in five of the last six seasons. He turned down the $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Indians, meaning the Orioles will forfeit their first-round draft pick (17th) as they sign him.

He had his best season in 2010 when he posted a 2.88 ERA in more than 221 innings for the Colorado Rockies. He struck out 8.7 batters per nine and had a 2.33 K/BB ratio. Jimenez received some MVP votes and finished third in voting for the National Leagues Cy Young that year.

Jimenez struggled in both 2011 and 2012, but a strong run down the stretch last season earned him this contract.

He went 6-5 with a 1.82 ERA in 84 innings over the second half of the 2013 campaign. He struck out 100 hitters, while walking just 27 and allowing only 17 earned runs over that stretch. Jimenez was especially effective in his final six starts -- he posted a 1.09 ERA, 7.29 KK/B ratio and 1.016 WHIP.

Prior to his second-half surge, Jimenez was below average. He had a winning record (7-4), but a 4.56 ERA in 98.2 innings. His K/BB ratio was just 1.77 and he had an unsightly 1.490 WHIP.

So why would the Orioles pay an average annual salary of $12 million through 2017 for a pitcher that hasn't put together a complete season since 2010?

Jimenez immediately adds depth to Baltimore's starting rotation, which is expected to also feature Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and some combination of Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris, Kevin Gausman and Suk-min Yoon.

The Boston Red Sox are the reigning World Series champions after completing a worst-to-first turn in 2013, but the American League East is far from decided. The Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees all believe they can get their hands on the division title.

That partially explains why Dan Duquette would offer Jimenez the fourth year the pitcher coveted and the Orioles wanted to avoid.

Grade for Jimenez: A-

Baltimore's core may not be together much longer, which puts pressure on Jimenez to live up to the deal immediately.

Nick Markakis has a team option for 2015 at $17.5 million. The Orioles also have a 2015 option on Chen, who can make $4.75 million, which will represent nearly a 20 percent increase on his 2014 salary. 

Much more troublesome are the futures of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, who are both scheduled to become free agents after the 2015 season. They will make $10.35 million and $7.7 million, respectively, this season and that figure will undoubtedly rise over the course of a long-term deal.

It helps that Markakis will come off the books next winter, but with Jimenez aboard if the Orioles are to sign both Davis and Wieters to either an extension or a long-term deal they'll lock themselves into a handful of financially-crippling seasons. Adam Jones, who signed the largest deal in team history in 2012, is due a total of $49 million over three seasons beginning in 2016. 

The Orioles opened last season with a payroll of over $90 million, the second-highest figure in franchise history. In order to keep this core together, they'll have to flirt with $100 million, which isn't something Peter Angelos will automatically allow.

Grade for Orioles: C-

We usually see teams find bargains this time of year, but the Orioles have gambled on Jimenez by conceding to his contract demands. It might have been the pressure of seeing Masahiro Tanaka land in New York, or the hole created in Boston by the departure of Ryan Dempster.

Whatever it was, the Orioles are hoping Jimenez will be more like the pitcher we saw in the second half of 2013 than the one we saw in the prior two-plus seasons.



Complete List Of Major League Free Agents

The Yankees, who have now spent close to $500 million on free agents, landed Masahiro Tanaka.


MLB Rankings For End Of 2013 Regular Season

The Tigers finished the regular season atop our rankings, followed by the Red Sox, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals.


MLB Rankings For The Week Of September 19th

As our rankings continue to settle for the 2013 season, the top is littered with World Series contenders.


Reds Move Into Top Five Of MLB Rankings For The Week Of September 12th

Engaged in a dogfight with the Cardinals and Pirates for the NL Central title, the Reds have moved into the top five this week.


MLB Rankings For The Week Of September 5th

The Red Sox, who have surged to second in our rankings, have a chance to help keep the Yankees from the playoffs this weekend.


Grading The Deals: Axford, Kubel, Morse Dealt To Contenders

The Cardinals fortified their bullpen, while the Indians and Orioles bolstered their offenses after successfully claiming players off waivers.