PiR: Upton Would Provide O’s a Lift, Now and in October

Reality: The Baltimore Orioles have been in talks with the San Diego Padres about acquiring outfielder Melvin (no longer BJ) Upton Jr.

Perception: I’ve heard a lot of fans say “Why are the Orioles trying for an outfielder instead of a pitcher? We have outfielders!” Let me try to explain.

The Orioles are in desperate need of a quality starting pitcher, yes, but so is every team in baseball. And simply put, there just aren’t that many quality pitchers available right now, and the ones that are, the Orioles do not have enough quality prospects in the minors to make the deal.

I’ve seen others wonder “What are the chances of the Orioles going after Chris Sale?” Yes, Sale is the best pitcher in baseball, but there is 0.00% chance of the Orioles getting Sale. Not because they don’t want him, but because the White Sox are going to ask for A LOT for him…a lot of quality players the Orioles just don’t have to offer.

So, if the Orioles don’t have enough players to get a quality starter, what else can they do to improve their team? How about improve their outfield and give their bench another bat?

Right now, with Mark Trumbo in RF and Pedro Alvarez at DH, the Orioles just don’t have anyone that really puts up a threat in the late innings to come off the bench, in the playoffs, and help the team. Yea Yea, I know that Nolan Reimold did just that on Sunday, but are you really counting on him, or Ryan Flaherty, or Joey Rickard to be the guy in October?

If the Orioles can get Upton, it improves their offense immediately and also gives them a quality home run threat to come off the bench in October. Plus, if the Padres are going to take Ubaldo Jimenez off their hands, it also frees up another roster spot for pitching help.

To me, it makes a lot of sense to trade Ubaldo and a minor league prospect for Upton, if the Padres will do it.

Reality: The Orioles produced runs over the weekend by running out ground balls.

Perception: We’ve seen Manny Machado a number of times make base running mistakes or not run out a ground ball or pop-up. Saturday, Chris Davis ran out a ground ball and kept the Indians from completing the double play and ending the inning. A run scored on the play, and the next batter, Mark Trumbo, hit a two-run homer. Buck Showalter paid him a compliment, while maybe taking a shot at Manny after the game.

On Sunday, Alvarez did the same thing. He ran out a ground ball so the Indians couldn’t turn a double play and it led to a run. After the game, he spoke strongly about why he ran it out.

No, Buck and Pedro will never admit to their backhanded reference in their comments, but as the Manager of the team and a veteran leader on the team, I think most agree that they were showing a younger player what he needs to do.

Reality: The Texas Rangers bullpen is the worst in baseball in the 9th inning or later with a 5.46 ERA.

Perception: A lot of people would say that the Rangers are the American League’s best team, if not all of baseball. But they have the most walk-off losses in baseball. We know that the playoffs are all about pitching, but most people would say that is Starting Pitching. But if your starters can get you 5.0 innings, then your bullpen is just as important.

The Orioles bullpen is 4th in MLB and 2nd in the AL with a 3.08 ERA. They have also produced the most wins of any bullpen in baseball with 24.

The O’s pen is second in baseball (first in the AL) with a 2.79 ERA from the 7th inning on. Brad Brach leads baseball with an ERA of 1.24 in the 7th inning or later (with at least 40 innings).

Of relief pitchers to appear in at least 40 games, Zach Britton is second in ERA with a 0.65 and Brach is fourth with a 1.17 ERA. Plus, Britton leads all of baseball with a 0.96 ERA when runners are on base (with at least 15 innings pitched), and Brach is 3rd with a 1.57 ERA.

Britton is the best closer in baseball, completing 32 of 32 save opportunities. We know how good Brach is when working the 7th or 8th inning.

Darren O’Day returned from the Disabled List Sunday by striking out the side in the 8th. Returning O’Day to the back of the bullpen can make the Orioles 7/8/9 inning pitchers nearly untouchable.

Reality: The Orioles have baseball’s 7th best ERA (2.93) since the All-Star Break.

Perception: The Orioles starting pitching has been a roller coaster all year long. They are streaky, and right now they are on a good streak. In four of the last five games, the starter has gone seven innings. If the O’s starters can go that far, the Orioles shouldn’t lose with Brach/O’Day/Britton there to finish up.

Unfortunately, they are streaky. So when you put the whole year together, the Orioles starters are 24th with an ERA of 4.91. The only consistent is Chris Tillman and that is why the Orioles (along with pretty much every other contending team in baseball) are looking for a starter pitching to trade for this week.

Reality: The Orioles have the best home record in baseball.

Perception: The Orioles are 36-14 at home. The team with the second most home wins is Boston with 34 and the team with the second least amount of home losses is Texas with 15.

O’s fans have been the difference in how this team plays at home and on the road. Home-field advantage is going to matter come playoff time. The Birds bats tend to go cold on the road, and the Orioles will need to play a majority of their games in Camden Yards to keep their offense rolling if they are to win in October.

Reality: The Orioles have the best record in the American League.

Perception: The Orioles have the best record in the American League. That is all.

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

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