Recently the Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez which not only cost them 50 million dollars over 4 years, but it also cost the Orioles their first round draft pick. This was an impressive move by the Orioles showing the baseball world that they are willing to spend big time money for a starting pitcher. With the Orioles losing the first round pick, it raised some interesting questions about how much value to put on a first round pick, and now with the first pick gone, the value of a second round pick.
I concede that both the financial and the draft pick were necessary expenses. The Orioles were correct in signing Jimenez despite losing a draft pick, but the Orioles would be wrong to sign a DH at the expense of losing their second round pick.
Here’s the reality, desperate times call for desperate measures. The Orioles (as evidenced by their rankings last year) were desperate for a starting pitcher. If that costs you a first round pick then so be it because we are talking about a team need, not a team want.
Last year the Orioles ranked fifth in runs scored. This is the whole point of offense, to score runs, and if you rank fifth best in the majors at doing that, you are on the right track. Now some would argue about Chris Davis and Manny Machado and the inevitably of them returning back to human-like numbers next year. While certainly it would be hard to imagine these players matching their numbers from last year, on the other hand I could just as easily cite players like Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters who are due for bounce back years. Moreover the core of our offensive players is made up of men still in their prime baseball years. Would a DH be nice? Sure it would be nice and so would goats that cleaned their own shed, but it just isn’t necessary. Don’t give up a second round pick for a luxury.
The two significant DH’s still available are Kendrys Morales and Nelson Cruz. The stats between the two players our comparable, Cruz sporting a triple slash line of .266/.327/.506 and Morales a .277/.336/.449 slash line. These are solid numbers (I especially like Morales’s one base percentage!) but they aren’t numbers that blow you away. The Orioles have options with players like Nolan Reimold (insert injury joke here) and Henry Urrutia who put up impressive numbers in the minors last year. Also, not having a set DH allows Showalter to have some flexibility and occasionally rest players like Chris Davis or Nick Markakis from playing the field while still keeping their bat in the lineup.
In the end this is bigger than just Kendrys Morales and Nelson Cruz. It’s bigger than just a second round draft pick. It’s about so much more than that. It’s about the type of team the Orioles want to be. A team that is able to compete year in and year out through a strong farm system. It’s about wanting to win now, without costing our future. So what does one do? You prioritize. Address the emergency (get the starting pitcher), but hold off on the luxuries so you can be sure your future is safe.