This offseason, the Baltimore Orioles spent free agent dollars acquiring two former Blue Jays relievers in Kevin Gregg and Jeremy Accardo. Given their bullpen situation at the time, stock full of above average right handed relievers, it was a curious move. Maybe this line of questioning is a bit too simplistic, but: Why spend money on players whose past performance wasn’t as good as the players you already had?

Perhaps the best of the relievers already on the team was Koji Uehara, so it only seems fitting that after carrying his quiet dominance last year into this season, the Orioles would be looking to get rid of him. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t fault a team for trading a 36 year old player when they’re unlikely to compete anytime in the near future. It’s just rather humourous that the organization had no problem giving 33 year old Kevin Gregg a two year contract for $10 million.

Over the last two years, only three relievers in baseball have a higher strikeout rate than Uehara, and only one reliever has a lower walk rate and a higher strike out to walk ratio. No one has allowed fewer walks plus hits per inning pitched. No one. He’s quite literally one of the best relievers in baseball.

So, while several general managers on contending teams get hungry eyes looking at Mike Adams and Heath Bell, there’s a less expensive, more dominant version available in Baltimore.

Uehara is set to make a total of $3 million this season, with an option for $4 million next season which will vest if he pitches in 55 games or finishes 25 games. He’s already made 41 appearances in 2011, so it’s likely that a team acquiring Uehara will be on the hook for his salary in 2012. However, considering the recent contracts that pitchers like Kevin Gregg and even Scott Downs got this past offseason, $4 million is an absolute bargain for a reliever of Uehara’s ilk, even at his somewhat advanced age and history with injuries.

Photo is courtesy of Getty Images and Uehara’s inability to cool off.

And The Rest

The World Series Champion San Francisco Giants met the President yesterday at the White House. Fortunately, none of them were detained.

Michael Cuddyer taking the mound wasn’t the strangest thing in the Texas Rangers destruction of the Minnesota Twins last night. It was Ron Gardenhire, down 9-1, calling for Mike Napoli to be intentionally walked. Seriously.

Could the Baseball Hall of Fame be reconsidering some of its entry policies? Maybe we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

Dave Parker still believes that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Is Ian Stewart mimicking the career arc of Russ Adams?

Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena is more available than drugs at an after hours place.

Japan is threatening to boycott the World Baseball Classic.

It’s hard to believe that B.J. Upton is just 26 years old. However, I still don’t think his declining OBP over the last few years makes him the most attractive of players available on the trade market.

Denard Span, on the other hand, might be a more suitable trade target for the Washington Nationals.

These are dark days for Seattle Mariners fans, but at least they’re not the Houston Astros.

The Astros have set quite the pace for themselves.

San Diego’s Chris Denorfia is making himself useful in the field and on the basepaths.

Pedro Alvarez is back in Pittsburgh, and he’s mad, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

How does Jeff Karstens of America’s team find any success whatsoever?

First round pick Trevor Bauer has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Catching a foul ball is important to some people, and they’re more than ten years old.

Wow. I’m not even much of a Dennis Eckersley fan, but that figurine in the photo below may be the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Comments (20)

  1. Can I agree on the foul ball thing? I’ve never caught one in my many years of going to games, and I would like to. It’s just one of those things that I feel at some point I should be lucky enough to get once. Would I give it away afterward? Maybe, maybe not.

    I had tickets to a game last year that I had to give to my brother, and while watching the game I watched a foul ball go right to where he was sitting. I couldn’t believe it. It was just a moment of… I finally had a chance and gave the tickets away… one day though…

  2. Karstens is a BABIP wonder. I picked him up on my fantasy team early this season only to keep on benching him knowing that his peripherals and splits are just way too sketchy to hold up his more flimsier (but far more impressive) standard statistics.

    It is grating to see that time and time again, he defies our nerdom laws (while I have him left sitting on my fantasy bench). And yet tonight (again), I will be leaving him on my bench as he faces a Braves team who’s lost three straight. C’mon Karstens, luck out again — I dare ya.

  3. After getting screwed in the formatting, I thought Canada would be the country to threaten a boycott of the WBC, not Japan.

  4. Drew over at GoF made me really excited about a BJ Upton trade, if only because I think they’d accept JPA and some bullpen arms. I don’t see at all how you wouldn’t be psyched about Upton Parkes. Who else is in the system (except for Gose in what, 2014?) who can play a decent centerfield? Who else is a free agent with that kind of upside?
    With our payroll as low as it is now and our roster pretty set in the field (everything but 2B and CF pretty locked up) it makes a ton of sense to me to grab a guy who probably has more raw talent than anyone else on our roster. Friedman can have his 2%, give me the 5 tool center fielder…

  5. Alex Rios had a ton of raw talent too.

    If you look at this season, his wOBA isn’t that dissimilar from Edwin Encarnacion’s. He hasn’t had an OPS above .800 since his team was called the Devil Rays. He strikes out a lot. And he’s not even that great in the field anymore.

    The only good thing is that I don’t think you’d have to give up very much at all to acquire Upton, who is going to cost Tampa Bay more than $5 million in his last year of arbitration.

  6. Alex Rios put up 14.2 fWAR for this team from 2006-2008. That’s not just raw talent, that’s huge production.

    If BJ Upton could be Alex Rios for this team, that would be fantastic.

  7. My favourite thing Cito Gaston ever did: When he referred to Dennis Eckersley in a TV interview as “half a woman”.

  8. How much fWar does Rajai Davis have this year…? Unless Snider is really going to become a center fielder (which would be awesome btw) we need to get someone. Its not like closers where you can pull some stats out that apparently prove that having a bullpen is for losers. Having a CF is important whether you’re competiting or not.
    I’m not saying BJ Upton is baseball Jesus or anything. I just can’t think of anyone better. I’d love to hear a better option…

  9. You already mentioned the better and his name is Travis Snider.

  10. Can’t think of a reason why that’s not a solid idea to be honest. A little more boring than Upton, and less upside (and no BJ on the BJs), but ya, why not. Now can you find us a top of the rotation starter?

  11. @Parkes – It was 1989, I wish I had it recorded somewhere – can’t find it on youtube or anywhere else. Here’s a reference, the A’s and Jays had a good rivalry going back then (of course, everyone hated the A’s):
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-10-16/sports/8901230081_1_hot-dog-rickey-henderson-trot

  12. Yeah, but what reason is there to believe that BJ Upton will completely collapse like Alex Rios?

    BJ may never reach his enormous potential, but he’s been a solid CF for three years now and will probably continue to perform at that level. He’s the perfect guy for this team to acquire for the next few seasons (unless they can get somebody better).

  13. that carney langford bobblehead is hilarious. it’s like he’s taking a dump.

    I find it funny how people equate age with talent…jojo is only 26, hill was only 26, upton is only 26. baseball is not wine. they don’t just magically get better.

  14. @ Grouchy: No, but on the whole, good players tend to have their best seasons around age 27 or 28, and then begin their decline from there.

    @ BFF: I think you’re overvaluing a player who has had one season in which his OPS was over .800, and that was four years ago. ANd the last three seasons his OBP has been atrocious.

  15. Upton has his limitations, but you can’t just look at his current OPS in a vacuum and suggest he wouldn’t be worth it. As starting CFs go offensively, he’s still right around the average in this league. Also, there’s a chance that he’s a change-of-scenery guy and could get back to his 2007/2008 production with time.

    Rasmus and Bourn are superior players, though, and by the sounds of the Rays’ demands right now, BJ will cost the Jays too much.

  16. One of the greater draws with Upton for me, I admit, is his swag and his awesome name, Bossman Junior.

  17. @DUSTIN, that’s if they were already good to begin with. getting upton would have to be a classic buy low sell high type deal. power hitters have shown to put up bigger numbers in skydome, so if you could get upton cheap he could jack 30 hr here then he’d be a valuable trade chip.

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