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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Baltimore Orioles

Designated DH Jack Cust for assignment; lost P John Stephens on waivers to the Boston Red Sox.

The Orioles were short on roster room.  After all, with young slugger B.J. Surhoff desperately needed to get the Orioles to the Series, the need for Luis Lopez to be on the 40-man roster, and the eventual comebacks of Babe Cordova and Lefty Daal, there just wasn’t room for these goofs.  The Red Sox pick up Stephens, a slopballer with an annoying ability to get minor league hitters out when healthy and some other team will get Cust, the man who can’t slide.

Dan Szymborski Posted: April 11, 2004 at 07:26 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. Ginger Nut Posted: December 23, 2003 at 07:10 PM (#570738)
I agree with Eugene, the Orioles need to give the casual fans a reason to go to the park. There is a very bad public perception of the O's right now. The casual fan thinks that they are not "trying to win." (This impression is based on listening to the radio while having driven through Maryland several times recently.) That's not a reason to make stupid signings, but these aren't stupid signings. Tejada is an excellent player in his prime; Lopez should be an above average catcher over the next three years. The O's are overpaying if you consider these signings strictly in terms of how many additional wins they will bring, but the O's are at a juncture where they need to "enhance their brand image," to put it in marketing terms. And who could argue against signing Vlad?

The O's have a tremendous disadvantage in that the AL east appears to be now the toughest division in baseball (with all due respect to the AL West). But they really aren't too far from having a good team. Bigbie and Matos are both fine young outfielders. If they sign Vlad, they have an excellent outfied locked in for the next few years. Scrounge up a league-average first baseman and DH, and you've got a heck of a lineup with Vlad and Tejada in the middle. They also have that super-utility guy whose name I can't recall. Of course, they still need more pitching. But they could finish fourth and still be an above-average team relative to the AL as a whole. The down side of that is that they could be an above average team and still finish fourth.

Also, it seems to me that free agents are now reluctant to go to Baltimore. This is just my perception based on their efforts to sign people this winter. So maybe they are in a position where they have to overpay until they get respectable again.

I'm not an Orioles fan so there may be some errors of fact in this analysis.

GN
   302. Ginger Nut Posted: December 23, 2003 at 07:16 PM (#570739)
I agree with Eugene, the Orioles need to give the casual fans a reason to go to the park. There is a very bad public perception of the O's right now. The casual fan thinks that they are not "trying to win." (This impression is based on listening to the radio while having driven through Maryland several times recently.) That's not a reason to make stupid signings, but these aren't stupid signings. Tejada is an excellent player in his prime; Lopez should be an above average catcher over the next three years. The O's are overpaying if you consider these signings strictly in terms of how many additional wins they will bring, but the O's are at a juncture where they need to "enhance their brand image," to put it in marketing terms. And who could argue against signing Vlad?

The O's have a tremendous disadvantage in that the AL east appears to be now the toughest division in baseball (with all due respect to the AL West). But they really aren't too far from having a good team. Bigbie and Matos are both fine young outfielders. If they sign Vlad, they have an excellent outfied locked in for the next few years. Scrounge up a league-average first baseman and DH, and you've got a heck of a lineup with Vlad and Tejada in the middle. They also have that super-utility guy whose name I can't recall. Of course, they still need more pitching. But they could finish fourth and still be an above-average team relative to the AL as a whole. The down side of that is that they could be an above average team and still finish fourth.

Also, it seems to me that free agents are now reluctant to go to Baltimore. This is just my perception based on their efforts to sign people this winter. So maybe they are in a position where they have to overpay until they get respectable again.

I'm not an Orioles fan so there may be some errors of fact in this analysis.

GN
   303. Enrico Palazzo Posted: December 23, 2003 at 08:48 PM (#570740)
Hyperbole,

Not to speak for Zen Bitz, but I thinkthe "part-time catcher/PH" comment was directed at Santiago. Since Santiago is pretty horrid defensively, and seems to break down over the course of a season, I don't think it's such a terrible suggestion.

KC was able to underpay for Randa and Leskanic because they wanted to stay. For whatever reason, Baltimore seems to have to overpay a little to get free agents. I don't mind nearly as much when it's for the player who was fourth-best in the NL last year. With the deferred money in both this and the Tejada contract, it's not nearly as much overpayment anyway.
   304. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2003 at 10:08 PM (#570743)
A player will be eligible for arbitration after 3 years of major league services (some only need 2 years but I can't explained it well why).

Why? Because it's in the CBA. :-)

The top 17% of players (in terms of service time) with more than 2 but not 3 years of service time are eligible for arbitration. And that's as long as they have at least a certain number of days of service over 2 (80 days or something). Qualifying players are often referred to as "Super 2's". Note, this doesn't affect their FA clock, they still have to have a full 6 years of service before that kicks in.

Some relatively well known super 2's include Javier Vazquez and, I think, Torii Hunter.

Back to why. If 3 was a firm threshold, teams would just leave their top young players in the minors for a week at the start of the season and players would have to wait almost a full 4 years of service before being arb-eligible. This rule keeps clubs from abusing that option too heavily, though it's still pretty common for a team to wait 2-3 months before bringing up a hot rookie (e.g. Oakland's young pitchers usually hit the majors in June/July) such that teams get 3.5 years out of some players before they're eligible for arbitration.
   305. Eric Posted: December 24, 2003 at 11:53 PM (#570746)
And if the player is non-tendered after three years of service, signs a one-year contract, is he treated as a free agent after that because he had "free agent" rights? I'd suppose not, but I want to make sure...

No, I think such a player would again be eligible for arbitration. Non-tenders only get free agency rights for that specific year. The new team could, of course, non-tender them again.
   306. flournoy Posted: December 25, 2003 at 02:41 AM (#570747)
No, I think such a player would again be eligible for arbitration. Non-tenders only get free agency rights for that specific year. The new team could, of course, non-tender them again.

Correct. Brad Fullmer and Robert Fick were both non-tenders last offseason, and would have been arbitration eligible with the Angels and Braves, respectively, had those clubs not released them both earlier in the offseason.
   307. fables of the deconstruction Posted: December 25, 2003 at 05:52 AM (#570005)
Hmmm... Apparently not?!!!

T :-) ...
   308. Noffs Posted: December 28, 2003 at 05:14 AM (#570749)
"So if the player is bound by the reserve clause is he forced to accept arbitration if offered? (I think yes... right?)"

Yes, but he is free to hire a good agent and get a huge raise.

"And if the player is a free agent, does he have to accept arbitration? And if he doesn't, what happens? (Is this where draft picks come in?)"

No. See Tejada, Miguel. If he rejects, he cannot re-sign with his former team until March, and if he signs a major-league contract, the signing team gives up a pick (if A or B), the round of which is determined by signing team's draft position and the player's rank (Elias) among other tendered free agents signed by the signing club.

"And if the player is non-tendered after three years of service, signs a one-year contract, is he treated as a free agent after that because he had "free agent" rights? I'd suppose not, but I want to make sure..."

No, he's not, see Ortiz, David, and Cat, F-.
   309. Eugene Freedman Posted: December 31, 2003 at 09:38 AM (#570950)
I'd much rather have Lightenberg than DeJean. So much for making progress all around. Unless he's for 2 years at Lightenberg's team option, it's a big mistake.
   310. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 31, 2003 at 02:04 PM (#570953)
78 sounds reasonable to me, I wonder if everyone in the east besides the DRays can finish over .500
   311. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: December 31, 2003 at 03:55 PM (#570955)
More like 61 wins. They had no right winning as many games as they did last year.
   312. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 31, 2003 at 04:32 PM (#570956)
But DeJean's a proven closer...

Prooooven...... clossssser.....

And I predict 81 wins if they sign Guerrero, 75 wins if they don't. And fourth place again.
   313. RP Posted: December 31, 2003 at 05:00 PM (#570957)
They had no right winning as many games as they did last year.

Based on what, exactly?
   314. Snowboy Posted: December 31, 2003 at 06:05 PM (#570958)
Oracle is right, the Orioles rotation is weak. Maybe nobody's talking about it because they assume there will be signings. Or maybe not many people have noticed. It's headed by Rodrigo Lopez, who was not very good last year, and Omar Daal, who was sent to the bullpen. After that it's guys from their minors, which a year ago many were saying was about the worst organization for prospects.
   315. Snowboy Posted: December 31, 2003 at 06:05 PM (#570959)
Oops, did the Phillies offer Millwood arbitration?
   316. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: December 31, 2003 at 08:05 PM (#570961)
The pitching will stink, even if they sign somebody. The Sox and Yanks will bash away at each other in 2004; hopefully by 2005 some of the O's young pitchers will be ready to help them win some games.

They could score some runs in 2004 though, particularly if they land Vlad and are willing to give Cust 350+ pa's.
   317. fables of the deconstruction Posted: January 02, 2004 at 12:32 AM (#570963)
The Orioles continue to shore up a really scary pitching rotation by doing nothing in particular. As long as the O's are in a spending mood, they really should just go for broke and give reasonable offers to Maddux and Ponson.
   318. Eugene Freedman Posted: January 11, 2004 at 09:49 PM (#571440)
Although adding Ponson, who appeared to break through last season would be helpful long-term, as he is still on the right side of 30, adding Maddux or Rogers would only be a short term help. That help would be eating innings so that their younger pitchers could develop more slowly.

Rogers at 39 might still be able to churn out around 190 IP at league average. Moving from the very hitters friendly Texas to the mildly hitters friendly Minnesota he showed decline. Moving to a pitchers park like Camden Yards could mask his decline even more. Granted his two best comps for his age are Wells and Moyer, so perhaps he's got a little left. Plus Rogers could come very cheap. I'd take him as long as it's a one year deal at under $2M. If it also has an option for year 2 based upon IP, I might be okay with it.

Maddux may cost a lot more and he took an even larger backwards step last year. It might not be a true showing, but he's not the power pitcher of Seaver or Clemens. He's more like a control artist Fergie Jenkins who put together two decent years at 39 and 40, but nothing special.

The O's need pitching. Please, Please don't sign Pudge.
   319. David Jones Posted: January 11, 2004 at 10:13 PM (#571441)
Eugene et al,

The Orioles look like they are going to sign Ponson, for something in the neighborhood of 3 years/21 million. Maddux and Rogers would be a waste of money, in my opinion.

Let's look at the bright side: The O's look much better now than they did a year ago, both for 2004 and in the future. They lost out on Guerrero, but don't be surprised if they make a strong bid to land Magglio Ordonez next offseason, if he's not traded before then.

Yes, they are still the 4th best team in the division. But they are a much improved team. Let us not forget, they just replaced Deivi Cruz and Brook Fordyce with Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez. Making this team good again wasn't going to happen overnight, but they are moving in the right direction.

While Surhoff will probably make the team, I'd be shocked if he took away significant playing time from Larry Bigbie. It's not a platoon situation, after all. The new manager and the front office like Bigbie, they played him consistently down the stretch last year and will almost certainly do so again in 2004. My guess would be that Surhoff will play in case of injury to one of the outfielders, or to spell Palmeiro at first base, and that's about it. I'd be very surprised if he got more than 150 PAs next year, and wouldn't be at all surprised if he was released sometime during the season, or traded. He was, after all, only signed to a minor league deal.
   320. David Jones Posted: January 11, 2004 at 10:19 PM (#571442)
Actually, now that I think more about it, I think the spring training story is going to be who gets the last roster spot, Surhoff or Cust.

Right now, you know that you've got the following guys who will be on the roster, barring a trade:

C Javy Lopez
   321. David Jones Posted: January 11, 2004 at 11:39 PM (#571445)
So Jeremy, what you are saying is that this team:

C Brook Fordyce
   322. Dan Szymborski Posted: January 12, 2004 at 12:42 AM (#571447)
The Orioles do look much better in 2004 and beyond than they were a year ago.

The problem is that so does the rest of the AL East. 3rd place is the easiest target for the Orioles but the Blue Jays have the same offense returning but did a nice revamp of the pitching; they didn't add any stars but they got rid of pretty much everyone who wasn't pitching well.
   323. David Jones Posted: January 12, 2004 at 12:53 AM (#571448)
Dan,

No doubt that the division as a whole is going to be the strongest in baseball. But the Yankees (and to some extent, the Red Sox) seem to have fallen into a "win now" mode, and I wouldn't be surprised if, two or three years, the Yankees fell to fourth place.
   324. David Jones Posted: January 12, 2004 at 12:58 AM (#571449)
By the way, I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, but the Baltimore Sun reported today that the Orioles offered Guerrero a 6 year, $78 million deal before New Year's Day. So in the end, Vlad took less money to go to LA. Which kind of begs the question, why didn't the Dodgers get in on this, especially if Vlad was interested in staying in the NL?
   325. Miko Supports Shane's Spam Habit Posted: January 12, 2004 at 06:33 AM (#571451)
It's simple David, the Dodgers are stupid.

And/or they're hamstrung by the impending sale.
   326. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 12, 2004 at 06:38 AM (#571452)
Ownership issues fogged up the payroll situation
   327. RP Posted: January 12, 2004 at 02:52 PM (#571456)
Honestly, I think Tampa is significantly better.

How?
   328. Toolsy McClutch Posted: January 12, 2004 at 03:32 PM (#571457)
That walk rate is still really, really nice. If he can jive himself up to about .260 in BA, it'll be a nice signing.

Prediction, BJ won't get 100 ABs.
   329. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2004 at 09:59 PM (#571460)
What is their plan?

I don't get to sit in on their meetings, but the O's actions are consistent with the following:

1) our minor-league system is weak, especially at the upper levels, especially in hitting;

2) therefore we can't go with a young team yet, unless we want to give the D-Rays and Tigers a run for their money the next 2-3 seasons;

3) fortunately, we're a pretty high revenue team which means we can afford to put a decent team on the field while we remake our minor-league system;

4) so far, plenty of room in the rotation for the young pitchers, who are the young players we really need to sort out right now;

5) it's hard to go from 71 wins to playoff contention, but lord knows we tried to sign enough FA to do it (darn Vlad), but if we can get to 500 and get a little lucky (see Cubs, Marlins), maybe we'll sneak in or at least stay in the hunt long enough to increase fan interest.

If you make reasonable FA signings, this is probably exactly the strategy that a solid revenue team like the O's should follow in these circumstances. The Sufhoff fascination is not healthy, but the only big risk here is Lopez and as far as I know, he's not blocking anyone. Several young-ish position players (Matos, Roberts/Hairston, maybe Bigbie, Gibbons) are getting a shot to establish themselves. Yes, it would be nice to see Cust at DH (probably won't happen) and Bigbie in LF (might).

The O's should be much improved at C, 1B/DH (wherever Palmeiro goes), SS, and 3B (even if Mora goes back to hitting 260) and they may well have under-30 players everywhere else (maybe Surhoff gets hurt). Big steps in the right direction.
   330. Matthew E Posted: January 13, 2004 at 06:00 PM (#571465)
3rd place Maybe??????

No.

The three teams ahead of Baltimore are all too good. The only one that might implode enough for the Orioles to catch them are the Yankees, and that's if everything goes wrong, which it almost certainly won't.
   331. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: January 15, 2004 at 04:23 AM (#571687)
I don't think Rodrigo's arm is healthy. He wasn't just lucky in 2002 - his boring fastball was registering 93-95 with terrific command. But 3 seasons of winter ball and 2 complete ML seasons seem to have caught up with him. He's getting killed in Mexico this winter after an awful 2003. I'd be shocked if he can hold down a rotation spot all season, if he even makes it to the season.
   332. David Jones Posted: January 15, 2004 at 04:27 AM (#571688)
Dingbat,

I agree. Here's what I see their rotation being once thinks shake out:

Ponson
   333. mommy Posted: January 15, 2004 at 06:20 AM (#571695)
you would have a point carlos, if ponson is really as good as he was last year.

is he?

hmmm
   334. David Jones Posted: January 15, 2004 at 07:24 AM (#571697)
Dan in Toronto,

Of course, Sidney is not a #1 starter. But he was the best available starter left on the market, in my opinion. This year was just not a great year for free agent pitchers.

While the Orioles may have overpaid, it is safe to say that it doesn't really matter. It's only a three-year deal, and the Orioles aren't anywhere near their spending limit. This isn't the A's we are talking about here. The Orioles desperately needed to put something back into their rotation, so I think in this instance Ponson was worth the investment, even if they did overpay. When you have money, you can afford to overpay. Remember, Guerrero left a 6 year, 78 million deal from the Orioles on the table. That should give you some indication as to how much room they have to spend. And next year, Segui and Cordova's contracts both come off the books, so when you add that into the money they didn't spend on Guerrero, you're talking about plenty of cash to go out and get whatever they need.

Palmeiro is nothing more than a feel-good signing. He gets to end his career (probably) in Baltimore, the fans love him there, and he gives them a better option at first base for a year. I don't see a problem with it. I don't see a problem with Lopez either. I fail to see how paying a catcher who just came off one of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of that position 3 years, 24 million is significantly overspending. Remember, he's replacing Brook Fordyce. Will he repeat 2003? Almost certainly not, but he's better than Fordyce.

Also, Ponson's year last year wasn't significantly different than his past performance. It was right in line with what he had already done. The biggest difference was he was healthy and had better run support.

The Orioles are headed in the right direction, finally.
   335. David Jones Posted: January 15, 2004 at 07:33 AM (#571698)
The numbers on Ponson for his career:

Age ERA+
   336. OCF Posted: January 15, 2004 at 07:42 AM (#571700)
Rookie primate (post #8): click on (and bookmark) the link in "homepage" above.
   337. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: January 15, 2004 at 08:26 AM (#571702)
What has happened to John Stephens? I don't know what he did last year, but I think he has several seasons of excellent pitching and good K/BB ratios at AAA. Is there any reason not to put him in the rotation, or is he not the prospect I thought he was?
   338. 3RunHomer Posted: January 15, 2004 at 03:11 PM (#571705)
Why would you think Riley will be bounced? Beatagan's actions and words have been consistent all off-season regarding the rotation: they're going with the kids. Out with Hentgen and Johnson. In with Riley and Ainsworth and Dubose. Bautista, Bedard and Maine are getting their final tune-ups in the minors this season (probably up for a cup of coffee in September); they'll fill in any holes in the rotation for 2005.

It's a good plan. Hopefully Lee Mazzilli won't screw it up.
   339. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2004 at 03:55 PM (#571706)
I'd rather have Maddux if he'd sign for this amount, but Ponson should be good for 110 ERA+s for the O's.

Do you really think Maddux has 3 years of better than 110 ERA+'s left in him? Or were you thinking "if Maddux would sign for 1-2 years at $7.5 M each?"
   340. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: January 15, 2004 at 05:37 PM (#571707)
David, I'm also pleased with their direction. They avoided a Pudge panic-signing when Vlad went elsewhere. Ponson isn't cheap but he makes sense. I'm starting to trust Beatagan and look forward to their next move - a major change from years past.

I agree with other posters - I think they will go young with the pitchers and I think it's the right move. Dubose held his own last year, Riley looked tremendous in 2 starts vs. Toronto (I realize he's not as good as he looked, but it's promising).

In a dream-world scenario:

~ Loewen develops quickly and becomes the staff ace within 2-3 years.

~ Spots 2-5 become populated with some combo of:
   341. bhoov Posted: January 15, 2004 at 10:15 PM (#571708)
This signing appears to be right in line with what the market for pitchers presently is. If Escobar (110 ERA+) got 6.25 million a year, Colon (116 ERA+) got $12.75 million a year and Maddux (105 ERA+)is going to get $7 million a year, then Ponson (115 ERA+) at 7.5 million a year seems about right. Colon is grossly ovepaid one here. Although Colon's 242 innings and his 148 ERA+ in 2002 make him more valuable than the others, that doesn't account for an extra $5 million a year. Of course I'd rather have Miguel Batista at 3.5 mill than any of them.
   342. Sam M. Posted: January 16, 2004 at 10:24 PM (#571712)
Are the Orioles going to finish fourth again anyway?

This is way out there, but I suspect the odds are pretty good either the Red Sox or the Yankees take a tumble. They each sport relatively old rosters, with several key players having substantial injury histories. They each have probably a very strong chance of being as good or better than they were last year, so I'd pick them both ahead of the Orioles. But I think there's a solid chance for the Orioles to move ahead of one of them. Put another way, I'd say they've positioned themselves to take advantage of a collapse by one of them, whereas last year it would have done them no good even if it would have happened.
   343. Mike Piazza Posted: January 19, 2004 at 09:18 AM (#571469)
Mr. Cust?
   344. Eugene Freedman Posted: January 29, 2004 at 03:10 AM (#572171)
I'm just glad he now has more than one million per kid. Good for Melvin, Ms. Mora, and his full house. Thank goodness Bob Saget doesn't live there.
   345. Darren Posted: January 29, 2004 at 03:15 PM (#572173)
Mora's a good bet to get on base at an above average clip and play an above average 2B, SS, and CF. That's a pretty valuable guy, but at age 32, this contract may be on the pricey side. What do people think he would have gotten in FA?

Perhaps the O's are banking on Mora continuing his higher level of production now that his kids are probably sleeping through.
   346. Toolsy McClutch Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:02 PM (#572174)
I think we should call "Spring Training" "Sprig Training" from now on. It has a much more summerly feel.
   347. Joe Morgan Posted: January 29, 2004 at 06:09 PM (#572175)
Ottawa should be the early favorite to win the IL because Clay Bellinger knows how to win. He was on several championship clubs in New York and if the Orioles were smart they would call him up and start him at second base because he knows what it takes to win.
   348. Shiny Beast Posted: January 29, 2004 at 07:53 PM (#572177)
Thank goodness Bob Saget doesn't live (t)here.

This is something I say to myself first thing every morning, right after, "Where the #### am I?"
   349. Darren Posted: January 30, 2004 at 04:49 AM (#572184)
Look at his second half last year and his full seasons in 2001 and 2002. There is one outlier in his career...the first half of 2003. To expect him to hit like that again is not realistic. It may happen, of course (he did it for 2-3 months afterall) but why Baltimore is paying as if they expect it to happen is beyond me.

If they were paying him like they expected him to keep hitting that way, he'd be making $15 mil/year. They're probably expecting him to hit something like the .258 .352 .419 that ZIPS projects for him, and continue to play good defense at several positions.

Isn't a guy who can play only SS (or 3B or 2B) and hit that well worth $3.5 mil/year? Aaron Boone will make twice that (.253 .323 .432), Alfonzo will too (.271 .357 .410), Cabrera (.286 .343 .430) almost twice).

Mora hits that well and plays SS + several other positions.
   350. Gainsay Posted: January 30, 2004 at 08:10 PM (#572186)
This seems like a decent signing to me. His contract isn't going to cripple the Orioles even if he stops hitting. I think it's worth re-signing a guy whose been an okay hitter while playing a variety of defensive positions and establishing himself as a player fans can recognize.
   351. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2004 at 07:54 PM (#573409)
Do these moves make any sense at all, at any level of comprehension? What the hell are Beatagan thinking?
   352. Sam M. Posted: April 11, 2004 at 09:33 PM (#573411)
The Mets just lost Cliff Floyd for what is likely to be an extended period, and Karim Garcia has a fractured finger. They also have no outfielders worth a damn in the upper minors. Mr. Duquette, please put in a call to Camden Yards!
   353. scott Posted: April 11, 2004 at 11:21 PM (#573413)
#######, someone take cust and use him!
   354. Dan Szymborski Posted: April 12, 2004 at 12:01 AM (#573414)
Mr. Show references are always allowed on the oracle.
   355. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: April 12, 2004 at 12:11 AM (#573415)
I think the Mets should definetely look into acquiring Cust. He might not be anything special, but right now with Garcia and Floyd maybe in the DL, any LHB who can hold his own would do.
   356. NTNgod Posted: April 12, 2004 at 12:36 AM (#573417)
If the Mets acquired Cust, where would they put him?

His glove would be sub-Cedeno in the outfield, and putting him at first would mean moving Phillips to another position.
   357. Sam M. Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:02 AM (#573418)
If the Mets acquired Cust, where would they put him?

NTNGod -- Eventually, in Norfolk. For now, he'd give us some pop off the bench, which we're going to need desperately with Floyd on the DL. Since we're not going to score many runs, the need for an effective PH will be heightened.

The real question is: who else have we got, especialy if we need to fill two spots (if both Floyd and Garcia need time on the DL)? The answer: Nobody.
   358. NTNgod Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:06 AM (#573419)
Cust is out of options.
   359. NTNgod Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:07 AM (#573420)
OOPS. Hit post too soon.

Baltimore Sun - March 10, 2004

"I hope they want me on the team. I'm out of options," said the 25-year-old New Jersey native who could not be assigned to the minor leagues unless he cleared waivers.
   360. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:18 AM (#573421)
Is Jack Cust a worse defender than Cliff Floyd?
   361. Darren Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:42 AM (#573423)
It sounds like Cust belongs at DH. The Tigers just lost Dmitri so they could use him.

Beatagain moves are such a mixed bag it's hard to tell what's going on there. Maybe one of them is really good and the other is really bad? I dunno.

I've gone over this a bit on Sox Therapy, but Stephens has been really great everywhere he's pitched except MLB. That's not surprising for a 24 year old.

Even in the MLB, his DIPS ERA is under 5.00. He had good Ks, BBs, and hits, but gave up way too many HRs. It hurt him much more than you would expect. He's a good candidate to be a good #3 or #4 guy in the near future, 84 MPH fastball or not.
   362. Dan Szymborski Posted: April 12, 2004 at 02:58 AM (#573426)
I'd rather have Bruce Chen than the pitching equivalent of B.J. Surhoff.
   363. RP Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:04 PM (#573430)
As an O's fan, I'm a lot more upset by losing Stephens than Cust. I think a lot of the handwringing here over Cust is overblown. He's basically Jeremy Giambi without as much ML success. I'd certainly rather see Cust get ABs instead of Surhoff, but I just don't think Cust is going to be a significant contributor at any point, so it's not that big a deal.

OTOH, Stephens might be a very effective ML pitcher if given the chance, and losing him for nothing to a division rival is frustrating.
   364. Darren Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:17 PM (#573431)
I think Cust would be lucky to turn into Little G. G made a lot of contact in the minors and put up eye-popping numbers at AA and AAA, unlike Cust.

I can't think of who you would compare Stephens to. When did he throw in the 90s and why doesn't he anymore?
   365. tlbos Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:43 PM (#573432)
I guess I'm the opposite of RP - I don't understand exposing Cust (quiet Piazza), but Stephens doesn't bother me. Cust plays the same "position" as Segui, Surhoff, Cordova, etc. Really what I don't get is why they didn't just throw Cordova on the 60 day DL - he's out until late May last I heard anyway, and that at least gives you another month to look at Cust. I've given up on hoping for an end to the irrational Surhoff affection. Fans like him, players like him, front office likes him. Cordova is not particularly popular, and he also sucks.

Stephens at this point is basically an oft-injured righty soft tosser. He used to throw maybe 90ish, then hurt his neck seriously diving for a ball early in his minor league career. Since then he's hurt his hip and his hand as well. Now he's sporting about an 82mph heater, and I don't see him regaining any velocity. He's fun to watch, has great control, mixes his pitches well, and has a plus curveball at any level. The minors, though, are full of hitters who can't recognize pitches or hit breaking stuff. When the O's brought him up a few years back, he predictably got hit hard.

These are definitely two interesting guys for the stathead community, and I hope they both get a shot somewhere - for curiosity's sake if nothing else. I'm predicting Cust becomes an average DH, but I'd be stunned to see Stephens have much of a career.
   366. RP Posted: April 12, 2004 at 01:56 PM (#573433)
I don't know...Stephens had a good K rate at the ML level even while getting hit hard. It might take him a few years to adjust, but I just don't agree with the argument that he can't be successful b/c his fastball tops out in the low 80s. I don't think Moyer throws much harder than that. (Of course it took Moyer 10 years to put it together.)
   367. Jack Who Resembles Voros (before he got fat) Posted: April 12, 2004 at 03:46 PM (#573434)
When Surhoff and Segui get injured in 4 weeks, they'll regret this.
   368. Dave M Posted: April 12, 2004 at 04:47 PM (#573435)
I've always hoped that Cust would get a fair shot, but I'm not upset much by either move.
   369. Darren Posted: April 12, 2004 at 08:44 PM (#573440)
Cust has put up good numbers in AAA. Maybe not eye-popping, but still very good...

You left off the huge K totals and Little G.'s numbers at the same age:

1997 Spokane AA, Age 22: .321/.422/.507 in 268 AB
   370. Michael Posted: April 12, 2004 at 08:55 PM (#573441)
One other thing about Cust's AAA numbers - the parks where he put up decent power numbers were high altitude hitter's parks. There is little reason to think that he'll put up decent power in the majors. A very good obp probably, but not decent power. But since he's very bad once he gets on base, and has no defensive value, that probably isn't enough.
   371. Mike Piazza Posted: April 13, 2004 at 12:12 AM (#573443)
Did someone expose themself?
   372. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: April 13, 2004 at 01:14 AM (#573444)
"One other thing about Cust's AAA numbers - the parks where he put up decent power numbers were high altitude hitter's parks. There is little reason to think that he'll put up decent power in the majors. A very good obp probably, but not decent power. But since he's very bad once he gets on base, and has no defensive value, that probably isn't enough." Quoted from post #33. (sorry, I can't figure how to get the italics to work.

1. He won't lose his ability to draw walks in the majors.
   373. Michael Posted: April 13, 2004 at 03:09 AM (#573446)
Losing 200 points of slugging from last year would mean that he would only hit singles. Which would mean that he'd be getting on at a decent clip, but would be clogging the basepaths.

BTW, it's not that there aren't worse hitters than Cust on the Orioles - it's just that when all is said and done, it's not that bad of a move to dfa him - at this stage there have to be significant doubts if he'll ever be a player who can contribute to a good team. A professional hitter who hasn't power, who can't run, and is a horrible fielder might be a little better than the alternatives at the moment for the Orioles, but not by much.
   374. Clyde Posted: April 13, 2004 at 04:10 AM (#573447)
"A professional hitter who hasn't power."

I'm not sure I buy the argument that his power is a fabrication of the hitters parks he played in. He slugged .521 (albeit very small sample size) with Baltimore, and projects to slug .439 this season by BP.

The point is, Baltimore probably should have found a way to get him 300 abs.
   375. Dan Szymborski Posted: April 13, 2004 at 10:29 AM (#573451)
But Surhoff at this point is only a "backup outfielder" in assigned role, not ability. He's not going to be playing any centerfield and his defense has dropped off considerably the last few years when he's been healthy enough to hobble onto the field.
   376. rlc Posted: April 13, 2004 at 06:10 PM (#573456)
People keep saying Surhoff's defense makes him the obvious choice over Cust, and yet seven games into the season Mazilli has already put Bautista in the outfield once and forfeited his DH once rather than put versatile veteran meaty manly BJ Bench Coach into the field.

Finally, don't underestimate the value of player-coaches. Surhoff, by all accounts, never stops talking about baseball. He WILL be a manager someday, and a good one. [...] This is a young team, and they need that kind of influence.

There's no piece of trash I've more regretted throwing away than that original Vecsey "Meaty, manly" piece. It was from spring training in 2003, and Vecsey asked non-roster invitee Surhoff if he was being brought in to mentor the young prospects. Surhoff's response was basically "They tried those guys last year and they stunk. I'm here to be the starting left fielder."

--

"OK, kid, now that we've covered badmouthing, what else do you want to learn about being a big-leaguer? Shall we move on to backstabbing?"
   377. Ben Posted: April 13, 2004 at 08:35 PM (#573458)
Manager-bench coach-3rd base coach-1st base coach-bullpen catcher-hitting coach-pitching coach. That's 7 guys whose ENTIRE job is mentoring. That doesn't include assorted other guys like outfield coaches and special assistants.

There is no reason to waste TWO roster spots on even more coaches, especially when the young guys who need mentoring are 25-27, which isn't that young.
   378. tlbos Posted: April 14, 2004 at 12:27 PM (#573462)
Actually my issue with Surhoff is largely based around the fact that he is in no way a fourth outfielder. If Cust is not a competent backup outfielder, neither is Surhoff at this stage in his career. He's almost totally immobile. Surhoff is a pinch hitter, and he's not a terrible one. You could reasonably make the case that he'll be better this year than Leon, McDonald, Raines or Swann, who are probably the best in-house options at this point.

The point though is that Cust is a completely immobile pinch hitter who's better now, and as a bonus is a decade+ younger. I'd also wager you can find freely available talent that can put up 100 OPS+ from the DH position. If the argument is that Surhoff provides some sort of "intangibles," well, you can't win that argument with statistics. As far as his on the field contributions go, he's about league average offense and zero defense.
   379. Dan Szymborski Posted: April 17, 2004 at 01:52 PM (#573468)
All that B.J. Surhoff D was before the last 2 injury-prone seasons.

Cust probably got caught here because of his D. It's hard to add a DH to a roster this time of the year.
   380. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: April 18, 2004 at 06:10 PM (#573469)
How in the name of all that is logical did Jack Cust clear waivers?
   381. NTNgod Posted: April 18, 2004 at 09:58 PM (#573470)
How in the name of all that is logical did Jack Cust clear waivers?

No options, and no glove.
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