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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Orioles - Activated Matos

Baltimore Orioles - Activated OF Luis Matos from the 15-day DL; optioned UT David Newhan to Ottawa.

Pretty much everyone saw this coming once the Orioles picked up Eli Marrero.  Hard to make any other decision; Surhoff has been hitting the ball well lately (and it’s not like they’d ever DFA him if he weren’t).  I don’t really mind Surhoff’s existence as long as there’s no chance he takes at-bats away from other deserving players.  Newhan should be back - there’s a lot of the season to go.  I hope he’s got enough at-bats to get the proven label and NRIs for the rest of his career; you hate to see a guy’s rapid rise and fall be solely due to the concept of sample size.


Dan Szymborski Posted: June 19, 2005 at 01:15 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Zapatero Posted: June 19, 2005 at 02:40 PM (#1415450)
Dan: What do you have against BJ Surhoff?

"Sure, the Orioles will screw it up somehow, but at least let me enjoy the brief, shining moment in which I can dream about an overachieving young player making and Surhoff being sent to Timbuktu or Duluth or Bullamanka or wherever mediocre outfielders go to die." (2/23/05 -- Matt Diaz signing)

"For the time being, the Oriole outfield will be some combination of Bigbie, Surhoff, Newhan, and Gibbons with the execrable Keith Reed being called up for one of the DLers and will be the last reserve. With Matos gone, the Orioles have one of the most top-heavy lineups I’ve ever seen - there’s simply nobody who’s about average, all Hall of Famer performances (Lopez, Tejada, Mora, Roberts) or replacement level or worse (All the outfielders, Palmeiro)." (5/11 -- Matos and Sosa hit the DL)

"The Orioles were short on roster room. After all, with young slugger B.J. Surhoff desperately needed to get the Orioles to the Series..." (4/11/04 -- O's DFA Jack Cust)

"Surhoff was placed on the DL. And to think I actually used to like the guy. The Orioles are becoming more and more like Irwin Allen?s worst disaster flick, The Swarm. Like the movie, the Orioles are full of people you?ve heard of giving generally lackluster performances, collecting one last paycheck at the end of their careers." (AL East Review, 4/8/03)

Here are Surhoff's stats for the last three years
2003 319 AB; 94 H; 20 2b; 5 HR; 29 BB; .295/.353/.404
2004 343 AB; 106 H; 12 2b; 8 HR; 30 BB; .309/.365/.420
2005 145 AB; 42 H; 5 2b; 4 HR; 4 BB; .290/.307/.434

Those numbers are remarkably consistent. Apart from the fact that he seems to have forgotten how to take a walk this year, they're basically the same again in 2005. Surhoff's decline seems to have flattened out to where he's been basically the same player for the last few years.

Surhoff is what he is. He's a capable 4th or 5th outfielder. He'll hit at about 750 OPS, which is more than many backups can do (Heck, some of the O's regular starters have struggled to do that in the past couple of years). His legs are gone, but he's good enough at positioning himself that he's not an embarassment on defense. In short, Surhoff is a professional Major League backup outfielder. He's certainly better than Tim Raines Jr, Keith Reed, or whoever the other options have been.

With all the problems this team has had in the past few years, Surhoff has hardly been the guy to blame for their losses. He's gotten too many at-bats, but that's not his fault. A combination of injuries and mismanagement has made him the best option for the manager way too much of the time. But last year in particular he stepped up and filled in capably when, at one point, the entire starting outfield was on the DL.

BJ Surhoff won't make a bad team good, but he will make a good team better. Sometimes the situation calls for a lefty with (until this year) good plate discipline and a little power. .290/.350/.410 is not a bad line from your backup outfielder. And it's not a bad ending for the 41-year-old's career (18 years, 2000+ hits, and counting). I'm rooting for the guy -- I hope he can keep this up for another year or two. Let Markakis, Fiorentino and Majewski (when he comes back) get their AB in the minors until they're good enough to push Surhoff into the 3rd base coach's box.
   2. Cowboy Popup Posted: June 19, 2005 at 04:29 PM (#1415600)
Well, the O's survived the hole in center for a few weeks, this is gonna make em that much harder to catch.
   3. fables of the deconstruction Posted: June 19, 2005 at 04:47 PM (#1415626)
Dan: What do you have against BJ Surhoff?

Not to reply for Dan since he's perfectly capable of answering for himself. My thoughts about Surhoff basically boil down to if you have a 41 year old 5th outfielder on the roster of a team like the 2003-2005 Orioles, the manager is simply going to overuse and abuse him at the cost of of other more 'valuable' players. This even extends to the bailiwick of the GM in searching for an equivilent younger player who would have greater value going forward. The 2005 Orioles having players like Surhoff, Palmeiro and Sammy Soso is a form of 'security' in an environment where 'challenge' should be the focus. Having one of these players on the roster would be fine and perfectly acceptable. Having all 3 is simply overkill, possibly fostering dependency rather than encouraging growth.

"Real Boats Rock!"

trevise :-) ...
   4. fables of the deconstruction Posted: June 19, 2005 at 11:54 PM (#1416402)
And don't get me started on the wailing about his kid, as if Surhoff and his $20 million was forced at gunpoint to go to Atlanta.


You mean Angelos's slow march to the Georgia line behind BJ was just a hallucination...? ;-) ...

trevise :-) ...
   5. RP Posted: June 20, 2005 at 12:23 AM (#1416428)
The 2005 Orioles having players like Surhoff, Palmeiro and Sammy Soso is a form of 'security' in an environment where 'challenge' should be the focus. Having one of these players on the roster would be fine and perfectly acceptable. Having all 3 is simply overkill, possibly fostering dependency rather than encouraging growth.

What on earth are you talking about? Are we talking about the same team? The same Orioles that have given significant playing time to a 22 year old OF from single A and a 20 year starter from AA? Are you saying the Orioles shouldn't have traded for Sosa? What would you have done instead?

This isn't the 2002 Orioles, and it's silly to criticize this team for stupid moves the team made several years ago.

Also, you can't complain about the Orioles lack of depth while simultaneously complaining about a guy like Surhoff.
   6. fables of the deconstruction Posted: June 20, 2005 at 12:53 AM (#1416468)

I don't have a lot of time so I'll give you the basics and you'll have to wait on detail until next weekend if you want it...

The three Geriatric Amigos are redundant. One would suffice for the 2005 Orioles. During the off season, they could have had "younger, cheaper" to do the same things. The part of my post that you left out was just as important as what you included and explains the dependency. I'm not complaining about the Orioles lack of depth since my focus (from 2001) has been on the 2006-2007 seasons. (Even with the disasterous 2002 season ending episode) For 2005, anything above 85-86 wins is just bonus...

2006 - 95+ wins and significant playoff exposure
2007 - World Series Championship
2008 - ??? (Depends)

trevise :-) ...
   7. RP Posted: June 20, 2005 at 01:34 AM (#1416544)
Sorry -- the depth comment was intended for Dan, not you.

I still don't see how the orioles could have gotten younger and cheaper in RF, 1b, and 4th/5th OF this year. Who should they playing in RF or 1B instead (aside for Delgado...I agree that the Orioles should have made more of an effort to sign him)? That fact is that the Orioles have a pretty nice balance of younger and older players, and they're well positioned for the next 4-5 years with guys like Penn, Fiorentino and Maine coming up. Palmeiro, Sosa and Surhoff aren't blocking anyone this year and are all contributing to a team that's led the division all year. What's there to complain about?
   8. Zapatero Posted: June 20, 2005 at 03:19 AM (#1416776)
I don't think young players should be given the backup OF/PH job. I think young players should get a full season of AB so that they can develop. That can happen in AAA or in the majors.

Surhoff has never blocked a good O's prospect during his second stint with the team. There weren't many teams with a younger projected starting lineup in 2004 than Bigbie, Matos and Gibbons. Injuries derailed that, but nobody was seriously talking about Surhoff as a frequent starter until those injuries occurred.

Now the team has Fiorentino, Markakis and Majewski. They're each a year or two away, but they'll be banging on the door soon enough. When they're ready, they should become big league starters. Until then, they should be AAA starters. Either way, someone else should be the backup/PH. Honestly, Bigbie looks like a good candidate for that job now that I think we're starting to get a sense for what his ceiling is going to be. But it's probably Surhoff's job until then.

Either way, Surhoff has never been the problem. Useless guys like Marty Cordova have clogged the roster, but Surhoff has had a defined role through 2003-05, and he's done exactly that role. It's a role a prospect could not have stepped into. We've seen him out there more than we would have liked because of injuries to the starters, but frankly I'm happier with Surhoff in left field than Newhan or Hairston or some of the other stopgaps they tried last year.

With all the ridiculous moves of the Syd Thrift era and even the early mistakes of Beattie and Flanagan, I just can't understand getting hung up on Surhoff. He's been one of the few pieces of the roster that was consistent and reliable over 2003 and 2004. It's nice that we're seeing a little less of him this year because it means the starters are finally doing their jobs a bit more.
   9. Carlos Posted: June 20, 2005 at 04:16 PM (#1417301)
BJ Surhoff's salary since he rejoined the O's and put up the numbers quoted above:
2003: $1M
2004: $0.8M
2005: $1.1M

That tiny investment produced WARP3's of: 2.0, 3.0, 2.1. His OPS+ the last 2 years was 104 & 101 and he's on pace for I'd guess the same this year.

And not a single complaint about playing time. And the ability to produce virtually identical numbers whether he plays 3 days in a row or just once / week. And he loves the team and the town and the fans -- those things count, maybe not for much, but they do count.

To criticize him (and the O's for having him) is just the kind of reflexive, unthinking prejudice that statheads are supposed to be opposed to.

And the notion that he'd be starting except for frailty is totally counterfactual. He wasn't the starter coming out of spring this year OR last year. And in fact, it's every other OF on the roster who has been frail over that time.

He's a great use of $1M and a roster spot. And I challenge you to find 5 teams who get better value from their 4th/5th OF spot.
   10. David C. Jones Posted: June 20, 2005 at 04:26 PM (#1417336)
"Younger, cheaper"...that seems to be the mantra around here. At times I'm not sure if you guys are talking about roster construction or prostitutes. Besides which, Surhoff made the ghastly sum of $800,000 last year. We aren't talking about a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. So that just leaves "younger." Somebody should link this analysis to the NAMBLA web site.

Anyone who seriously thinks that the Orioles would be starting Surhoff every day in place of Gibbons is either so deluded by his theories about what this team is or has simply not been watching or paying attention. And this #### is supposed to pass for analysis? Give me a break.

Surhoff has earned his PAs, period. This team is in first place, and needs to worry about trying to win as many games as possible this year. Surhoff is an asset in that quest. But I suppose the Orioles should have done the "smart" thing and traded for Charles Thomas and installed him as the regular left fielder?
   11. Rally Posted: June 20, 2005 at 05:42 PM (#1417496)
What do the North American Marlon Brando Lookalikes have to do with anything?

The Orioles are in position to win right now, so I've got no complaints about playing some older players. Sosa may not be anything close to what he once was, but he can give this team 25-30 homers. Surhoff is about perfect for the role of backup OF. He could teach Steve Finley a thing or two about how to play old person defense.

I'm not so sure about the future for this team as sooner or later the old guys will be gone, Roberts might lose his power, Tejada might get off to a 2003 start, pitchers will get hurt, etc.

But for 2005 so much has gone right. Its time to focus on putting an AL East division flag in Camden Yards. You never know when you'll get another shot.
   12. David C. Jones Posted: June 20, 2005 at 06:47 PM (#1417680)
I think Baltimore could also be competitive next year, but I believe B.J. Ryan is slated to be a free agent at the end of this year? He's now one of the very best closers in baseball, and really can't be replaced. They need to make sure that their bullpen stays solid. Otherwise, with their core group of offensive players, the development of one or two of their pitchers, and maybe a key free agent acquisition along the way, the 2006 Orioles could be better than the 2005 version.

And give credit to Thrift for two trades, one lesser the other greater. Ryan Minor for Jorge Julio was a steal; they got a quality hard-throwing setup man out of that deal. And the best was definitely Mike Bordick for Melvin Mora. Now, you could argue that this is just a case of a blind squirrel finding a nut, and you might be right, but the fact also remains that prior to the 2002 trading deadline, when Mora was still just a .230 hitter with a decent OBP and some power, Thrift said that all his players were available for trade, except Mora. That got a lot of laughs at this site at the time, but maybe Thrift saw something in Mora that everyone else missed.
   13. Carlos Posted: June 20, 2005 at 07:12 PM (#1417755)
Thrift most certainly did more harm than good (see, Sequi, D.; Cordova, M...), but he's responsible for some of the better players on this team. The much-maligned '99 draft produced: Roberts, Bedard and Bigbie. He traded for Mora & Julio. He picked up Gibbons for nothing from the Jays.

Of course, I'm still glad he's gone.
   14. Rally Posted: June 20, 2005 at 08:27 PM (#1417971)
the 2006 Orioles could be better than the 2005 version.

They might be a better bet starting 2006 than they were in Spring 2005. The 2005 season has had quite a few players playing at the top of their ability or beyond. You just can't count on that happening every year. You certainly can't predict it. You just enjoy it while it lasts.
   15. RP Posted: June 20, 2005 at 08:43 PM (#1418021)
Yeah...sometimes a team just has a FLUKE season in which everything breaks right and they win the World Series. :)

But seriously, the only player who's playing over his head right now is Roberts (and there's a chance -- however slight -- that this is a new level of ability).

Mora has been worse than he was last year (although still very good).

Tejada's # are consistent with last year.

Gibbons has been a bit better than he was in 2003, but he's also in his prime.

Bedard was great before the injury, but he's entering his prime and had great #s in the minors. I don't think it's fair to view him as a fluke.

Chen has been good, but he's also in his prime and was once a top prospect.

Cabrera has been very inconsistent.

Lopez has been pretty good, but not as good as he was last year.

Ponson is Ponson.

Ryan is doing just what he did last year.


I think the Orioles will be in very good shape going into next season. They have a ton of relief prospects in the minors, several decent young OFs, and Maine and Penn for the rotation.

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