We had a lot of questions this week. We will get to the rest for next week.
Would you trade Zach Britton for Josh Vitters?
I am usually not one for trade speculation, but I thought this one was interesting. The Cubs have a glut of infield prospects and a dearth of pitching prospects so it is definitely possible they would consider making this move. Zach Britton is out of options and even though he has been playing well this spring, at some point he may falter and then the Orioles will have a tough choice to make. Vitters has struggled mightily in his short time in the majors. His short 2012 stint was putrid. He was a formerly highly rated prospect and put up some good numbers in the hitter friendly PCL. If this deal were to happen right now, I would say no. Britton has shown some promise coming out of the bullpen this Spring and Vitters has severe drawbacks to his game. Maybe, down the line, and especially if a J.J. Hardy extension does not come to fruition, I would consider it further. I do not think either team right now is in a rush to deal either player.
What do you make of the Orioles using Zach Britton for one inning on two day’s rest? Could the Orioles be thinking about using him as a reliever?
I think that is definitely the case. At this point I think the plan is to essentially “Matusz” him and relegate him to the bullpen to see if they can squeeze out any bit of value. With no options and basically no possibility of making it through waivers, the Orioles have to do whatever they can to keep Britton on the 25 man roster. And with the current roster construction, that is likely to be in the bullpen. I think it is possible that a trade occurs, but it is hard to give away a hard throwing lefty sinker baller at what essentially is his lowest value. So for now, Britton will be a reliever but he has a shot of cracking the rotation if others falter due to injury or poor performance.
What do you expect from Zach Davies this year?
The small-framed righty has really gotten my attention over the past few years. While he does not have any pitches that are plus, he does have a well-rounded arsenal with potential solid-average pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup). The pitchability, command and control are all plus and he could be a solid starter in the back-end of a major league rotation one day. He is most likely starting 2014 in AA-Bowie, and it will be his first true test. It may be a tough go-around for him, but Davies is a smart dude and I think he should be just fine. He will have to keep the ball down especially, as the more advanced hitters in AA will tear up pitches left over the zone. Check out this interview with Zach from this off-season.
How has last years pick Daniel Ayers performed?
Ayers did not have a good season statistically in 2013, but who cares about stats in the Gulf Coast League. They are useless. What I care more about is what I see and hear. Ayers’ name has repeatedly been mentioned to me since he was selected in the 25th round. He has a legitimate arsenal with a potential solid-average fastball, plus curveball and a changeup with some room for growth. Unfortunately, I did not get to see him down in Sarasota last week, but he is a guy to keep an eye on for 2014. Hopefully we see him in Delmarva or Aberdeen at some point. I personally think he is a reliever all the way, but I am sure the Orioles will stretch him out a little bit, because why not?
Could Alex Gonzalez earn the back-up infielder spot on the team over Alexi Casilla?
I had thought this spring that Casilla would eventually be on the opening day roster for multiple reasons. One, he can play multiple infield positions well. Versatility is a highly underrated and underpaid talent. Two, he was on the team last year. Three, he is cheap. However, with the injury to his hamstring, Casilla does not seem as likely to make the team as before camp started. It is unfortunate for players, but one prolonged injury in spring can greatly hinder their chances of making the team. Therefore, Alex Gonzalez fits Casilla’s role essentially. He is cheap and can play multiple infield positions. It is definitely possible he makes the team. Also, in the running for that Utility role is Jemile Weeks, however I think with his option that he will be sent to Norfolk to play every day. Another scenario to keep an eye on is the possibility that Manny Machado is not ready for Opening Day.
What is your opinion on the future of Henry Urrutia beyond this season? With RF likely to be “open” for competition in 2015, is Henry a legitimate solution at that position or is the former Cuban star just a”fringe” major-leaguer?
I have a scouting report on Urrutia coming shortly, so keep an eye out for that.