August 27, 2012
Baltimore Adds Average Joe
You knew Dan Duquette became more and more likely to make a move for a starter the longer the Orioles stayed in the race. Now, just days before playoff rosters lock in place, Duquette has secured a veteran upgrade.
Saunders is not an exciting addition. In fact, part of his charm is a no-frills approach. Saunders doesn’t blow hitters away, nor does he outwit them on a consistent basis. He leans on a curveball to get ahead of lefties and put righties away, and locates his fastball and changeup to try to entice soft contact. A penchant for getting the double-play ball has helped Saunders’ ERA outshine his peripherals throughout his career, though he has bettered his strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. Saunders’ struggles with right-handers aside, he is what he is: An average-ish starter who should pitch better than the Orioles’ alternatives.
Saunders and Duquette have already made overtures about the lefty perhaps staying in Baltimore beyond this season, and Hokie Joe grew up and went to school in nearby Virginia. Baltimore may opt to see how Saunders fares in the American League East before committing.
Acquired RHP Matt Lindstrom from the Orioles for LHP Joe Saunders. [8/26]
There are few certainties in baseball; Lindstrom changing teams every year is one of them. Arizona is his fifth team in four seasons. A $4 million club option should keep Lindstrom in the desert for at least a part of next season, though it’s easy to understand why teams desire to acquire and rid themselves of him. Lindstrom’s stuff is impressive. His fastball ranges from the mid-to-upper-90s and he backs it up with a wipeout slider. Unfortunately, Lindstrom can have command issues with the slider. Left-handers have a history of success against Lindstrom, which makes him something of a right-handed specialist, albeit with perceived upside. Even so, getting Lindstrom in return for a few weeks of Saunders is a sound deal.
Expect Tyler Skaggs to hang around and take Saunders’ rotation spot. Should Skaggs perform reasonably well it would be fair to say the Diamondbacks upgraded their squad with this trade. Besides, it’s not like Saunders had a future with Arizona.