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July 24, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Centerpiece of the Franchise

by R.J. Anderson and Nick J. Faleris



IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers for INF-L Nick Delmonico. [7/23]

If the 2012 Orioles taught us anything, it's that a stellar bullpen can sometimes overcome a shaky rotation. It requires a few things to be true—the rotation can't be so bad as to give away games, and the offense must be potent enough to overcome some early-inning shortcomings—but it can be done. This year's Orioles have failed to replicate that late-inning success, in part because both units have performed worse as wholes*.

*It's worth noting that the Orioles' bullpen numbers are skewered by some poor performances, notably Pedro Strop's messy work. Several relievers have pitched as well or better than they did last season, meaning their team rank doesn't tell of the actual talent level.

Dan Duquette is unwilling to go quietly, so he's made two small moves in recent weeks. First he added Scott Feldman to bolster the back of his rotation. Now he's grabbed Rodriguez from the Brewers, ostensibly with an eye on using him as one of his late-inning relievers. Rodriguez has taken a weird path to this point. He was unemployed until mid-April, spent another few weeks in the minors, and then—upon joining the big-league club—ascended to the closer's role before he could find a suitable apartment. What looked like a cheap milestone grab—Rodriguez needed six saves to reach 300 for his career—instead appears to be a transparent attempt to increase his marketability.

Whether the ploy worked or not is unknown. Rodriguez did show in 25 innings that he can still contribute in the majors. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he uses two secondary offerings, a changeup and curveball, to keep hitters honest. The changeup is worth watching in particular, since he's willing to use it as an out pitch against right-handers. While Rodriguez is unlikely to keep his ERA this shiny moving forward, he does set off a chain reaction in the O's bullpen. His arrival means Buck Showalter can use Rodriguez, Darren O'Day, or Tommy Hunter in the sixth inning if needed; it also bumps a lesser reliever from the totem pole.

Adding Rodriguez won't be the flashiest move of the deadline, but it will improve the Orioles. R.J. Anderson

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<< Previous Article
Baseball ProGUESTus: T... (07/24)
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Transaction Analysis: ... (07/23)
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