Thursday, December 9, 2010

O's trade for Hardy & Harris

JJ Hardy has potential to significantly upgrade production from the SS position.

GM Andy MacPhail is still busy at the winter meetings, pulling off another trade, this time sending minor league pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson to the Twins for SS JJ Hardy and utility infielder Brendan Harris.

Hardy is the centerpiece of the deal, as he is a player who has once hit 26 and 24 home runs. Unfortunately, Hardy has seen his production slip the last 2 years due to injury. In 2010, he batted .268 with 6 home runs and a .714 OPS in 101 games. And while that is already a huge upgrade from Cesar Izturis, there is potential for Hardy to offer even more.

So already, the O's have made two significant upgrades at positions of need in Reynolds and Harris. At 3B and SS last year, the Orioles got an OPS of .668 and .549. In 2010, Reynolds and Hardy each had an OPS of .753 and .714. And with MacPhail left with several options at 1B, it'll be almost impossible not to upgrade on the .625 OPS the O's got from that position last year.

Harris looks to be a decent utility player. His career .701 OPS is average, but he's had an OPS of .672 and .446 in the last two years, so it won't be a surprise if Harris doesn't last long in Baltimore. But the O's got the player they wanted -- Hardy -- for much less than it would have cost to get the other SS they were looking at, Jason Bartlett. The Rays were rumored to have wanted Nolan Reimold and Alfredo Simon for Bartlett, who is about the same kind of player that Hardy is at this point in their careers. And the O's were right not to give up on Reimold yet. Although he is 27 years old, his off the field issues resulted in a 2010 season that Reimold is hoping to bounce back from. And there is reason to hope he will. His OBP has always been solid and his potential for power is tough to ignore. Hopefully Reimold will be one of the better stories throughout the 2011 season.

To get Hardy and Harris, the O's gave up Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson, and it doesn't look like the O's gave up much. Hoey has a 8.13 ERA in 34.1 innings pitched with the Orioles, but his MiL numbers point to him being a live arm out of the bullpen. But with many live arms, there is potential for little control, which resulted in Hoey's departure. Jacobson, the player the O's received in the Aubrey Huff trade to Detroit in 2009, is the more promising pitcher. The 23 year old posted an 8-1 season in Frederick with a 2.79 ERA in 2010. And while he is a little old to be in Frederick, he still could be a useful arm for the Twins down the road.

So there it is. The O's continue to improve, although not drastically, and not in ways that are going to sell many tickets ahead of time. But there is potential for each move to work out more than it doesn't.

I guess we can be happy about that.

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