Monday, December 6, 2010

O's trade for Mark Reynolds

The O's traded for 3B Mark Reynolds, who many O's fans will no doubt compare to Rob Deer.

The Orioles made their first big move of the offseason, trading pitchers David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio for Diamondbacks 3B, Mark Reynolds.

It's a solid move to get a right-handed power bat into the line-up and fill a position of need at 3B. Reynolds has hit 32, 44 and 28 HR in the last 3 years and has a career .908 OPS against LHP.

The downside?

He hit .198 last season and lead the NL with 200+ strikeouts the last three seasons.

Yeah, you read that right.

Reynolds is not without some risk, but his upside is pretty big. He may strike out a ton but he can also get on base. Last year, with his .198 average and 211 K's, he was still able to get his OBP up to .320. And while Reynolds will never be a .300 hitter (his best year was .260 in 2009), if he can just get his average up to .220-.240 range, he could get on base at a .360 clip.

Then again, he could continue to struggle to get his average above the Mendoza line and his power could continue to decrease. He is, after all, going to be facing some of the best pitching the MLB has to offer in the AL East.

But when you consider what it took to acquire the 27-year old player, it was a good move.

David Hernandez was a promising pitcher, when he was coming up through the O's system with a K/9 rate that was around 10. But when he broke into the majors in 2009, the strikeouts weren't there. Hernandez threw a lot of pitches and never had an out pitch. He did well in the bullpen in 2010 (2.95 ERA in 39 IP with a 11.1 K/9), but you have to give up something to get something in return, and Hernandez was the centerpiece of the deal for Arizona.

Mickolio, whom the Orioles acquired in the Erik Bedard trade back in 2008, always had potential to blossom into a powerful arm out of the bullpen, but he never lived up to that potential due to injuries and control issues. Mickolio had a K/9 rate above 12 in Norfolk this year, but his BB/9 went up to 4.

The Diamondbacks needed bullpen help, and with Hernandez and Mickolio, they got two good youngish arms that could do well with a change in scenery. And since the DBacks made it well known that they wanted to shed some of the K's in their line-up, Reynolds was not going to cost the Orioles that much.

Strangely, rumors were that the O's wanted to trade Chris Tillman to the the Diamondbacks, but the Dbacks were insistent on Hernandez. Why the O's would give up on Tillman so soon is curious. Do they know something about Tillman that fans don't? Sure, Tillman hasn't done well outside of a few promising starts here and there in his two brief stints in Baltimore over the last 2 years, but he's still 23 and younger than both Hernandez, 26 and Mickolio, 24.

So at least the O's made a move. It's not something that's going to sell a lot of tickets, but it could be a move that we look back on by mid-season and think, "I am glad the Orioles made that move".

But then again, we could be asking ourselves, "Why did the Orioles make that move?"

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