For the record, let me say unequivocally that I’m not in favor of the Orioles trading Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado. I firmly believe that part of the reason the Orioles have lost for so many years in a row is due to mismanagement of prospects in the minor leagues. I’m not sure that in the past the O’s wouldn’t have been willing to move one of their top prospects for a rental, thus jeapordizing the future. Look no further than former Seattle Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi if you want to know what can happen when you run a big risk; he let Andy MacPhail strong-arm Adam Jones away, which ultimately cost Bavasi his job.
But let me play devil’s advocate here for a moment. Has anyone ever heard the term, “lady luck smiles on daring ones”? Sometimes, it’s the GM that has the guts to put himself on the line who ends up the winner. (I would also submit that the unemployment lines in all lines of work are full of well-intentioned people that had guts.) Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo traded Tommy Milone, a top pitching prospect, to Oakland in a package that sent Gio Gonzalez to D.C. That was a gutsy move on the part of both GMs - and one that has paid off for both franchises to this point.
Speaking for myself, I’m not a gambler, althought I would like to see the Orioles make a deal - just one that doesn’t include Bundy or Machado. To go along with the whole devil’s advocate thing, look at the trade that sent Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels. Greinke, of course, was someone that many fans wanted the O’s to go after. However, the Angels ended up being the only team that was willing to run the risk of ponying up top prospect Jean Segura as part of the deal that netted them Greinke.
Over the weekend, a lot of folks have wondered why it was OK for Anaheim to give up their top prospect, but not the Orioles. That might be a fair question to ask, however I would again submit that part of the 14 straight losing seasons was the mismanagement of prospects. To draw a parallel, in 2000 the Orioles (who were out of contention) sent shortstop Mike Bordick to the Mets in exchange for Melvin Mora, Mike Kinkade and two minor leaguers. Mora, of course, was an Oriole (and a solid one at that) for a long time, while Bordick helped the 2000 Mets get to the World Series. The Mets finished third in 2001 and then dead last in 2002. You don’t know how things would have turned out had they not rented Bordick, but the fact is that they took a risk in giving up a guy that turned into a very solid player for another team.
Regarding the Greinke deal, here’s something else: Bundy and Machado are rated as the No. 2 and No. 3 prospects, respectively, by Baseball America. Segura was rated the 55th best prospect going into the season; there’s kind of a difference there. Going back to Oakland for a moment, we all saw the damage that Yoenis Cespedes did at the yard over the weekend. The Orioles were one of the teams that were supposedly in on Cespedes during the offseason. Billy Beane gave him a massive contract that many people (myself included) though was too much. Oakland then started Cespedes at the major league level on opening day, which was another leap of faith. Beane ran the risk, and thus far it’s worked out.
It would have taken more wherewithal for Dan Duquette to dangle Bundy or Machado out there for Greinke (or anyone else) than it did for Anaheim to trade Segura. However, it still is a leap of faith to trade the top prospect in your system. You drafted that guy for a reason, and letting him go like that is either really dumb or really gutsy. My personal opinion is that you’d better be spot-on if you’re going to do it. Perhaps it isn’t so much taking high risks for high rewards as it is thinking outside the box. If I were Duquette, I wouldn’t want to risk being written into baseball history next to Bill Bavasi. If the deadline comes without any major Orioles moves, people should look at it from the perspective that the Orioles aquired two great prospects in Bundy and Machado. Yet the flip side is still that sometimes lady luck will, in fact, smile on daring ones.
Domenic Vadala blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and his opinions appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.