A little more on the Saunders trade

Yesterday qualified as a strange day at Camden Yards.

The heavy lifting took place before the scheduled first pitch, with Matt Lindstrom being traded to the Diamondbacks for Joe Saunders, and Jake Arrieta being called up from Triple-A Norfolk.

Lindstrom met with the media outside the clubhouse. Manager Buck Showalter met with the media in the auxiliary clubhouse. Executive vice president Dan Duquette met with the media in the back of the press box. We never saw Arrieta, who wasn’t supposed to arrive at Camden Yards before noon.

Will Arrieta be there today? It’s possible that he’s optioned back to Norfolk to make room for Saunders, which would be one of the more bizarre transactions in recent memory. He’s recalled and optioned without reporters actually getting to interview him, and without a game actually being played.

We also had a postponement yesterday after a delay that lasted about 2 1/2 hours by my count, which pushed back Chris Tillman’s start until Tuesday.

Playing a game would have been too ... normal.

I’ve been asked whether I like the trade. Well, I don’t hate it. I understand the logic behind it. Insert a veteran left-hander into a rotation that’s included three rookies. But I’m not sure how much of an upgrade he provides and whether he was worth surrendering a power arm in the bullpen, especially when Saunders can be a free agent after the season. Time will tell.

Saunders’ last two starts with the Diamondbacks were less than stellar. He allowed nine runs and 12 hits, including two home runs, in 3 2/3 innings against the Marlins. Previously, he allowed five runs and seven hits, with two home runs, in six innings against the Cardinals.

Left-handers are batting .245 against Saunders in his career, including .207 this season. Right-handers are batting .284 in his career and .303 this season.

Saunders is 5-0 with a 4.73 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in seven career starts against the Orioles. He’s 4-2 with a 4.17 ERA in nine starts against the Red Sox, 2-1 with a 6.28 ERA in five starts against the Yankees, 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA in two starts against the Rays, and 2-4 with a 3.83 ERA in seven starts against the Blue Jays.

That takes care of our tour of the American League East.

The Orioles have a West Coast swing through Oakland and Seattle next month. Saunders is 13-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 19 starts against the Athletics, and 8-1 with a 3.75 ERA in 14 starts against the Mariners.

A scout from outside the organization believes that this trade signals how the Orioles are setting up their rotation for the postseason more so than making a run at the playoffs.

“I think that he has solid stuff across the board,” the scout said. “What he really has is command and feel, and he competes. He’s a solid four or five. I’ve seen him recently and I think he’s a guy whose typical line is seven innings, three runs, six hits, one to two walks and five strikeouts. That’s about who he is.

“He’s really got good command, both sides of the plate. Cuts the fastball. Breaking ball and change. Nothing unusual. Works fast, throws strikes. He knows how to pitch and compete. He’s a real good veteran pitcher. He’s solid.

“With everything that’s happened, they have issues. Do you trust (Miguel) Gonzalez in the playoffs? They made this trade more for the playoffs than getting to the playoffs, I think. And they’re thinking the right way. They need to upgrade the starting pitching. (Jason) Hammel isn’t going to come back and be that guy. (Wei-Yin) Chen? I have a problem with these guys. They’ve never pitched that much. Maybe they can skip Chen, give him a little extra rest here and there.

“Saunders is a real good veteran guy who will help them to get there and will help them in the playoffs. You’re going to pitch this guy ahead of (Zach) Britton, you’re going to pitch him ahead of (Steve) Johnson, you’re going to pitch him ahead of Tillman. Of course. Not that he has more upside than the other guys, but it’s a really good move. And I like Lindstrom a lot. I think Lindstrom’s a good seventh- and eighth-inning guy. But they have some depth, especially with (Pedro) Strop. That’s where they had depth and that’s to their advantage.”

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