Let me start by repeating that I am, for the most part, against trading young pitching.
Not in every case and there are probably some deals that could really help the O’s where they just have to part with a young arm or arms.
But, if they have any interest in getting a top talent like Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder in a deal, there is no way they can avoid dealing some young pitching, I don’t think.
But here is the key reason the O’s should not deal any young pitching right now. They simply don’t have enough of it yet. They are getting closer, though.
If their Opening Day rotation next year includes five of the following six - Guthrie, Matusz, Bergesen, Arrieta, Tillman and Britton - they will have a starting staff of pitchers 25 or younger, save for the old man Guthrie at 31.
While Britton is the next young gun that should break through for a rotation spot, who is in the pipeline after him? I just don’t see any sure thing at the higher levels and you will need more than the six starters I already listed.
Brandon Erbe, Chorye Spoone and Troy Patton have all dealt with injuries over the last year or two. Tim Bascom had an ERA of 6.94 at Triple-A and Steve Johnson had a 5.09 at Double-A. Rick Vandenhurk looks promising but is in no way, a sure bet. Any one of these guys could re-emerge or re-gain top prospect status quickly, but right now are deadling with injuries or some level of ineffectiveness.
David Hernandez, Jim Johnson and Jason Berken are still young and talented, but most likely needed for bullpen roles.
The O’s have the makings of a good and young staff. They just need more of them. There is not a big enough surplus yet from which to trade.
Here are some more reasons for and against trading young pitching.
The argument for trading young pitching:
*If you say you may be willing to move good young pitching, any team in baseball will take your call. It is the most sought-after commodity in the sport. Thus it will bring better talent in return.
*A top free agent may disdain a club with a losing record but a player has to come in a trade (barring his having a no-trade clause). Once they get here, maybe they will decide to stay.
The argument against:
*You can never have enough pitching and right now the Orioles don’t have enough.
*Pitching is expensive to buy. A guy that works once every five days like Cliff Lee can get a contract to rival any top position player. So why trade younger pitching that is less expensive.
*Pitching is fragile and pitchers get hurt, often with no warning or rhyme or reason. You always must have plentiful pitching depth to compete.
By the way, when fans respond and discuss dealing pitchers, they almost always say keep Brian Matusz, but they would be willing to move Chris Tillman.
That is because they feel Matusz is better and they wonder if Tillman will develop into a top pitcher. Doesn’t everyone realize that other teams may feel the exact same way and the value on Tillman will be much less and not get the player you want in return.
At some point, the O’s may well have to trade some young pitchers. I just don’t think they are at that point right now.