Well, I'm beginning a new internship this week, and it's my first experience working in a cubicle. Safe to say that it's not nearly as exciting as all of those hipsters in their suits make it out to be. But you know what is pretty exciting? My phone says my name on it... and our team-by-team look at this upcoming offseason's arbitration-eligible players, which I began earlier by covering the Diamondbacks and the Braves. There's a quick explanation of what exactly that means in the Arizona post, but for those of you that are too cool for the D-Backs, here are some quick explanations of the arbitration system, service time, and "Super Twos", courtesy of MLBTR. Sorry for the lame opening about my uninteresting life, but I'll try to spice it up now with the arbitration-eligible players on the Baltimore Orioles (yeah!).
And remember, we're doing these in order of each player's respective 2010 salary like I did in the previous posts, and any references to a raise are based on those salaries as well. So, I suppose let's get thing going... again.
OF Luke Scott - 3rd season of arbitration - Tender contract, raise from $4.05M
A very easy call. The 32-year-old is once again having a strong offensive season, and an improved batting average has his overall numbers at career-high levels. An adequate defensive outfielder with a .268/.351/.506 career line, Scott's been worth 2.3+ WAR in four of the past five seasons despite never coming to the plate more than 536 times in a single season. Assuming that Baltimore once again isn't a contender, he'll likely be a trade candidate next summer, but either way he's a good value for the club.
RHP Jeremy Guthrie - 2nd season of arbitration - Tender contract, raise from $3.0M
After a brutal 2009, Guthrie is back to doing his thing in 2010: putting up an FIP well above 4 but an ERA below 4. There's some obvious concern given his declining strikeout numbers, but his groundball rate has returned to a reasonable level and his durability is a major asset. It's odd that he's continually given up more contact as he's progressively thrown his fastball less, but presumably Baltimore will see some additional value in his continued presence in the rotation. They could end up having a rotation filled mostly with guys that haven't made more than 30 or 40 starts in the majors. So having a guy like Guthrie around, who has a track record of eating innings in the AL East, would seem to be of particular value to the Orioles.
RHP Matt Albers - 2nd season of arbitration - Non-tender
Albers got tended a contract for 2010 after putting up a 3.92 FIP (but a much uglier ERA) in relief work the previous season, but it's going to be hard to keep him around as his strikeout rate decreases and his salary increases. His whiff rates, which weren't good in the first place, have gotten even worse, and he's always been a guy with a pretty high walk rate. The groundballs are nice, but a 1.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio just isn't good enough for a reliever.
OF Adam Jones - 1st season of arbitration - Tender contract, raise from $0.465M
Duh. He's obviously been disappointing, particularly when you factor in his sub-par defensive numbers. But his numbers this season have really been dragged down by a brutal April, as he's batted .295/.340/.458 since April 30, which is eerily similar to the .277/.335/.457 line he put up last season. The decline in his BB/K is obviously the biggest concern given the effect it's had on his on-base skills, but he's still only 25 and there's a ton of potential there. He might not turn into a star now, but he's still one of the best pieces that Baltimore has.
SS Robert Andino - 1st season of arbitration - Non-tender
An ugly season for Andino, who's proving that he doesn't really have a place in the majors. UZR liked his glove in roughly a half-season worth of data, but his bat has been absolutely unplayable and his Triple-A performance hasn't been much better. Baltimore is going to need a new shortstop with Cesar Izturis' contract running up, but I have a hard time believing that it's going to be anyone that's presently in the organization.
RHP Jim Johnson - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.44M
I know the elbow injury is a bit scary, but Johnson appeared to be developing into a pretty solid reliever before it all happened. He showed a drastically increased ability to miss bats in 2009, albeit somewhat at the expense of his groundball rate, and put up a pretty solid 4.10 xFIP. Assuming that he's healthy, which he appears to be, then there's some solid upside in his dual ability to miss bats and keep the ball on the ground. Given that his raise won't be too big given how little he's pitched this year, I think it's worth taking a flier on a guy who looked like a potential back-of-the-bullpen guy not too long ago.
OF Felix Pie - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.42M
The bigger question here is about what role Pie will fill next season. Presumably he'll continue to be the team's primary left fielder, but the increased aggression in his approach at the plate hasn't had too positive of an effect. But he's still only 25, he appeared to show some serious improvement last season, he's a solid defensive outfielder and his potential is difficult to question. For a team that could use some high-quality long-term pieces, or even some valuable trade bait, retaining Pie for a relatively cheap price is a no-brainer.