Sunday, February 28, 2010

Felix Pie

Perhaps the only interesting story at this point in spring training is how Dave Trembley plans to find at-bats for all four of his talented outfielders. We know that Nick Markakis and Adam Jones will play everyday, while Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie will concoct some sort of time share in left field. While Reimold is limited to left field, Pie is capable of playing all three outfield positions. Assuming the club goes with Reimold as the starting left fielder on Opening Day, how can Pie get enough at-bats?

1) Pie can spell both Reimold and Jones, each of whom has battled injuries in the past and has yet to prove he can make it healthily through a full MLB season.
2) Reimold can play a bit of first base or designated hitter, making room for the superior defensive player (Pie) in the outfield on occasion.
3) Reimold bats righty, and Pie lefty. Some straight platooning is likely to be in order.
4) Pie could also DH, sending Luke Scott to the bench.

Basically, it is important to keep in mind that over the course of a 162-game season, it should not be difficult for three players to find at-bats at two positions (Pie, Reimold and Scott at LF and DH), especially when one of those players (Pie) can easily spell Jones from time to time. Injuries happen. Left-handed pitchers happen. Days off happen. The at-bats will be there.

We also need to remember that Luke Scott, who turns 32 in June, is not nearly as big a part of the Orioles future as Pie, who just turned 25. Scott is a good hitter: in three seasons of full-time play, he's posted a .257/.342/.486 line with 66 home runs, good enough for a 114 OPS+. Unfortunately, he's on the wrong side of the aging curve, and he is about to get very expensive. As a second-year arbitration eligible player this year, he agreed to a $4.05 million deal for 2010. During his three full seasons, Scott has been worth 2.3, 2.2, and 1.5 wins above replacement. With free agent wins going for about $3.5 million the open market this off-season, Scott is a good deal at $4 million. At $6 million, he's very close to being fairly paid, and at $7 or $8 million he's probably overpaid, especially at age 33 or 34. I can't see Scott sticking around Baltimore much past 2010 or 2011, and since the 2010 O's are still in building mode, Pie's development shouldn't be hindered in order to get Luke Scott a few more at-bats.

In conclusion, there are plenty of at-bats to go around. No sense worrying over how they'll be distributed today.

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