Blogger on Blogger: Daniel Moroz of Orioles blog Camden Crazies

March 17, 2011|By Matt Vensel

Baltimore is blessed with a bunch of talented sports bloggers who bring their unique perspective to the conversation. I often link up to these local writers in my morning Coffee Companion posts, but instead of just exchanging anti-social links with them, I have decided to be slightly less anti-social by exchanging emails with them in a somewhat regular feature called Blogger on Blogger.

Today's blogger is Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies, one of the many outstanding Orioles blogs in the Baltimore blogosphere. Opening Day is less than three weeks away, so now is a great time to chat with Moroz, a highly-respected blogger among his peers who is a numbers-cruncher and the creative force behind the Matt Wieters Facts website. I'd like to thank Daniel for participating.

MV: Matt Wieters was recently labeled one of the 50 most disappointing prospects of all time by Baseball Prospectus. Where do you weigh in on the Wieters debate?

DM: The issue is that disappointment is relative to expectations. BP had Wieters projected to be a monster even coming into his rookie season, even though I think most people (including the crew that's there now) thought it was overboard (I was admittedly still too high on him, but I definitely thought there would be an adjustment period). If you expected Wieters to have already won an MVP award, then I can see him being a huge disappointment. On the other hand, he is a solid major league catcher at 24 years old (when you're a plus defensively at the position, the bar to clear offensively to be valuable is quite low) and still has the tools to turn into -- if not an MVP candidate -- at least an occasional All-Star type player.

It might not be that exciting, but I'm not terribly disappointed with Wieters' production so far.

MV: I believe Brian Roberts is the team's most irreplaceable offensive player because he's the catalyst and because the Orioles seem to lack a viable replacement. Would losing him wreck the Orioles offense?

DM: Brian Roberts might be the team's most irreplaceable offensive player in a practical sense, since the drop-off from him to Cesar Izturis (who I assume would take his spot) is so big (approximately 30 runs). In a vacuum, he's a good -- not great -- hitter (which is good for a second-baseman) but not one of the team's best (maybe fourth or fifth). If Roberts is replaced by someone who can hit at all though -- say, Robert Andino? -- then the drop-off isn't really bigger than J.J. Hardy to Izturis or Mark Reynolds to Josh Bell or Nick Markakis to Felix Pie or Wieters to Craig Tatum.

The "catalyst" and "lead-off hitter" stuff doesn't really matter. You know what you need at the top of the line-up? Good hitters. You replace Roberts with Robinson Cano, and even though Cano isn't a "lead-off hitter," the O's would likely score more runs just because he's a better hitter. If the only options to lead off are Wieters (slow!) and Izturis (fast!), you go with Wieters every time.

MV: What can we reasonably expect from Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee this season?

DM: I've got Vlad projected at .291 (batting average)/.336 (on-base percentage)/.467 (slugging percentage) and Lee at .266/.346/.432 for 2011. Neither seems unreasonable, and by virtue of having some defensive value, Lee would be the more productive player overall (if still below average). When you play a position on the "easier" end of the defensive spectrum, you really need to be able to hit to be valuable. Either line would be great for a shortstop, but at first-base and DH they're merely OK.

MV: Exactly how much of an upgrade is J.J. Hardy over Cesar Izturis, and what do the Orioles lose defensively with Hardy at shortstop?

DM: The defensive metrics think the drop-off from Izzy to Hardy defensively is relatively small, and with the age disparity I think there's a decent chance that Hardy will play a better shortstop next year than Izturis would have. Offensively, there's a massive gap. Giving 525 [plate appearances] to both, the difference between Hardy hitting .261/.320/.410 and Izzy hitting .249/.297/.302 is around 20 runs, if not more. If the defense is a wash, then you're picking up approximately two wins from the upgrade.

MV: Are you higher on Felix Pie or Nolan Reimold, and would you endorse the Orioles moving someone to open up a spot in the outfield?

DM: I'm higher on Pie, due mostly to his glove. He doesn't need to outhit Reimold to be the more valuable player. I'm still a Reimold fan though -- I love his plate discipline. I wanted to see those two guys get a full season in the majors this year, which is part of the reason I didn't like the Vlad signing. If the O's could find a team to take Vlad's contract off their hands for nothing, I'd like to see them go for it. Otherwise, it depends in the offers; if they could get a solid prospect or two for Luke Scott, then they need to make that move. I wouldn't just give him away, though.

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