Orioles bolster rotation, trade for right-hander Scott Feldman in deal that sends Arrieta and Strop to Cubs

July 02, 2013|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO – The Orioles made the first chess move of the trade deadline season on Tuesday afternoon — simultaneously showing they are committed to building for a deep playoff run this year — acquiring right-hander Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs along with catcher Steve Clevenger for right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.

Feldman, who was 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 15 starts with the Cubs, will bolster an Orioles starting rotation that owns a 4.79 ERA, ranked 27th of 30 major league teams.

“I think when you have a number of players who are having a good year like we are, you have to address the needs of the ballclub and put your focus on this year’s club,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “And this year’s ballclub needs more stable starting pitching, and that’s what this trade is designed to address.”

A free agent at the season’s end, Feldman is 46-50 with a 4.66 ERA over nine seasons. He continues the Orioles’ trend of acquiring players with roots to the Texas Rangers, where Feldman pitched from 2005 through 2012. His best season was 2009, when he was 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 34 games (31 starts). He also played a key role for the Rangers in their 2011 run to the World Series, going 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in nine postseason appearances.

The 30-year-old Feldman, who owns a 3-0 record and 2.49 ERA in seven career games at Camden Yards, has recorded nine quality starts (at least six innings and three or fewer earned runs allowed) in 15 outings this season and has gone at least six innings in 10 of his past 12 starts. He will make his first Orioles start Wednesday night in Chicago against the White Sox.

“He’s a proven veteran starting pitcher, and he’s pitched very well in this ballpark [Camden Yards],” Duquette said. “He’s pitched in the postseason, he won 17 games once and he is on his way to having a good year this season.”

The Orioles had interest in Feldman this past offseason before he signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Cubs. He pitched his first two seasons in the big leagues — 2005 and 2006 — for Orioles manager Buck Showalter when he was in Texas, mostly as a reliever.

“He’s a guy with some American League background,” Showalter said. “He’s a competitive guy. Haven’t seen him in a while. He’s had a couple things in his arsenal that are a little different than when I had him. He was more of a relief pitcher there, had a little different arm angle. There’s a lot of things that work in his favor. He’s been in the American League. [It] should be a pretty seamless transition to the locker room.”

Several Orioles players have connections to Feldman, including former Rangers Darren O’Day, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter and Taylor Teagarden. In 2007, Feldman, O’Day, Davis and Teagarden played on the same Arizona Summer League team. At the time, Feldman was switching back to a more conventional delivery after throwing sidearm.

“He’s going to be great,” said O’Day, who was in Feldman’s wedding. “He’s a known quantity. Buck’s had experience with him before. He does his background work and he knows Feldman’s a good dude. He’s going to be great. He’s going to help us out a lot. Some days he will be brilliant, some days he will be average, but he’d going to go out there and give us quality inning. He’s going to grind through at bats and grind through games. He’ll help the rotation, help the bullpen.”

Clevenger, a Mount St. Joseph product, gives the organization much-needed catching depth. Clevenger has been sent to Triple-A Norfolk, but he likely would be the first call-up if something were to happen to Matt Wieters or Teagarden. The 27-year-old Clevenger has a .199/.262/.275 batting line in 79 career major league games. He has a .310/.372./.429 in eight minor league seasons.

Clevenger grew up in the Pigtown neighborhood of the city before he moved to Linthicum when he was 11 or so, and he went to Orioles games all the time.

“It’s like a dream come true, growing up less than five minutes from the stadium and watching Cal [Ripken Jr.] and Brady [Anderson] and Eddie [Murray] and all those guys,” Clevenger said when reached by phone. “It’s just a great feeling to get to go home and play. Not many people get to play in their home city.”

Clevenger’s high school coach, Dave Norton, called the former All-Metro selection a “Baltimore player,” referring to “hard-nosed types of kids who work hard to accomplish things.”

“If you want somebody who’s gonna go out there and battle and battle and battle and not give up, he’s the kind of kid that you want,” Norton said.

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