By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
11:16 AM EDT, November 3, 2012
Although they weren't splashy moves when made, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette's savviness in scooping up discarded players paid huge dividends during the team's best season in 15 years.
For every Nate McLouth, who made the most of his opportunity with a new club, there was a Dontrelle Willis, who didn't pan out with the Orioles. But there's no double that Duquette's aggressiveness in acquiring undervalued commodities was a significant factor in the Orioles' success in 2012.
The Orioles acquisition of second baseman Alexi Casilla on Friday is his first such move of the offseason. The Orioles claimed Casilla off waivers from the Twins, who paid Casilla $1.38 million last season in his second arbitration-eligibile year.
For a team like Minnesota, which needs to rebuild in many areas, he was too costly to keep. For the Orioles, he could be a good fit.
Casilla has speed on the basepaths. The Orioles ranked last in the majors in stolen bases with 58 in 2012, and nearly half of those steals (28) came from just two players -- Adam Jones (16) and McLouth (12). Casilla been successful on 88.75 percent of his steal attempts in his career and stole a career-high 21 bases last season 22 attemps, so Casilla can add a new dimension there.
Casilla could help the Orioles solve their offseason dilemma at second base. Brian Roberts played just 17 games last season is coming off hip surgery, so you don't know what you're going to get from him. Robert Andino had his moments at second base, but he also committed 13 errors, third most among AL second baseman. And while Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty showed progress during his rookie season, it doesn't appear he's ready to be an everyday player yet.
Enter Casilla, who had a .980 fielding percentage at second and led second baseman in range factor per nine innings (5.33), a metric that is intended to show how many balls a fielder can successfully get to.
He's by no means guaranteed a spot, only an opportunity -- and whether he proves to be a Nate McLouth or a Dontrelle Willis remains to be seen -- but its a promising start to the offseason.
Also on Friday, Major League Baseball announced that infielder Ryan Adams has tested positive for a banned amphetamine and will have to serve a 25-game suspension to open the season.
Needless to say, that doesn't speak well for Adams' future in the organization. He failed the test while still on the Orioles' 40-man roster before being taken off it Sept. 11.
In the flurry of 40-man roster moves, it was boggling why Adams remained on the 40-man for so long. The organization likely believed he held some trade value, but any trade value has diminished after the failed test.
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