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"Burnett blockbuster would be a big risk for O's"


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Burnett blockbuster would be a big risk for O's

Posted: July 18, 2005



If the Orioles and Marlins complete their multiplayer trade involving righthander A.J. Burnett, it would raise as many questions as it answers for both clubs.


The Orioles are the front-runner for Burnett, according to an industry source, though the White Sox and Yankees remain possibilities.


The price, however, looks to be exorbitant -- so exorbitant, the Orioles' co-general managers, Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, would be putting their jobs at risk.


The Marlins, meanwhile, would be trading a top-of-the-rotation starter without receiving a suitable replacement -- a dubious proposition for a team trying to remain in contention.


Burnett, 28, is a free agent after this season, and the Marlins would rather trade him than receive only draft picks in return. But unless the Marlins made a second move -- perhaps dealing the prospect they would receive from the Orioles, Class AA righthander Hayden Penn, for a more veteran starter -- their rotation would become dangerously thin.


The Marlins' risk, however, would appear minimal compared to the Orioles'.


To obtain Burnett, the Orioles would:


Part with Penn, outfielder Admin Bigbie, righthanded setup man Jorge Julio and possibly lefty reliever Steve Kline.


Take on the contract of Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell, who has been slumping for more than a year and is referred to by one major-league executive as "Sammy Sosa's twin."


Likely sign Burnett to a four- or five-year contract extension with an average salary of $8 million to $10 million, an enormous risk for a pitcher who has never made 30 starts in a season and been on the disabled list four times in his career.

The Orioles, inert in recent seasons, at least understand their need to act at a time when the Red Sox are saddled with bullpen issues and the Yankees face severe rotation problems. With lefthander Erik Bedard set to come off the DL, the addition of Burnett could give them a significant advantage in the AL East, provided that Burnett doesn't follow the pattern of pitchers who struggle going from the NL to the AL.


On the other hand, teams rarely part with premium talent in trades when they're adding significant payroll. Penn, 20, is by far the Orioles' best pitching prospect. Julio, 26, earned 83 saves from 2002 to '04. Bigbie, 27, has the potential to bat .280 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs and become another Paul O'Neill.


Yet, in addition to Burnett, who is earning $3.65 million this season, the Orioles would be absorbing Lowell, who is owed approximately $21 million through 2007. They also could receive Class AAA outfielder Eric Reed.


Lowell, 31, has a .630 on-base/slugging percentage, the seventh-lowest among major leaguers who have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The Orioles boast a superior player at his position, Melvin Mora. They presumably would move Lowell to first, where he would platoon with Rafael Palmeiro.


For the Marlins, the trade of Lowell would create significant financial flexibility and enable left fielder Miguel Cabrera to move back to third, the position where he is most comfortable. The trade of Burnett, however, would create an enormous hole.


Penn, who was 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts for the Orioles earlier this season, is not ready to pitch in a pennant race. He might not even be as advanced as the Marlins' top minor-league pitching prospect, Class AA righthander Josh Johnson.


Within a week, the Marlins expect the returns of righthander Josh Beckett, who is out with a left abdominal strain, and righthander Ismael Valdez, who has been sidelined all season with a hairline fracture in his right shin. But the uncertainty surrounding Beckett would make trading Burnett even more perilous.


Penn, though, almost certainly could be flipped for a more established pitcher. The A's have shown past interest in Penn, and the Marlins could make him the centerpiece of a multiplayer offer for lefthander Barry Zito.


A's general manager Billy Beane has been adamant about his desire to keep Zito but could be emboldened by the recent success of the A's younger starters, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton and Dan Haren. Penn would give the A's another young starter to build around.


Senior writer Ken Rosenthal covers baseball for Sporting News. Email him at kenrosenthal@sportingnews.com.

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No way.


If we flipped Penn for Zito then Beinfest would be amazing. He is already a good GM.


And finally for all the Lowell fans- they need to read this. Lowell is not the same player. NO ONE WANTS HIM.



Yeah, hearing his take on the trade makes me like the trade a little more. Bigbie a young Paul O'Neil? Wow, I didn't know that. But he's not hitting 20 bombs in JRS.

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Welcome to Baltimore?

Jul 18 - Mike Lowell is expected to have a new home soon. According to the Miami Herald, the third baseman likely will be be traded to the Orioles as part of an A.J. Burnett deal.


If the O's acquire Lowell, there is a chance he would be moved to first base, the Washington Post reports. Lowell is making $7.5 million this season and signed through next year, and the cost-cutting Marlins are ready to unload his salary.

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O, what a feeling?

Jul 18 - According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins are ready to deal, and the Orioles are the favorite to land A.J. Burnett -- though Florida has talked to a host of teams about Burnett, and one report had him and Mike Lowell going in a three-way trade that involved the Red Sox and Padres.


The O's have the upper hand in dealings, and one of the key issues hinges on whether Burnett agrees to a contract extension. Burnett, who is eligible for free agency after the season, is looking for a four- or five-year deal that would pay him about $9 million to $10 million annually. According to multiple sources, the Orioles would agree to a deal either way, but their package to the Marlins would differ based on whether they can convince Burnett to sign long-term with them.


In return for Burnett, Baltimore would send the Marlins pitching prospect Hayden Penn, right-handed reliever Jorge Julio and outfielder Admin Bigbie. The Orioles also could throw in left-handed reliever Steve Kline.

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Guest Moneyball

It's gonna take a lot to get Zito. Penn plus 2 more studs probably. Probably Stokes.



Stokes isn't a Billy Beane player. First off, he's never getting to the big leagues. Second, he strikes out way to much. Lastly, he lacks in the OBP department.

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It's gonna take a lot to get Zito. Penn plus 2 more studs probably. Probably Stokes.



Stokes isn't a Billy Beane player. First off, he's never getting to the big leagues. Second, he strikes out way to much. Lastly, he lacks in the OBP department.


It would at least take Penn and another very good prospect.

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