“No one ever got hurt taking a profit.”
So goes the old adage that Wall Street veteran Jim Cramer repeatedly espouses on his daily television show on CNBC. Cramer is correct. When you sell at the top, there is absolutely zero chance you will be left holding the bag when things go soft. In light of the recent turmoil in the stock markets, and the Baltimore Orioles’ mini skid, this is very a very fitting piece of advice.
The Orioles have been profiting from an amazing run in the stock known as Jimmy Paredes. Paredes has been a revelation for the Orioles, mostly out of the designated hitter role, this season. In 65 games, he has very nearly equaled his career offensive power output. By the end of the season, he will have more than doubled his career numbers in every single offensive category. With runners in scoring position, Paredes is batting a ridiculous .404.
Unfortunately, like every stock that goes on an epic run, Paredes’ run of crazy performance appears to be coming to an end. He has batted just .154 in seven July games with seven strikeouts. On the season, the free-swinger has 12 walks to his name, and a difference of less than 30 points between his batting average and on-base percentage. He swings at over 42 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, and nearly 60 percent of pitches overall. Paredes is a hacker, and it has worked out so far for him this season because the rest of the league is so unfamiliar with him. The 26-year-old has done most of his damage on fastballs early in the count. As pitchers begin to realize he will chase anything close to the plate, he will see fewer fastballs in the strike zone early in the count. As those fastballs evolve into curveballs, Paredes will see his .369 BABIP — a screaming red flag for regression if ever there was one — fall off dramatically.
I am not predicting an epic collapse in the performance of Jimmy Paredes. He has hit well across all minor league levels. The fact that his defensive ability leaves much to be desired is the real reason it has taken him this long to stick in the Major Leagues. That being said, he should not be expected to be more than a .270 hitter at the big league level, and there is no special sauce that will allow him to continue batting over .400 with runners in scoring position. That makes him, in reality about as good as the rest of the mediocre first base/corner outfield/designated hitter depth stagnating on the Orioles’ roster. It has been a nice season for Paredes in 2015, but expectations should be lowered if anyone expects him to replicate these numbers in the second half.
There’s a reason companies and analysts provide guidance regarding the future performance of a stock — namely to prevent investors from getting burned. In this case, the Orioles are the team that needs to avoid getting burned. They cannot allow the flashy numbers from the first half of the season to allow them to buy in fully to Jimmy Paredes. He is under club control through end of the 2019 season. The best course of action would be to trade him now, and let someone else figure out whether his performance so far this season is sustainable. The annals of baseball history are littered with players who parlayed one good season into a fat contract only to fall off spectacularly the following season — here’s looking at you Chris Johnson.
It sounds counter intuitive for the Orioles to trade a player like Paredes who has largely fueled the offense at times this season. It takes a contrarian mindset to make money playing the stock market, and the same can be said of constructing a Major League Baseball roster. The Orioles have an asset that is likely overvalued on the trade market thanks to numbers that far outstrip reasonable expectations. If the bubble bursts next year on Paredes, the Orioles do not want to be the ones holding the bag.
Realistically, the Orioles should not have a hard time finding a buyer for Paredes. He is a 6’3″ specimen who looks like he should be putting up the type of power numbers that he has this year, and will not be a free agent for four more seasons. The Oakland Athletics seem like a good fit. Billy Beane has made a living off of previously unheard of players like Paredes, and he may be willing to take another chance. Scott Kazmir is a name that would immediately excite fans of the Orioles, and a Paredes-for-Kazmir trade makes sense on paper. Ultimately, however, other teams may drive up the bidding on Kazmir and force the Orioles out of the picture. The Orioles may also be wary of the injury-prone pitcher, who has already dealt with one arm scare this month, and may be viewed as a ticking time bomb in league circles.
The Baltimore Orioles have an incredibly shrewd front office. If you do not think they are considering trading Jimmy Paredes this season in return for starting pitching, chances are you are wrong. If the Orioles cannot flip Paredes for a starting pitcher — what the team really needs — it may be better to hold onto Paredes and see if his numbers so far this season are more than a mirage.
It’s time for the Orioles to take some profits on the remarkable season Paredes has put together so far in 2015. You can’t get hurt taking a profit, and you definitely can’t get hurt trading a hitter who may be about to go through a massive correction to the mean for starting pitching when in a tight divisional race. There is a good chance the Orioles trade Jimmy Paredes before the deadline, and if they do, it is the right move every time. The Orioles bought low on Jimmy Paredes, and now the time is right to sell high.