It took me nearly a month in the offseason, but it’s finally time to break out the old “Twitter questions” blog entry. I know you missed it. I did.
Free agency is about to start, the hot stove will get warm soon enough, and it’s time to ask you what you want me to write about.
My Twitter followers never let me down. There were some really good questions – some silly ones, sure – and several repeats.
The big topics, of course, are Manny Machado’s future, management’s future, management’s offseason plan, starting pitching and pizza.
I appreciate all the questions – I tried to pick ones that I felt best represented the group (except for the pizza one). Some questions are edited for clarity. Obviously, we’re a little early into the offseason, but here’s some perspective, or at least some solid guesses.
Q: Do we have a legitimate shot at signing Manny, or should we begin the painful process of saying farewell? (from @SaraG7409)
A: Don’t light the candles yet. But at least buy them and some matches. This offseason is crucial in terms of Machado’s future as an Oriole. Executive vice president Dan Duquette doesn’t like to negotiate during the season, and why would Machado want that distraction in his walk year? I haven’t heard that there has been any serious discussion yet, but I do expect the Orioles to take a shot. My gut says an extension won’t get done, but I didn’t think the Orioles would bring back Chris Davis, either, so I guess you never know. One Twitter follower asked if a three-year $75 million extension would be realistic, because Machado then could be a free agent again at age 28. In a word, no. Or two words: No shot. Think seven years or beyond.
Q: Best chance of being extended this offseason: Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter, Machado, Jonathan Schoop? (from @grindt)
A: I had several extension questions, but I like this one. I think Showalter is with this organization next year, but I don’t know exactly what the role will be. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t already an understanding that he can return in 2018 and beyond if he wants to. So, I wouldn’t think he is a lame-duck manager, even if something official isn’t announced. Therefore, I guess I’d go with him in this particular heat. Duquette and owner Peter Angelos also seemingly have a good relationship, but I don’t see a determination being made with Duquette’s contract now. Again, Machado will be tricky. Schoop, in my opinion, makes the most sense, but extensions two years before free agency don’t happen often in Baltimore – though they should.
Q: Where does Ryan Mountcastle start and end the season in 2018? (from @primetimeMitch)
A: Mountcastle doesn’t turn 21 until February and he’s already played 39 games at Double-A Bowie. I was actually surprised the Orioles moved him up from High-A Frederick when they did, and that shows they’ll be aggressive with one of their top prospects. But the obvious question about Mountcastle is, what position will he play in the field? When he was promoted to the Baysox he was moved from shortstop to third base. There are some within the organization that believe he’ll end up at first base or maybe even the corner outfield. So, there’s obviously some development still needed there. My assumption is he starts at Bowie and plays at least a half there. But if he looks good, he’ll get moved to Triple-A Norfolk. I could see him in Baltimore for a cup of coffee in September – like Austin Hays and Chance Sisco this past year – if all goes well.
Q: Does pineapple go on pizza? (from DAtkinsonOU)
A: Only in desperate times. I’m not opposed – I think it’s well-documented I embrace (or inhale) pizza — but I’d never purposely choose pineapple/Hawaiian. It’s kind of the Rolling Rock of pizza. I’ll grab one and be contented if I have no other choices. But I don’t seek it out.
Q: The obvious…who will the O’s go after for starting pitching for next year? (from ShowTime_32)
A: This is the biggie. They need to add three starters, in my opinion. Gabriel Ynoa and Miguel Castro are fine guys to plug in at the back-end of the rotation in a pinch, but they shouldn’t start the season that way. So, how do the Orioles get three bona fide starters? Well, obviously specifics are hard to come by in October. I imagine they’ll get one through free agency, but it won’t be the ace they truly need. The Orioles never win a bidding war for a top-line starter. Ownership doesn’t believe in megadeals for pitchers (and, to be fair, those contracts rarely pan out) and mid-level starters with suitors aren’t choosing Camden Yards unless they are grossly overpaid (see Jimenez, Ubaldo). So, you can forget about the two free-agent aces, Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, and an Alex Cobb, for instance, will have too many other options in better pitcher’s parks. So, look for someone in the second tier whom the Orioles could overpay (an Andrew Cashner/Jason Vargas type). I also fully expect Duquette to try and tap the international pro market for the next Wei-Yin Chen. And I could see some recycling going on, too, whether it is a Chris Tillman or a Miguel Gonzalez. I don’t expect Wade Miley to be back, though. It makes no sense for him to take a one-year contract in Baltimore when he could get a better “pillow contract” elsewhere – like the NL. They’ll also be looking to pick up at least one starter via trade, even if it means taking on an unwieldy contract.
Q: Should the Orioles trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Think Machado and minor leaguers (Stewart, SP)? (from @NateWardle)
A: Unless you are talking Dave Stewart – in his prime – I don’t see it. Seriously, the Orioles don’t have the prospect package to land Stanton, even if they included a home trip for Machado and the Florida State University product, outfielder DJ Stewart. It’s gonna take a couple top-tier prospects to get Stanton, even while absorbing that contract. Other teams have more to offer. Besides, if the Orioles are putting a legitimate package together, it better be for a starting pitcher.
Q: Does the postseason make you feel any differently about how the Orioles should approach the offseason? (from @lawlornfl)
A: This is a great question (really, there were a lot of excellent ones. We’ll do this again at some point). I think the playoffs again have shown that top-end starting pitching can do a whole lot to get you to the promised land. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros wouldn’t be in the World Series without Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. But we’ve also seen how important bullpens are. And how home runs can play (and that everyone has power these days). But, make no mistake, there is no substitute for an ace or two. And, so, yes, that should be a priority for the Orioles. I just don’t realistically think that will happen, for various reasons.
Q: Who’s your first overall pick in a hypothetical game between Orioles beat writers? (from @kyleandrews1994)
A: I know I’d take Jim Henneman in his prime. Heck, I might still take Henny now.
Q: Is there a possibility that you will perform the national anthem at a game next year? (from TakeMe2Florida)
A: No shot. I hear there is some jerk in the press box that reviews each performance. I refuse to be criticized by some amateur.
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