Answering 10 of your Orioles' questions (and my weekly radio musings) - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Answering 10 of your Orioles’ questions (and my weekly radio musings)

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon
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For my WOYK radio show in York, Pa., on Monday night, I wasn’t sure who to have on as a guest. There’s just so much swirling around the Orioles right now, how bad they are and what consequences may occur from that futility.

As I wrote Monday morning, I feel like this time period heading into Tuesday night’s series against the Kansas City Royals was ripe for a firing. But I also know you could lose a lot of money and time trying to predict what this organization will do.

The bottom line is there are a lot of questions out there regarding the Orioles. So, instead of booking an expert, I made you – the folks of social media – my radio guest.

I asked followers on Twitter to provide me with their burning questions about the Orioles. I had a bunch of excellent ones; I chose a few to highlight on the radio show and several more to include in this piece. Thanks to all who participated. We’ll do it again in the future.

You can listen to some of my more detailed answers by clicking the arrow below this piece, by going to WOYK’s archives or by downloading the show as a free podcast from iTunes (search BaltimoreBaseball.com, all one word).

Here are your questions, and my best attempts at answering them (Twitter handles in parentheses).

Q: With not much help coming from the farm system, will the Orioles reconsider their stance on the riskiness of obtaining talent from the international pool? (@TheEricWJones)

A: Excellent question. And my response is, “they better,” or they’ll never be close to having a deep and well-rounded farm system. Look, I understand that spending $3 million on a 16-year-old in the Dominican whose background information is sparse is usually not a shrewd investment. And we have seen over the years that teams have gotten into trouble dealing with some of the handlers in other countries, something the Orioles attempt to avoid. But there are plenty of finds internationally for bonuses of $100,000 or less (Jonathan Schoop, for instance). And not attempting to sign a bunch of those each year makes no sense at all. The Orioles have international scouts; they just need to utilize them more often.

Q: Beyond Manny Machado, which other Orioles have distinguished themselves as trade chips this summer? (@Bal_BirdDog)

A: At this point, none. I suppose reliever Darren O’Day would generate interest, but he does have a year-plus and roughly $15 million remaining on his contract. Mychal Givens also would be intriguing, but he appears to be the Orioles’ closer of the future and is under club control for a while. Adam Jones is coveted for his leadership skills and work ethic, but he hasn’t had a particularly good start and he has a full, no-trade restriction. The other big-name pending free agents, relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton, will have to re-build their trade values in the coming months.

Q: Any chance the Orioles trade Kevin Gausman at the deadline? (@RamsburgTyler)

A: Any chance? Sure. The Orioles aren’t in a position to refuse to listen to any offer. Do I think it is realistic that the Orioles deal the 27-year-old right-hander? No. He’s not a free agent until after the 2020 season. His value isn’t as high as it could be. And if he does what the team believes he can do, he’s an important part of this franchise going forward.

Q: Could Brady Anderson be a potential candidate for GM? (@MichaelFosterOC)

A: Honestly, the way this hierarchy is, I think GM would be a step down for Anderson. It’s my contention that he is the most powerful presence in the organization not named Angelos. The former Orioles star outfielder is close with majority owner Peter Angelos and his sons, John and Lou. Anderson has taken on a major role the past couple years and was key in negotiating free-agent contracts for Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman this offseason. Anderson doesn’t strike me as a guy who cares about titles, and I think he really enjoys his vague, floating role as vice president, where he can talk hitting with players at the cage one day, work strength and conditioning another day and procure talent the next. To me, Anderson is on his way to being the club’s president, which is a step above the traditional GM spot.

Q: Who makes the final decisions on who gets designated for assignment? (@DeanDiazADX)

A: In Dean’s question, he uses pitchers Parker Bridwell (April 2017) and Andrew Triggs (March 2016) as examples. Typically speaking, manager Buck Showalter handles the juggling of his 25-man roster and Dan Duquette deals with making sure the 40-man roster works in concert. I know in Bridwell’s case, Duquette made that call because he wanted to get lefty Paul Fry from Seattle and into the system and felt like Bridwell hadn’t taken the step forward that was needed to hold onto a 40-man spot. Usually, there is input from several people before the roster decisions are made, but generally speaking, Duquette handles the 40-man spots and the DFAs.

Q: Any chance Machado is forced back to third base and Schoop is moved to shortstop until Tim Beckham returns? (@AndyBix1)

A: In Andy’s question, he points out that the club has several players that can handle second base in the short-term, including Jace Peterson, Luis Sardinas and Ruben Tejada (who is not on the 40-man roster). And I think the best defensive alignment right now would be moving Machado to third, someone else (Sardinas, Engelb Vielma) at short and Schoop at second base or, like Andy suggested, Schoop at shortstop and one of the previously mentioned infielders at second. And that could happen. But Machado’s desire is to play shortstop. And if he does it well, it opens up more suitors at the trade deadline. Given that this team appears to be dead in the water, I guess it’s not particularly key for Machado to go back to third. And a happy Machado, as we’ve seen, can really rake at the plate, which will continue to increase his trade value.

Q: By being in the AL East, are the Orioles destined to have a few years of relevancy followed by multiple seasons of irrelevancy? Is that the accepted cycle now? (@Sklineonline)

A: Another good question. I don’t think anyone wants to accept irrelevancy for multiple seasons. But that is what’s occurring in baseball, not just in the East and not just with the Orioles. Heck, the Red Sox have won the division three times and finished last three times in their previous six seasons. It’s hard in baseball to maintain consistency with the abundance of injuries and decisions being made for economic reasons. Given all that, and the fact the Orioles will never spend with the Yankees and Red Sox, I do think the cyclical pattern will be the norm. But I don’t think that’s the goal; just the likely reality unless they consistently develop their own talent.

Q: Where would you put Chris Davis in the lineup given that his glove is still valuable at first base? (@Boomers12)

A: I like the fact that you didn’t simply bash Davis but recognize that he does have some value defensively. That considered, I wouldn’t have him hit cleanup for me until things dramatically change. I’d bat him seventh or maybe eighth routinely, depending on who else is in the lineup that day. At this point, he is not performing like a run producer, and you can’t treat him as such. I might also sit him against a portion of tough lefties. But, to the dismay of some fans, he’d be my regular first baseman versus right-handers. Still.

Q: What’s the possibility that Showalter becomes head of all baseball operations like he was when the Arizona Diamondbacks started? (@Knorr_Chris)

A: Almost none. As I wrote above, Anderson has a significant role in this organization. And I could envision a power struggle if the two of them were doing similar things. There’s no reason to create that dynamic. Plus, although I wouldn’t ever dismiss Showalter’s ability to do any job well, he’s a manager, first and foremost. It’s what he does better than most. So, I don’t think there is a real push for him to leave that post, assuming he wants to stay in it, which he publicly says he does.

Q: Can you see Cal Ripken Jr., returning to the Orioles in some sort of capacity in the front office or managing in 2019? (@Rhodesgolfer)

A: My gut says no. This question has been around for 15 years and I don’t think the answer has truly changed. Cal likes challenges. Running a major league team would be a challenge. But it’s also a major responsibility and he does plenty of other things to keep him busy. I especially don’t see a return to the dugout for Ripken. He’s never managed before and I’m not sure it would be an ideal fit. The front office would be much more likely, a president type spot, if he were to return to MLB. Again, I don’t necessarily see it. But one wild card here is Anderson, one of Ripken’s closest friends. I’m sure there will always be a pull for the two to work together on behalf of the organization for which they excelled.

 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Orial

    May 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

    A lot of great questions and answers. I will always be intrigued by this organizations inability to build a minor league system. A lot of fingers point at the lack of participation in the international market. I have a twofold question concerning that. Why don’t they and are there numbers that illustrate the value of utilizing this market(how many actually make it,etc)?

    • Dan Connolly

      May 8, 2018 at 10:07 am

      I have no data on the latter. The former was explained. A combo of risky investment on players difficult to assess (specifically backgrounds) and potential of corruption in dealing with unregulated handlers in certain areas.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 8, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Dan, in response to the question regarding Chris Davis, and his ‘defensive prowess’, I’m not sure I agree with your consistent assesment that Crush is an above average defensive 1st baseman.

    I could be wrong, but my eye test tells me a different story for Crush defensively over the past year or two. It just seems that I can’t count the number of times lately that I’ve seen Crush look like Roger Dorn on ground balls, as he ole’s them into right field rather than attempting to get that big body in front of it as all our little league coaches taught us to. What do our other readers think? Is Crush awesome with the glove? I’d say he’s ok, but I also say he’s overrated.

    Perhaps our in house numbers wizard, Mr. Folkemer, could shed some light with some of those fancy new-fangled-defensive-type-sabremetics on the subject?

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      May 8, 2018 at 7:41 am

      Oriole fans (and writers) have always over-hyped Davis’ defense. He’s good at picking balls out of the dirt, but that’s not some scarce talent across the league. He’s not a liability, generally. Can’t comment on the “Ole!” tendencies you mention, but I love the Roger Dorn reference.

      • Bancells Moustache

        May 8, 2018 at 9:43 am

        Can’t argue with Zoey here. Davis is good but a lot of people, in a effort to feel better about the contract, make him out to be Keith Hernandez. And he aint no Mex. That’s my beef with not giving Mancini some reps. People say Davis is the better option, but how the hell is Mancini supposed to improve and surpass Davis standing in Left Field?

        You want to know how you get guys who won’t sign an extension? This is how.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 8, 2018 at 10:13 am

      I would say he has digressed some defensively. Specifically on balls you’re referring to. Per my eye test, he may be average at best on range and fielding balls. Perhaps lower. He’s above average on his throws and turning the 3-6-3. And well above average on the scoop. I’m not sure what that makes him overall. But I probably am guilty of overhype simply because of the errors he saves from the left side on throws every year while in the stretch. He’s great at that.

    • Paul Folkemer

      May 9, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Boog, last year Davis was worth -5 defensive runs saved at 1B, according to FanGraphs. That ranked him as one of the worst defensive first basemen in the majors. His DRS has fluctuated a lot over the years, though, so I wouldn’t consider it definitive proof of anything. He went from -7 in 2013 to +8 in 2014, +4 in 2015, +8 again in 2016, and then down to -5 last year.

      This year he’s at -1 DRS so far, but it’s been just over a month, which is not a nearly large enough sample size to determine how good he’s really been.

  3. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    May 8, 2018 at 7:38 am

    I hate this nebulous Brady Anderson situation. Typical Orioles dysfunctional nonsense.

    No young, dynamic, up-and-coming executive is going to want to tolerate some ball player suck-up lingering and interfering in every decision.

    • Eldersburg Enigma

      May 8, 2018 at 8:17 am

      Great, albeit brief, summary of the Orioles (dis)organization.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

      To be fair, I don’t think you can dismiss Anderson because he played or because of his relationship with the top. He’s a bright, personable guy who can get things done within the organization. Now, will that translate into wins? No idea.

  4. Eldersburg Enigma

    May 8, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Dan, I have a question. How is it that the Oakland A’s pitching staff looked like the 1970 Orioles over the weekend but as soon as the O’s left town they lost by two touchdowns? Never mind, I think I know the answer….

    • Dan Connolly

      May 8, 2018 at 10:14 am

      A different starter the Orioles didn’t see … bad luck … never mind.

      • Mau

        May 8, 2018 at 8:25 pm

        Well, I checked in to see how many runs the O’s SP would allow in the first frame. Good guggamugga. Al Bundy was on the mound. Seems like a statement. Whole lotta shaking going on.

  5. jkneps63

    May 8, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Dylan just had a rough outing today. Buck is a great motivator and Danny D. an awesome evaluator of talent. The O’s will turn this around any day now.

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