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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.