Orioles' choice of Stewart over Mountcastle was a logical one for now - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ choice of Stewart over Mountcastle was a logical one for now

Photo credit: Patrick Cavey

BALTIMORE—After the Orioles added DJ Stewart to their major league roster, many fans wondered why they added Stewart, who had a disappointing minor league season, instead of Ryan Mountcastle, who had a superior offensive year.

Stewart and Mountcastle were the first two Oriole selections in the 2015 draft. But there’s an important difference between them. Stewart was drafted as a college player while Mountcastle was picked out of high school. College players must be protected three years after they’re drafted while high school players can escape protection until four years after their draft.

The Orioles have a need for outfielders, and Stewart, even though he hit just .235 for Norfolk, can play left field during the final weeks of the season. Mountcastle, who’s played third base and shortstop in the minors, needs to find a position where he’s comfortable, and the Orioles aren’t convinced he’s ready for the major leagues defensively.

But even if they wanted to add Mountcastle, who hit .297 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs for Double-A Bowie and became more selective at the plate this year, they would be putting him on the 40-man roster before they have to, and this year they have a roster that’s in flux.

With the expanded roster this month, the Orioles have 34 active players, and have just three healthy players who are on the 40-man and not with the parent team: pitchers Donnie Hart and Evan Phillips and outfielder Anthony Santander. Hunter Harvey, infielder Engelb Vielma and outfielder Austin Hays are injured.

The Orioles considered adding Hays to the major league roster, but he’s having ankle surgery on Thursday. The ankle bothered him much of the season at Bowie.

Richard Bleier, Mark Trumbo and Pedro Araujo, a pitcher selected in the Rule 5 draft last December, are on the 60-day disabled list and must move back to the 40-man roster before December’s Rule 5 draft.

The team has only one pending free agent, Adam Jones, and that means that in order for the Orioles to add players to the 40-man from both within the organization and from outside it, they’ll have to drop players.

Because the team has become radically different since July, not only is there only one free agent, but there are only six players eligible for arbitration this fall: Tim Beckham, Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens, Caleb Joseph, Jace Peterson and Jonathan Villar.

Of those, it’s possible that the Orioles non-tender Beckham, who could get perhaps $5 million in arbitration.

The Orioles have tough decisions on which players to protect this fall. Some of the top prospects that could be taken in the Rule 5 draft if not protected are pitchers Tanner Chleborad and Jay Flaa, both ticketed for the AFL; Brian Gonzalez, their top selection in 2014; Luis Gonzalez, Branden Kline and John Means. Catcher Martin Cervenka, who had a fine season at Double-A Bowie, is a likely add to the 40-man roster.

Room could be made on the roster by jettisoning some players on the active roster, but it seems likely there’ll be fewer open spots on the 40 than there have been in recent years.

Last December, the Orioles had enough openings to pick three players in the Rule 5 draft: Araujo, who must stay on the active roster 17 days next season to fulfill his Rule 5 obligations, Nestor Cortes and Jose Mesa, Jr. Cortes and Mesa were both drafted from the New York Yankees. Cortes began the season with the Orioles, but was returned by mid-April. Mesa never made it out of spring training before being sent back to New York.

Not only is the roster in flux, but so are the decision makers. The contracts of manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette expire next month, and decisions must be made quickly about who will be in charge for 2019 and beyond.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    September 13, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Beckham should be a no-brainer non-tender.

    People keep saying Jones will be back, which makes little sense to me on a rebuilding team. They have a load of outfielders that they need to get steady innings to see if they can play at the MLB level.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 8:24 am

      Zoey, this offseason will be a fascinating one.

  2. TxBirdFan

    September 13, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Rich – I appreciate your writing to keep our interest despite a very trying year. Frankly – I want a team who wants to win and if that means bringing up Mountcastle to give him some major league experience then they should do it. In fact, bring up anybody who really wants to win. (Boog – are you ready?). The O’s are hemorrhaging fans because of their play, and the front office doesn’t seem to care. A case in point is last night’s game. How does Cashner pitch so badly unless he’s not prepared mentally and physically, and why in the world does Buck leave him in to give up 8 runs unless neither really cares about winning. That’s so demoralizing for fans and all the players. Maybe they should just forfeit the rest of their games instead of just going through the motions. Save us the agony!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 13, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Well Tex, if by ready, yes I’m ready for anything other than what I’m watching each and every game this ‘team’ plays. I’ve even given up on Bundy….. well … almost anyway.

      But what I’m really ready for is some football. How’s about them Cowboys!!! Go Pokes!

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 10:54 am

      Well, Tx I enjoy writing if not the Baseball. Only 17 games left to savor, and Boog, you can turn your full attention to football shortly.

    • TxBirdFan

      September 13, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      Boog – I was hoping you’d be ready to suit up since I know you want to win!

      Cowboys won’t win until they get rid of Garrett, and I’m pulling for the Giants and Eli this weekend!

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 14, 2018 at 6:53 am

        Blasphemer!

  3. deqalt

    September 13, 2018 at 10:49 am

    It’s becoming pretty obvious Jones, Showalter, and Duquette are gone. 2019 will be a year long audition for plenty of players. Orioles just need to play out the season and begin the rebuild with stability in the front office first.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 10:54 am

      It will be a fascinating offseason, deqalt.

  4. Orial

    September 13, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Not calling up Mountcastle may fall into the controversial “tenure” fiasco facing MLB now. I’m still dissappointed Dosch hasn’t gotten a call(Nunez) is not impressing me. I do feel Cashner’s performance last night could fall into many negative categories–lack of incentive,tiring,disgust,humidity to name a few. My pro Buck/DD sentiment is starting to drop below 50/50 now. Never thought I’d say that. The veterans are tired,demoralized,and blasse. The rookies are pressing and/or over their heads. Bringing back Jones is even starting to lose some lustre. Sorry for the negativity but there still is not a light at the end of the tunnel other than the word–“rebuild”.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Orial, the Mountcastle non-callup is not a tenure call. It’s not like the Guerrero situation at all. Mountcastle doesn’t have a defensive position where’s he’s major league ready.

      Cashner had an MRI on his left knee today.

      As for Drew Dosch,, his defense is considered sub-par, and the Orioles don’t need another defender of that caliber.

  5. Bancells Moustache

    September 13, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    They can really start to move forward once they have jettisoned the manager. Witness Kevin Gausman’s instantaneous transformation to the pitcher we thought he would be when Dan Duquette drafted him the moment he left town. Does anyone believe Bundy will reach his potential in Baltimore? Gausman’s performance in Atlanta, with tweaks that I could have thought of, is the final nail in Showalter’s coffin as far as I’m concerned.

    • Ekim

      September 13, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      Bancells… Showalter’s the manager… not the pitching coach. I’ve been screaming for the O’s to s__t can MacDowell since mid season a year ago. When he arrived we had a half decent pitching staff but by mid season he’d screwed up Tillman and some others so bad we ended up in last place. He’s poison… just ask any Atlanta fan about how bad he messed up their pitchers before he came here. Just about any pitcher that has been under his tutelage while with the O’s has gone backwards. Once out from under him it’s like they’ve been reborn. Look at Hellickson now with the Nationals… under a 4.00. It’s hard to believe that no one in the “warehouse” can’t see that he’s toxic. He must have something “on” someone in the organization for him to have lasted this long. (… and by the way, when they shove him out the door they can push Coolbaugh out with him! One hit last night… OMG!)

      • Jbigle1

        September 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm

        Hellickson’s ERA improvement has a lot to do with how he’s used in Washington too. He doesn’t face a lineup more than twice through the order. He’ averages a shade under 5 innings a start. . But it’s a little misleading to just throw the ERA there and think he’s been transformed. Wouldn’t say he has, but they at least found a more effective way to use him and get the most out of him. Gausman has been exceptional since going to Atlanta. Getting out of the ALE and Camden yards helps but it’s still very impressive.

      • Bancells Moustache

        September 13, 2018 at 5:10 pm

        No no no no no. You can’t kick the blame downstairs on this one. Showalter is the pitching coaches boss. How is it the same damn pitching coaches in Atlanta can turn gausman around, but we’re unable to do so in Baltimore? The man at the top is the problem. No more excuses. No more raving about how he made us competitive 8 years ago. You don’t uncork one of the most pathetic seasons in Major League Baseball history and get to blame the pitching coach that you hired. Buck has to go

        • Jbigle1

          September 13, 2018 at 5:20 pm

          They both need to go. Buck isn’t the guy to lead a rebuild for sure. He likes his guys and that’s exactly what we don’t need right now. This team was designed to suck. Lets just be honest. At one point we carried 5 guys who’s best position is 1B or really DH. Davis, Trumbo, Mancini, Valencia and Alvarez. Colby rasmus was supposed to sure up RF? Cmon. Who was our backup option? Anthony Santander who couldn’t hit a damn thing but found his way into the lineup almost every night because who else was going to?

          Not only did we take 3 guys in the rule 5 draft but we tried to keep 2 of them. What has the rule 5 draft given us all these years? Joey Rickard, ryan flaherty, and TJ McFarland. I’m sorry but that’s an uninspiring trio.

          We replaced Wellington Castillo with a rookie catcher. Wasn’t ready. We continued to ignore the fact that we needed a better defensive outfield, someone who could get on base, and maybe even a lead off hitter who could swipe a few bags. The bullpen disappointed. It wasn’t designed that way but we didn’t get the type of years out of our guys that we are accustomed to. With the way that our roster was built we didn’t have a chance to win games .

          • Rich Dubroff

            September 13, 2018 at 5:30 pm

            That’s an interesting summary, bigle.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 5:31 pm

      Bancells, make sure to chime on Dubroff’s Diner tomorrow. I think you’ll find the question an interesting one.

  6. Ekim

    September 13, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Rich… I’ll agree with your opening line… but that’s as far as I’ll go when it comes to Stewart. He’s been pushed ahead each year even though he hasn’t deserved to be. As a #1 pick he gets that kind of attention but that’s his only claim to fame. I’m willing to bet “real money” that he never makes it as an every day major leaguer… too many “holes”. After reading that he’d been promoted to the O’s I went back and looked as his stats since he was drafted. Not a lot of positives there. But the Angeloosers have a lot of money tied up in him so we’ll all have to suffer the consequences.

    • Jbigle1

      September 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      He was very good in AA. Had to be added to the 40 man to save him this offseason. That was a lock. We have worse uses of the 40 man as it currently stands.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Ekim, might as well see what the Orioles have in Stewart.

    • Ekim

      September 13, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Rich… that’s what I said in your previous post about Stewart being added.

  7. Jbigle1

    September 13, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    We can non tender Beckham but we still will need that 40 man slot for another SS. Unless you think Engelb Vielma or breyvic Valera will be the starter. Either one of those guys could easily be DFA’d as well though. The orioles might have a 40 man crunch but they have some pretty easy cast offs. Valera or Vielma could go easily and likely clear. Andreoli could easily find himself off. Corban Joseph, Caleb joseph could be non tendered if were happy with a sisco/wynns tandem. Might as well be, Joseph isn’t going to get any better. Guys like Sean Gilmartin are always floating around the waiver wire. Jace Peterson could easily go. That’s not even delving very deep into the roster. You can find non prospects to get rid of very easily. ,

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 13, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      I look forward to covering your career as GM, bigle.

      • Jbigle1

        September 13, 2018 at 7:26 pm

        Lol. Maybe in another life. Those guys are waiver wire fodder though. I mean it’s a 41 win team so what do you expect? We claimed half those guys I listed off the wire anyway.

        • Jbigle1

          September 13, 2018 at 7:37 pm

          I don’t think you’ll see too many teams jumping up and down for Engelb Vielma and Corban Joseph. We won 41 games because the roster is dismal. An oriole getting drafted in the rule 5 draft just seems like such a crazy idea because our depth has been so weak and we are one of the most notorious players in that arena. With the depth we got back from the Machado/Britton/schoop deals and our potential perusal into the IFA market hopefully that is a legitimate concern in the next few years. There’s just so much junk on the back end of our 40 man I can’t see clearing out space being an issue unless we make the mistake of keeping guys who’ve proven that they aren’t going to be long term pieces over guys like Wilkerson or Cervenka etc.

  8. Liamandcarolinesdad

    September 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I have a feeling that if DD isn’t retained, the next GM will have a much different approach when it comes to the waiver wire, the rule v draft, and the good old dumpster dive signing. If I’m playing DD’s successor, I’m going to DFA Wright, Ynoa, Caleb, Corban, Beckham, and one of Vielma and Valera. I’d be dumping Trumbo to anyone that’ll take him for a can of spam. I don’t mind Jace taking up a spot as our utility man, but we can’t give him the Flaherty treatment by running him out there every other day. We don’t need a .201 BA playing every day, but he brings flexibility and speed to the table. If Wilkerson shows he can handle second base on a daily basis, I’d give him the opportunity to win the job and slide Villar over to SS. Núñez has done a serviceable job at 3B. There’s no reason he can’t keep the seat warm until Mountcastle shows us he can handle the job defensively. This is a rebuild. We need lots of seat warmers until the heirs apparent are obtained, identified, and developed.

    • Ekim

      September 13, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      Liam etc… you’ve put names that deserve to be gone! In a number of my posts I’ve called them “wannabe’s” and “neverwillbe’s. But the strategy of Douchette has always been to “dumpster dive” (great description) which points to another O’s problem… poor scouting for the draft. If the O’s had made better choices there wouldn’t be a need to go “trolling” (my description) for Rule 5 rejects and off the waiver wire. And, what’s your ‘take’ on the quality of what we got for giving up six major leaguers? I, personally, am underwhelmed but am constantly reminded by Rich that it will take time to see what they bring. One thing they bring is “time on the clock” from when they were with their other teams. That will mean having to put them on our 40 man roster or exposing them to Rule 5. My take on some of them is that they were almost in that position with their previous team and they were dumped on the O’s to figure out what to do with them.

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