With the hope that there will be positive news on the 2020 baseball season soon, let’s answer some questions from readers.
Question: Rich – my question is how does this year impact the development of someone like Rutschman, who is just starting his career and oppositely someone like Mountcastle, who is on the cusp of breaking on to the big league team.-Cedar from BaltimoreBaseball.com
Answer: Cedar, Adley Rutschman would probably have started the season at High-A Frederick and finished it at Double-A Bowie. Assuming the Orioles reassemble in the next few weeks, he should join other Oriole minor leaguers and get intense instruction while playing in extended spring training games.
Although there’s been no announcement, minor league seasons are expected to be canceled.
Rutschman and other top prospects could be sent to the Arizona Fall League for competition.
It will be interesting to see, assuming the 2021 season proceeds as planned, if Rutschman would begin the season at High-A or a higher level.
As for Ryan Mountcastle, if there is a 30-man roster and 20-man taxi squad, I think you’ll see him play quite a bit for the Orioles. Had the season not be interrupted, I think he would have come up to the major leagues right around now.
Q: If there is no season in 2020, how will that affect the 2021 draft? Would the Orioles get the number two pick again?-Dennis Mitchell by email
A: Dennis, I think there will be a 2020 season. There has not been any discussion about a draft order for 2021 in the event there isn’t one.
The only parallel I could find was the 2004-05 National Hockey League season, which was canceled because of a labor dispute.
The Washington Capitals had the number one pick in 2004 and, after the season was scrubbed, the next NHL draft order was compiled after weighing teams based on their previous few seasons.
A year after the Capitals selected Alexander Ovechkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were awarded the first pick, chose Sidney Crosby.
Baseball should be as lucky to get consecutive number one draft picks with that much talent.
Q: Rich, thanks for keeping this going. One question: How does the shortened season affect incentives in contracts? Are they dropped, prorated, or what?-Will Miranda from BaltimoreBaseball.com
A: That would have to be negotiated but, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, there’s only one Oriole with a performance bonus in his contract.
Alex Cobb would get $500,000 if he reaches 180 innings in any season on his contract. Cobb has never pitched 180 innings in his major league career, missing by 2/3rds of an inning in 2017 with Tampa Bay.
If that was prorated, I think he would have a hard time getting to 90 innings. In an 82-game season, without missing a turn, Cobb would get 16 or 17 starts with a five-man rotation.
He’d have to average six innings per start. That’s not likely to happen with many starters this season because managers will be especially careful with their starters.
The only other incentive clause for an Oriole is the $25,000 bonus for pitcher Kohl Stewart if he made the All-Star Game. There won’t be an All-Star Game this season.
Q: I’m wondering if someone were to hit .400 or a starter had a record low ERA, would those numbers be official or would it have to have an asterisk?-DevoTion from BaltimoreBaseball.com
A: Devo, if someone hit .400 or a starter had an ERA lower than Bob Gibson’s 1.12 in the 1968 season, that would be official.
In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Tony Gwynn hit .394 playing in 110 games, and he’s the batting champion for that year.
No one has come close to Gibson’s record, and in these offense-happy times, it seems unlikely someone will.
The closest anyone has come to Gibson was Dwight Gooden’s 1.53 ERA in 1985.
No asterisks appear in the Major League record book.
Q: Projected lineup, starting rotation, bullpen and bench?@CharmCityOs9482 on Twitter
A: I would guess Chris Davis at first, Hanser Alberto at second, José Iglesias at short and Rio Ruiz at third. In the outfield, Dwight Smith Jr. in left, Austin Hays in center and Anthony Santander in right with Renato Nunez as the designated hitter. Pedro Severino would be my starting catcher.
My starting rotation would be John Means, Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc, Asher Wojciechowski and Tommy Milone. Had their been a 26-man roster, I would have thought Chance Sisco as the backup catcher with Pat Valaika and Andrew Velázquez as the backup infielders and Mason Williams the extra outfielder.
With an eight-man bullpen, I would have said: Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Mychal Givens, Hunter Harvey joined by Tanner Scott and Hector Velázquez.
Since there’s likely to be a 30-man roster, you’ll have to check the next question for the extra four.
Q: Which Oriole(s) would benefit most from an expanded roster of, say, 30 active players? @jonbecker on Twitter
A: If there is a 30-man roster, I don’t know how many pitchers teams would be allowed to carry. With a 26-man roster, it was 13 pitchers and 13 position players.
Let’s say it was 15 pitchers and 15 position players.
The extra two pitchers would come from Cody Carroll, Eric Hanhold, Branden Kline, Travis Lakins, Kohl Stewart, Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate.
If the Orioles wanted another pitcher who could pitch several innings besides Stewart, they could choose from Ty Blach, Thomas Eshelman, Chandler Shepherd of Rob Zastryzny.
For the extra position player, I would guess a third catcher, either Bryan Holaday or Austin Wynns, and DJ Stewart, assuming his ankle is fully rehabbed, as an extra outfielder.
Q: I’m a big fan of the Orioles’ minor league system, Frederick Keys ticket-holder, and travel watching my baby Orioles players. Do you have or know where I can find a list of the players that were released by the Orioles? Jay Jenkins by email
A: The Orioles released 37 players: right-handed pitcher Jose Alejandro, left-handed pitcher Tucker Baca, infielder Carlos Baez, outfielder Cole Billingsley, catcher Ben Breazeale, right-handed pitcher Scott Burke, catcher Jean Carlos Carrillo, infielder Chris Clare, right-handed pitcher Marlon Constante, right-handed pitcher Manuel Daza, outfielder Juan De La Rosa, right-handed pitcher Javier Echevarria, catcher Daniel Fajardo, left-handed pitcher Claudio Galva, right-handed pitcher Hector Guance, infielder Josue Herrera, outfielder Dalton Hoiles, outfielder Nick Horvath, right-handed pitcher Jordan Kipper, outfielder Edison Lantigua, catcher Jose Lizarraga, catcher Hector Lucero, infielder Gilberto Machado, infielder Sean Miller, infielder Angelo Mora, right-handed pitcher Moise Nolasco, infielder Irving Ortega, first baseman Preston Palmeiro, infielder Trevor Putzig, infielder Jomar Reyes, left-handed pitcher Willie Rios, catcher Lenin Rodriguez, left-handed pitcher Yelin Rodriguez, right-handed pitcher Victor Romero, right-handed pitcher James Ryan, left-handed pitcher Jayvien Sandridge and outfielder Robert Thorburn.