Answers to your Orioles questions - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Answers to your Orioles questions

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

The season is a few innings short of one-quarter complete, and the Orioles are playing better than many thought they would. There are lots of questions to get to, and a number of them are about Ryan Mountcastle.

Question: What has to happen for Ryan Mountcastle to get an everyday shot at first base? This is getting ridiculous. From: Jeffrey Walter via Facebook

Answer: Fans are incredibly impatient about Mountcastle’s arrival, and I’m eager to see what he can do, too. The guess here is that you’ll see Mountcastle within the next week or two.

I don’t think he’s going to play first base, Jeffrey. One of the reasons the Orioles say he’s been at the Bowie alternate site is to improve his play in left field, and that’s where he’ll probably play, at least to start.

Question: Why not try Mountcastle at second if he’s a natural shortstop? I get the arm at this, but theoretically second should be doable. From @Chrost

Answer: Mountcastle was drafted as a shortstop, and he was tried both there and at third base in the minor leagues. More recently, he’s played left field and first base.

If the Orioles thought Mountcastle could play second, he would have been tried there by now. His future in the field is in either left or first.

Question:  If for some reason,  Ryan Mountcastle were not brought up to the big club this season,  could the Orioles play the same waiting game next year, thereby gaining yet another season of control? Boog Robinson Robinson via email

Answer: I seriously doubt that could happen, but yes. Each team gets six years of control over a minor league player and another six of a major league player. Mountcastle is in his fifth full season of minor league control, even though there’s no minor league season.

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If the Orioles didn’t bring him up until early in the 2021 season, they could control him through the 2027 season but, as I wrote earlier, I expect him to come up shortly.

Question: With DJ Stewart being demoted and Ryan Mountcastle probably being promoted sooner rather than later, what do you think the team’s next move is with him? Keep him? Try to trade him? If they try to trade him do you think they get much for him? Do they just outright release him? Thanks in advance for your answer. Blake Robinson via Facebook 

Answer: Blake, Stewart was a No. 1 pick in 2015 and, even though that was long before Mike Elias arrived, the Orioles have invested a lot in him.

They wanted to give him an extended look, but he looked lost at the plate in his first two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back here later in the season and, if they don’t like what they see from him, they may move on from him, but I can’t see them releasing him.

Because this year has been so strange, and the offseason is likely to be, too, predicting trade value is impossible. They could bring him back in 2021, but they have some interesting young outfielders with Mountcastle, Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna coming along.

Question: Any word on how Blaine Knight is looking? @Osandthedead

Answer: Blaine Knight was the Orioles’ third-round pick in 2017 and had a spectacular start of the season at Delmarva in 2019. Knight’s time after his promotion to Frederick was awful, going 1-12 with a 6.13 ERA.

He has not been added to the 60-man player pool but is someone who could have benefited from intense instruction without the pressure of games at Bowie.

Question: Do you see teams being more aggressive in promoting minor leaguers next year since they will be a year older but without that continuity of a season? Tom McLaughlin via Facebook

Answer: Excellent question, Tom. My guess is that teams will be less aggressive, especially with young pitchers. Even though they’ve either been working out under strict supervision at Bowie or coached via Zoom, they haven’t gotten authentic game innings, and I think it sets them back.

I think position players’ development won’t be held back as much. 

Question: How has the shortened season, tighter restrictions on player/roster movements, and cancellation of minor league seasons impacted the development of the likes of Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, and others in the pipeline that aren’t MLB ready? Michael Fleetwood via Facebook

Answer: Your question is related to Tom’s, but it’s regarding the players who are in the pool.

Since Rutschman lost three months of playing time when he could have been at Frederick or perhaps Bowie, let’s say that this sets him back about that long.

For Rodriguez, the lack of competitive innings is a real concern. He was developing nicely at Delmarva last year and would have started the season at Frederick.

Because of the lack of innings this year, the Orioles will closely watch his innings in 2021, and that may set him back longer than Rutschman and other position players.

Question: The relief pitchers have done very well this year so far. Do you think Mike Elias would trade Castro or Givens?  Plus Cobb is 33 years old. If he keeps pitching well someone who’s going to playoffs might want him and we could get someone younger for him.   Rob Jefferson via email

Answer: Predicting trades is tricky this year. I think that Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens could be traded, though Givens’ salary is a concern. He’s coming up on his final year of arbitration.

Castro could be an attractive commodity for a contender.

As for Cobb, he still has another year on his four-year, $57 million contract, and he might be hard to trade. But if he keeps pitching well, a contender in need of a starter could be interested.

Question: What is the biggest obstacle to the Orioles making it to the playoffs this year? @oriolespodcast

Answer: Even though the team is off to a better-than-expected start, they need consistent starting pitching. If they get that, then perhaps they could sneak into the expanded postseason, but they’re going to need lots of good starts from John Means, Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc, Asher Wojciechowski, Tommy Milone and others.

Question: Is ownership going to extend the contract with the Maryland Stadium Authority & OPACY before the end of the 2021 season or possibly leave town for someplace like Nashville? @MichaelFosterOC

Answer: The Orioles are not moving. The pandemic could delay negotiations on a new lease with the state of Maryland, but I fully expect one in place by the end of the old one.

The main reasons teams move is because they’re unhappy with their stadium situation. The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics are both working on getting new stadiums to replace their inadequate ones, and they could be candidates to eventually move, perhaps to Nashville.

Major League Baseball considers Oriole Park at Camden Yards a gem, and there’s no chance they’ll abandon this wonderful ballpark. Besides, I don’t want to write for NashvilleBaseball.com.

Question: Is the official scorekeeper at the park? Sean O’Connor via Facebook.

Answer: No, they’re not, and I think it’s a shame. MLB wants to keep strict social distancing in press boxes, and some of the scorers fall into the at-risk category.

Scorers work remotely, and sometimes the announcement of their decisions is delayed. An MLB.com statistician, who inputs information into Gameday, remains at the park. 

Question: What’s with Givens? From Sherry Agee Michaleski via Facebook

Answer: Mychal Givens has pitched well this season, with four scoreless innings. Last year, Givens pitched horribly in the ninth inning (6.69 ERA) and brilliantly in the eighth (1.93 ERA).

If a contender thinks he can help them as a setup man and the Orioles get an acceptable offer, then perhaps he’ll be traded.

Question: Has analytics caused the death of small ball? There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a runner on second with no outs not even make it to third. Why is there such a reluctance to sacrifice an out for a base?  Seth Mendelsohn via email

Answer: Small ball is certainly not in vogue these days, and analytics is a major reason why. But even Earl Weaver wasn’t a proponent of small ball. Perhaps someday bunting and the hit-and-run will be back in favor, but it’s not likely any time soon.

Question: Without the fans, what happens to all the foul balls/home runs? Are all the stadiums dealing with them the same way? Is there a Covid-19 protocol?

And speaking of protocols, I seem to remember reading something about only the pitcher and catcher touching the baseball, which seems pretty stupid, but is there a protocol concerning the actual baseball? Are they still rubbed down before the game or sterilized from the factory and used right out of the box?

I haven’t seen the Oriole Bird! Is he in the stadium and TV just doesn’t pick him up anytime or is he not there? Steven Schwarz via email

Answer: Some teams are using foul balls for batting practice. Others are auctioning them off for charity. Some have given them to season-ticket holders if a ball lands at their seat.

Home run balls are often authenticated and sold as game-day merchandise.

Any clubhouse employee touching a ball must wear gloves and a mask.

I haven’t seen the Oriole Bird.

Question: Are we back on the tanking track? @bentylka

Answer: The Orioles are building for the long term and, if they make the postseason, that will help them sell tickets for next year, or whenever fans return to the ballpark. They’re trying to win and build for the future, but I can’t see them taking on additional salary for September if they’re in the playoff chase.

Notes: The Orioles placed right-handed pitcher Jose López on the injured list in a procedural move. He was acquired on waivers from Kansas City on Sunday … The Orioles released left-handed pitcher Ty Blach, who underwent Tommy John surgery. Their 60-man player pool is at 59 … Sunday’s suspended game against the Nationals will resume at 5:05 p.m. on Friday ahead of the regularly scheduled game between the teams. The Orioles will be the road team for the suspended game.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. NormOs

    August 11, 2020 at 7:17 am

    Sorry I missed the Q and A thing but I do have a question. How is it that playing longer than 5 inning, then have the game called is a “suspended game”? It seems to me that MLB is protecting the Gnats and the hell with the O’s. I guess I shouldn’t expect anything else from this worm of a commisioner.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2020 at 8:18 am

      Norm, each time I have the Q and A thing, you always write that you missed it. I’ll have another in early September.

      The rule is pretty clear. Even though it was their incompetence, that’s how it reads.

      The Orioles have a three-run lead with runners on first and second with one out in the sixth. If they’re a good team, they’ll be able to win under those circumstances.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    August 11, 2020 at 8:00 am

    After this buildup, unless Ryan Mountcastle is Tyrus Raymond Cobb 2.0 everyone is going to be sorely disappointed.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2020 at 8:18 am

      Steve, I’m afraid you’re correct.

    • dlgruber1

      August 11, 2020 at 10:56 am

      And Mountcastle didn’t help matters at all by going deep on the first pitch he saw when he got an AB during the “summer training”. What was he thinking?

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 11, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for answering that question Rich. I’ve been wondering if Elias has been waiting for the season to be canceled for Covid reasons, while holding back on Mountcastle’s promotion in order to extend control for another year. Just a thought.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2020 at 8:34 am

      Ken, in order to gain still another year, which as I wrote, isn’t going to happen, he’d have to be held back until after the 2021 season started.

  4. Birdman

    August 11, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Although it appears that Elias has actually assembled (on a very tight budget) a pretty competitive team this season, those who accuse Elias of “tanking” have continued to beat the drum over Mountcastle’s absence from the roster. So, once Mountcastle arrives, it will be interesting to see where they turn next for their “evidence.”

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 11, 2020 at 9:46 am

      Oh please ..there’s no question they’ve been tanking.

      I’ve enjoyed this little run to start the season as much as the next guy, but as far as being ‘competitive’, let’s wait and see what happens when we’re back to playing the Yankees and the rest of the AL East.

    • CalsPals

      August 11, 2020 at 8:26 pm

      Elias has waited too long to bring him up, I don’t think anyone will need more evidence for Elias’ plan, although the strategically smart move of grabbing Lopez doesn’t help his cause…go O’s…

  5. Bhoffman1

    August 11, 2020 at 8:55 am

    I remember two spring trainings ago Yusial Diaz almost made the team with a great spring. I know injuries held him back last year. With the outfield set with RM in left next year what is the future for Diaz who was the main guy in the Manny trade especially if Davis is still on first next year.

  6. whiterose

    August 11, 2020 at 10:23 am

    I agree that the present ownership will not move the team. But you never address the possibility under new ownership caused by death of Peter and sons not being approved by MLB or forced to sell for inheritance taxes.
    Also, five year option must by taken by opening day next year if no extention completed.
    Corona is not a reason for delay. Talks should have been going on long ago and can be done now without being in same room.

    • dlgruber1

      August 11, 2020 at 11:03 am

      I’m just a fan. I have zero information for what I’m about to say but to me it’s so obvious that there’s no way they’d ever leave Baltimore for one very simple reason-OPACY. It’s still an absolute gem and all these years later still used as the model for newer ballparks being built. I don’t think the other owners would approve a purchase by any ownership group without a prerequisite being that they must remain in Baltimore. Of course I could be wrong but I’m confident I’m not.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 11, 2020 at 2:54 pm

        But the problem with that is that the O’s haven’t been filling up that get with paying customers for quite some time now. New ownership could very well want to move the team to a more profitable location. $$ Talks …

        • Rich Dubroff

          August 11, 2020 at 8:23 pm

          Ken, do not be silly. The Orioles are not moving. It will take several years to recover from the economic debacle caused by the pandemic. There aren’t states and cities will lots of money to throw around on new ballparks. The reason that Oakland and Tampa Bay whose situations are dire haven’t moved is that no state or city or Canadian province has promised them a new facility. Of course, Tampa Bay’s lease complicates things.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 11, 2020 at 9:45 pm

            Dunno Rich … you’ve always downplayed the possibility of the O’s being bought and moved, but frankly, I wouldn’t be shocked. All it will take is one very wealthy man with an ego. I also believe that for the past 3 years, the team has been managed with the goal of being sold.

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 11, 2020 at 8:18 pm

        I’m confident you are correct.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      No, I never address inheritance issues, taxes and mortality. I leave that to people who know something about it.

  7. willmiranda

    August 11, 2020 at 11:51 am

    A few thoughts. I’m not incredibly impatient about bringing up Mountcastle; I’m endlessly fascinated by Elias’s creative rationalizations. Second, why can’t they find an official scorer who is not a high risk? Is the pecking order that rigid? Maybe high risk people have to miss a turn just as other people in other situations do..

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 11, 2020 at 8:20 pm

      Will, press boxes are limited to 35 people. MLB decided that scorers could work at home. A number of scorers are over 60, and thus considered high risk.

  8. CalsPals

    August 11, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    I had asked a question if it was time to move on from Hunter Harvey, in the comments, the way you asked, he seems like an accident waiting to happen, what do you think? Go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      August 11, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      In August 9th article…go O’s…

      • Bancells Moustache

        August 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm

        It’s not costing them anything to keep him around, and his stuff is too electric to get rid of when he is still pre-arbitration. Keep working with him. He gets hurt, he gets hurt.

  9. Bancells Moustache

    August 11, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    I’m late to the party, but here’s a question: MLB has thrown out the idea of a bubble for the playoffs. This would eliminate the need for travel., particularly through the air. They have stated that they would need at least 3 sites for this to be feasible. The obvious front runner would be Los Angeles and San Diego, with three MLB facilities within driving distance. Should the East coast need representation, could Baltimore/Washington/Philadelphia be a possibility? The weather isn’t great, but its better than New York or Chicago, neither of which has 3 facilities within bus distance. Something to consider

    • CalsPals

      August 11, 2020 at 2:07 pm

      Sounds plausible to me, laugh, probably why they wouldn’t do it…go O’s…

    • willmiranda

      August 11, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      And I think we could guarantee that Baltimore would be a neutral site. I agree the weather is much better, but there’s less money here to influence the decision. Hew York and Chicago have two stadia, and Philadelphia and Milwaukee are about 90 miles away, respectively. On the other hand, if there are night games, New York and Chicago would probably mean hiring a UN Peace Keeping Force.

      • Bancells Moustache

        August 11, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        But it’s awfully damn cold in Chicago and New York, let alone Milwaukee, in November. Honestly, I don’t even know why I considered this a good thing. It’s not like we can attend the games, and I can think of nothing more horrific than the notion of the New York Yankees hoisting the Commissioners Trophy in the shadow of the B&O Warehouse.

  10. Bhoffman1

    August 11, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    Sisco not in the lineup tonight against RH pitcher. I just don’t get it.

    • CalsPals

      August 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      Doing a little too well, can’t win too many games & lose a top pick…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 11, 2020 at 7:40 pm

        This is the Oriole/Elias way. Loserville. I can’t believe it’s Hyde just being a bad manager.

    • CalsPals

      August 11, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      Agree, he’ll never admit it, until he retires, BUT it reflects on him, I don’t see how anyone could do that, integrity…go O’s…

  11. Jim-Considine

    August 21, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Who would Brady Anderson call to complain about a scorekeeper’s call?

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