Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 2 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 2

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

We had a lot of good questions this month, and while I can’t get to all of them, we decided that since it’s the offseason to answer as many as we could in two days. If your question wasn’t answered this month, please resubmit it next month. Some questions were edited for length.

Question: Who do you think should win the Most Improved Oriole award (if there were one)? I’d say Mullins, Scott, and Tate, in that order. Maybe Santander. From Tony Blank via email 

Answer: Tony, in my explanation of my Most Valuable Oriole vote, which went to Anthony Santander, I wrote that my third-place vote went for Tanner Scott, whom I thought was the Most Improved Oriole.

If there was an award, I would vote for Scott, Cedric Mullins and Paul Fry.

Santander had an excellent three-plus months in 2019, so he was already established in my mind. Scott had been up and down with the Orioles in 2018 and 2019 and while everyone knew he had potential, we hadn’t seen him pitch well consistently. He more than did that this year.

Mullins improved significantly from last year’s forgettable season, and is a pleasure to watch.

Fry was 1-9 with a 5.34 ERA in 2019. This season he reduced his ERA to 2.45 and had a 1-0 record.

I’m a fan of Dillon Tate, and I’d vote him fourth because the others played bigger roles.

Good suggestion for an award.

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Q: I was very pleased with the season with the young team and now I think they should get a good starting pitcher. Do you think they will try and get one or just build from within? From Rob Jefferson via email 

A: Rob, this was a popular question. Assuming the Orioles don’t trade Alex Cobb, he’d join with John Means, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Jorge López, Bruce Zimmermann and perhaps Thomas Eshelman and Kohl Stewart, if they’re retained, to contend for starting spots.

If next season is a conventional 162-game season, remember that none of the starters pitched close to a full season, and the Orioles might limit their innings.

They’re going to need more than six starters, and while it’s possible that Michael Baumann and Zac Lowther will debut sometime next season, I think it’s likely that Mike Elias signs a veteran starter or two as he did with Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone this year.

Q: Do you think the O’s will make any Rule 5 picks for the 21 season? From David Evans via email 

A: The Orioles have made at least one Rule 5 pick since 2006, David. That’s the longest run in baseball, and while 40-man roster space is likely to be tighter this year, I would say they’ll take a player. The Orioles tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the fifth-worst record in baseball and will have the fifth or sixth choice in the Rule 5 draft.

Q: A few questions: People are calling for a Gold Glove for Mullins, but did he play enough games? Urias impressed in the final week … will he be a solid second base contender? Will Alberto be re-signed after arbitration? From Orial via BaltimoreBaseball.com comments

A: Orial, I think Brandon Hyde was boosting Cedric Mullins for a Gold Glove because that’s what good managers do. They talk up their players’ accomplishments. There are some excellent centerfielders in the AL East — Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier. I would be surprised if Mullins won the Gold Glove.

Ramón Urias played well in the last week of the season, but he’s only played 10 games. If he’s kept on the 40-man roster, he could contend for a utility spot next year, but I think the full-time second base job seems unlikely.

Hanser Alberto is eligible for arbitration for the second year, and it’s possible that the Orioles trade him instead of paying him. An extension beyond arbitration isn’t going to be considered.

Q: Assuming things are at least close to normal next season, is there a likelihood of a surplus of Orioles minor league players relative to roster slots on farm teams?  If we lose at least one farm team next year and the prospects gained in trades and the draft keep rolling in, how will they all get team assignments?  A huge crowd at extended spring training? From Steven Cohen via email 

A: Steve, there is always a surplus of Orioles minor league players relative to roster spots on farm teams. The Orioles will lose a team next year. We don’t know which one. Players are always kept back at extended spring training because of injury, inexperience and oversupply.

There were only six players drafted this year instead of 41, and eight non-drafted free agents. I think they have a good idea of how many players they need to fill out what’s likely be to four affiliates instead of five.

Q:  My main concern with the Orioles ever since Buck was fired is the play on the field. Without seeming like I’m living in the 2010s glory days, Buck hammered the importance of defense, playing the Oriole Way and doing the little things to win the game within the game. Now there have been a lot of veterans gone from that era and a lot of young new faces.  The play on the field has significantly taken a step back.  There are so many baserunning blunders, missed cutoff men, fielding errors, throwing errors, etc. These are basic things that are taught in 10-12 baseball. Why are professional baseball players making these blunders seemingly on a nightly basis? Is it lack of proper coaching in the minors? Is it that the players just aren’t very good? I don’t get it, and it’s frustrating to watch. From Dave Hersl via email 

A: When Buck Showalter was here, he had Manny Machado at third base, J.J. Hardy at shortstop, Jonathan Schoop at second base and Chris Davis at first. That was an excellent fielding team and, as Buck would tell you, good players make good managers.

Some readers have also written, saying that Buck handled a bullpen better than Hyde, too. He had Zack Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day for much of the time he had that great infield.

Hyde just doesn’t have the players Showalter had. As the talent level increases, the play on the field will improve. Good players are generally strong fundamentally.

When Hyde was hired, I heard from many fans who wrote that they weren’t concerned with the won/loss record, they just wanted the team to play well fundamentally. That’s unrealistic.

Most players who aren’t skilled major leaguers can’t perform the basic skills. Some of the less skilled players who are fundamentally sound become managers and coaches.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    October 2, 2020 at 7:48 am

    Apparently we have a huge group primed to become managers & coaches…go O’s…

  2. Raymo

    October 2, 2020 at 8:15 am

    One of the questions mentions “things that are taught in 10-12 baseball.” What does that mean?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 2, 2020 at 8:31 am

      From age 10-12, Ray.

    • CalsPals

      October 2, 2020 at 9:45 am

      I thought he meant grades 10-12…go O’s…

  3. VICTORTEE

    October 2, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Being less talented does not make you stupid on the bases and sloppy in the field. A player with little talent can still be fundamentally sound.
    Stop making excuses for Hyde and his coaches.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 2, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Vic, I’m not making excuses. There are players, Ryan Flaherty for one, who wasn’t as talented, but did things the right way.

      Please give me examples of players with little talent who you think are fundamentally sound.

      • VICTORTEE

        October 5, 2020 at 9:11 am

        You gave a perfect example. Flaherty. Most utility players know to stick in the majors they have to do the little things well. I think Valaika
        is pretty sound fundamentally.
        Manny Machado was a perfect example that being talented does not make you a smart baserunner. How many dumb mistakes did
        he make on the bases.
        Why do you equate not having talent with not being able to do the “little things” ?

        • Rich Dubroff

          October 5, 2020 at 11:38 am

          I think Valaika is actually a pretty decent player, Vic. I would put Andrew Velazquez and Paul Janish in the category of doing the small things right. I think many players try to do things they’re not capable of; trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark when they’re not capable of it. You have to know your capabilities and limitations within reason, and I think many players who aren’t good are the ones who try too hard.

          On the other hand, take Velazquez. He was criticized heavily here by readers because of his hitting limitations. However, he didn’t overswing, and try to hit homers. Like Cedric Mullins, another fundamentally sound player, he bunted. Velazquez just not a skilled hitter.

          As you keep hearing, the game speeds up in the majors, and players who were good at lower levels, struggle in the big leagues because they can’t keep up with the speed of the game. They try to do too much, another thing you often hear.

          And with Machado, he’s so good naturally, he doesn’t think about the fundamentals on the bases. But, in the field, he’s solid fundamentally.

          Good comments.

    • CalsPals

      October 2, 2020 at 9:46 am

      Agree Vic…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 3, 2020 at 9:59 am

        CPs…..do you think we finally managed to drive him away?

    • CalsPals

      October 3, 2020 at 10:11 am

      Don’t jinx us…lmao, think he’s “other” people now….go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 3, 2020 at 7:23 pm

        You may be right. We HAVE had a big influx of newbies around here.

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          October 4, 2020 at 12:32 pm

          You “Pals” make me laugh!!! If you spent more time actually learning the game and how to build a winning team and the players who actually play the game instead of being sidelined crybabies who couldn’t carry the jockstrap of any major league players, you might be tolerable.

          PS: I’ve been watching other sports like my Lakers 2 wins away from being the Champions of the NBA!!!

          And my LA Rams whipped those boys or is it cows. Can’t remember which name they’re using now. Lol

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            October 4, 2020 at 11:30 pm

            So you carry major league players jockstraps? Impressive.

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      Go away & keep watching, basketball seems more your speed…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        October 4, 2020 at 4:07 pm

        Another sport you can’t do. The old saying, those who can’t do – teach. Well, for those who can’t do either – find your name and picture. Lol

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          October 4, 2020 at 9:21 pm

          And some people like to fantasize and make big lies about themselves. I’m sure you’re a two fisted dunking machine.

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      NCAA national coach of the year in the sport I coach, basketball is a game….go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      Our kids play basketball at recess…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        October 4, 2020 at 6:08 pm

        Yeah, your kids play and you watch. Like I said another sport you can’t do. I played NCAA basketball and baseball. I’m a player and you’re a wanna be.

        • VICTORTEE

          October 5, 2020 at 9:13 am

          Why don’t you give us your name so we can google you?

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2020 at 6:33 pm

      Read the whole thing jacka$$, assuming you can & your momma doesn’t read it for you, it was so much more fun on here without you….been there, done that…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        October 4, 2020 at 6:57 pm

        You have been nowhere and done nothing a$$ face. You’re a watcher, a dime a dozen, while guys like me are a player. Again, something you can’t do. And I don’t give a rat’s ass what you like or think is fun so save it.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          October 4, 2020 at 11:31 pm

          More lies.

          • VICTORTEE

            October 5, 2020 at 9:15 am

            I think Orioles Number1Fan is a blowhard like Pres Chump. Maybe he is Pres Chump.

          • CalsPals

            October 5, 2020 at 10:04 am

            Funny, could be, maybe he was in the hospital, hence no posts for a while…go O’s..

  4. Tony Paparella

    October 2, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Definitely agree with Rich as far as a Hyde versus Showalter evaluation. First of all Buck had much more experience than Hyde has at this point.The obvious key factor is the team and organization is trying to figure out who fits where and who is capable at any position. Thus you have to send them out there on a regular basis,and many times though they are not performing you have to stick with them to a certain point to give them a fair chance at evaluation.Buck’s players for the most part were seasoned to a point that he knew what to expect and what strategy to use. So he had an advantage. Not saying I was not frustrated with some of Hyde’s decisions but he certainly is not operating with the same type of players that Buck had at his disposal.

  5. Birdman

    October 2, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Rich, How much do you think Alberto would be awarded in arbitration? To get rid of Alberto simply to save a relatively small (by MLB standards) amount of money concerns me. Alberto’s been a productive player the last two seasons, and will be 28 next year, which seems still young enough to be part of the rebuild.

    This follows on your report that Brocail may have been fired as a coach for cost cutting (rather than performance) reasons. And we have seen reports that the team is considering not exercising a $3 million option on Iglesias next season, which seems like a bargain price for a player with his talent.

    I understand that the Orioles are now operating as a “small market” franchise. But we’re not talking about signing Manny Machado to a $300 million extension. If the Orioles are operating on such a thin financial margin that personnel decisions, like Brocail, Alberto and Iglesias, are now based on the need to save a few hundred thousand, or a few million, dollars, that does not bode well.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 2, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      Birdman, my guess would be in the $3-$3.5 million range. Had there been a full season, he would have made $1.65 million. This year’s market is so uncertain and many things will change.

      I’m guessing they’ll exercise the option on Iglesias.

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 2, 2020 at 9:03 pm

      They are operating as a small market franchise, but also with their 2020 revenue drastically reduced. No gate revenue. No merchandise at the stadium. TV money reduced by 60%. Absolutely brutal financial conditions. This off season will be an interesting one.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 2, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Rich, it seems to be like you missed the point with Dave Hersl’s question. Why is it that this team seems to lack some of the most very basic of baseball fundamentals? Hitting cutoffs … countless mishaps running around 3rd base … etc ? I have to blame the coaching or at least how they’re being “developed” in the minors.

    Just because you have a wealth of talent, doesn’t mean your immune to mental blunders. Point in case one Manny “worse baserunner ever” Machado. HE had all the talent in the world but often played the game like a busher. He constantly got thrown out trying to stretch a hit … he was never known for hustle … and his lazy throwing was often done in his sleep.

    T

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 3, 2020 at 7:44 am

      Ken, some players are so good that they just rely on their natural talent and don’t care or ignore coaching. Take Machado, yes, he made errors on the basepaths. But, he didn’t make mental errors in the field. It bugged them if he didn’t run out a ball or screwed up on the bases, but did you see him make mental errors in the infield? Not many.

      Fundamentals aren’t taught enough in the majors, to be sure, but my point is the best players are usually the best players fundamentally. Players who are less skilled aren’t. Those are the guys who rush their throws, try to overcompensate because they’re simply not good enough.

      Another example of a fundamentally sound player was Andrew Velazquez. He didn’t make mental errors in the field. He realized he couldn’t hit the ball out of the ballpark, and bunted. But, you don’t want a team comprised of Andrew Velazquez or Paul Janish, another superbly skilled fielder who didn’t hit much.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 3, 2020 at 9:40 am

        I must have misunderstood you Rich because I agree with everything you just said.

        Regarding Machado, this is splitting hairs, but what few errors I remember Machado making, were the routine throws to 1st where he seemed to get lazy or show-offish, and would lollygag an errant side armed throw. Again, it didn’t happen often.

        No matter how slow the baseball world it Rich, you seem to come up with something! Along with everyone else, I love your stuff and hope you know that.

    • CalsPals

      October 3, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Machado played a better third base than short, basically, if he didn’t have to think he would make the play, too much time to think, ehhh, I think that is true with many players, if we could eliminate the thought process, awesome…go O’s…

  7. willmiranda

    October 3, 2020 at 10:53 am

    I think the best time to learn fundamentals in anything is early in life when a person can focus on simple processes and is less bored by repetition. The fundamentals are learned reflexes that are made automatic by thousands of repetitions. I think a lot of players with good fundamentals had fathers who were coaches. That said, i think a problem with the current O’s is the constant shifting of players to different positions. A well-trained player is not only consciously aware of what he sees in front of him but also unconsciously aware of what is behind him. He senses exactly where he is on the field. This has to be automatic. Moving players all around destroys this sense. And when, as usually happens, several players are involved in a catch-and-throw situation, the problem is compounded. Similarly, on the basepaths, changing batting orders puts people in different sequences, making it hard to anticipate what the player ahead or behind will do. Experimentation may be the best overall option for the team, but it has its costs. And most experiments fail. It’s a condition of the process of finding a successful outcome.

    • CalsPals

      October 3, 2020 at 11:24 am

      Great observations will, totally agree, this past season there was no sense of the regular line up, they played everywhere, they only thing consistent about it was the inconsistency…go O’s…

  8. mstrchef13

    October 3, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Given that Ruiz was disappointing for the second year in a row, will there be thought given to playing Alberto (assuming he is still here) at third and giving Martin first dibs on the second base job?

    Also, I don’t like any of the options the O’s have in the majors or high minors to play shortstop so can we just sign Iglesias to a contract extension now?

    • dlgruber1

      October 3, 2020 at 10:49 pm

      Very interesting article about Gunnar Henderson by Jon Meoli of The Sun. Mind you, Henderson is only 19 but it talked about how much progress he’s made. A warning to anyone who reads the article, there’s a comment in there that will make you cringe. You’ll know it as soon as you see it. But overall a very good piece about, in my opinion, the future O’s shortstop.

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2020 at 8:20 am

      Glad to hear Adley was almost an impossible out, but seriously, batting tips from Chris Davis…c’mon man….go O’s…

    • dlgruber1

      October 4, 2020 at 10:55 am

      So, CaksPals, you read the article. What’s the saying, those that can, do. Those that can’t coach. Maybe CD had a future as a hitting instructor.

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2020 at 11:12 am

      Maybe somewhere else…can’t say at one time that his advice would’ve been backed up by his play, but not the last three yrs, his negativity & the whole situation would say do it somewhere else…go O’s…

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