Farewell to 2020, and welcome to Oriole questions for 2021 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Farewell to 2020, and welcome to Oriole questions for 2021

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

2020 was the most challenging year of our lifetimes. It was a rotten year for everyone, and a particularly difficult one for optimists.

When spring training abruptly ended on March 12th, and I left Florida two days later, I was convinced I’d return in a month.

Not only have I not been back, but I haven’t been on an airplane since.

New Year’s is traditionally the beginning of the end to the offseason. It means that spring training is about six weeks away, and it’s time to get ready for 2021.

As we end 2020, it would be hard to find many in baseball who think that spring training will begin on time in mid-February. The Orioles are scheduled to begin camp in Sarasota on February 16th. They’ve been advertising ticket packages for spring training games.

I’m sure there will be a spring training. I’m just not sure when it will be.

Unless the owners insist on playing a full 162-game season, which seems unlikely, there’s certain to be another nasty fight between players and owners on finances.

If the owners want to play fewer than 162 games, then players will want to be paid for a full season. Eventually, it will sort itself out.

The guess here is that spring training will begin around the time the regular season is scheduled to start, April 1st, and that the 2021 season will be roughly double the length of the 60 games we saw in 2020.

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I think there will be no repeat of games without fans, and that the owners want to be able to have at least some fans in the stands to begin 2021.

If the Orioles can begin the season at even 10 percent of capacity, say between 4,000 and 5,000, that’s a beginning. As health conditions improve, then that number can increase.

For those of us who cover the team, we’ll begin with Zoom interviews, just as in 2020. It’s not ideal, but it’s the reality for now. Perhaps by the time the season nears its end, we’ll be able to revert to our normal access.

The third year of the Orioles’ rebuild, which many hope will be the last, will be another fascinating one, no matter the season’s length.

Can young pitchers, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann pitch well enough to contribute to an improvement next season?

Will Akin, Kremer and Zimmermann be joined by Michael Baumann and Zac Lowther later in the season?

Can Austin Hays remain healthy for a full season and produce as a major league regular?

Will Trey Mancini make it back from cancer and be the productive team leader he was in 2019?

That is an easy one for me. I’m confident that Mancini will return and star again.

There are many other questions to be answered in 2021.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has said that 2019’s overall No. 1 pick, catcher Adley Rutschman, will begin 2021 at Double-A Bowie.

We just don’t know when the minor league season will begin, and the composition of the leagues.

High-A Aberdeen, which replaces Frederick, is the only major change in the Orioles’ system.

Frederick is where Rutschman would have begun 2020 had there been a minor league season. We know he wouldn’t have played in the major leagues last year, but will he make his debut in 2021?

The minor leagues have four affiliates — Triple-A Norfolk and Low-A Delmarva return along with Bowie and Aberdeen.

In the weeks before spring training begins, the Orioles probably will sign a starting pitcher or two. There are so many to choose from and, because the market is slow, they could get by with signing them to minor league contracts.

A major question is who the Orioles’ starting shortstop will be? One name that has interested the Orioles for several years, Adeiny Hechevarria, has fallen off the board. Hechevarria signed a contract to play for the Chiba Lotta Marines in Japan over the holidays.

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, there are 11 free-agent shortstops available. A popular name is Freddy Galvis, a 31-year-old who played for Cincinnati last season.

Galvis’ 2020 salary was $5.5 million, and he’d have to settle for a much lower number. However, after hitting .220 with a .712 OPS last year, that shouldn’t be a major issue.

Didi Gregorius, Marcus Semien and Andrelton Simmons are the biggest names on the list, but they’re presumably out of the Orioles’ price range.

While the team has Richie Martin, Yolmer Sánchez, Ramón Urias and Pat Valaika on the 40-man roster, it’s hard to believe that there won’t be someone else joining them in Sarasota.

The signing of Nick Ciuffio to a minor league contract adds to the Orioles’ catching depth, but there are many more catchers available than shortstops. Another veteran addition seems plausible, perhaps one who could mentor Rutschman.

As 2021 is set to begin, this optimist hopes for a much better year, though the realist knows that our problems won’t disappear quickly.

A longer season means more storylines, and that’s good for everyone. My hope is that your storylines in 2021 will be far more promising than the were in the year that we’re so eager to wave off.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

48 Comments

48 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 31, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Rich, I find it less than amusing that the name Ramón Urias is still being uttered within the organization, or within this article anyway, as a candiate to man the shortstop position. Are you serious Rich? Ramón Urias is currently in play?

    If this guy finds his way onto the field with the big club, at any point in the season, I think my head may explode. How in the heck can we call ourselves ‘big league’ while entertaining the idea that this guy has ANY place on the team?

    Please Mikey … it’s time to grow this team up.

    • Behemoth

      December 31, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      I don’t get the hate here. Urias has a pretty respectable record on offense in his minor league career and had a good debut in Baltimore in 2020. I don’t have huge expectations for him but I don’t see it as unreasonable to give him a shot to win the 2B job. He’s not considered a good defensive shortstop, but I see nothing wrong with having him in the mix at second.

  2. Baltimore Castaway

    December 31, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Rich,

    Wishing you and each of your commentators a healthy and safe 2021.

    In looking at the Elias Reset/Rebuild I wonder if this is the last season of “Practice Runs” geared to assure a high draft pick the next Summer or if they are going to try to be more competitive. In typing this I quickly realize the foolishness of the idea that the Orioles are in a position to be more competitive..

    I am encouraged and optimistic for the Team’s future; it is one of the few things i am encouraged about outside my own span of influence/control.

    Thank you for your fine writing.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Thank you, Michael.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 31, 2020 at 4:10 pm

      BC… with all due respect, I see absolutely no reason why the Orioles can’t and shouldn’t be more competitive this year. Mancini, along with the continued emergence and gained experience of the likes of Hayes, Santander, Mullins and Sisco alone should make the team much more competitve. Now if this is not going to be another “practice run” (tank job cough cough), bringing Rutschman up would to start the season, would further improve the team. And I haven’t even mentioned the young starters that are on the way. For gosh sake, the season opening rotation couldn’t be worse than last years, could it?

      I honestly am hoping for 80 wins this year. Go ahead clowns, laugh all you want, but I feel the only thing that may hold this team back is the inscupulous GM we’ve been saddled with! You know .. the guy that traded our underpaid major league quality shortstop for a bag of chips.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        December 31, 2020 at 5:18 pm

        BRR,

        From your mouth to God’s ears…

        It would be a very good development. Just wondering if the Starting Pitching will hold up.. I do believe that Boston and Toronto are likely to underachieve. Yankees are a question mark and the Rays are still a very good team..

        Let’s play the games and see what happens. We all know that players don’t care about the Orioles getting a high draft pick in ’22…

        Wishing you a great 2021 and another year closer to the Orioles becoming a Top Tier Franchise…..

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        December 31, 2020 at 8:09 pm

        BRR, been a long time since I’ve posted; I learned it was pointless to discuss/debate with people who don’t base their opinions on available information, but on their own feelings, personal insight or whatever. Plus, it seems some of the regular commentators here criticize the management/rebuild just to entertain themselves. So, even though I enjoy engaging in baseball discussions, I won’t argue just to argue.

        However, BRR, I have to address something in your comment above; where you wrote “go ahead clowns” in reference to people who don’t agree with you on the Os winning 80 games in 2021.

        You give your opinion on practically everything, but do you ever go back and read your past comments? If you ever do this, you’ll see that you’ve been flat out wrong on the large majority of things you post about.

        Even in the comment here, you suggest bringing up Adley to start the season. The highest level he’s played at is single A, and this was only for a little over a month. To even consider this is ludicrous.

        You make it clear that you don’t like the ‘boy wonder’ as you often refer to him, but the way you do it, and continuing to do so in spite of being wrong so much is hard to understand, especially when you call those who disagree with you clowns.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          December 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

          ESJ .. I apologize for the “clowns” comment. That didn’t come across very well, or exactly as I intended. I was just bracing myself for what I expected to be ton of guffaws and chuckles at my expense, due to that 80 win expectation I mentioned. Sincerly, my bad.

          BTW… you seem to discount Adley’s time in the 60 man camp last year. He supposedly tore it up, and frankly, that should be considered a significantlyhigher level of competition than “A” ball.

          Now with all due respect, I certainly do understand that I’m not right on every position I take regarding the team … but since I’m wrong on the ‘large majority” of them .. can you be a bit more specific? I don’t agree that’s true.

      • Jersery O

        January 2, 2021 at 5:48 pm

        Are you “boogandbrooks” from poster’s past?

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 2, 2021 at 8:19 pm

          No Im not. I’ve never seen that name on this site at least.

    • CalsPals

      December 31, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      Haven’t heard from you in a while Boog, hope all is well, again, I must totally agree with you, but I don’t see Mikey really trying to have a better team this yr…love to see it, especially Rutschman, said it before, I’ll say it again, he should be up at the beginning of the season, whenever that is…go O’s…

    • TxBirdFan

      January 1, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      Boog – as I recall you were among the first to sing the praises of Santander and getting him more playing time. You were spot on!

      Now then – 80 wins might be a tad optimistic unless they combine 2020 and 2021 win totals, but I like the positive thinking. I’m hoping for 70 wins (tank you very much!), putting a man on 2nd base in extra innings forever, and a return of all fans to the ballpark.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 1, 2021 at 8:07 pm

        Thanks for the support Tex!

  3. cedar

    December 31, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Happy New Year to the staff of Baltimore Baseball and to all the readers and commenters.

    2020 gave us a glimpse of what to expect from the minor league players and I look forward to more of that in 2021.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Thank you, cedar.

  4. Birdman

    December 31, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Rich, To play a 120 game schedule, the 2021 season would have to begin around mid-May. I hope the goal of being able to start the season with several thousand fans in attendance can be attained. But it looks like that may be overly optimistic.

    Just a few weeks ago, Federal government officials projected that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December. However, they missed that target by about 90%, with only about 2 million vaccinated so far. So, unless the vaccination rate is drastically improved soon, it may be the Fall of 2021, or even longer, before we see thousands of fans in the stands again.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 31, 2020 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks for the insight, Birdman.

  5. ctevans

    December 31, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Why did we let Iglesias go, our best overall player and now we search for a SS? SMH

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 31, 2020 at 4:14 pm

      From the mouths of the intelligent…..

    • CalsPals

      December 31, 2020 at 4:38 pm

      We covered this adnausem (so) months ago…go O’s…

  6. NormOs

    December 31, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Happy New Year to you, Rich, and all your knowlegeable posters. Well it seems it is what it is. The O’s need a SS but a MLB SS seems to be out of the question as usual. Waiver Wire, which I take to mean that no one is interested enough to trade because the player has to little value. Thus up steps the O’s. Waiver Wire………. easily the top farm team of the O’s will certainley produce the needed SS for 2021 mainly because he’ll come CHEAP.. My question is:How long do you think it will be before the O’s are interested in any one of the top 50 free agents?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 31, 2020 at 4:16 pm

      Norm .. I may have the answer to that …
      .
      When pigs fly, or they’re under new ownership. Whichever comes first.

      • WorldlyView

        December 31, 2020 at 11:24 pm

        Are you the same Boog R R who, in a post above, let optimism run rampant by claiming that there is no reason that the O’s won’t be more competitive this year? There are reasons. What happens when other teams start improving by signing the high quality free agents that are too expensive for us, and we continue to troll the waiver wire for castoffs? And yes, the new starting rotation has so many question marks that it very well might be worse that of 2000. It’s nice of you to believe that we should be able to win 80 games, but it ain’t gonna happen unless absolutely everything goes right and there is a full season–which is unlikely. When and where was the last time that everything went right? I guess my skepticism/pessimism/realism consigns me to your “clown” category, but I see nothing to laugh about.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 1, 2021 at 12:03 pm

          Didn’t you kind of just laugh off my 80 wins comment?

          BTW .. .the 80 wins wasn’t a prediction…I believe I said that I “hoped” it would happen. And yes of course we’d have to play a full season for that to happen.

    • CalsPals

      December 31, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      :)…go O’s….

    • CalsPals

      January 1, 2021 at 5:18 am

      I don’t think optimism has anything to do w/top 50 FA, Mikey already said he wasn’t looking at them, w/guys we returned & our best players up in optimistic we can be very entertaining, 80 (in a full season, possible) might be a stretch next yr, but so would having Mikey have our best players on the majors…go O’s…

  7. BirdsCaps

    December 31, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Looking forward to grabbing a beer and putting my feet up in section 126 in Aberdeen. Full season, should be fun, as should seeing friends at the games. I’m still clinging on the Christmassy feeling for a few more days to distract from the monotony of the semi-lockdown.

  8. OriolesNumber1Fan

    December 31, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Here’s hoping that John Means and Trey Mancini both have outstanding 2021 seasons so their respective boatload trades could bring in 8 to 9 more top 30 prospects to speed up the rebuild! Also adding in the 5th pick in each round plus the supplemental pick from the 2021 draft I would hope that the rebuild would be very close to completed. Then this coming year would hopefully be the last top 5 pick in the draft for quite a while so we could officially turn the page on the rebuild! Then 2022 doesn’t seem to far away from the next dynasty to start!!!

  9. OriolesNumber1Fan

    December 31, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Also, interesting article by Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun regarding the Blake Snell trade by the Ray’s and what this trade means for an Orioles team looking to emulate the transaction.

    The “what ifs” were amazing to speculate over and it reminded me of what I was saying all along. Like what if the Manny Machado trade was done earlier in 2014 or 2016 by that idiot GM Dan Duquette, when everyone and their grandmother knew Manny wouldn’t sign an extension with them. Same goes for Zach Britton.

    You could even expand this to what if Duquette would have traded Chris Davis after the 40 plus home run seasons when his stock was at its highest, getting back 3 or 4 good young prospects, instead of waiting until he became a free agent and getting nothing for him or when he would cost the team the most by resigning him as said free agent. Then compounding this issue by doing just that and resigning him to this monster contract! You always want to buy low and sell high just like in stocks and not the other way around! Just like Mike Elias did with Iglesias! He traded/sold on the highest value Iglesias would ever have and got back good young pieces. So, man if you thought Duquette was a dunce for waiting until the Orioles downward implosion during the 2018 season to finally doing something, imagine if he would have done these trades back in 2014 or 2016 to keep the Orioles competitive or relevant then and for the future!

    • Baltimore Castaway

      January 1, 2021 at 8:48 am

      O’s#1Fan,

      Thinking that you are blaming Dan Duquette for not making the smart and proactive moves you are referencing relating to Machado, Britton and Davis. I pretty much agree with everything you say in that the Orioles really waited way too long to make the moves w Machado and Britton. You are fundamentally wrong in blaming Dan Duquette though. Dan wanted to and would have made those moves and would have gotten a very large return if those trades were made a year or two earlier. The person who prevented him from making those moves was a guy named Peter Angelos. He felt that the team was going to be able to compete for a WS run. Of course, that was never to be because the Orioles lacked the starting pitching talent and depth needed to do that.

      As for Davis, Peter Angelos directly negotiated that extension w Scott Boras — on his own—without Dan Duquette even knowing he was doing so…as proof of this, Dan signed Mark Trumbo as Davis’s replacement…

      The last thing I will state here is that I truly believe that Buck (the Weasel) Showalter was whispering in Peter Angelos’s ear this entire time blowing smoke up his skirt filling Peter with False Hope that this team had enough talent to win a WS, which of course it didn’t…

      In looking back, it was a sad time in the Orioles history, riven with enormous dysfunctionality mainly caused by the Owner’s refusal to install and enforce an organizational chain-of-command… he is/was a brilliant Trial Attorney and wonderfully generous benefactor to many people and causes. A great Baseball Team Owner he is/was not.

    • Jersery O

      January 2, 2021 at 5:56 pm

      2017 was the year to trade any of the big names. 2014 was the year the O’s could have made it to the WS.
      No one that year would have been traded away.

  10. OriolesNumber1Fan

    January 1, 2021 at 10:28 am

    I disagree with you regarding Peter Angelos being the problem. The real issue was Dan Duquette and his secretly trying to use the Orioles to get the president job with the Toronto Blue Jays. If I was the owner how do you trust DD for double crossing you and then trusting him to make trades on your behalf. So Angelos having involvement on any trade approvals was justified in my opinion. And it was always easy to blame the owner for not spending on this team when DD had the highest payroll in Orioles history topping $172mm and still could not win it all!

    And Mark Trumbo was a security guard signing in case Davis left as a free agent while he was pondering or holding out for more money. That was a good move by DD by not waiting until the last minute. He could play first if Davis would have left or DH if he stayed. And because Scott Boras negotiates with ownership for his clients due to the size and length of his contracts, DD still knew they were trying to resign him. And I remember Showalter (and he’s no weasel) when Davis was a free agent stating something like how much does he need and how much is too much!

    And as far as pitching goes you are correct as far as the starting pitching. A bunch of number 3 to 5 starters won’t get it done. And I was hoping DD would’ve signed someone way better than Yovani Gallardo and Ulbaldo Jimenez when neither one was a number 1 starter. $172 plus million payroll should have gotten them a number 1!

    And if I remember correctly, the Orioles still made the playoffs when Manny was out having knee surgery, Davis was out because he stupidly forgot to get MLB’S approval of a drug for his Attention Deficit disorder and where was his wife to remind him for that! And I believe Wieters was out for Tommy John surgery. So trading Manny and/or Davis or even Wieters prior to all this happening would have brought back a number 1 starter for sure along with some younger talent!

  11. Phil770

    January 1, 2021 at 10:55 am

    With this group, Angelos is the root of everything that has gone wrong with the O’s. DD never made a mistake, always someone else’s fault. Agree with you that Dan’s campaign for the Toronto job had a huge effect on the team and his relationships. Don’t forget that Brady Anderson was a big whisperer too, contributing to the dysfunction. PA’s biggest management mistake was refusing to recruit and develop international players. 2nd biggest was signing Davis. Neither of those things can be fixed easily or quickly.

  12. ClayDal

    January 1, 2021 at 11:50 am

    A few thoughts. Rutschman probably doesn’t come here until 2022. With the probability of some sort of work stoppage in 2022, the Orioles don’t want to waste service time with Rutschman on the picket line. As far as SS, don’t forget Iglesias signed on January 7th last year. Plenty of time to get a SS. And the Orioles didn’t get rid of him, he was traded. If they wanted to get rid of him, they wouldn’t have picked up his option. Or signed him in the first place. So until we see Stallings or Pinto pitch, best to reserve judgment. As for the Orioles not pursuing top 50 free agents, it’s a two way street. The player has to want to come here. Even if the Orioles are willing to pay market value, odds are a more appealing team is willing to do the same. One last thought-I predict they bring back Hanser Alberto. Minor league deal, invite to Spring Training

    • dlgruber1

      January 1, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      Very good points you made ClayDal. I’m only going to add what I’ve said often at this site. I’m willing to give Richie Martin a very long look to be the everyday SS. As I’ve noted, he was in my opinion three most improved player in hfs team in 2019 from beginning to end of season.

    • NormOs

      January 3, 2021 at 8:43 pm

      The short answer as to whether a free agent would want to come here is simple……..MONEY! I don’t know what the money is involved for winning a WS but probably most of these guys would take a per game pay cut. Everyone believes the stories,not facts, that the O’s “can’t afford to compete” with Boston, New York, etc. etc. etc. I have no idea what the O’s budget is and I don’t think anyone else does either because it’s a deep dark secret. That “not being able to afford” is a CROCK. And, as for a player wanting to come here, there has to be an offer made or an inquiry by the agent before that can happen. So far, I haven’t heard either.

  13. Jolp

    January 1, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    BRR… sorry to jump on the bandwagon here, but it would be nice if you would knock it off with the racial slurs, my wife is from South America, and it is just in poor taste… anywho go O’s happy new year!

    • CalsPals

      January 1, 2021 at 2:16 pm

      Unless your wife is a clown or a pig, I don’t see where he said anything racially sensitive, sorry if I missed it…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 2, 2021 at 12:23 am

      Jolp … What is the wide, wide world of sports are you talking about? Racial slurs? And where is this bandwagon? Riddle me this…How can I possibly be considered a racist when I married a woman from Ohio for crying out loud?

      Seriously though, I dont’ get it. Can someone help me understand this post?

      Frankly Jolp, I think you owe me an apology for all but calling me a racist.

    • CalsPals

      January 2, 2021 at 8:26 am

      Agree, watch it Boog, we’re from Ohio, lmao…go O’s…

    • Baltimore Castaway

      January 2, 2021 at 11:43 am

      Against my better judgement, for the life of me I am unable to find anything racist in any of these comments.

      Have scrolled up and down several times and I don’t see anything.

      What are you referencing?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 3, 2021 at 7:46 am

      Nice response. Talk about poor taste.

    • CalsPals

      January 3, 2021 at 8:57 am

      Nice jolp, appears to me you are a HUGE part of today’s problem, nothing to bitch about, let’s find a racial angle & play it, not sure if you’ve ever posted before, don’t post any more…go O’s…

    • WorldlyView

      January 3, 2021 at 4:48 pm

      Rich: I suggest you ask the webmaster to remove Jolp’s comment–it is grossly inappropriate for this website. If another juvenile, obscenity-laced rant appears, it may be time to consider installing a moderator to screen incoming emails before they are posted. Please keep the door closed to trolls.

  14. Bhoffman1

    January 2, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    After reading every post I will say one thing. No matter how many games are played next year any number under a 500 season is a step back.

  15. Rob IsraOsFan

    January 2, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I am bullish on next season…predicting that many players (especially pitchers) will have breakout seasons and the O’s will win 52 percent of their games (84 wins if they play a full season).

    Crazier things have happened, and not that long ago. In 2011 they finished 69-93 and no one would have ever guessed that they would finish 93-69 just one year later.

    Wishing everyone a happy 2021.

    • dlgruber1

      January 3, 2021 at 2:45 am

      Rob, I have an unusual request. Any chance you can change your screen name? For my liking it’s just way to close to Rob Irsay-and to this day I’ve never gotten over the Colts leaving town. I’m kidding of course about changing your screen name but you’ll never know how much I cringe whenever I see it. As for your actual comment I agree completely. I always remember the “Why Not?” 1989 season as one of my all time favorites, following the 1988 season where they lost their first 21 games and went 54-107. In baseball just about anything can happen.

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