Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1

I’ve gotten many good questions for our monthly mailbag. I’ll answer some here, and some tomorrow. Thank you for such interesting questions. Questions are edited for clarity and style.

Question: What do you think needs to happen in order for the Orioles to consider the 2021 season a success? From: @TheWarehousePod

Answer:  I suspect Orioles management and fans have differing takes. The club wants to accumulate as many talented players as possible this year while many fans are tired of losses and want to see discernible progress in the team’s record.

If Austin Hays can get through the season without a serious injury, Ryan Mountcastle has a good full season and, say, two pitchers of the group of Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells and Bruce Zimmermann establish themselves as starters, that would be great.

I think fans would like to see the team at least inch up in the standings, to perhaps 70 wins or so. If Hays, Mountcastle and perhaps Cedric Mullins put together a full season and you see two starters emerge, then the 2021 season is a success.

Question: How is rookie eligibility decided? I’m wondering why Austin Hays isn’t considered a rookie when he had fewer games played and at-bats than Mountcastle last year. From: @Kendo1316 

Answer: Kenny, a position player must have fewer than 130 major league at-bats to be eligible for Rookie of the Year. Austin Hays has 250 major league at-bats in parts of three seasons. Mountcastle had 126.

Pitchers are eligible if they’ve thrown 50 innings or fewer. If a player has accumulated 45 days on a big league roster before September 1st, when rosters are expanded, that also eliminates them from Rookie of the Year consideration.

Question: Do players on the taxi squad have to be on the 40-man roster?  If not, will this help stronger teams stockpile extra players?  How will it impact the players with Norfolk?  Will players be allowed to rotate between Norfolk and the taxi squad? If not, could some players on the squad be inactive during the season? From: Steve Cohen via email. 

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Answer: Besides Steve, others asked about the taxi squad, and I’ll try to answer their questions, too.

Taxi squad players only accompany the team on road trips. When they’re at home, they’ll be at the alternate site at Bowie for the first month, and then at Norfolk when the minor league season begins.

Four of the five players on the trip — Travis Lakins, Richie Martin, Isaac Mattson and Ryan McKenna — are on the 40-man roster. Austin Wynns isn’t. The stronger teams generally have better minor league players, so there’s no stockpiling.

There won’t necessarily be the same taxi squad players on each road trip. When not with the Orioles, they’ll be getting playing time in the minor leagues.

Players like traveling with the major league team because they receive major league meal money and if someone is ill or injured, they can step right in.

Question: When would Buck Showalter become eligible to be on a Hall of Fame ballot? And, and if he does, do you believe he will have a shot at making it? He is just over  50 percent in his career winning percentage, but he has over 1,500 managerial wins, is a three-time Manager of the Year and had a knack for turning the teams he took over into winners. No World Series titles will be something that stands out, but he had tremendous success, even though his winning percentage went downhill in his last two years or so in Baltimore. From: Michael Fleetwood via email

Answer: Michael, as you may know, I’m an admirer of Buck’s, but I don’t think he has a great shot at the Hall.

While he was an excellent manager, as you point out, his teams never got to a World Series, let alone won one. Two recent managers with fewer wins, Earl Weaver and Whitey Herzog, are in the Hall, but each won a Series.

As for the mechanics, I’m sure Buck will be on a ballot in the next several years, assuming he doesn’t manage again. He’d be considered by a small Veterans Committee, which meets every few years rather than on the annual ballot of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which is only for players. 

Question: In fantasy baseball, where the categories are batting average, runs, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases, which Oriole would you draft for 2021 if you could not change your roster for the entire season and you could draft only one player with the final pick (and Mancini  and Santander were already drafted) — Mountcastle, Hays or Mullins?
And, why would you pick your guy? From: MLBFan via BaltimoreBaseball.com

Answer: I’m not a fantasy baseball player, but if I made one guess, it would be Austin Hays. If he stays healthy, he’s got the best chance to fill up those categories.

Question:  If/when a lockout occurs next year because baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season., do the minor league teams get locked out as well? I’m a little unclear as to what the dividing line is between MLB and MiLB team owners. From: Dave Hersl via email

Answer: If there’s a strike or lockout, it would affect only the players on a team’s 40-man roster and veteran players on minor league contracts with major league service time.

Norfolk and Bowie would be free to field teams, but they wouldn’t have any players with major league service time or on the 40-man roster. Other minor league teams could operate freely since prospects who haven’t been in the majors or joined a 40-man roster aren’t in the union.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this, Dave. A labor stoppage would be awful for all concerned.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    April 4, 2021 at 8:04 am

    Didn’t actually clarify my question, guys on the taxi squad travel, so for a prolonged road trip, how do they get innings/at bats? Aren’t they essentially penalized by lack of playing time to be available for the team & probably not be used…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 4, 2021 at 9:05 am

      They take batting practice with the team. If they’re pitchers, they may throw simulated innings.

    • CalsPals

      April 4, 2021 at 9:09 am

      So missing out on games, Happy Easter to all & go O’s…

  2. IrishAl81

    April 4, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    Anyone trying to listen to today’s game on radio. The 3rd inning today has been brutal. Very difficult for the announcing team to call the game remotely. I think we are winning 10-0.

    • Icterus fan

      April 4, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      Coming through loud and clear for me on 105.7 ??

    • dlgruber1

      April 4, 2021 at 4:22 pm

      With this fantastic start the only thing that could dampen it is if Hays is hurt enough to go on IL.

      • mlbbirdfan

        April 5, 2021 at 9:47 am

        Red Sox getting blasted by fans and Boston media. I’d getting no credit whatsoever. Sad New England hubris

  3. Hasta la vista pelota

    April 4, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    Is John Means going to be traded or will we hold onto him?

    • dlgruber1

      April 4, 2021 at 6:24 pm

      That depends on what some team offers the O’s for him. Elias has made it clear there’s no one on the team that’s untouchable for the right price.

    • Icterus fan

      April 4, 2021 at 7:50 pm

      Say it ain’t so.
      I understand that’s how the modern version of baseball works, but if we’re trading Means, then let’s just join the Plutocracy and sell the whole damn team if it’s ONLY about the $, ever. We’ve faced a steady stream of mediocrity and jettisoned a lot of talent. How about building a foundation and (maybe) competing?
      I mean, Angelos sued himself into prosperity and bought a team hopefully so we could be competitive at some friggin’ point. Hopefully. Maybe. I guess.

  4. geevee3

    April 5, 2021 at 12:38 am

    The statement was “That depends on what some team offers…” I like Means too and hope he’s with us for a long time, but if the Padres offered Machado and Tatis… Obviously that will never happen, but there is a possibility that some team will make an offer that makes sense. This is not just how the modern version of baseball works, it is how it has always worked (Ask Cleveland fans about Rocky Colavito). The O’s could have remained loyal to Milt Pappas too, a homegrown promising pitcher, I’m glad they didn’t.

  5. WorldlyView

    April 5, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Thanks for the info about the Taxi Squad. It now occurs to me that I don’t know the answer to a much larger question: why was it created? Because of the shortened 2020 season? If there is a full season this year, will it disappear in 2022? Also, to get back to the stockpiling issue. If Wynns is not on the 40 man roster, does that mean taxi squaders are under contract to the MLB team but not necessarily assigned to a minor league affiliate? If so, doesn’t that suggest that the Dodgers, Yanks, and other ‘loaded’ teams could retain 5 players over and above minor league roster limits?

    • Rich Dubroff

      April 5, 2021 at 9:16 pm

      The taxi squad was created last year to have players available at each position who can be swapped out in case of injury or illness. MLB didn’t want players called up from the minors who would have to fly commercially. I’m not certain it goes away because it does make some sense in a normal year. If you’re in Seattle or Oakland, and your AAA team is playing in Norfolk or Charlotte, that’s a full day lost in travel.

      Because the minor league season hasn’t begun, no one is assigned to a team yet, but he’ll be on Norfolk. Part of the minor league restructuring was to eliminate disparities in the number of players an organization has.

      The taxi squad players, who are designated for each road trip will play for the AAA team when the major league team is at home. The taxi squad players will be different on each trip, though Wynns, because he’s one of the few qualified catchers, will be on many trips, as he was last year.

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