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

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 2

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It’s time for our monthly mailbag. We’ve gotten lots of good questions, and this is the second part. Questions are edited for clarity, length and style.

Question: I’ve found myself following Ryan Ripken at Triple-A and wondering if he will ever get a shot at the big-league club?  When Ryan Mountcastle got hurt recently, I was surprised that the O’s called up Tyler Nevin over Ripken.  What are your thoughts?  Will we ever see another Ripken playing for the Orioles? From: Robert R. via email

Answer: Tyler Nevin was called up because he was on the 40-man roster and Ryan Ripken wasn’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ripken was called up at some point. It would provide some needed fun for Orioles fans.

Question:  The Orioles have made many trades over the last several years. Can you show me one trade that makes sense?  From: John Flato via-email

Answer: John, you listed many trades made in 2018 by Dan Duquette and a number made by Mike Elias since he took over later that year.

It’s still too early to evaluate some of the trades the Orioles made in 2018. The Manny Machado trade brought three players who are still with the organization, Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Diaz and Dean Kremer. In a year or two, we’ll have a better idea about those players.

The trade the Orioles made with Atlanta did send Kevin Gausman there, but it also gave the team substantial salary relief when the Braves took an expensive Darren O’Day contract. The Orioles got Bruce Zimmermann and others in return, and Zimmermann is showing promise.

As for Elias’ trades, his deal in December 2019 that sent Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles for four young pitchers could be a good one. Kyle Bradish, who’s at Norfolk, is pitching well, and Isaac Mattson has already pitched for the Orioles.

Ask me this question again a year from now, and we may have a different answer.

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Question: Rich, could you remind us how/when the clock starts on a player toward arbitration/free agency?  I’d like to see Adley Rutschman behind the plate this year.  Would that proverbial cup of coffee burn a year? From: OrioleMaze from BaltimoreBaseball.com comments

Answer: Both OrioleMaze and Bob Lawrence, among many others, are eager to see Rutschman this year. If the Orioles promoted Rutschman later this year, it probably wouldn’t affect the clock on arbitration or free agency, which could change beginning next year when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement takes effect. That issue might be part of the negotiations.

If Rutschman were promoted late this year or began 2022 with the Orioles, he’d be eligible for arbitration after the 2024 season and for free agency after 2027, assuming the current timetable remains.

However, the Orioles might not want to put him on the 40-man roster this year to not only save space for another promising player but to make sure he can play in the event of a labor dispute to begin 2022.

Players not on the 40-man roster would be able to continue to play minor league ball if the major leagues had a work stoppage.

Question: At Triple-A Norfolk, who has the more famous dad, Zach Jarrett or Ryan Ripken? From: Derek Roberts by email

Answer: Zach Jarrett is the son of famed NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett. Around here, there’s no question that Cal Ripken Jr. is more famous, but in the Southeast, I’m sure there are many more NASCAR fans than in Baltimore.

Question: Would the Orioles consider bringing back Matt Wieters to help with the young pitching staff? From: Dave Robinson via email

Answer: No, Wieters was one of the best catchers in Orioles history, but he was a free agent over the winter and went unsigned. He was also recently cut from the U.S. Olympic baseball team, so I think the Wieters ship has sailed.

Question: Any word on whether the media will travel with teams this season? From: Bobbymac824 from BaltimoreBaseball.com comments

Answer: Some radio broadcasters have begun to travel. The Indians’ radio crew was in Baltimore this past weekend.

A number of print and digital outlets traveled last year and this year. As for myself, I’ve been to fewer road games than in the past because of restricted access but still have  been to Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and Nationals Park this season.

Question: I’m old enough to remember the glory years. The thing we always heard back then — how a small-market upstart team could dominate for a solid 20 years in the AL East — was that they had a coherent approach that was taught and followed at every level of the organization: The Oriole Way. I know the game has changed and many of our problems might be a result of the Orioles not changing with it.

But I’d sure like to see more emphasis on pitching and defense. And more fundamentally, is there a New Oriole Way, a baseball method, that the Orioles’ organization is developing and planning to implement from A-ball on up to the show? From: Ben Schenck via email

Answer: Yes, Ben, the Orioles are teaching pitching and hitting the same way throughout the minor leagues. Their pitching coach, Chris Holt, also carries the title, director of pitching, and he was the minor league pitching coordinator in 2019 and 2020. Their hitting coaches work collaboratively, too.

Question: Why don’t teams bunt against the shift?  If the defense is going to leave areas of the field undefended, why not take advantage?  From: Seth Mendelsohn via email

Answer:  I agree with you, Seth, but hitters are convinced they’re paid to hit the long ball and not singles. I love it when a batter goes the other way. Yes, they’re not going to hit home runs, but they would profit from it because the defense would play them straight up.

Question: What is the tipping point at which the losing goes from being part of the rebuild to concern? From: @SabresFanJan8

(This was tweeted before the end of the 14-game losing streak) 

Answer: I know many fans are losing patience and expected a better won/loss record by now, but I don’t know many observers who thought the Orioles would have a much better record than they do now. I think next year and 2023 will be critical. Progress should be apparent by then.

Question: How much longer are we going to keep playing Maikel Franco at third base? We aren’t getting much from him on the offensive side. Is there any help coming soon?  From: Jay J. via email

Answer: Jay, Maikel Franco has been offensively disappointing. Last year, Franco hit .278 with a .778 OPS in 60 games for Kansas City, and his numbers this year aren’t close to that.

The Orioles don’t have a third baseman at Norfolk who’s ready. Rylan Bannon, who’s on the 40-man roster, is out because of an oblique injury. One of the reasons the Orioles have drafted so many infielders is that they know the quality of the major league infielders is wanting. I would say Franco is the third baseman for 2021.

Question: Who are the Orioles most likely to be dealt before the trading deadline? What is your opinion about the possibility of trading Trey Mancini or Anthony Santander? From: Jeff Hobson via Facebook

Answer: I would think Santander is the most likely to be traded. A team would be getting nearly 2 ½ seasons of club control before he’s eligible for free agency. He missed a month because of a sprained ankle, and his numbers aren’t what they were a year ago. The trading deadline isn’t until July 30th, so there’s plenty of time for him to put up bigger numbers.

It’s my hope that the Orioles don’t trade Mancini. I think he sets a great example for players in the clubhouse, and he’s one of the few who fans identify with.

Paul Fry and Freddy Galvis could be useful to contenders and could also be trade chips.. 

Question: I know many players have two-way contracts that pay them one amount when in Baltimore and a lesser amount when in Norfolk. My question is for the players filling the rosters of the lower minors: Do they get a raise when going from, say, Aberdeen to Bowie? From: Dave Gruber via email

Answer: Dave, the minimum monthly salary for rookie and short-season ball is $400. It’s $500 for Single-A, $600 a month for Double-A, and $700 a month for Triple-A. Teams can pay more than the minimum.

Question: Would you explain the difference between a player being waived and one designated for assignment? What are the specifics to the limited options rule?  The O’s are recalling and optioning the same player multiple times.

I guess I am still hung up on how the taxi squad functions, despite your dealing with this more than once.  On days when the O’s taxi squad is on duty, does that mean Norfolk has only 23 players available for their game?  From: Steve Cohen via email 

Answer: Let’s deal with the first two together. A player who joins a 40-man roster has three options. A club may option a player multiple times in any of those three years.

A player is designated for assignment if he has used up his three options and can’t be sent to the minor leagues without passing through waivers or, if they have options and the 40-man roster is full. A team has seven days to trade, waive or release a player after they have been designated him for assignment. It’s rare that a player is simply released without an attempt at compensation.

This year, Triple-A teams have 33 players on their roster and a five-man taxi squad for each game. Since the start of the minor league season, the requirement for major league teams to carry a taxi squad has been dropped, and the Orioles didn’t have one on their most recent trip to Minnesota and Chicago.

Question: The debate about Pedro Severino and particularly pitch-framing sparked my interest. What is the metric for determining a catcher’s ability regarding framing? Apparently there’s even a Statcast rating for pitch-framing? How are framing skills evaluated? Who evaluates and codifies such information? It seems like a soft skill (thus difficult to evaluate) and not a black and white sort of thing to me. From: Icterus Fan via email

Answer: Marty, Statcast breaks down the catcher’s view into eight zones around the strike zone and, in their words, the rating “shows the called strike percentage of all non-swings in that zone.” Their strike rate is the cumulative total of all zones. Runs from extra strikes converts strikes to runs saved.

José Trevino of the Texas Rangers is the leader. Chance Sisco was 56th and Severino was 58th and last. Austin Wynns hadn’t appeared in enough games to be evaluated.

Question: Isn’t Sisco going to have to be remembered as a major disappointment from the previous administration?  All we heard was a great hitter who needed a position.  From: Neil Cashen via email

Answer: Neil, Chance Sisco is still part of the Orioles’ organization since he’s on the 40-man roster and could return to the team if there was an injury. He was a second-round draft choice in 2013 and has a .199 average in parts of five seasons.

It would be in his best interests to go to a different organization. Because he’s a left-handed hitting catcher, and still only 26, I’m sure he’ll get an opportunity elsewhere to see if he can prove himself to be a quality major leaguer.

Question:  The Orioles recently have seemed to model their game after the Rays by their willingness to use bullpen days and openers. Oriole manager Brandon Hyde’s quick hook has often been criticized on this site. Is that a result of trying to mirror the Rays? Is this a sustainable practice or is it more a result of young pitchers?  Any news about labor talks for 2022? From: Dave Hersl via email

Answer: Dave, I haven’t heard anything about labor talks, which I suppose is a good thing.

The Orioles are trying to conserve innings with their younger pitchers because they’re concerned about the effects of the shortened 2020 season,\ and they want to try to get their pitchers through an entire season without breaking down. That’s the case for many major league teams.

I’m sure the Orioles would like to mirror the Rays’ success, but they don’t yet have the talent.

Question: I know the Orioles need starting pitchers, but after watching Matt Harvey this season, would they at some point consider using him as a closer? It seems to me that his first-inning ERA is much lower than subsequent innings, and if he was used this way, it could be a showcase for a trade later in the year. From: Scott Scheer via email

Answer: Scott, finding good starting pitchers is the first priority for the Orioles. Having a good closer on a non-competitive team isn’t as important because there aren’t regular save opportunities.

Harvey’s first-inning ERA is 6.00, and his best innings are the third (4.09 ERA) and fourth (2.00).

It’s not out of the question that Harvey might be considered as a reliever at some point in his career, but I think the Orioles, especially with John Means on the injured list because of a strained left shoulder, need starters first.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. MDNative58

    June 8, 2021 at 7:54 am

    I fear we’ll win too many games this season and cost us Elijah Green in next years draft. The draft this year is murky at best with no clear #1 pick. In fact this years draft could start at 10. Not so next season. Green is touted as a Griffey/Rodriguez talent. To cost us Green by winning 2-3 extra games is folly. We should trade off Galvis, Santander, Fry and Franco. Enjoy watching our kids on the farm develop and root for Arizona, Detroit, Texas and Pittsburgh to win.

    • Unoptionable-Option

      June 8, 2021 at 8:21 am

      Keeping Franco might help the Orioles achieve worst record this season…

  2. Orial

    June 8, 2021 at 8:10 am

    Jarrett a more famous name than Ripken? I realize NASCAR’s got a nice following,though somewhat limited, but as compared to MLB and Cal Ripken that would be a solid no.

    • CalsPals

      June 8, 2021 at 8:32 am

      Followed NASCAR quite a bit when my dad was alive, Jarrett really isn’t that big a name, family connections tug at your heartstrings, definitely not a Ripkenesque following…go O’s…

  3. ptjhu

    June 8, 2021 at 8:18 am

    Please tell me you were joking about Ryan Ripken making it to the Big Leagues. He’s a career .240 hitter who couldn’t start at the University of South Carolina. But because he won the genetic lottery he gets to play for the Orioles?

    • CalsPals

      June 8, 2021 at 8:33 am

      Not saying it’ll happen, see Yastrzemski…go O’s…

      • Unoptionable-Option

        June 8, 2021 at 2:39 pm

        Mike Yastremski 2018 AAA stats at Norfolk at age 27, Ryan Ripken’s current age, were significantly better than Ryan Ripken’s are so far this season. I hope Ryan Ripken improves and gets called up when he deserve a look. It’s a shame Mike Yastremski never got a look with the Orioles.

        Genetic lottery comment not cool ptjhu, Ryan showed some promise at Frederick & Bowie in 2019…don’t be bitter because JHU got eliminated from the D3 baseball playoffs.

        • ptjhu

          June 8, 2021 at 3:10 pm

          “genetic lottery” referred to his last name. You don’t think that played a part in his getting drafted? And I was more bitter about Hopkins’ lacrosse not even making the tournament, Tiger.

  4. Bman

    June 8, 2021 at 9:18 am

    The most important thing this year is just filling up the minor league pipeline. Successful trades and successful drafts. Having the worst record and top pick for 2022 is prob in Os best interest. Not sure that’s going to happen though. Minor league affiliates are fun to follow right now.

  5. Tileman

    June 8, 2021 at 9:36 am

    But even if the O’s had a #1 pick they’d probably pick a lower tier player so they could offer a lower comp plan like they did a year ago

    • Hallbe62

      June 8, 2021 at 10:22 am

      Which sometimes leaves more $$$ to sign more players in a talent laden draft.
      Not saying I agree with that. But it’s why we “slotted down” the list last year.

      I do know this……if 1 of those 2 Vandy pitchers (Leiter & Rocker) are available at the #5 overall pick, and the Birds pass in an attempt to sign more players, I’ll be sorely disappointed and shaking my head in disgust.

      PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING, and more PITCHING

    • CalsPals

      June 8, 2021 at 10:26 am

      Agree, said that earlier, not sure it really works, it may, last yr w/COVID really threw a monkey wrench into the mess, making it harder to tell if it worked…crapshoot at best…go O’s…

  6. MDNative58

    June 8, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Last year’s draft and this year’s draft are not that big of a deal. There’s no super talent. Next years draft with Elijah Green is a generational type player. He’s not an idiot like Bryce Harper or made of glass like Strasburg. He needs to be in Baltimore. Don’t win two more games and miss him. History is full of number two pics by teams who won a single game more than the team that got the number one pick.

    • CalsPals

      June 8, 2021 at 11:25 am

      Sounds great, do you think the current leaders would take him, committed to Miami & if they go his route would be serious $, or take a lower player to save $ for a later pick?…go O’s…

    • Unoptionable-Option

      June 8, 2021 at 2:46 pm

      Bryce Harper is an idiot and Stephen Strasburg is made of glass! Got it! Please carry on!!!

    • fireladdie72

      June 9, 2021 at 9:11 am

      Cal was taken in the second round

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 9, 2021 at 9:33 am

      Fireladdie, I think they’re referring to second overall picks, not second-round picks.

  7. MDNative58

    June 8, 2021 at 10:51 am

    Also keep your fingers crossed that Zach Pop continues to have some bad outings. It would be amazing if he got to come back to us after we botched it up with the rule five draft and let him go.

    • Unoptionable-Option

      June 8, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Maybe Zach Pop isn’t quite that good? Not seeing losing Pop in the Rule 5 draft as botching it up…

      • MDNative58

        June 8, 2021 at 3:25 pm

        We protected 8 to 10 guys on the 40 man that are no longer with us nor never really had a chance to be anything long term. Yolmer Sanchez? Chris Shaw? Pop has a chance to be a good player moving forward and we didn’t protect him. Lessons learned.

  8. willmiranda

    June 8, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Just a note on the old pitching and defense Orioles. I believe Paul Richards brought that from the Go-Go Sox in Chicago. More to the point, when they laid out the original Memorial Stadium, center field ended somewhere in Pennsylvania. The outfield was huge, and the O’s from the beginning featured speedy centerfielders. I think Chuck Diering was one of them. Only a Gus Triandos or Jim Gentile could hit home runs, but neither could the opposition, which meant a good pitcher simply had to throw strikes and the ball would stay in the park. They also featured good-glove, good-range infielders. Anyway, a point I’d like to make is that I’m not sure that formula works in OPACY. I’m beginning to suspect –stat people, feel free to research– that it’s hard to win a game in Baltimore without hitting a home run. I don’t mean that a homer has to be the decisive hit, but that if you’re hitting, some balls are going out of the park.

    • Icterus fan

      June 8, 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Willmiranda, I was talking with a client today (in his 70’s) who’s first big league baseball game as a kid was in 1954, the O’s first year at Memorial. He was telling me how the team came from St Louis and how the goal was to avoid losing 100 games that first season, and the O’s won 54 games that year, finishing 54-100 but did not finish last, for which the city was grateful. He credited Paul Richards as a manger who turned things around early on. Love the old stories.

      Back to current day: Pitching in the AL East is tough enough, and in this homer happy, launch angle era, pitchers are rightfully skeert to pitch in a small stadium like Camden Yard. I just heard a discussion on the radio today about how this dissuades pitchers because pitching in tight ballparks risks damaging their stats. Many pitchers now favoring west coast clubs with less mashing, nice weather and possibly larger venues.
      An interesting conversation.

  9. Birdman

    June 8, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Unless the Orioles get an offer that’s too good to refuse, hope they don’t trade Santander – that would send the message that the goalposts for fielding a competitive team are being moved further down the road … would be encouraging to actually see contract extensions for Mancini and Santander, but don’t expect that from ownership.

    • MDNative58

      June 8, 2021 at 3:33 pm

      Santander has never played a full healthy productive season on any level at any time. Ever. He’s exactly the kind of person you do not want to give an extension to. That would be silly. If we are able to ship him to someone and get a prospect or two that’s a win. We got rid of Bundy and Iglesias and brought back six prospects of which two or three may pan out and actually be a part of our future. You don’t give a mediocre, injury prone person like Santander an extension. Especially since we have a ton of outfield prospects that we have to determine if they can really play or not. Think 2-3 years down the road. Not this August or next June. Watch Bowie, Delmarva and Aberdeen for your win fix.

      • Birdman

        June 8, 2021 at 5:09 pm

        In 652 MLB at bats since 2019, Santander has 34 HRs and 106 RBI, and he was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020 … doesn’t sound “mediocre” to me.

    • Icterus fan

      June 8, 2021 at 5:31 pm

      MDNative 58 make a brutal but logical comment about Santander IMO. If he stays healthy and hits well, he will be trade bait. Maybe the same with Stewart, I would imagine. Our outfield seems crowded.
      I really do hope Mancini stays. That guy’s a keeper and a core member of the team.
      It seems everything is in flux, so who knows?

  10. Unoptionable-Option

    June 8, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    This will be very disappointing to most here except MDNative58 who is hoping the Os tank…

    The Orioles optioned their best fielding and hitting 2B at the MLB level so far this season back to Norfolk today. We wish you best with the Tides Ramon Urias! We know you will be back with the Orioles soon!!

  11. MDNative58

    June 8, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    After Ken Griffey Junior was drafted Mark Merchant was. After Alex Rodriguez was drafted Darren Dreifort went next. There were two wins difference between the first team picking and the second team. Next year someone’s going to select Elijah Green with the first pick. The second team picking will select someone that in all likelihood will be average at best. Are two additional wins this year worth that? Figure it out.

    • CalsPals

      June 8, 2021 at 5:37 pm

      Bryant, Bregman, Verlander were 2 picks, way better careers than the 1 picks in their draft, no guarantees…go O’s…

      • Hallbe62

        June 8, 2021 at 7:39 pm

        MN58 thinks Elijah Green is a “generational” talent……A “can’t miss” player. Maybe he is….maybe he ain’t.

        I believe the draft resembles a “crap shoot” ……..a roll of the dice more times than not. Before the O’s can grow those arms…….they have to draft them. Pitching, pitching, pitching, & more pitching

    • CalsPals

      June 8, 2021 at 7:56 pm

      Totally agree Hallbe62, hoping that one of the Vandy pitchers is available…go O’s…

  12. BirdfanVA

    June 8, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    Interesting questions. As far as the team doing things “the Oriole way”, I also remember that the Dodgers were very good at developing pitchers (the Dodger way?), and the Expos were good at developing players (Raines, Wallach, Gary Carter, Ellis Valentine, etc.). Perhaps the reason teams got away from developing players a certain way is because of free agency. Teams knew that as soon as a player who had been developed in their organization reached free agency, he would leave the organization and go elsewhere to the highest bidder.
    As far as players not bunting or going the other way against the shift, I blame the managers of the teams for not telling their players what to do. If I’m Hyde, and I give Chris Davis or any other pull hitter the “bunt” sign, and they don’t do it, I’d have a nice chat with that player in my office after the game.. I assume managers still make out the lineup card, give signals, and captain the ship as it were.

  13. Georgia Oriole

    June 9, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Thanks as always Rich. Love your coverage. Quick question, aren’t the minor league salary numbers weekly numbers, not monthly numbers?

    • dlgruber1

      June 9, 2021 at 2:27 pm

      I’m the one that asked that question and I sure hope you’re right and that that is a weekly figure and not monthly. Even at a weekly figure that’s terribly low. You can’t possibly survive on that. I was promoted to ask the question when I heard some people talking about Hbg Senators players living with local families because they don’t make near enough money to live on their own. All the public sees is the astronomical salaries that must professional athletes make but they don’t think about, in the case of baseball, 75% of the “professional” players will never make the majors.

      • Georgia Oriole

        June 9, 2021 at 10:39 pm

        Yep, even at the weekly rate, it’s low. The best these guys can hope for is their signing bonus to help cover their time in the minors until they make it to the big leagues (for those lucky enough to make it).

      • Marvelous35

        June 11, 2021 at 2:59 pm

        I met a person who rented rooms to players of the Potomac Nationals many years ago. Potomac was the Nationals high A affiliate back then.

        Families will rent furnished rooms to minor league players, probably pretty inexpensively. When a player leaves (promoted, demoted), the new player will come in and rent the room. This save the new player a lot of time, since their main goal is to show up and start playing.

  14. BenSch

    June 10, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks Rich.
    #NewOrioleWay!

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