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. This is the second and final part for this month. Questions are edited for clarity, length and style.

Question: Why can’t the Orioles develop starting pitching? In 30 years I want to say that they’ve only developed three good pitchers — Mike Mussina, Erik Bedard, and John Means. It feels like the Rays develop three starters a year. That’s why when I see the struggles of Bruce Zimmermann, Dean Kremer, Keegan Akin, and Zac Lowther, I’m not surprised. We’ll blow out their confidence and then trade them just like Jake Arrieta. And then they’ll develop elsewhere. Do you feel we rush our pitchers to the majors? Would they be better served leaving them at Triple-A for a full year to develop instead of being shuttled back and forth? From: Damon Stout via email

Answer: Damon, I think many fan bases have similar complaints. Starting pitching is hard to develop, hard to sustain and hard to keep. I would add three pitchers to your list — Chris Tillman, Zack Britton and Jim Johnson.

I know Tillman wasn’t drafted by the Orioles, but he was developed into a major league pitcher by them and was the most consistent starter on their winning teams of 2012-2016.

Britton and Johnson were drafted as starters, as nearly all pitchers are, and converted into relievers along the way. During those 2012-2016 years, the Orioles had dominant closers.

The Orioles are desperate for starting pitchers and most starters aren’t successful early in their major league careers. Look at Tillman. He went back and forth from 2009-2011 until he had sustained success. I think they’d love to keep their starters at Norfolk for a full year, undisturbed, but who are you going to start at the major league level.

Your argument is a good one, and runs counter to what a lot of fans think. Look how many want Adley Rutschman, who hasn’t played a full professional year, to catch in the major leagues while the Orioles want to give him a full year in the minors.

Question: What’s your view of how Mike Elias did this past offseason with free-agent pitchers? To me, he was way too conservative. From: @dcacb54

Answer: Dave, the Orioles weren’t going to sign a free-agent pitcher to a multi-year contract, but perhaps they could have pursued additional veteran pitchers with better recent track records.

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I’m not sure if there was any interest in either Cole Hamels or Rick Porcello, two guys who didn’t sign with a team, and I don’t know if either of them would have been interested in the Orioles.

At this point, spending big money on a free-agent pitcher doesn’t seem to be a great strategy because you’d have to overpay, and those pitchers probably would rather pitch on a contender.

Question: Based on the current rebuilding plan, when do the Orioles become competitive? From: @TERP80

Answer: Bob, if everything works well, the team is improved next year and perhaps competitive in 2023.

It’s been a long five years for the fans, but perhaps next year with the arrival of some of the best prospects, the team will be more fun to watch.

Question: I keep thinking Keegan Akin would be better off in the bullpen. I realize the Orioles don’t have enough starters to make that happen right now, but any chance he ends up there long-term? From: @DoubletoughDyl

Answer: Dylan, you’re correct. The Orioles don’t have enough starters to try Akin in the bullpen, but if two or three young starters make the rotation sometime next season, I could see that happening.

Question: When, if at all, do you think Yusniel Diaz will make his major league debut? Two more healthy weeks? Longer? @andrewseth123

Answer: Andy, I think you’ll see Yusniel Diaz soon, perhaps even after the All-Star break, as long as he’s healthy. The Orioles have too much invested in him not to give him a long look. However, through Sunday, Diaz is hitting only .206 at Norfolk.

They have given long looks to their biggest prospects, and I think they have to find out if Diaz can be a starter in the outfield, but his injury history is worrisome.

Question: Why hasn’t Jahmai Jones been called up yet? He’s on the 40- man roster and already played in the majors in the past. He’s playing well in Triple-A and seems like a better option than Leyba/Urías/Valaika. From: Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman via email

Answer: Jeremy, Jahmai Jones was out for a month because of an oblique injury, and the Orioles want to see better defensive work at second base from him.

As with Diaz, I think they want to give him a long look and wouldn’t be surprised to see him come to the Orioles sometime this month.

Question: Why was Richie Martin playing center field when he injured his wrist? He seems to be a very good defensive shortstop and would have brought stability to the infield? From: Donald Driscoll via email

Answer: Donald, the Orioles prize versatility, and their plan was to have Martin available to play the infield and outfield. They’re moving their best prospects around and, yes, he absolutely would have been called up to replace Freddy Galvis when he was injured had he not been on the team already.

He’s supposed to begin playing in games early in August, and I think you’ll see him play sometime next month.

Question: How are the Orioles are doing with the analytics department?  That was a big selling point in bringing in Elias and the guy that used to be a NASA engineer (Sig Mejdal).  We don’t seem to hear much about it. From: John Lantz via email

Answer: John, I think that’s by design. Sig is a visible presence around the club. Sometimes, he’s on the field talking with Brandon Hyde during batting practice, and he’s made road trips with the team.

The Orioles don’t make public the type of data they use even though it would be interesting to find out what they’re using.

Question: Are the names of the players placed on waivers available to the public?  I’m also curious as to whom, if anyone, they have not claimed over the past two years.  Are names of players designated for assignment immediately made public? Again, I’m curious as to whom we have passed on. Finally, why didn’t management wait until Domingo Leyba was released and saved some money?  From: Steve Cohen

Answer: Steve, the names of players placed on waivers are confidential. The Orioles have successfully claimed a tiny number of the players placed on waivers over the past two years. Players are placed on waivers nearly every day, and the Orioles pass on the vast majority of them.

Players who are designated for assignment are immediately made public. Teams have seven days to trade, waive or release a player. Not all players who are waived have been designated for assignment first. Again, they’ve eventually claimed a small number of those designated for assignment.

In the waiver process, teams confidentially put in claims if they’re interested in a player. They’re awarded in reverse order of standings, and teams in the same league as the player being waived get first call.

The 14 other National League teams passed on Leyba, who was waived by Arizona, and he was awarded to the Orioles because they have the poorest record in the American League. I don’t know, and it’s not made public, if other AL teams were interested.

Since the process was confidential, the Orioles don’t know what other teams are doing, so if you’re interested in a player, you claim him. Otherwise, he’s a free agent and you might have to bid against multiple teams to grab him.

Question: Please explain how the minor league Rule 5 draft works. Are there rules in place on how a team must utilize the Rule 5 draftees in the minor leagues. From: Mike Quinn via email

Answer: Mike, eligibility rules for the minor league Rule 5 draft are the same as for the major league Rule 5 draft. If a player has been in the minor leagues for four years and he was older than 19 when signed or five years if younger than 19 when signed and not on the 38-player protected list at Triple-A, they can be drafted.

A claim costs $24,000 but, unlike the major league Rule 5 draft, it’s more like a purchase because that player can’t be returned.

Question: What are your thoughts on how Buck Britton is progressing as a manager in the Orioles’ system? Also, is Brady Anderson involved with the Orioles? From: Baltimore Castaway via email

Answer: Buck is highly thought of in the system. He managed Delmarva in 2018 and had a winning record. In 2019, he was moved up to Bowie and managed the team to the playoffs after a rough start. This year, he’s been entrusted with many of the best prospects and done well.

He seems to be well liked by his players, and he’s excellent with the media.

Brady Anderson does not have a role with the Orioles.

Question: Is there anything that would preclude the Orioles from scheduling a few ” O’s Stars of Tomorrow ” games with Norfolk, Bowie, and Delmarva playing an opponent at Camden Yards while the Orioles are on the road or have an offday? I think this could be a great public relations gesture if offered to Oriole fans at discount admission prices, and it would give all of us some hope that the future is bright even though the present is bleak. I’d love to see the O’s experiment with this idea unless there are legal issues that preclude it. From: Glenn Fuller via email

Answer: Glenn, there’s nothing that precludes the Orioles scheduling minor league games at Camden Yards. In the final years of Memorial Stadium, Hagerstown, which was then the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, played a game or two after an Orioles weekday afternoon game.

However, the number of people who go to minor league games is small, and while interest in the Orioles’ minor league affiliates is high, the Orioles would lose money by scheduling games in Baltimore.

The only way it could work is by playing a game after an afternoon game. I don’t think minor league games would draw very well as standalones.

I would certainly enjoy seeing those games, and I think avid fans would, too, but I don’t think there would be enough to make it profitable.

Question:  What do you think might happen if the players from Aberdeen and Bowie are ready for the majors about the same time? Example: Jordan Westburg, Gunnar Henderson, Joey Ortiz, J.D. Mundy, Adam Hall, A.J. Graffanino, Terrin Vavra, Toby Welk, Patrick Dorrian, and the outfielders?  Do you think any of them get traded to keep the farm system strong? Also, do you know when Camden Yards may host the All-Star Game next? From: David from Parkville via email

Answer: The Orioles would be ecstatic if all those players you mention are ready for the major leagues at about the same time. It also would be highly unlikely.

As you know, David, players get injured and sometimes don’t perform well at higher levels. Some will weed themselves out, and if there’s a position at which the Orioles are weaker, they can trade from the surplus of infielders.

However, that’s a year or two away if these players continue to perform well.

As for the All-Star Game, as long as the MASN dispute remains unresolved, I can’t see Baltimore hosting the game, even though the team would like it.

Question: What’s the analysis as to Kevin Gausman’s success this year? Also, is O’s pitching coach Chris Holt back for good? From: @SRQOs

Answer:  I haven’t gotten to see the Giants play and Gausman pitch this year. I loved dealing with Gausman when he was with the Orioles. He was a delightful and intelligent guy, and on Sunday was named to his first All-Star team.

In researching Gausman, I’ve found a couple of reasons for his success. He’s throwing his splitter really well and, as Grant Brisbee in The Athletic recently pointed out, he’s been relatively free of injuries. The Orioles never overworked him, so he doesn’t have the wear and tear of other 30-year-old pitchers.

If you put intelligence, talent and experience together, that’s great. Sometimes, it takes players a number of years to reach their peak.

Chris Holt has been back from his personal leave for about a month, and it doesn’t appear as if he’ll have to leave again this season.

Question: What is Bruce Zimmermann’s injury and when is he projected to return to the active roster? From: Ken from Leesburg via-email

Answer: Ken, Zimmermann is out because of left biceps tendinitis. Hyde said his timetable, which had him returning after the All-Star break, has been pushed back a week or two.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Orioles20

    July 6, 2021 at 9:27 am

    All these questions about not developing talent. I’ve been saying this for awhile on here. That the previous regimes could draft talent but doing nothing with hit. Yes Duquette drafted guys like Mountcastle, Mullins, Hall, and Rodriguez. But what about all the guys they missed on like Stewart or Gausman. They rushed Gausman to the majors. You would think a college pitcher from LSU would figure it out but didn’t. Another thing is fans don’t think the orioles spend any money. Thing is when we were on our run we were in the top ten in payroll with it at about 160. Problem is that it was bad money. Ubaldo, Cobb, Davis. Should’ve paid Cruz and Manny. The reason there rebuilding is because of that bad money to Davis and Cobb. We were able to offload Cobb but we’re obviously stuck with David. Not to mention that Duquette left the cabinet bare with exception of a few guys like Mountcastle and Mullins and Mancini. Yes Rodriguez and Hall were in the system but they were in the low minors and no one could’ve predicted they would be this good.

    • CalsPals

      July 6, 2021 at 12:19 pm

      Someone in SF helped Gausman figure it out, NL All-Star…go O’s…

      • Orioles20

        July 6, 2021 at 1:58 pm

        My point. Imagine how good we could’ve been if he did it here or Arritea did. Our pitchers throughout the minors are doing better then they’ve ever did under Duquette or Mcphail.

      • jimpalmer65

        July 6, 2021 at 6:58 pm

        CalsPals I agree someone in SF helped Gausman figure it out and to me he always had the talent and it just clicked in SF. Go O’s

      • WorldlyView

        July 6, 2021 at 10:00 pm

        The Gausman success story is complicated. After he left Balto, he bombed out with the Braves and then the Reds. It wasn’t until after he got to S.F. that he regained his long diminished potential. The cause does not seem to be known. As an NBCsports.com story said: “Perhaps the Giants deserve most of the credit for unlocking Gausman’s potential. Or maybe, at 30 years old, Gausman was always destined to put it all together. Whatever the cause for the turnaround, he has turned into one of the best pitchers in baseball and yet another example of “one that got away” from Baltimore.” But he also got away from Atlanta and Cincinnati.

    • jimpalmer65

      July 6, 2021 at 6:52 pm

      Orioles20 love your point about bad money. Everybody at the gym I go too knows I am a O’s fan and when they told me about Davis’s deal I told them “That better not be Manny’s Money”. Just think after the 2014 season if the O’s would have resigned Cruz, Markakis, and Miller. If they did that they are winning the AL East, Again! And most likely facing KC to see who goes to the WS. And I like our chances in 2015 to beat KC. Healthy Manny, Davis AL HR leader 53, Cruz 44HR, Miller being Miller. Remember 2014 No Manny, MW or Davis. Let’s see how that series turns out if KC doesn’t have it’s starting 3B, C, and 1B,

    • CalsPals

      July 7, 2021 at 7:20 am

      AF seems another of those franchises that knows how to win, they were not supposed to do anything this yr because they were older, at least two former O’s start for them that were given up on here…go O’s…

      • jimpalmer65

        July 7, 2021 at 3:54 pm

        Good point on SF knowing how to win. Hopefully, this regime and the upcoming talent that will happen in Baltimore. That’s why I think these potential upcoming trades will tell about this regime. They got to hit on them and if they do and bring in Major League talent prospects from these trades and keep developing the upcoming talent we could look like the O’s in their heyday or Houston. I will say it again in every potential trade (Mancini, Means, Scott, Fry & Santander) the O’s hold the leverage.

    • CalsPals

      July 7, 2021 at 7:21 am

      SF, not AF…go O’s…

  2. willmiranda

    July 6, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Lots of good stuff here today. How about a game of the “O’s Stars of Tomorrow” vs. “O’s Stars of Today”? Might inform some of our discussions about who should be up, who should be down, and who should be gone.

  3. Old Orioles Fan

    July 6, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    I feel like it’s 1966 all over again, but not in Baltimore – more like at a press briefing in Saigon at MACV headquarters. “The light is at the end of the tunnel. Next year, we will have the VC on the run.” “In 2023, the Orioles will be competitive.”

    Oh, and Rich – you do an excellent job of polishing that turd on a daily basis! I appreciate all that you do.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 6, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      I guess that’s a compliment, so thank you.

    • Shamus

      July 6, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      LOL…. A left handed one

  4. Birdman

    July 6, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    Assuming the Orioles manage to field a winning team in 2023, that would mean 20 losing seasons in the preceding 25 years … hopefully, there will still be a few fans attending games at OPACY by then.

    • Eastern Sho Joe

      July 6, 2021 at 7:26 pm

      Birdman, Respectfully, you’re incorrect on this. The O’s had winning seasons from 2012-2016 (.500 record in 2015). They had 3 seasons where they went to playoffs (1 wildcard, 1 AL Division Series, 1 AL Championship Series).

      Unfortunately, the strategy we used during that period gave little attention to the future and has played a large part in putting us in the shape we’re in now.

      Trust me, I share your frustrations, but at least we’re not just doing the same thing and hoping for different results. Old man Angelos is out, we’ve implemented the use of data and focusing on the international market – 2 things other teams have been doing for a long time.

      However, it will take another few years to see if this new strategy works for us or not. Many experts are saying our future is bright, hopefully they’re right.

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        July 6, 2021 at 7:34 pm

        Please forgive my reply, you are correct. I overlooked that you wrote: “20 winning seasons in 25 years.”

  5. Bumble bee

    July 6, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    You know I’m looking at tonight’s lineup and I think one thru seven is a great start, you add Adley and Jones and that lineup could do quite well against anyone

    • dlgruber1

      July 6, 2021 at 4:35 pm

      I can’t imagine the butterflies Spenser Watkins must be feeling today. Who knows, he might not make it out of the 1st inning but man I’d love to see him have a solid outing. His is the kind of story I love to see.

    • Icterus fan

      July 6, 2021 at 7:58 pm

      Gruber, I agree. I’m enjoying watching Watkins pitch, regardless of the outcome.
      He’s had zero arm problems, perhaps because he doesn’t try to blow your doors off with 96 mph heat, yet he’s thrown well over 600 innings in his minor league career.
      Maybe “seasoning” does help.

  6. Bhoffman1

    July 6, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    Gausman was not handled well by Buck or DD. Who was at fault I’m don’t know. Another Arrieta why does this happen predominantly to our pitchers flops here and all stars there.

  7. Balt mp

    July 6, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    It happens because we rush these guys they might have stuff but most can’t locate their pitches only Means can with 3 years experience Zimmerman was improving . Akin can’t see his last start in LA . Kramer has not been able to pitch ahead or locate anything all year . Everyone of these prospects should 200 innings at every level period . Then they should throw 50-75 innings out of the major league bullpen . Then reevaluate what you have hey come to think of it that kinda worked with John Means .

    • Icterus fan

      July 6, 2021 at 5:50 pm

      I’ve brought this up several times (we jettison pitching talent and they go elsewhere and blossom into good pitchers). It seems to be a pattern.
      I was told that it’s more a function of playing for better teams rather than improved individual performance.
      I’m not buying that.
      It seems like other teams may have better philosophies, better coaching, more emphasis on fundamentals, better facilities; I dont know.
      Time will tell if our young arms will flourish under our new mgt using hi tech standards, innings limits, analytics and progressive approaches.
      I sure hope so.

    • CalsPals

      July 6, 2021 at 5:55 pm

      Icty, totally agree with you, either that or there’s something in the water, not Koolaid in Baltimore…go O’s…

    • DcOsfan

      July 6, 2021 at 10:37 pm

      If we are going to blame the Os for jettisoning Gausman too soon then the Braves and Reds deserve blame as well.

    • CalsPals

      July 7, 2021 at 7:25 am

      DC, understand what you’re saying, not sure many care about players Atlanta or Cincinnati have missed on, Reds seem to have recovered from letting Iglesias & Freddy, go…lol…go O’s…

  8. WorldlyView

    July 6, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    Rich, You continue to amaze with the breadth of your knowledge about all things Oriole. Thank you for all the info and insights. BTW, I am looking forward to your occasionally responding to questions with a “I have no idea” or “you underestimate the incompetence of past and present management.”

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 6, 2021 at 6:52 pm

      The publisher of this site is a brilliant and highly competent individual, who is also named Steve.

  9. Mikepete73

    July 7, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    off topic but it looks like the Manny Machado trade is an absolute bust. looks like orioles are going 0-5 in those prospects. Yusniel Diaz keeps struggling and now is hitting .194 at aaa with no power .319 slg, we all have seen the problems Kremer has had and he is struggling bad at aaa I doubt we see him rest of season up with O’s. Rylan Bannon struggling at aaa .175 avg .313 slg he couldn’t even hit at A ball on a rehab assignment he went 1-21. Brevic Valera is gone and maybe the one that is most irritating is Zach Pop with Marlins he has settled down after rough start and is striking out 9.7 k/9. We have no pitching and these guys bring up people like Jannis and wade are you telling me we couldn’t have put him on the 40man so we didn’t lose him.

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