Answers to your Orioles questions -

Rich Dubroff

Answers to your Orioles questions

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It’s time for our monthly mailbag. We’ve gotten a lot of good questions. I’ll be answering some of them today and more on Tuesday. Questions are edited for clarity, length and style.

Question:  Could you review the changes to the September callups and what impact it may have for the Orioles? From: Cedar via comments

Answer: Cedar, this was a popular question. It was also submitted by Tom from Elkton and BirdsCaps.

This will be a much different last five weeks of the season. Unlike past years, when the roster limit was increased from 25 to 40, this year the limit rises from 26 to 28 on September 1st, and it’s compulsory.

Also, Norfolk’s season will also be concluding the same day as the Orioles’ — on October 3rd, so the time between September 1st and October 3rd will be different.

In the past, the Triple-A season ended on Labor Day, but with the Tides playing longer, I wouldn’t be surprised if players were sent up and down, just as they have been throughout the season.

If there’s an injury to a player, perhaps that player might be put on the 60-day injured list, which creates room on the 40-man roster.

I’d guess one pitcher and one position player would be added. Right-handers Michael Baumann and Dean Kremer, if he isn’t called up before, and left-hander Zac Lowther would seem to be the top pitching candidates. Second baseman Jahmai Jones and outfielder Yusniel Diaz, if healthy and productive, could get a look.

Question: What are your thoughts on whether and when Jahmai Jones will be promoted?  In addition, do you think Kyle Stowers or Robert Neustrom get a cup of coffee this year?  Both have been terrific. From: Andrew Bassan via email


Answer: I think Jahmai Jones will be promoted, Andrew. The Orioles are eager to see him, but they want to see his defense at second base improve. Whether that’s in August or September, I’m not sure, but I know they’d like to see what they have.

Kyle Stowers, a second-round pick in 2019, has done well at Aberdeen and Bowie, but he doesn’t have to be put on the 40-man roster until after next season, and it would be surprising if he were added this year.

Robert Neustrom, who was the fifth-round pick in 2018, must be placed on the 40-man roster. If the Orioles have another injury or two in the outfield, I think he could get a chance, but he might have to wait until next spring training because roster space is so tight.

Question: Do you think the O’s would ever tinker with moving Cedric Mullins down in the order? He’s hitting so well and it would be interesting to see him with more RBI chances? From: Dylan Streibig via Facebook

Answer: Dylan, good leadoff hitters are hard to find, and Mullins has excelled there. I’m not sure the Orioles have someone else who easily fits, though I guess Austin Hays could hit there.

Mullins creates lots of RBI opportunities for other players, and the Orioles have Hays, Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle after him in the order to drive him in.

I’d leave him there until or unless another player with the attributes he has comes along.

Question: I’m starting to wonder about all the hype for Adley Rutschman, the number one prospect in minor league baseball.  I base my doubt when comparing him to Matt Wieters.  While he had a nice career, Matt really didn’t come close to living up to the hype.  Comparing their minor league stats, Wieters hit over .350 at AA and .300 at AAA.  Adley hasn’t come close to that this year.  Should we get ready for a letdown? From: Bill Nelson via email.

Answer: Nellie, good hearing a question from a frequent commenter. I’m afraid that unless Rutschman hits better than any other catcher in baseball history, fans will be disappointed.

As you know, I have always been a fan of Matt Wieters, and it bothered me when people said he was a disappointment. While he didn’t live up to the hype, he was a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. He also was a key component in working with the Orioles’ pitching staff, particularly in 2012.

Yes, Rutschman should be better than Wieters, and I think he will be excellent, but if he isn’t Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra, please don’t be hard on him.

Question: Will Heston Kjerstad, the number one pick from last year, ever be able to play? I know they were hoping for this year, but will he have to give up his dream? From: Jim Bronakowski via Facebook

Answer: Thanks for the question, Jim, and for your help over the years. Jim was an outstanding press box attendant at the ballpark. A similar question was also submitted by @BurnerDowney.

Kjerstad has myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Last week, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias had no news on his progress but expressed optimism. “We’ve still got a lot of time left and this is something we think will pass,” he said on July 30th.

The good thing is Kjerstad is only 22 and has a lot of time to get healthy and prove that he was worthy of the pick.

Question: Why did the O’s recall Richie Martin instead of bringing up Jahmai Jones? If Ryan McKenna isn’t going to play every day in the majors, shouldn’t he be at Triple-A playing every day to further his development? From: Greg Fuchs via email

Answer: Greg, I think when the Orioles bring Jahmai Jones up, they want him to play regularly. With their higher-ceiling prospects, they’ve given them extended looks. Martin has already played in the majors, and they want to see how he’ll play after not playing at all last year and little this year.

As for McKenna, he gives the Orioles a dimension they were lacking. He can be used as a pinch-runner and a late-inning defensive replacement because he plays all three outfield positions.

Question: What can the Orioles do about DJ Stewart? It’s really painful to watch. From: Beth Torres via email.

Answer: Beth, a similar question was asked by BirdsCaps, who notes that he doesn’t think that the Orioles want to give up on a first-rounder.

The Orioles are giving Stewart a long look because they’ve invested so much in him. It doesn’t matter that he was a first-round pick in 2015, more than three years before Mike Elias’ arrival. It matters that he was a first-round pick.  He has great power, and he’s a left-handed hitter, and when they have top prospects, they’re giving them extended opportunities.

With Thursday’s acquisition of Jorge Mateo, perhaps you’ll see him as well as Ryan McKenna used as a defensive replacement in the outfield.

Because Mancini and Mountcastle are on the roster, it’s hard for Stewart to get time at designated hitter.

He’s not arbitration-eligible for another season, so it’s possible that Stewart will get another look next year, but Yusniel Diaz and Robert Neustrom and perhaps a veteran outfielder from outside the organization might challenge him for a roster spot.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. OhMy!

    August 6, 2021 at 7:43 am

    Great mail bag questions and answers, thanks to all for the good questions and thank you Rich for the informative answers.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 6, 2021 at 7:55 am

      Thank you, Joe.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 6, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Ohmy! …. Isn’t that the exact sort of sycophantic comment that you’ve so often criticized others of on this site?

      • OhMy!

        August 6, 2021 at 3:57 pm

        Nope I don’t believe that is the sort of comment that I frequently criticize on this site. I mostly am critical of over reactions (both negative and positive over reactions), unwarranted shots at others, and unreasonable comparisons. I’ve dabble in other criticisms of the BB team too (stealth edits, a no hitter changing the country’s conversation about the Os, one journalist boosting another journalist, etc.). I appreciate most of Rich’s posts, he’s a straight shooter most of the time. I will try to lighten up a bit, but it’s hard at times not to correct obvious baloney…

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 6, 2021 at 7:42 pm

          Ohmy! Nice retort!

          Except for the 1st sentence isn’t quite truthful. I remember 2 specific incidents where you critiqued that exact type(complimentary of the writer) comment from other posters.

  2. Orioles20

    August 6, 2021 at 8:16 am

    I don’t get why Elias would care about Stewart being a first round pick. Elias didn’t draft him. Move on. Every nigh he seems to screw something up. I think he’s had enough time and opportunities to show what he can do or the lack there of. With the exception of the run he had last year where he looked like babe Ruth he’s done nothing.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 6, 2021 at 9:58 am

      As scouting director, Elias scouted many of the players drafted that the Orioles had, and since so much has been invested, he wants to make a thorough evaluation.

      Because the team isn’t competitive, the Orioles have the ability to play top prospects for a longer time than they would otherwise.

      Because Diaz hasn’t convinced them that he deserves to be called up, those chances may continue.

      • willmiranda

        August 6, 2021 at 10:56 am

        It seems like circular or semi-circular reasoning to say that because we are not competitive, we can play nonperformers when the reason we are not competitive is that we are playing nonperformers. Overall, The Plan only works when it is abandoned and a team spends big bucks to bring in free agents who make them winners. The only questions are about the timing. When will they pull the trigger? How long must we wait?

        • OhMy!

          August 6, 2021 at 4:05 pm

          “The Plan only works when it is abandoned and a team spends big bucks to bring in free agents who make them winners” So this is the only way for an MLB team to be successful and make the playoffs? Someone needs to alert the 2020 Tampa Bay and Cleveland teams!!! There is more than one way to success Will…

          • willmiranda

            August 7, 2021 at 10:44 am

            OM, I thought that capitalization of The Plan was sufficient to indicate that I was referring specifically to the pattern of actions of the present Orioles management. I intended the “only” to be an adverb modifying the verb “works,” indicating that there is but one way that The Plan can be successful. I was trying to express a degree of skepticism and apologize for any unintended obfuscation. I heartily agree that there are multiple examples of other roads to success and, frankly, consider some of them more desirable. That was, in fact, my point since the present management seems to insist that we must patiently endure all the hardships they create because it is the only way to win.

      • Orioles20

        August 6, 2021 at 11:40 am

        At this point it’s pretty evident Stewart and Diaz are not going to amount to anything. Let’s try the next wave of Jarrett and Neustrom.

        • Buzz1979

          August 6, 2021 at 3:14 pm

          Jarrett is not a prospect.

        • OhMy!

          August 6, 2021 at 4:00 pm

          Mike Yastrzemski says “Hello” Orioles20…

    • Icterus fan

      August 6, 2021 at 11:37 am

      A very logical and well presented set of questions in the above post.
      Very few would know the actual answers to those justified concerns. How to achieve such balance?
      Safe to assume O’s management will not comment on such concepts or actually part the curtain and expose the inner machinations.

    • dlgruber1

      August 6, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      Buzz1979, you’re probably correct about Jarrett but really, the same can be said for literally a dozen or more guys who’ve worn the O’s uniform this season.

  3. Balt mp

    August 6, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Stewart is an example of a guy that cannot make an adjustment. He can not hit a 94 mph fastball and has not in the three years he has played . You can not get around on the pitch when you start with the bat handle around your ear . Because the bat is so high he loops his swing . He has no arm and is bad on his routes . I’m guessing DD thought the bat would compensate for the lack of other tools

    If he can’t or won’t make the needed changes release him he is on the verge of being past anyway.

    • OhMy!

      August 6, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      OhMy! DJ’s whiff rate on FBs is 29.7% but on breaking balls it is 42%. He is batting 0.218 against FB but only 0.085 on breaking balls. But go on…

    • Camden Brooks

      August 7, 2021 at 9:01 am

      A proper baseball swing should start with the hands up near the ear. Even players who start with their hands lower will usually raise them up prior to the actual swing, which can cause some players to be late on pitches. Obviously there are a gazillion different swings out there though…

  4. Liamandcarolinesdad

    August 6, 2021 at 9:18 am

    Always love the q & a. I don’t comment often, but I do read daily. I’m not concerned about Adley in the slightest. What I am concerned about however, is our inability to develop CONSISTENT major league pitching. I worry that all of the hyped arms in our system either flame out or find success in another organization. See Arrieta, Jake and Gausman, Kevin for reference. Painful.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 6, 2021 at 10:01 am

      Gausman went through two other organizations before he found success here.

      Let’s check in two years and see how Rodriguez, Hall, Bradish, Smith, Baumann, Lowther, Wells, Brnovich, Zimmermann, Akin and Kremer are doing.

      If three of them are good, then the team should be substantially better.

      Say hi to Liam and Caroline.

  5. Birdman

    August 6, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Looks like DJ Stewart and Chance Sisco have had similar career arcs … both high draft choices with some pretty good minor league numbers, but both performed poorly offensively over several seasons at the major league level … and Stewart is a defensive liability as well. At 27 years old (28 in November), time to move on from Stewart, regardless of the fact that he was a first round pick.

    • OhMy!

      August 6, 2021 at 4:16 pm

      DJ OPS+ by season (Above 100 is above average, below 100 is below average)
      2018 141 (47 PA)
      2019 86
      2020 120
      2021 82
      Career OPS+ 96
      Career dWAR -1.7

      Chance stats
      2017 225 (22 PA)
      2018 56
      2019 95
      2020 104
      2021 23
      Career OPS+ 81
      Career dWAR -0.2

  6. dgillman4909

    August 6, 2021 at 10:38 am

    I’d like to know why Hays is playing left mostly and Stewart is in right. Hays is a far better fielder; I see this every time I go to the Yard. It seems to me the stronger outfielder is usually playing right. Stewart is having a hard time judging the ball hit to him, and this weakness helped cause the loss on Wednesday. Any comments?

    • OhMy!

      August 6, 2021 at 4:23 pm

      Not sure if this is the answer, but according to Baseball Reference over his career Hays has the following Defensive Runs Save per year by outfield position:

      LF +23
      CF +2
      RF -7

      This season, Hays is fielding well in both LF and RF. He previously had trouble in RF over a small sample size though. Best defensive OF would be Hays (RF), Mullins (CF), and McKenna (LF) IMO. But I think players should be judge by their total performance and fielding should not be over valued.

  7. Bumble bee

    August 6, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    An outfield of Mullins, Hayes and McKenna is an outstanding defensively one. Give McKenna a chance the rest of the year to see what he can do offensively just like what we did with Hayes Also bri g up jones and see what he can do at second , let’s play for the future ,not for that high draft pick

    • OhMy!

      August 6, 2021 at 4:32 pm

      Hays was a September call up in 2017 and 2019, not sure the “just like what we did with Hays” is a good comparison. I would love to see McKenna get more playing time – the Os are 27-30 when McKenna plays. I think he brings a lot of intangibles that don’t show up in the stats.

  8. Bumble bee

    August 6, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    If we do that all we need is adley brought and find a dam third basement in the minors then all the players are ours not some else’s throw always

  9. Kjbsball

    August 6, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Had the pleasure of watching Bowie play at somerset patriots last night. Rodriguez was dominant! Felt great to watch an “Oriole” pitcher be in total control. — tall, strong, mound presence, throwing smoke. All as advertised! Adley destroyed a pitch over left field wall in the 8th! V impressive. And this reliever Almengo was fun to watch, tough and competitive. Only sour note was Diaz who just looked slight and disinterested. Not a scout obviously but sharing casual observations. Stay healthy Grayson!

  10. Orial

    August 6, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    After seeing people comment about getting Stewart out of there and playing McKenna more I have to think that that’s a defensive start BUT until they can communicate on pop-ups with IFers better I’ll call a fast go-get ’em outfield incomplete in their duties. This Yankees series opened up a flaw that can make a quick,athletic OF look awfully lame.

    • OhMy!

      August 6, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      So how many pop-ups have there been miscommunications on this season? It was disappointing BUT not really worthy of a hair on fire, rend my clothing post IMO.
      This is a easily identified problem and is also a problem that can be overcome quite quickly with some basic coaching/reminder of fundamentals, especially with a day off yesterday.

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