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. This is the second part of this month’s questions. Questions are edited for clarity, length and style.

Question: Is it just my imagination or do Oriole starters have more success with Austin Wynns catching? Does Wynns do a superior job of calling/managing the game? From: Dean Wilyman via email

 Answer: Dean, when Austin Wynns catches, the Orioles have an ERA of 7.00. Their record when he starts is 5-15. When Pedro Severino catches, the Orioles’ ERA is 5.20, and their record is 29-42. Under Chance Sisco, the ERA was 5.64, and their record was 4-15.

You can draw your own conclusions.

Question: What does Ryan Ripken’s potential look like? Can he make his way to the MLB roster at some point? He is older and getting there on play alone is something I am curious about but haven’t seen much news on him. From: Tom Oswald via email 

Answer: It’s certainly possible that Ryan Ripken could make his way to the Orioles, Tom, but he plays first base, and the Orioles already have Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle there. Adley Rutschman also has been playing some first base when he’s not catching or being used as a designated hitter.

Tyler Nevin, who was obtained by the Orioles in the Mychal Givens trade from Colorado last year, also was up briefly, and he plays first and is on the 40-man roster. Ripken is not.

In previous years, when rosters were expanded to 40 in September, Ripken might have joined the Orioles, but with just two additional spots coming next month, it will be hard for him to make it in 2021.

Question: Do the Orioles plan on bringing back FanFest? From Gman via comments


Answer: Gman, I’ll admit I was disappointed when FanFest was discontinued before the 2020 season. The guess here is that it won’t be back.

The Orioles organized a caravan in February 2020, and it visited sites in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Prince George’s and Washington counties, as well as York, Pennsylvania. There were no stops in Baltimore City or on the Eastern Shore.

I covered an event at the White Marsh Mall that was well attended, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the caravan returns and adds some stops. Hopefully, there will be a convenient one for you.

Question:  I would appreciate your opinion on the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the Cubs and Nationals trading multiple stars for the proverbial pack of prospects. I think this while realizing that neither team is in playoff contention. Still, it’s got to badly hurt them in the short term and perhaps longer if most of the prospects don’t live up to their promise. Plus, their fans can’t be too pleased. From: Steve Cohen via email

Answer: Steve, I haven’t seen the Cubs play in person since 2017 when the Orioles last played them but see the Nationals each season when they play the Orioles.

I don’t think Mike Rizzo had much choice. The Nationals had a terrific run from 2012-2019 when they won the World Series. They tried to extend the run, but I think that after the Orioles swept them just before the trade deadline, they were convinced they had to rebuild.

The Nationals’ farm system was ranked 30th in baseball. Because of their success, the Nationals drafted low and used many of their better prospects to replenish their farm system.

If they hadn’t made these moves, Max Scherzer would have probably left after this season, and Trea Turner after 2022. They’re still left with an onerous Stephen Strasburg contract.

As you know, with prospects you can’t tell for at least three years, but I applaud Rizzo for acting decisively.

Question: Rich, can you help us understand why the pitching dropped off so badly this year? The whole idea was to bring up Chris Holt, who had such success at Bowie. But he’s not been able to replicate the success. Is it a metrics problem?  From: @SRQOs

Answer: Before this season, his first as pitching coach, Chris Holt was the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator in 2019 and the organization’s director of pitching in 2020. His work was focused on all the minor league teams, not just Bowie.

There have been injuries that cost John Means, Bruce Zimmermann and Hunter Harvey long stretches of the season. Among others, they’ve also lost relievers Tanner Scott and Tyler Wells.

Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, who showed well in a handful of starts last season, haven’t been able to duplicate their success.

Many of the pitchers acquired on waivers or signed to minor league contracts haven’t added much.

Question: Rich, this is not an O’s question so I’ll understand if you don’t answer it. Why wouldn’t Kumar Rocker sign with the Mets? I understand Scott Boras is his agent and probably tried to get him over slot money but now he’s rolling the dice with his future and many bad things could happen. I just don’t get it. From: David Gruber via email

Answer: Dave, it isn’t an Orioles question, but there were a number of fans who wanted the Orioles to draft Rocker with the No. 5 pick and were disappointed when the team opted for outfielder Colton Cowser.

From what I’ve read, the Mets were concerned about Rocker after a physical and didn’t make him an offer. According to the New York Post, the Mets and Rocker agreed to a $6 million bonus, pending the physical. His future is uncertain.

Question: Where do the Orioles stand in terms of their major league payroll budget? How bad is it if you subtract the salary of Chris Davis? Regardless of how much talent we accumulate in the minor leagues, I don’t see how we will compete with the other teams in the American League East if the team is unwilling to spend. From: Glenn Fuller via email

Answer: According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Orioles had an Opening Day payroll of $57 million. Davis’ salary is $23 million, which includes $6 million of deferred money.

The Orioles’ $57 million isn’t far from the $66.7 million spent by Tampa Bay, Glenn, though I think the Rays have added to their payroll with the acquisition of Nelson Cruz.

Yes, the other teams in the AL East have much larger payrolls, but if the Rays can play in the World Series and be competitive annually, the Orioles could, too, but would have to hit on draft choices, international signings and make shrewd trades.

Question: Rich, considering that the Orioles are improving but still behind in drafting and developing the international signees, do you think that will coincide with this team’s return to relevancy? Seems the successful teams have an influx throughout their systems. In other words–it’s nice to draft well but do they need those Sotos/Tatises/Guerreros to get them over the hump? From: Alan Reister via email

Answer: Alan, in order for the Orioles to compete they’ll have to draft well and hit on international signings. It’s easier to turn things around with the draft when you’re selecting 21-year-old college players than it is depending on 16- and 17-year-old international players.

You mention three outliers. Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladmir Guerrero Jr. were at the top of their signing classes and made their debuts at 19 for Soto, and 20 for Tatis and Guerrero. Those players are few and far between, and the Orioles can hope they’ve found one that good.

While a college player can debut three years after he’s drafted, it might take an international player signed as a teenager five years or more to make it to the majors.

Question: Seeing the inductees to the Orioles’ Hall of Fame this year, I was wondering what the selection process for it is and whether you think Gary Thorne might be inducted after 13 seasons in the booth? From: Michael Fleetwood via email

Answer: On Saturday, there was an outstanding class inducted — J.J. Hardy; Mike Devereaux, who was selected by the Veterans Committee; Joe Angel, who was the winner of the Herb Armstrong award for non-uniformed contributors to the team; and the late Mo Gaba, who won the Wild Bill Hagy award for special fans.

According to the Oriole Advocates and Orioles Hall of Fame bylaws, nominees for the Hall of Fame, players, coaches, managers and Herb Armstrong candidates must have been with the Orioles for at least three years.

“A select committee of Oriole Advocates (who created and oversee the HOF process), media and Orioles officials vote on a veteran and Armstrong Award winner.  They also set a ballot of 4 candidates for the regular HOF selection, which then goes to a vote of a wider panel of Advocates, media and Orioles officials plus all living HOF and Armstrong award winners.

“Regular candidates must be retired from playing (including minors, independent and internationally, i.e., Japan, Korea) for 3 years and remain on the ballot for up to 15 years, as long as they receive at least one vote.  After that, they go to the veterans ballot for a period of 15 years.

“Candidates for the Wild Bill Hagy Award are vetted and presented by the Orioles for a vote by the select committee.

“Elections used to be held every year, but are now held periodically, with team reunions interspersed in certain significant years.”

I certainly think Gary Thorne could be considered not only for the Orioles’ Hall of Fame but for the Ford Frick Award presented by the Baseball Hall of Fame each year.

Question: How is the draft budget decided? Do all teams have the same amount? Is that money a signing bonus, salary or both? What constitutes a team getting a compensation pick, and how is the round decided?

I’m trying to understand more about how spending less on the first picks helps with other picks.  Are there players who won’t sign even if you draft them?  What happens then? Do they have to sit out the rest of the season? From: Seth Mendelsohn via email

Answer: Seth, the Orioles drafted fifth this year and they could have spent up to $11,829,300. They spent nearly all of that. The worse your record, the more money you get to spend. That money is for signing bonuses, not salaries.

The 10 lowest-revenue clubs and clubs from the 10 smallest markets are eligible to participate in the Competitive Balance Round. Round A follows the first round, and Round B falls between the second and third.

A formula that combines winning percentage and revenue decides if your club picks in Round A. The Orioles picked in Round A in 2020, and in Round B in 2021.

It’s part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires on December 1st and must be renegotiated for next season and beyond.

Teams use underslotting to pay their first-round pick less and subsequent draft picks more. It’s used to convince a high school player to forego college by paying them more than the amount slotted for that pick.

Some high school players don’t reach agreement and go on to a four-year college and won’t be eligible for another draft until they have attended college for three years.

A college player who doesn’t reach agreement can return to college for another year, if eligible, and take his chances the next year—or he can play overseas or in independent ball in the U.S.

Notes: Right-handed pitcher Conner Greene, who was designated for assignment on Saturday, was claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers. … Delmarva right-hander Jean Pinto was named the Low-A East Pitcher of the Week.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Buzz1979

    August 10, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Ripken, potential? LOL!!!!! He is here for his name only. He isn’t and never was a prospect.

  2. Bman

    August 10, 2021 at 7:46 am

    Seems strange that they let Connor Greene get claimed. He has pretty good stuff. Yes a bit older but….

    • Nellie

      August 10, 2021 at 8:29 am

      Just guessing but I think Connor Greene might be a good fit for the “distraction “ category.

  3. Birdman

    August 10, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Rich … with respect to the comparison of the Orioles and Rays payrolls, I think the situation is even bleaker than you indicated … after subtracting Davis’ salary, and the portion of Cobb’s salary that the Orioles are still paying, I believe that Tampa’s payroll for its current active roster is almost 3 times greater than that of the Orioles … the Rays have 15 players making more than $1 million, while the Orioles have only 5 players (including Davis) making over $1 million.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 10, 2021 at 8:34 am

      My point is not necessarily comparing the payrolls, but to show that with a well-constructed team, you can be competitive with a payroll that’s not astronomical.

      • Birdman

        August 10, 2021 at 9:13 am

        Rich … I agree with you that Tampa shows it’s possible for a well constructed “small market” team, with a modest payroll, to be very competitive … my point is that the Orioles payroll is so absurdly low, even by the standards of other small market franchises, as to make it nearly impossible to compete … forget about the Yankees and Red Sox, the Orioles are being outspent 2 to 1, and 3 to 1, by comparable small market teams like Tampa, Milwaukee, and Oakland.

  4. Orial

    August 10, 2021 at 8:24 am

    I’m just wondering if/ when Davis’ money comes off that they will use it for whatever reasons or just maintain and ride out a lower bottom payroll line.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 10, 2021 at 8:35 am

      Al, the payroll will stay low for a while because Rutschman, Rodriguez and the other young players will be at minimum salaries in the first years of their career.

    • CalsPals

      August 10, 2021 at 5:06 pm

      They’ll all come up for real money at the same time & some will leave because they didn’t spread the money out or around earlier, this has already been addressed…with the new mask mandate at O’s games will some fans have to remove the paper bags or not?…;)…go O’s…

      • Rich Dubroff

        August 10, 2021 at 5:14 pm

        Ray, the mask mandate applies only to indoor seating areas.

    • CalsPals

      August 10, 2021 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks for clarifying…go O’s…

  5. Bhoffman1

    August 10, 2021 at 8:38 am

    So basically this teams total salary is 34 million plus the 23 for the guy that took two swings and your going to compete against 200 million dollar clubs. Lol

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 10, 2021 at 8:54 am

      The Rays do, Bruce.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 10, 2021 at 11:20 am

        True about the Rays Rich. But an ‘elevated’ payroll can sure make up for some of those missed draft choices that plague everyone.

    • CalsPals

      August 10, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Yep, one team…go O’s…

    • Baltimore Castaway

      August 10, 2021 at 10:07 am


      You are pointing light on what I believe is one of the top stories in MLB over the last couple of seasons; the Tampa Rays.

      They arguably have the best Front Office in MLB and have a LOADED Minor League System. Have to think that the Rays are the team that Elias is modeling this rebuild after–and if he isn’t, he darned-well should.

      Have been down in Florida for most of the Summer and have the opportunity to watch them most every night. These guys never take their foot off the gas, and hustle on every play. They have a certain joy in playing the game. They have like 10+ pitchers currently on the IL and continue to win in the AL East against teams with 3x and 4x their payroll.

      The National Baseball Media chooses to conveniently ignore them (much like they do the Orioles) but these guys are a joy to watch. They also have terrific Broadcasting voices in Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson.

      We should be so lucky to have a team this talented that comes to play every day and is great fun to watch.

  6. Phil770

    August 10, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Rich, I agree with your point that it your spend wisely, you can be competitive and spending lots of money on payroll does not translate into competitive success. The Rangers are spending $28M dollars on their 26 man active roster. They are paying $58M dollars to players who no longer play for them, which is more than the O’s payroll, including Davis. More than 50% of the Yankees payroll is on injured reserve. The Mets went out and got Lindor at big money, they have lost 11 straight, Lindor hitting under .230. The Angels continually spend a lot of money on payroll, to be mediocre at best. BTW, Cleveland has a lower payroll than the O’s.

  7. Icterus fan

    August 10, 2021 at 10:50 am

    It’s survival of the richest in MLB. AL East, even more so.

    I admire the Rays economical decisions and simultaneous competitive ability, but even they are paying a Nelson Cruz type guy big time money.

    • CalsPals

      August 10, 2021 at 10:56 am

      I believe for just the rest of this season…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 10, 2021 at 10:57 am

      Marty, let the Orioles get some of their prospects up and successful and then you can worry about the payroll.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 10, 2021 at 11:23 am

        Sort of like when they let Machado, along with a few others go?

        • OhMy!

          August 10, 2021 at 4:19 pm

          Come on BRR, the didn’t let Machado go, they traded him. He was going to be a free agent in the off season. Do you really think it would have been wise or reasonable to keep Machado and pay him what he is making now $32M AAV?

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            August 10, 2021 at 7:20 pm

            Dealing in Semantics here aren’t we OhMy? One way or another, he left the team.

            Granted it’s not my $$$, but I would have certainly preferred the O’s to have paid Machado than to trade him.

            There is a price to doing business in the major leagues. I’ve asked this many times before … Is the city of Baltimore and the franchise major league or not? The Ravens think they and the city are … Crush Davis thinks he is, but Joe ….. do you think the O’s are ?

            If you’re going to draft gems, you’re eventually going to have pay fair market price to keep them. Then again…that may not be part of ‘the process’ ‘eh?

    • Icterus fan

      August 10, 2021 at 12:31 pm

      I’m hoping (along with everyone else) that those prospects do indeed produce. I know we have spent big time in the past for free agents, so the history is there, and that’s a positive thing.
      We all have our takes, but this club won’t garner the attention of free agents until we show some steady improvements.
      As for Manny, glad to see him go. It was patently obvious he didn’t want to be here, and who could blame him?

  8. dlgruber1

    August 10, 2021 at 11:22 am

    I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I’m not concerned about the low payroll. I mean, let’s face it, they don’t exactly have many players that deserve more than the MLB minimum. Angelos proved in the past he’ll pay for talent (Manny notwithstanding). I may be naive but I truly believe when they start competing seriously for playoffs again and OPACY is once again packed you’ll see them spend money to keep their players and even get a player or two to put them over the top. I’m not expecting them to be like the Dodgers or Yankees but I won’t be surprised if they’ll be in the top ten in payroll again within 5-6 years or so. My biggest concern as a fan now is what the sport will look like after the next collective bargaining agreement.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      August 10, 2021 at 1:05 pm


      What do you see as risks to the game and the Orioles in particular?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 10, 2021 at 2:31 pm

      DL…I agree with you that Angelos would be willling to shell out the ducketts under the conditions you paint. However … do you really think that you’re going to see OPACY ‘packed’ consistently again? With the Nats in town,and the loss of a lot of TV market real estate, I’m kinda thinking that the only ‘packed’ parks are going to be playoff games. I think we’ve seen the last of 45,000 fannys parked in the seats all through the dog days summer.

      Here’s to hoping that I’m dead wrong as usual.

    • dlgruber1

      August 10, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      BC, based on what I’d heard Tony Clark say and some posts I’ve read, the union wants to try to cut back on revenue sharing to teams “that don’t make a concerted effort” to win annually. Well, who decides that? It would appear that way in Baltimore for sure now but admittedly they’re trying to build up talent in minors precisely so they can make a concerted effort to win every year.
      Secondly, and more importantly, they want “the younger players to be compensated more fairly”. I’m VERY leery of what that will mean. I think the current arbitration system is fair enough. A lot of people have forgotten O’s paid Manny much more in his final years of arbitration than they had to, but he still bitched about it. Ultimately I see salaries spiraling even more out of control and if that happens then, in my opinion, it’s gonna hurt baseball and Baltimore in particular.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        August 10, 2021 at 4:22 pm


        No doubt on that..

        Thinking that these are some of the undertones that we are hearing that there is a good chance for a Work Stoppage.. one factor to consider here though is the the MLBPA has historically NOT been too concerned w the plights of young players just getting into the game.

        We all know the Teams that haven’t historically shown a strong effort to win; Pirates, Reds, Twins, Orioles, Mariners, Rangers, Rockies, D-Backs, Padres (until just recently), Marlins, etc. So it’s not just the Orioles…

        Read somewhere in another space where many of these teams are the equivalent of the “Washington Generals” being the saps who always lose to the Globetrotters.. to a certain extent I believe this to be true. These above teams are gold mines for their Owners.. NONE more than one Peter Angelos….his top priority has always been to enrich himself and his fellow partners.

        It does surprise me that more teams haven’t tried to copy the playbook of the Rays….

        Will be intersting to see.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 10, 2021 at 7:28 pm

          BC…I’m not sure it’s fair to include the Orioles in the list of teams that “haven’t historically shown a strong effort to win”, unless that is of course, you were to define “historically” as the last 3 years.

          • Baltimore Castaway

            August 11, 2021 at 7:45 am


            I will only point to our reality that the Orioles have not won a WS, much less been in one since 1983.

            …and yes, I will lay that blame squarely at the feet of one Peter Angelos.

            Hoping that you are enjoying your Summer deep in the heart of Texas.

    • dlgruber1

      August 10, 2021 at 8:03 pm

      BRR, again, under the heading of I may be naive, I truly do think O’s fans, given an exciting, contending team, will pack OPACY again. Just using myself and others I know, we’ll go to probably only 1 or 2 games this season when we’d normally see at least a half dozen. Also, with the Nats looking to possibly be down while the O’s are coming back, I just think things bode well for OPACY having 2.5 to 3 million attendance again by say, 2024 at the latest. But I’m not gonna lie, I wouldn’t wager anything significant on it, just a gut feeling. Baltimore and O’s fans are starved for winning baseball to return to OPACY.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 10, 2021 at 9:16 pm

        No doubt that the Oriole fans are great and die hard. Problem may be that the hard core baseball fans in general are aging and being replaced by a generation of kids that simply didn’t grow up playing the game all summer long. I afraid that our numbers are simply dwindling.

        One note, I can relate to what you’re saying. I was truly lucky enough to have attended the Delmon Young playoff double game. I’ve seen OPACY and it’s fans at it’s finest. It was awesome and I’ll take that day to the grave.

        IMO …there is no better team in ALL of sports to be a fan of. They’re in my heart forever as I’m sure they are in the rest of the greatest fans in the world. If you’re a fan of the team, you know what I’m talking about.

    • dlgruber1

      August 10, 2021 at 9:58 pm

      BRR, I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. I’ve seen SO many great games it’s difficult to pinpoint one but I gotta go with a game in 1980 when The Crow (Terry Crowley to those who don’t know) hit a game winning single off Goose Gossage in the bottom 9th for a 1-0 victory in front of over 50,000 fans. It was a 5 game series that drew OVER 250,000 fans! It was the loudest roar I ever heard for an O’s game. I gotta admit tho, my cousin was at both games, that one and the Deleon Young game and he says the Delmon game was louder. I envy you for being at that game.

    • CalsPals

      August 11, 2021 at 7:36 am

      I remember them from tv, I envy you guys for being present, isn’t anything like the energy produced by real fans, ahhhh, those were the days…go O’s…

  9. G-man

    August 10, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Tampa Bay Rays are not afraid to trade players in their prime i.e., Blake Snell, before they become to expensive, for nearly ready MLB talent. That’s how you keep payroll down and team competative.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      August 10, 2021 at 1:42 pm

      To your point, it sounds like they are prepared to trade Tyler Glasnow before next Season…a year before he’s ready to return from TJ Surgery.

      They continue to demonstrate “bleeding edge” business practices.

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