Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 -

Rich Dubroff

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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

Question: Do you think Ryan Mountcastle has a shot at AL Rookie of the Year? Kjbs ball via comments

Answer: Mountcastle is putting up impressive numbers, but there are an unusual number of other rookies who could be in the mix.

Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena, who hit an amazing .448 (26-for-58) against the Orioles with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 13 games, should get some votes. So should two of Arozarena’s teammates, Wander Franco and Shane McLanahan, who recorded four wins against the Orioles in just over five weeks.

Other rookies with strong stats include Houston right-hander Luis Garcia, Texas outfielder Adolis Garcia, Detroit starter Casey Mize and a pair of relievers, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase, and Boston’s Garrett Whitlock.

In any other year, Mountcastle would have a fine shot, but with a month left in the season and so many other worthy candidates, this is a tough one to call.

Question: Aside from pitching (yes that is a huge aside), how do the rest of the Orioles’ position players compare with the rest of the league?  If you look at position by position where do the O’s rank?  Which O’s players would start on another team? From: Seth Mendelsohn via email

Answer: Seth, while the Orioles are last in nearly all pitching measurements, their hitting is slightly better. Through Wednesday’s games, they’re ninth in batting (.240) and 11th in OPS (.707).

According to FanGraphs, Cedric Mullins’ 5.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) leads all major league centerfielders.


Ryan Mountcastle’s 1.9 WAR is 15th in the majors among first basemen. Mountcastle is seventh and Trey Mancini (1.1) is ninth among AL designated hitters.

None of their other position players have had enough at-bats to be rated.

Besides Mullins, Mancini and Mountcastle, outfielders Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, who have both missed times because of injuries, could start on some teams. Pedro Severino, who probably won’t return in 2022, will likely be a backup catcher on another team next year. It’s too soon to rate the rest of the Orioles’ infield (Kelvin Gutierrez, Jahmai Jones, Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías). Mateo and Urías have both shown well and should return in 2022.

Question: Are the Orioles considering a managerial change? Night after night I see so many basic baseball fundamental mistakes. It’s three years with Hyde, and it’s amazing the lack of fundamentals the Orioles have. It’s sad to see an organization that once was the standard for developing pitching and defense be so bad. They need someone like Buck Showalter but know that’s not going to happen. You need a different manager to lead this rebuild. Nothing against Hyde, but I have seen enough to know it’s not him. From: T.Famer via email

Answer: This was a popular and not unexpected question. James Warren and Woodrow Rogers also asked about Hyde. James also wants to know why the press is so soft on Hyde.

Nothing makes me think the Orioles will change managers after the season. Mike Elias hasn’t explicitly said that Hyde is coming back, but from Elias’ comments, you could infer that he is.

So many player performances have been disappointing, but I think Hyde has managed the clubhouse well. I’d like to see him get a shot with some better pitching talent.

I was a big admirer of Buck’s, but in his final year, they lost 115 games, so I’m not sure how many wins he could coax out of this bunch.

Many fans would like us to ask more pointed questions in the postgame press conferences, but how many different ways can we ask to explain a 19-game losing streak? We ask questions to get information for the readers, and by asking them the way we do, we’re getting the best information.

Hyde has been critical of his team’s play. He hasn’t made excuses.

Question: Rich, how much difference do you see in the way Buck, who had some real success, handled losing compared to the way Hyde, who has only had losing teams, handles it? From: Dave Gruber via email

Answer: I have been fortunate over the last decade, Dave. I very much enjoyed working with both Buck and Brandon, but they are different.

Both men are intense, but Buck was much more so than Brandon. Both despise losing, and while Hyde hasn’t had experience with winning as a manager, he did coach on the 2016 Chicago Cubs, and Showalter never had a team in the World Series.

Postgame news conferences after tough losses with Showalter could be tense, but Hyde’s aren’t. Both tried hard to explain losses, and Hyde is endlessly patient, even with uninformed questioners.

Showalter never had to deal with Zoom. He liked personal contact, and I don’t think he’d like to answer questions virtually.

Question:  Why is Austin Hays sitting on the bench and DJ Stewart plays left, in his place! Hays has shown that he can play every day (coverage, arm and bat) especially in left and center field. From: Perry Campaneris via email

Answer: Perry, there’s quite a difference between how Hays hits against right-handers (.211 with a .611 OPS) and left-handers (.302 with an .883 OPS).

Stewart’s batting average against right-handers is about the same as Hays’, .209, but his OPS is much higher, .753 because he’s shown more power. Stewart has 11 homers and 27 RBIs against right-handers while Hays has six homers and 26 RBIs.

Hays is a superior defender, and that’s why you’ve seen him used as a defensive replacement, but in order to be an everyday player, he’ll have to hit more consistently against right-handers.

Question: Besides the “Big 5” in the minors, are there any other minor leaguers we should know about? My Big 5 are Adley Rutschman, DL Hall, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser. From: Jerome Cone via Facebook

Answer: Jerome, that’s a good Big 5. My next five would be right-handed pitcher Mike Baumann, who could get a call to join the Orioles soon; infielder Jordan Westburg, who was the 30th overall pick in last year’s draft, has jumped two levels this season and is at Bowie; right-handed starter Kyle Bradish, who’s at Norfolk; outfielder Kyle Stowers, who’s at Bowie; and second baseman Connor Norby, who was the team’s second-round draft pick behind Cowser. Both are at Delmarva.

Question: Which top prospects could debut this season, and which ones could debut next season? From: Cristian Sena in Guayabal Dominican Republic

Answer: Cristian, it’s good to know we have a reader in the Dominican. A similar question was posed by Greg Fuchs.

I think the most likely prospect to debut in the final weeks of this season is Mike Baumann. He’s on the 40-man roster, and he’s had some strong outings at Norfolk.

I think that the only top prospect that could start the season with the Orioles next season is Adley Rutschman. I think Grayson Rodriguez will probably get his shot relatively early in the season, but perhaps not on March 31st. DL Hall was set back by his elbow injury, but you could certainly see him next year.

It’s also possible that infielder Jordan Westburg could make the jump to the Orioles later in 2022 as well. 

Question: What’s up with Bruce Zimmermann? From: Sean O’Connor via Facebook

Answer: Zimmermann, who hasn’t pitched since June 13th, was originally on the 10-day injured list because of left biceps tendinitis, Sean. While working out at Norfolk, preparing for his return to the Orioles, Zimmermann sprained his right ankle working out, and is now on the 60-day injured list.

The Orioles are hoping that Zimmermann could get a start or two in the final week of the season, but that’s far from a likelihood.

Question: Any news on Dean Kremer? From: DiNardi via email

Answer: Kremer is still at Norfolk, but I expect that the Orioles will call him up for another look in the final weeks of the season. Kremer has started and in recent weeks, pitched in the bullpen. He could be tried both as a starter and as a long-relief option.

Question: Can you help me understand why Mickey Jannis hasn’t gotten another shot?  They left him out to dry in his debut, 3 1/3 innings and clearly getting ripped.  From: Scott Birtman via email

Answer: Scott, Mickey Jannis was a cool story, a 33-year-old knuckleballer who had waited for years to get a shot at the major leagues. The Orioles hoped he could eat innings and, yes, I was surprised they left him in for as long as they did in his debut. (He allowed seven runs on eight hits, walking four and giving up four home runs.)

The Orioles have many younger pitchers with stronger arms they’d like to see pitch, and Jannis was recently demoted from Norfolk to Bowie. He has a 6.60 ERA in three starts with the Baysox.

One of the good things about the Orioles is that they’ll go against conventional wisdom in giving pitchers a chance. It worked for a time with César Valdez, and they hoped it might work with Jannis.

A knuckleballer can pitch years longer than other pitchers, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Jannis turned up in the major leagues, perhaps with another team, but I think the Orioles are looking elsewhere.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

























  1. jimcarter

    September 3, 2021 at 7:59 am

    It’s amazing how the passage of time changes perceptions. The Orioles “need someone like Buck Showalter”? The man led the team to 115 losses WITH Adam Jones and Manny Machado. This team needs BETTER PLAYERS. Managers can’t hit the cutoff man, turn a double play, or not chase pitches out of the strike zone. Hyde has no influence over the roster, that’s someone else’s job. He plays the hand he’s dealt. Remember good ‘ol 417? That was last season’s winning percentage. Is it far worse this season because the manager forgot how to manage or is it more reasonable to assume that the players are worse?

    • OhMy!

      September 3, 2021 at 8:15 am

      How about combination of the two? Managers and coaches can certainly help a team hit the cutoff man more consistently, improve at turning double plays, and improve their plate discipline. Poor performance can be reasonably attributed to both the O’s players and the O’s manager & coaches IMO.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 3, 2021 at 10:27 am

        Oh my ….nicely worded reply. And to top it off, I agree with what you said. (for whatever that’s worth)

        • OhMy!

          September 3, 2021 at 2:53 pm

          Let’s not make it a habit to agree! Double grrrrrrrrrrr at you BRR! Just kidding, hope you and yours have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend sir!

  2. millboy

    September 3, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Good questions…and good answers. It’s going to be an interesting off season to see who stays and who is let go. I still say last years shortened season threw a monkey wrench in the whole process, what we saw this year should’ve been last year. As always, thanks Rich for the superb reporting.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 3, 2021 at 8:33 am

      Thank you, millboy!

  3. Orial

    September 3, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Rich you say the O’s place 9th in ave. and 11th in OPS. Is that in the AL or all of MLB. The trend these days is to lump all MLB together in stats instead of league by league. Mickey Jannis–really?

  4. jimcarter

    September 3, 2021 at 8:29 am

    It’s easier to blame Hyde than the players for a reason few would be willing to admit. If you blame the players, then it squelches the dream that the “rebuild” is working and there’s hope.

  5. Icterus fan

    September 3, 2021 at 9:10 am

    It must be a combination of fundamentals being taught/drilled constantly in combination with having players willing to submit to that instruction, agree to it’s importance and then apply it.

    Fundamentals should never go out of style no matter the age of the player or the current social zeitgeist.

    Smart coaches seem to know how to motivate the millennials nowadays without making them pout or be offended. Hyde did learn from Madden. Is that enough?

    Gone are the days of Cal Sr. paying “practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect”.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 3, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Marty, good players generally do things fundamentally well. Players who aren’t don’t. There are some less talented players, Ryan Flaherty, Craig Gentry, Paul Janish, who were fundamentally sound despite not being great players.

      Fans often naively say that they don’t care if the team loses if they play well fundamentally. That usually doesn’t happen.

      • OhMy!

        September 3, 2021 at 3:20 pm

        Jace Peterson, you left Jace off your list…

        Also it’s a lot easier to accept that your team played well, primarily mistake free, but lost to a team that played a little bit better, that’s not being naive, that’s often an honest assessment of a loss…kind of weird sentence to toss in a comment that seems to disrespect fans IMO but hey I rail on most everyone here so I have no standing, glass houses and all that

        • Rich Dubroff

          September 3, 2021 at 7:09 pm

          I did think of Jace.

    • dlgruber1

      September 3, 2021 at 5:37 pm

      Isn’t it amazing how often the best managers also have the best players? Funny, huh?

  6. Buzz1979

    September 3, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Jannis??? LOL!!!

  7. Bman

    September 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

    It’s all about pitching. Baumann and Rodriguez (and Rutschman) will help next year, plus maybe a free agent signing. Mountcastle has a shot at ROY if he keeps up his hitting tear.

  8. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 3, 2021 at 10:12 am

    So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance?!

    • OriolesREALNumber1Fan

      September 3, 2021 at 2:56 pm

      Of course theres a chance! With the Elias plan about to kick into full gear next year, the O’s will assureadly win over 90 games!

      Mike Elias I Trust!

      Orioles #1 baby

  9. Orioles20

    September 3, 2021 at 11:09 am

    I still think a managerial change is needed. Hyde is a good guy and all and the players seem to like him. But he continues to put players in non successful situations. For example why continue to put Paul Fry in against the rays when you know they hit him very well. Also some nights the players look disinterested and show no effort. And to many mistakes are made whether missed plays, errors and things like untimely bunting like we saw the other night. And if Fredi Gonzalez in charge of the fundamentals then that’s an indictment on him and Hyde. Also at some point even if you were to bring up prospects right now what good would it do when there is such a losing culture established. Look at the tigers with AJ Hinch. They’re still rebuilding but he’s found ways to get him a team in position to start winning and believing again.

    • OhMy!

      September 3, 2021 at 3:08 pm

      “to many mistakes” okay that made me laugh, I am a fan of irony…also “continues to put players in non successful situations” with respect to a team that is 41-91. Lastly Fry had 2.25 ERA against Tampa in 2019, 1.93 ERA against them in 2020, and even before Aug 2021, Fry had reasonably good stats against Tampa this season, he faced them three times in June and July letting up 0 runs. Fry had a horrible August against Tampa but he had success against then in 2019 and 2020 and even in June and July in 2021. I know Tampa hit Fry very well in August 2021, I guess Hyde should have guessed that too because eh it turned out that way…

      The Tigers are one year ahead of the Orioles in their rebuild.

      Most negative post of the day, congrats, your award is in the mail.

  10. Chuck in Edgewood

    September 3, 2021 at 11:15 am

    I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why we lead MLB in pulling pitchers at exactly 4 2/3 innings. Can’t always be pitch count. And Hyder talking about matchups in the 5th inning. Would think it would boost some young pitchers confidence by letting them compete to get that third out.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 3, 2021 at 12:38 pm

      Chuck, in the case of Chris Ellis’ start on Monday, it was because he went through the lineup twice. They felt he would be less effective the third time through. He was at 69 pitches and wasn’t going to go much above 70.

  11. PC in OC

    September 4, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Rich, If the Future of the Orioles, were brought up tomorrow, In your opinion, Who would be starting at Shortstop, 2nd Base and Third, And Why!

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