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, and we’ve gotten lots of excellent questions. This is the second part. Questions are edited for clarity, length and style.

Question: The ownership of the Orioles negotiated an agreement on the ownership of MASN, and the Nationals agreed to it.  I know the current dispute is about broadcast rights fees but Major League Baseball should not be involved, especially when they are biased against the Orioles. Can you explain why MLB is taking the approach it is taking?  Is it because they have a grudge against Peter Angelos for negotiating a good deal for the Orioles?  From: Mike Beale via email

Answer: Mike, the Nationals contended that they should be paid $475 million for TV rights from 2012-2016. They were paid $197.5 million. A panel of baseball executives ruled in 2014 that the Orioles should pay the Nationals $298.1 million.

That ruling is being appealed, and even when it’s settled the rights fees from 2017 through the present have to be settled.

Rights fees for sports grew at a higher pace than expected when the Nationals arrived in 2005, and they wanted a piece of that. With cord cutting and smaller audiences, I’m not sure how they would calculate current rights.

I know that MLB and the Orioles haven’t agreed on many issues, but in February 2020, commissioner Rob Manfred said that he was in regular communication with the Angelos family and that he had a good relationship with them.

The dispute has gone on far too long, and I’m not sure when it ends, but I think the uncertainty has hurt the franchise.

Question: Hi, Rich. First off, thanks for your coverage this season. Do you think Ryan Mountcastle will be the long-term plan at first base and Trey Mancini filling in at designated hitter or will they alternate the two? From: Michael Fleetwood via email

Answer: Michael, I think the Orioles see Mountcastle as their first baseman and  Mancini as the DH. Mancini hit .295 as the DH and .220 when he was playing first. Mountcastle hit .264 as the first baseman and .235 as the DH.

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Question: What are the rules for protecting players on the 40-man roster to prevent a player from being taken in the Rule 5 draft?  Is it age, years with the team, years in pro baseball?  From: Barry Culman via email

Answer: Barry, a player needs to be protected on the 40-man roster if he was signed at 18 and has played professional baseball for five years or signed at 19 or older and played for four years.

Question: I’d like you to research where some local high school and college ball players have signed and how they did this year and maybe in recent years. From: JerryTerp via email

Answer: Good question, Jerry. This season, 14 Marylanders played in the major leagues, including the Orioles’ Bruce Zimmermann.

Four Maryland Terrapins — Tampa Bay’s Brandon Lowe, Toronto’s Kevin Smith, Oakland’s Adam Kolarek and San Francisco’s LaMonte Wade Jr. played in the majors this year. Kolarek (Catonsville) and Wade (Baltimore) are from Maryland. Lowe is from Virginia and Smith is from New Jersey.

This year, there were three Baltimore-area players taken high in the draft. San Diego selected two: Jackson Merrill, a shortstop from Severna Park High; and outfielder Robert Wood, who’s from Olney but went to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Gilman’s Peter Heubeck, a right-handed pitcher in the third round.

Merrill hit .280 with 10 RBIs in 31 games. Wood hit .372 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 26 games. Heubeck pitched four scoreless innings. All three played in the Arizona Complex League.

There are at least two Marylanders who were drafted recently. Infielder Jeremy Arocho, from Old Mill High in Millersville, was taken in the 2017 draft by the Dodgers and is now in the Angels’ organization. He hit .305 at three levels this year. Isaiah Pasteur, from Carroll County, is an infielder who was drafted by the Yankees in 2019. He hit .159 this year in High-A.

Question: I realize that you are a firm believer in the historic value of Camden Yards and that Major League Baseball will be hard-pressed to ever allow the team to leave Baltimore. However, the ballpark is in need of upgrades, including short outfield dimensions that make it nearly impossible to recruit talented starting pitchers, more fan-friendly viewing areas and game sightlines, lack of cover from rain and the elements, outdated JumboTron and sound system.

It would seem to me that they should bring back Janet Marie Smith to work her magic again on the ballpark. These issues must be addressed. From: Baltimore Castaway via email

Answer: Mike, when Janet Marie designed the park, it was far ahead of its time but as we both know times changed, and while 30 years later it’s still a great ballpark, it does need updating.

Around 2012, Janet Marie served as a consultant when the roof deck and some other alterations were made. I think major changes will occur after a long-term lease is signed. You are correct, the scoreboard and sound system are badly outmoded, and fans who are at concession stands can’t see action on the field. In many newer parks, they can.

I’m not sure if changing the outfield dimensions or increased protection from the elements are in the plans, but I’m sure once the lease is signed, those plans will become public.

Question: What is the status of the injury-plagued Yusniel Diaz and do you feel he is still in the O’s future plans? From: Steve “Richards” Leibowitz

Answer: Steve, as you may have read, Diaz will be going to the Arizona Fall League, and I think the Orioles want to do anything they can to help him. I think he needs a big 2022 to become part of the Orioles future.

Question: When will 40-man rosters be set?  When will the Rule 5 draft be held?  After failing on his first five Rule 5 draft picks and finally getting it right on the sixth try (Tyler Wells), do you think that with the first pick Elias has finally figured it out and will make another successful pick in the Rule 5 draft?  From: Bill Dowd via email

Answer: Players from within the organization must be added to the 40-man roster about two-to-three weeks before the Rule 5 draft, which is on the final day of the Winter Meetings, which would be December 9th.

Player transactions can take place until the draft, and I think the Orioles will enter it with two open spots on the 40-man roster. The Orioles have first choice, and they’ll hope for another Tyler Wells.

Question: Who do you think could be in the O’s rotation for 2022 and 2023 besides John Means and Grayson Rodriguez? From: Gary G from Towson via email

Answer: Gary, the Orioles have a number of candidates for the rotation for next year and perhaps the year after. Besides Means and Rodriguez, DL Hall should make his debut. The other candidates are familiar names: Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells and Bruce Zimmermann.

From the Triple-A roster, Kyle Bradish and Kevin Smith will get a look, and I’m sure there will be a couple of free agents signed to challenge for the rotation.

Question: Which starting pitchers do you think the O’s will target and what price do you think they would be able to sign them at? From: David E. via email

Answer: David, I think the Orioles will target second- and third-tier free agent pitchers—if their price comes down. I don’t think they’ll spend major money on starting pitchers this winter. It’s more likely they’ll spend on veteran relievers, but I think they’ll sign a starter or two at a lower price.

Question: What are the chances that the O’s Opening Day 2022 outfield is already set as McKenna, Mullins and Hays? From: Martin Bakner via Facebook

Answer: Martin, I think that Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins will be in the Opening Day lineup along with Anthony Santander. I think Ryan McKenna is useful and he projects as a fourth outfielder.

Question: Are the Orioles grooming Buck Britton to be the next manager? From: Patrick Higgins via Facebook

Answer: There’s an excellent chance that Buck Britton will replace Gary Kendall as Norfolk’s manager, Patrick, but Triple-A is a long way from the major leagues.

The Orioles also jumped Kendall from Bowie to Norfolk, and he was never promoted to the Orioles.

Britton has had success with younger players at Delmarva and Bowie, and it will be interesting to see how he does with more experienced ones at Norfolk.

Question: If you were a betting man, putting this in three categories, who would you put in the A) definitely will be on the Opening Day roster; B) may be on the Opening Day roster, or C) will not be on the Opening Day roster.  From: John from New Jersey via email

Answer: John, the machinations of the 40-man roster will be interesting. That will help determine who will be on the 26-man roster on March 31st. Christián Sena, from the Dominican Republic, asked a similar question.

I think that Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander will be in the outfield. Ryan Mountcastle will be at first base and Trey Mancini will be the designated hitter. I think that Adley Rutschman will start the season as catcher. I’ll also guess that Ramón Urias will in the lineup, probably at shortstop.

John Means will be the Opening Day starter, and I’d guess that from the bullpen Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate and Tyler Wells are the surest bets to return.

The rest of the lineup, rotation and bullpen is fluid with plenty of candidates, and I think there will be many additions from outside the organization.

Question:  Were the 2021 Orioles really a disappointment or were they what we expected (even if we don’t love the results)?  There are several other teams that had greater expectations but were unable to make a playoff run … Angels, Phillies, Mets and Padres to name a few. Is the future brighter for Orioles fans vs. the Diamondbacks, Pirates or Rangers? From: Seth Mendelsohn via email 

Answer: Seth, I thought the Orioles would win 12-to-15 games more than won. That would have been between 95 and 98 losses, so I think they were a disappointment with 110 losses. I expected better performances from pitchers Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, in particular. Still, 98 losses wouldn’t have been a good performance.

The teams you named have much larger payrolls and more skilled veterans than the Orioles, and I think it’s fair to say they were disappointments to their fans.

I don’t know enough about the farm systems of Arizona, Pittsburgh and Texas to make a guess about their prospects.

Question: How would you compare John Angelos’ managing style to his father’s? From: Larry Schultz via email

Answer: Larry, I think John Angelos’ style is more hands-off than his father, Peter, who has been in declining health for several years.

I think general manager Mike Elias has much latitude to operate the club in the way he wants to, and he’s emphasized that he’s gotten the support he’s needed from management.

Question: How should we as fans feel about this team? Coming off of a 110-loss season, there were a few bright spots in the “M” players and we have the top-rated farm system. However, I feel as if this team has a very long way to go to be competitive in the division. All four teams won 90-plus games and they’re all poised to reload next year. From: Dave Hersl via email

Answer: Dave, I think 2022 is an important year for the team. Mike Elias has said he expects the team’s record to improve and, if it does, then perhaps the distance between the Orioles and the other four American League East teams won’t feel as great as it does now.

Question: What position does Kyle Stowers play? Do the O’s have anyone in the minors to play second, third and shortstop? They seem to have many outfielders but no infielders

Can Rylan Bannon be the answer at third or second base? I thought I read that he was only 5 feet 7. Is that accurate? From: Dominic Tibaldo via email

Answer: Dominic, the Orioles have made infielders the second pick in each of the last three drafts: Gunnar Henderson (2019), Jordan Westburg (2020) and Connor Norby (2021).

It’s possible that Henderson and Westburg could play for the team in 2022. They have drafted a number of other infielders high in the last three drafts because they recognized they didn’t have enough infield prospects.

Stowers has played each of the outfield positions in the minors, but most often he’s been in right field.

Rylan Bannon, who’s listed at 5-8, was a disappointment in 2021 at Norfolk, and I think the Orioles will give him another chance to prove himself in 2022.

Note: The Orioles re-signed outfielder Cristopher Cespedes, right-handed pitcher Ofelky Peralta and left-hander Nick Vespi to minor league contracts for 2022.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Orial

    October 8, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Hey Rich wanna piggyback on that first question(MLB hating Baltimore). Is that actually a “woe is me,everybody hates Us” mentality or is there some basis for that sentiment? Hear it with Ravens fans too. Getting a little silly.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 8, 2021 at 8:27 am

      It’s so popular that I generally choose to ignore it, Al.

    • ODU Mike

      October 8, 2021 at 5:02 pm

      I believe there is something to Major League Baseball favoring the Washington Nationals over the Orioles. Several months ago on the fan question section, Rich said the All Star game is not likely to be played in Baltimore until the MASN dispute is resolved. I understand the Orioles wanted to host the All Star game several years ago to mark the 25th Anniversary of the opening of Camden Yards. MLB did not grant the Orioles’ request but did grant Washington an All Star game.

      MLB certainly did not do the Orioles any favors allowing the Montreal Expos to relocate in territory claimed by Baltimore.

  2. OrangeDNA

    October 8, 2021 at 9:56 am

    Rich, thanks for bringing up OPACY upgrades. I’m a firm believer the stadium is completely fine… BUT still needs some major things addressed. (If that makes sense). Video board to HD is a BIG one (easy). You mentioned the rooftop bar, and I feel that was a fantastic new idea that was implemented for that age bracket of fan. I know this sounds radical, but I believe the ballpark should be downsized to 38-40k. This would allow fences being moved back, possibly an open air tiered deck where the (basically unused) 3rd level of the LF upper deck currently is…. yes, reimagine it/tear some of it down. Make it an tiered outdoor area, picnic tables, standing tables, a concourse that can see the game. I’d love to see some architectural out-of-the-box ideas for a re-envisioned LF upper deck.

    Question. Do you think ballpark upgrades are going on behind the scenes as we speak? Knowing the lease has to be signed first, but lets get this ball rolling anyway kinda thing. I would think so. I’d love the news of the lease agreement be accompanied by an announcement that OPACY is going to have some exciting new things happening

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 8, 2021 at 10:02 am

      These type of ideas have been discussed, and once there is a new lease you’ll hear more about them. The upgrades would be part of a new lease.

      • OrangeDNA

        October 8, 2021 at 10:10 am

        Sounds like you might know something 🙂 But good news, I really look forward to it.

  3. Buzz1979

    October 8, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Sure bets not to be back: Wade, Valaika, Watkins and many others that don’t come to mind or have been forgotten already. Plutko and Valdez have already exercised their minor league FA options, thank goodness!

  4. Baltimore Castaway

    October 8, 2021 at 11:23 am

    Been following the Tampa Bay Rays for some time now and have become a big believer in their Methods of doing business. They have out-maneuvered ALL their competitors in the AL East.

    They have created a strong play book for Elias and the Orioles to follow. They are the most exciting and likable team in the game today, have a robust system pipeline, they have a terrific Manager and Coaching Staff, and have invented some of the games standards now employed by each team; Openers, Shifts, Super Utility Players, and letting players play new positions in realife game situations. Throw-in a Randy Arozerana, Brett Phillips and Wander Franco and you have a a team capable of anything. I would love to have this team representing Baltimore.

    If you really think about it, it is surprising to me that more wealthier teams like the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t employing some of these same tactics–last time i checked, billionaires don’t like throwing their Money away too much..

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 9, 2021 at 9:41 am

      Breaking News: Baltimore Castaway loves the Tampa Bay Rays and sings their unmitigated praises continually regardless of any flaws they may have. Waiting breathlessly for the next “most exciting and likable team” comment!

      • Baltimore Castaway

        October 10, 2021 at 10:06 am

        You’re a funny one there Pal..

  5. AkronOhioOriole1

    October 8, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Rich, speaking of upgrades, do the Orioles ever involve themselves in helping upgrade facilities or provide equipment to the minor league affiliates at all?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 8, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      The Orioles provide equipment for the affiliates. They don’t own any of the teams so upgrades are between the teams and their counties or states.

  6. Bman

    October 8, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Elias is positioning the Os to be the next Astros and/or Rays. Still, going to be very difficult in the AL East. I think At some point the Os high draft picks and talent will shift the balance of power in the Os favor. The tipping point probably comes in 2023 when many of the highly touted prospects arrive for good, and AL East competitors begin to age out to some degree.

    • dlgruber1

      October 8, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      I’d agree except that AR, RM and others are already older than Guerrero, Franco and others. I’ll say this, it should be fun to watch tho if the O’s youngsters are anywhere close to as good as those guys.

    • willmiranda

      October 8, 2021 at 2:33 pm

      I respectfully disagree that it will be very difficult in the mythical beast that is the AL East. The Rays walked away easily with the title, so it is the one division proven to be vulnerable to this approach. I’m not saying that any division is easy to win, just that the AL East is not especially difficult. Yes, several teams won over 90 games, but most of them would not have done so without dominating the O’s. To that extent, the O’s are perpetuating the myth.

    • CalsPals

      October 8, 2021 at 2:57 pm

      Agree, that’s why Mountcastle should be ROY, didn’t see the O’s pitching & why they should go to a balanced schedule…go O’s…

      • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

        October 9, 2021 at 9:45 am

        SMH, the O’s lost too many games so we need a balanced scheduled. Hope you are looking sharp in your khakis while whining about the schedule CP

    • CalsPals

      October 9, 2021 at 11:40 am

      Who’s whining DS, just made a statement, I agree with whomever said there should be a filter to block morons from posting like you…have a nice day DS…go O’s…

  7. cedar

    October 8, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Rich – on your answer to the 2022 roster question. You listed Tyler Wells as a likely for the bullpen. I thought as a minor leaguer he was a starter. So I thought they may move Tyler to AA or AAA to stretch hi out. Or do you think his future is in the pen?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 8, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      They’ll think about it, but for now, I think they’d like to put less stress on his arm and keep him in the ‘pen.

  8. Buzz1979

    October 8, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Orioles see it in the pen.

  9. willmiranda

    October 8, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    Just a nod to Eddie Robinson since there were no comments the other day. I did have to look him up for a refresh. I was glad to see him recorded as I remember him: a stalwart professional who did his job well wherever he played. At the time, I thought of him as kind of the prototype of a first baseman for the 1950’s, not a Hall of Famer, but a four-time All Star. Trivia: although he batted left, he threw right, unusual for a first baseman.

    • NormOs

      October 8, 2021 at 3:40 pm

      Eddie Robinson, playing for The O’s either in the late 40s or early 50s at Municiple stadium (an oval stadium basically for football. LF was 250′ RF was 6 to 700′) He hit a ball down the right field line that rolled clear out of the stadium and ended up stopping over 700′ from home plate. You can look it up! Of course that was the minor league O’s

      • willmiranda

        October 9, 2021 at 11:23 am

        Thanks for the anecdote, Norm. From Baseball Reference, Robinson had two big years with the little O’s before and after his military service in WW II, 1942 and 1946. BTW, his third baseman in Baltimore was Bob Lemon, the HoF pitcher. RIP

    • dlgruber1

      October 8, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      I’m pretty sure he hit it off of Cesar Valdez.

  10. Buzz1979

    October 8, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    Please say no to Andrew Heaney.

  11. Buzz1979

    October 8, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    The beanpole pounded for 5 runs in one inning, couldn’t happen to a better guy!

  12. Buzz1979

    October 8, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Fat, dumpy Devers, proof positive you don’t need to be an athlete to play baseball!

    • dlgruber1

      October 8, 2021 at 10:32 pm

      Buzz1979, I don’t know how old you are but in my lifetime, in my humble opinion, the best pure hitter I ever saw was a, I’ll call him plump, one Tony Gwynn. He was a great athlete who played both hoops and baseball in college and was good enough to get drafted by the NBA. Looks can be deceiving.

  13. Buzz1979

    October 9, 2021 at 12:07 am

    1 Tony Gwynn
    1A George Brett

    • dlgruber1

      October 9, 2021 at 12:30 am

      No argument here. I’m too young to have seen Ted Williams but just from what I know I rank him as the greatest hitter ever, with Joe DiMaggio the greatest ever from the right side of the plate. I’d have loved to have seen them play.

    • dlgruber1

      October 9, 2021 at 2:17 am

      Rethinking my previous comment and after giving it more thought I’ve gotta go with Hammerin’ Hank as greatest right handed hitter ahead of Joe D.

  14. BirdsCaps

    October 9, 2021 at 9:04 pm

    Does anyone know if the masn contract was negotiated with a cost of tv rights adjustment clause (similar to a cost of living adjustment)? If there was no such clause, MLB is just putting their thumb on the scale, and the Angelos family (as much as I dislike them) are in the right. A contract is a contract, and this is especially true with billionaires with adequate information and legal teams.

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 10, 2021 at 10:22 am

      “Beginning in 2012 and every five years thereafter the Nationals and Orioles were to negotiate in good faith the fair market value of the rights fees the clubs were to receive for the next half decade. If the clubs were unable to reach an agreement then they would arbitrate the matter before the Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee (RSDC). The RSDC is an internal MLB committee composed of club owners, presidents, or other high-level executives.”

      That’s from a web article titled “The Cold Stove: How the Television Rights Dispute Between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals Impacts Offseason Decisions” that can be accessed via web archives, originally from a website thesportsesquire putting sports on trial which I guess covered sports litigation

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        October 10, 2021 at 12:02 pm

        The key phrase here was “negotiate in good faith the fair market value of the rights fees”. MLB and the Gnats both compromised this by having the three team panel that was supposed to be impartial that had representative attorneys were from the Gnats!!! This is NOT a good faith negotiation tactic and the Orioles found this out and called them on it which brought this to the court system!!!

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          October 10, 2021 at 12:43 pm

          Let me spell this out to be perfectly clear here. The three team panel picked by MLB, which was supposed to be impartial, well all three teams each had attorneys advising these 3 teams on the ruling and the settlement amount. This was also approved by MLB!!! Well all three attorney’s that were advising, WERE ATTORNEYS FROM THE GNATS!!! Sounds like MLB and the Gnats both colluded on this deal!!! Common terms also call this – a conflict of interest!!!
          This was the reason the Orioles brought this to the court system and won. The Orioles knew they were not going to get a FAIR ruling on this matter. And it’s hard to trust going forward, anything that MLB puts in front for the next 3 team panel now!!! This is why this whole mess was brought to the court system to begin with and is also the reason why it is currently in the court system to date.

  15. Phil770

    October 10, 2021 at 9:02 am

    MLB, O’s, and Mats are all wrong in how MASN was handled and still being handled. It is a drag on all parties.

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 10, 2021 at 11:16 am

      Urrrgh Phil, care to share any details on how all parties are all wrong or just making a sweeping judgment and leave it at that? Solution to the dispute? Come on Phil! You can do it!

  16. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    October 10, 2021 at 11:17 am

    BB needs a new post so we can learn about how wonderfully awesome Tampa Bay is! Come on BB!

    • Icterus fan

      October 10, 2021 at 7:35 pm

      Agree. This Rays/Red Sawx series has been super competitive. Pleasure to watch quality post season ball.

  17. Icterus fan

    October 10, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    I’ll take any topic other than the above inscrutable contentious malarkey.
    Watching these type posts are gonna make for a VERY along winter indeed.

    • CalsPals

      October 11, 2021 at 6:34 am

      :):):)….go O’s…

  18. Buzz1979

    October 10, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    My hate for the Yankees and Red Sux is dead even, 50-50!

  19. Kangaroo Court

    October 11, 2021 at 6:20 am

    In my opinion, I would trade Santander, Stewart and Severino over the off season. Besides the thought that Rutschman is pretty much ready to go, there are enough younger outfielders that should be given the chance to shine. Such as Stowers and Neustrom. They should be brought up because there are many more that will be rising up the charts behind them, and the Orioles need to see what they can do at the major league level. McKenna will still be there.

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