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 the second part of our monthly mailbag, and we’ve gotten lots of excellent questions. I answered many of them on Tuesday, and we’ll have more in December. Questions are edited for clarity, length and style. 

Question: Given all the holes the O’s need to fill (backup catcher, infielders, starting pitchers, relievers), does it seem possible they will become competitive in tough AL East anytime soon? Before 2025? From: Bob Stier via email

Answer: A similar question was posed by Jay Demarest, so Bob and Jay, I think it’s possible that the Orioles could be significantly improved by 2023 if their young talent pans out. I’m not sure about contending.

The division will be tough, but it wasn’t so long ago, 2012-2016, that the Orioles managed to compete successfully with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays, so I don’t see why they couldn’t again.

Question: Does the Severino move indicate the Orioles are thinking of starting the season with Rutschman on the roster? From: @JamieHarrison

Answer: Jamie, the Orioles weren’t going to pay Pedro Severino $3 million to be a backup catcher to Adley Rutschman. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement may decide whether the Orioles begin the season with Rutschman as their catcher or whether he’s there shortly after the season starts.

Question: Will the Orioles’ management spend more cash this offseason? No matter how good your minor league teams are the name of the game is money and how much you are willing to spend to win. From: James Warren via email.

Answer: James, I expect that the Orioles will spend a little more than they have in the last few years, but I think their free-agent signings will be more modest than you’d like.

Your analogy of spending to win is imperfect. According to Spotrac, four of the highest-spending teams (New York Mets, 3rd; Philadelphia Phillies, 6th ; Los Angeles Angels, 7th; and San Diego Padres, 8th) didn’t make the playoffs, but the Milwaukee Brewers (19th) and Tampa Bay Rays (26th) did. Spending more on free agents does show the fans that a team is trying to be aggressive but spending wisely is better.

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Question:  There are two stud catchers in this year’s MLB Draft — Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada and Arizona’s Daniel Susac. If Baltimore did take him at Number 1 in July, Parada would be the one of the Oriole top three hitting prospects in addition to playing a position where he could spell Adley Rutschman. So both guys would be fresher throughout the season, and there would be little drop-off defensively. And both bats would be in the lineup to hit for at least 150 games. Do you think the Orioles could take a catcher? From: Patrick from Towson

Answer: Patrick, there was speculation that the Orioles would consider Henry Davis, a catcher from the University of Louisville, as their pick in the 2021 draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him first overall. Initially, I figured there was no chance of that happening, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for a team to have two excellent catchers simultaneously.

In the mid-1950s, when the Yankees had a dynasty, they signed Elston Howard, who would become their first Black player even though they had baseball’s best catcher, Yogi Berra.

In his early years, Howard played some catcher behind Berra and played first base and the outfield. As Berra aged, Howard caught more while Berra played more first and the outfield. This strategy helped extend the Yankees’ run into the 1960s.

I know the Orioles will consider many players for the No. 1 pick, and while it’s unlikely they’d pick a catcher, I wouldn’t dismiss it.

Question: I’m wondering why Drew Rom doesn’t get much hype. I don’t expect him to get Grayson Rodriguez or DL Hall hype. But he has put up nice numbers. Is it because he doesn’t throw as hard as the other two? From: Aaron Greenfield via email

Answer: Aaron, I’ve been aware of Drew Rom since I saw him pitch well at a game in Delmarva in 2019 and, you’re right, it doesn’t seem as if he gets much attention.

Rom is a left-hander, who was the Orioles’ fourth-round pick in 2018. This past season, he was a combined 11-1 with a 3.18 ERA with Aberdeen and Bowie. He struck out nearly five times as many batters as he walked, and averaged fewer than eight hits per nine innings. If he keeps up those stats, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Drew Rom.

Question: Do you think if Peter Angelos passes on, the team would be ripe for a sale? I know people like Larry Lucchino would be quite interested in being part of a group to purchase them. From: Ed Charik via email

Answer: Ed, I don’t know the answer to this question. Baseball teams are rarely sold. There have been just three teams sold since 2013: Miami, Kansas City and the New York Mets.

Some teams in major league sports are sold because of tax reasons, others because the current owner no longer wants to own the team and there is the potential for a large profit. Some teams are sold when the principal owners dies. In other cases, they remain in the family.

Question: Rich, I see where attendance for MLB games was at an almost 40-year low and TV viewership was way up this year. Obviously, it was the Covid effect, people stayed away from large crowds which made them watch more games on TV. With attendance down, does that favor the players in the negotiations? From: David Gruber via email

Answer: David, attendance was restricted in many places, including Baltimore, so it’s no surprise attendance was low. However, TV ratings were only up against record-low figures in 2020. The 2021 World Series had the second-lowest rating in recorded history.

You’ll be reading a lot about the negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the next couple of weeks, but I don’t think either side is negotiating from a position of strength.

Question: If the Orioles move on from Brandon Hyde, what are the chances of Buck Showalter returning as manager? From: Perry Campanaris via email

Answer: Perry, Buck would like to manage again, but it won’t be with the Orioles. I don’t see any possibility of a future Showalter-Orioles reunion.

Question: Every baseball fan knows the O’s need some experienced starters for 2022. The Elias team has acknowledged this fact. Given the frugal spending habits on free agents and what any potential experienced starters was paid in 2021 and will cost in 2022, how do you see those starter spots being filled? From: Dean Wilyman via email

Answer: A similar question was posed by Mark Cooper. Dean and Mark, I think the Orioles will try to sign two or three starting candidates from the long list of both major league and minor league free agents.

The guess here is that the Orioles will wait until later in the free-agent signing season and avoid participating in bidding wars.

Question: I’ve been surprised how much chatter around the next CBA has been focused on anti-tanking measures.  One thing that has stood out is the MLB proposed $100 million floor for roster salary. Is there any chatter if measures like this will actually be adopted? From: Robert Ricketts via email

Answer: Robert, there has been a lot of talk about a proposed salary floor. If there was a salary floor, it would probably be phased in. There’s so much speculation about the CBA, and I’m not sure what’s possible and what’s not.

Question:  When Adley Rutschman eventually reaches the majors, how do you think the Orioles will try to balance getting his bat in the lineup with the arduous nature of the catching position? What impact in terms of playing time might this have on Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle? Does this make Trey expendable? From: Steve from Monkton

Answer: Steve, Adley Rutschman started 80 games at catcher for Bowie and Norfolk, played first base 28 times and was the designated hitter 14 times.

Because of the minor league schedule, which always had Mondays off in 2021, Rutschman’s playing time could be more easily regulated than it could be in the majors where there isn’t a set day off.

Catching is arduous, and I think  at first the Orioles would want to see how Rutschman is adjusting to the big leagues, but I think there are enough reps for Mancini, Mountcastle and Rutschman to coexist.

Question: If Rutschman experiences a rookie slump or hits the wall, what strategy does the team have? I’m not suggesting that he’ll be a bust or even a disappointment, but everybody hits bad spots, and there has to be a reaction. Stick it out? Send him down for seasoning? A few days off? From: Will Miranda via BaltimoreBaseball.com comments

Answer: Will, that’s really getting ahead of ourselves. Early in the 2021 season, there was some talk that the Orioles would send Ryan Mountcastle down because he wasn’t hitting. Instead, they stuck with him and were rewarded. They have a lot of faith in Rutschman and believe he’s mentally tough, so I’m sure they’ll stick with him in a rough stretch.

Question:  Jim Palmer used to tell this story: The offseason before Zack Britton became the closer, he went to California and worked out with Brady Anderson using a weighted ball. Zack developed the best sinker in baseball. I haven’t heard about any of the current staff working on their own time to improve their repertoire. From: Oliver Dorman via email

Answer: Oliver, it’s been reported that John Means has gone to a facility in St. Louis to work on his mechanics and pitches, and Matt Harvey spoke about going to one in New Jersey. The Orioles have encouraged these trips, and it seems likely many other members of the pitching staff have done that.

Question: With the available payroll, excellent but unproven prospects, and too much losing for many fans, Baltimore needs to invest wisely in a proven starting pitcher or two. Why not bring back Kevin Gausman instead of letting him go to Toronto?  From: Mike Beale via email

Answer: Mike, MLBTradeRumors.com ranks Kevin Gausman as the fifth most attractive free agent in baseball and predicts he’ll get a six-year, $138 million contract to re-sign with the San Francisco Giants.

I can’t see the Orioles spending that kind of money on an established starter, and I can’t see Gausman leaving a team that won 107 games for one that won 52.

I don’t know where you’ve seen Kevin connected with Toronto, but he’ll have a large number of suitors this offseason. The Orioles won’t be one of them.

Question: Having already forecasted which players are most likely to advance to the major leagues in 2022; which players do you expect to join the Orioles by 2023? From: M Tucker in Mesa, Arizona

Answer: This is a question for November 2022, but if Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg don’t debut in 2022, then I think that they’re prime contenders for 2023. Drew Rom, who was mentioned earlier, and Colton Cowser, their top draft pick in 2020, could be right behind them.

Notes: Centerfielder Cedric Mullins, the first Oriole to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season, was named a winner of the Silver Slugger award, the first Baltimore player to win one since Mark Trumbo in 2016. … The Orioles have reached agreement on a minor league contract with right-handed pitcher Spenser Watkins, who was 2-7 with an 8.16 ERA. Orioles broadcaster Melanie Newman was first with the news.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 12, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Great news that we won’t be losing Spencer Watkins.

  2. Orioles20

    November 12, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Watkins is terrible. He’s a solid depth guy or a spot starter but nothing more. We gotta stop bringing these guys back. It should be telling that no one else claims them. I don’t think the orioles should spend this offseason. It would make more sense to wait till next offseason. You don’t wanna be like the Phillies and Mets or the angels and just spend to spend. We did that in 18 and we’ve been stuck ever since.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      November 12, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      Os20 … gotta disagree a bit ….

      Unless the object is to lose 100+ yet again, of course the team needs to spend at bit. I’m not talking top-o-da-line type players, but this pitching staff could certainly use another 15-20 or so million thrown at it. Surely you should be able to get 4 or 5 quality arms for that? If you did that, this team would be competitive, and you’d still be well under the 100 million mark. Considering they still have 22 or 23 million in dead weght “Crush dollars”, an 80 million dollar payroll would certainly be in line with a lower end MLB payroll.

      Our lineup is simply going to be too good to have these guys lanquish with loss after loss due to our inability to keep the opponent in single digits on many nights.

      I’m not being unrealistic and expecting the playoffs, but it’s time to turn the corner with this thing. Enough is enough.

      • Orioles20

        November 12, 2021 at 3:16 pm

        I think some money would be okay. If we spent on a decent starter like Anthony Desclafani and an infielder like Eduardo Escobar I’d be ok with that.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      November 14, 2021 at 5:34 pm

      O’s20 – Watkins did have one notable change to his off-season plans. Watkins’ decision to train at Driveline Baseball, which focuses on data-driven player development should help him going forward!!!
      And to someone (not you Os20) who thinks he walks on water but is really destructive and always critic’s others, what is – dead “weght”? Seems to me a 5th grade education is your issue and no others. He who lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones!!! No segway needed here!!!

    • CalsPals

      November 14, 2021 at 8:48 pm

      Hysterical, you don’t have to disagree & insult people, just disagree, good god….go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        November 14, 2021 at 9:12 pm

        Someone that critic’s my writing abilities and also insults me with his name calling and then you chiming in with your lmao is all fine with you but when I do it back, I’m the problem??? Good God man, look in the mirror. I held my end of the truce until I was insulted. What comes around goes around!!!

    • CalsPals

      November 15, 2021 at 7:17 am

      Critiques, you’re a train wreck….go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        November 15, 2021 at 7:58 am

        You see. Now who is insulting someone???? Setup is complete!!! Now, look in the f’n mirror!!!

    • CalsPals

      November 15, 2021 at 8:26 am

      You insult yourself when you speak/write…!!!!!…????….lol…go O’s….

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        November 15, 2021 at 8:37 am

        Like I said “Setup complete!!!” And you fell for it!!! BTW, how do you misspell when you speak??? You just insulted yourself!!! LMAO!!!

  3. Buzz1979

    November 12, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Don’t understand the Showalter interest. He has to be one of the most overrated managers of all time.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      November 12, 2021 at 12:34 pm

      Buzzzzzzz….you’d have to admit that he’d probably have done a better job than Hyde handling the staff wouldn’t you?

      (but I agree, you don’t want to go back)

      • Buzz1979

        November 12, 2021 at 7:23 pm

        Oh,yes, and he didn’t wear those dumb hoodies!

      • G-man

        November 15, 2021 at 8:40 am

        I too have been critical of Buck, especially after the wild card game in 2016, but I also think he would get more out of the players than Hyde does. Plus, if Buck was still here, Orioles Fanfest would still be held, the most important day of the year. But Rich seems pretty clear that Buck won’t be back. Must be some underlying story there.

    • jimmyv

      November 12, 2021 at 4:47 pm

      How QUICKLY you forget! That man managed an incredible turnaround — and quickly — in Birdland. I think he made mostly smart decisions until he let Ubaldo pitch to Encarnacion. I have a high regard for his integrity and leadership. I’m not sure where your criticisms come from, but I’m willing to consider them.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        November 12, 2021 at 5:02 pm

        Elias will have to find his own guy. Buck was pretty dang good, but sometimes you just have to move on. Besides, at his age, how much longer would he want to manage?

    • Icterus fan

      November 12, 2021 at 5:43 pm

      Agree Showalter was good, and a very capable manager. I miss him.
      However Elias will pick his man, Buck’s not coming back, so why waste the mental energy worrying over it and hoping for a reunion? It’s not happening.

      And I had almost forgotten about the Ubaldo over Britton debacle……geesh. I still remember the post game interview with Britton after the loss- awful!

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        November 12, 2021 at 8:16 pm

        jimmyv – I’m one person who’ll never forget the great job Buck did in turning around the Orioles!!! And as far as Ubaldo, I don’t blame Buck, he can only play the hand he was dealt or in other words, guys he has on the roster. I blame Dan Duquette who PUT THIS GUY ON THE ROSTER!!! Just another bad contract that DD agreed to pay for or trade for using the Orioles $$$.
        I know many, many fans who were quite disappointed when the Orioles let Buck go. He was a class act right till the end when he told other Oriole players to let Adam Jones go out to center field by himself on his last game. How he stated several times that the Orioles would miss JJ Hardy’s leadership at shortstop when he got hurt and then retired. I remember Buck giving Markakis a hug in the dugout when Markakis couldn’t play in his first playoff game because his hand in a cast after being hit by pitch and was on the disabled list. I remember reading how many fans saw him at that last charity walk he attended even against his wife’s objection after being let go and they mobbed him and were telling him they would all miss him. I am certainly one of them.
        I remember after the the last Orioles game when he was interviewed by reporters and was asked about himself after the Adam Jones gesture he did and why he didn’t take a curtain call when fans were cheering for him and the possibility of not being brought back as manager and he stated that it wasn’t about him!!! I remember reading how rumors of certain players were linked to the Orioles in trades and Buck would always say he only cared about the players that were in his dugout. I remember Buck being asked about if he was interested in the GM job or any other job and he would always say his only job was managing the Orioles and that his thoughts were never about anything else and he didn’t want to be distracted by anything else because it wouldn’t be fair to the Orioles. I remember when Yanks manager Joe Girardi was accusing the Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson of stealing signs and Buck went after him and pointing his finger at Girardi and was stopped by the umpires and his coaches even when Buck could hardly stand due to needing knee surgery! He always defended his players and coaches no matter what and that’s why they all loved playing for him and coaching for him!!!

    • CalsPals

      November 12, 2021 at 5:58 pm

      Speaking of Britton, another Buck is looming…go O’s…

      • Buzz1979

        November 12, 2021 at 7:25 pm

        A young Buck…I’ll let myself out!

    • dlgruber1

      November 12, 2021 at 6:32 pm

      I hope he sticks with Hyde. NO manager should be asked to go thru what he’s had to endure his first 3 seasons and not be given at least 2 seasons with some talented players before being kicked to the curb.

      • BirdsCaps

        November 12, 2021 at 10:05 pm

        I gotta disagree with you. I don’t think he gets the most out of the little talent he has. The team is error prone and just doesn’t play good fundamental baseball. This falls largely on the coaching.

      • willmiranda

        November 13, 2021 at 10:29 am

        I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other about retaining or extending Hyde. But my feeling is that after three years of this, how are two more any kind of a reward? And, then, after five years of losing, will he ever live long enough to get his record to .500? I can’t deny that I’ve disagreed with some of his policies and moves, but I do feel for the guy.

  4. Buzz1979

    November 12, 2021 at 10:07 pm

    Petey is still calling the shots, his sons are just puppets!

  5. WVOsfan

    November 13, 2021 at 7:46 am

    Thinking about Hyde and some comments regarding his return as manager. I agree that he should be given a shot with some young talent. It wouldn’t hurt to add a few mid range vets, both arms and position players to the mix… but I also agree that this team has shown major lapses in the fundamentals. Does that fall soley on the lap of the manager??? I was thinking about Buck’s teams, and how they played, but as you run through the list of position players, did any of them play “Fundamentally” better because of Buck? Or were they just fundamentally better at their respective positions than what is being put on the field today? Is our “Coaching Staff” considered to be top flight???? I have always been of the opinion that the “Skipper” was the “Game day” manager, more responsible for handling the rotation, and line up…. Position coaches should be held accountable for the “Fundamentals”…. No????
    I personally do not think that Hyde has shown any exceptional qualities as the game day manager.

    • CalsPals

      November 13, 2021 at 8:10 am

      Game day management skills are below average, ultimately he is in charge, lack of fundamentals falls on him….go O’s…

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