Oriole pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium Complex in Sarasota on Wednesday, and their first workout is Thursday. Readers have had lots of interesting questions about the team, and I’ll be answering more of them on Tuesday. Questions may be edited for length, style and clarity.
Question: What are the remaining issues on the Orioles’ lease? What does it mean to be an entertainment destination? How much will this cost? Who’s paying? From: Julius Silvestri via email
Answer: Julius and other readers, principally Mike Beale have asked about the lease, and Mike wanted to know if Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos had the meeting with the press to discuss the Orioles’ financials that he talked about last month. There was no meeting, and I didn’t expect there to be one.
I don’t know what the holdup has been on the lease. I had expected it to be done by now, and I still expect it to be done in the near future.
On February 1st, Governor Moore and John Angelos issued a joint statement, and Angelos said: “I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the State of Maryland deserves.”
Oriole Park has hosted two major concerts, Billy Joel in 2019 and Paul McCartney last year, and Angelos would like to see the ballpark used for more than just baseball games.
There also has been talk about the Orioles creating an area near the ballpark for stores, restaurants, hotels and perhaps housing. Atlanta, Cincinnati and St. Louis have areas like these around their ballparks, and the goal is to make going to a game part of a full day or night, and to show off Baltimore as a destination.
The $600 million set aside for legislature could be earmarked for some of this, and perhaps these ambitious plans are a reason that the lease has taken so long to be signed.
Question: Will the Orioles and MASN hook up with a streaming service like Hulu? It seems the way the world is going. From: Stephen Clark Reigle via Facebook
Answer: Stephen, I’ve gotten a number of questions about MASN in recent weeks. Jerry Raigins wonders about Grapefruit League telecasts and others wonder about the MASN suit. Dave M in upstate New York asks if WBAL will stream games so that listeners outside of the Baltimore area can receive them.
I know many viewers would like to see Oriole games streamed widely. Now, you have to have a cable TV subscription for streaming their games. Cable TV is expensive, and people are trying to get around paying a large amount of money every month just for watching Oriole games.
There will be at least three Oriole games this season streamed on Peacock (May 7th, June 18th, July 2nd) and perhaps others on AppleTV+.
For viewers or listeners like Dave who are out of the Mid-Atlantic region, I would suggest buying the MLB.TV package. They have both the television and radio broadcasts. Other fans who regularly read the blog buy the baseball package on DISH, but Oriole games may not be available in this region.
As for the longstanding suit between the Orioles and Nationals over rights fees, the suit continues, and next month, a New York court will hear an Orioles appeal.
I’m guessing that there will be three or four games televised from Sarasota. That announcement should be coming soon.
Question: Is there any way to get the millions of Orioles fans to complain that we want new ownership? From: Mark Cooper via email
Answer: Mark, there isn’t a way. If the Angelos family decides to sell the Orioles, they will make that decision on their own, and any change in ownership must be approved by the other owners in Major League Baseball. It’s not subject to fan approval.
Question: Who will have higher attendance in 2023, the Orioles or the Nationals? From: Alan Reister via Facebook
Answer: Alan, last year the Nationals outdrew the Orioles, 2,026,401 to 1,368,367. That’s a gap of more than 650,000, and I think the Orioles can outdraw the Nationals this season if they have another compelling season.
The last time the Orioles outdrew the Nationals was 2007 when the Orioles drew 2,164,822 and the Nationals drew 1,943,812.
Question: What is the penalty for breaking the new shift rule? From: @Briski715
Answer: Brian, the penalty for breaking the new shift rule, which requires two infielders on either side of second base and feet planted on the infield dirt before a pitch is released, is an automatic ball.
Question: My family and I think that Rougned Odor should be signed to a minor league deal in case of injury. What do you think? From: Paul Sullivan via email
Answer: Paul, Odor remains unsigned, but I don’t think the Orioles will be the team to sign him. Odor had a -.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last season and while he had some clutch hits, I think the new shift rules will work against him. Many of his defensive stops at second came in short right field, and that’s no longer allowed.
The Orioles think Adam Frazier is an upgrade over Odor, and have several possibilities at second in the high minors — Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby. Ramón Urías is also able to play second, so I think they’re well protected there.
Question: The O’s were only four wins short of making the postseason last year. With a full season of Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, as well as Grayson Rodriguez and the return of John Means by midseason, should anything short of making the postseason be considered a disappointment? Or do you believe they might still be a year away? From: David Gruber via email
Answer: David, remember the Orioles start from zero wins, not 83, and it while Tampa Bay qualified for the postseason with 86 wins, it may take 90 to do that this season.
I think the Orioles have an excellent chance to make the postseason because of their depth in the high minors. They may well be a year away from challenging for the division lead, but I think qualifying for the postseason is a reasonable goal.
Question: When can we expect to see Connor Norby, Joey Ortiz or Jordan Westburg this season? From: Calvin Barnhart via Facebook
Answer: Calvin, I think if there is an injury to an infielder, they each have a good chance of being recalled. I think Norby, who has the least experience, just nine games at Triple-A Norfolk, is a step behind Ortiz and Westburg. Ortiz played 26 games in Norfolk, and he did well there. A trade of a veteran infielder could also mean a recall. I’d guess that Ortiz and Westburg get the first looks.
Question: Which free agents still on the market would be significant additions to the 26-man roster? From: @TMartin8910
Answer: Todd, the two remaining free agents who would be considered upgrades are starting pitcher Michael Wacha and outfielder Jurickson Profar.
I thought the Orioles had a good shot of signing Wacha, but since he’s unsigned I assume he’s probably holding out for more years or money than teams think he’s worth. Wacha made $7 million last year, the most he’s made in his career, and was 11-3 with a 3.32 ERA. Like others, I’m wondering why he hasn’t signed with anyone.
Profar played regularly for San Diego last season, and seems to have fallen through the cracks. In 152 games, he hit .243 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs and has a 3.1 WAR. Wacha’s was 3.3. It’s a mystery why Profar hasn’t found another team.
I would be surprised if the Orioles signed either, but both could help the team.