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It’s time for Part 2 of our monthly mailbag. Part 1 was published on Saturday. Questions may be edited for length, clarity and grammar.
Question: Do you foresee left-handed pitcher DL Hall getting a callup in the future? Seems like he could be useful with the bullpen being limited (in terms of who’s available to pitch) in recent games? From: @MichaelFleetwood
Answer: Michael, your question was also asked by Lee M. I think it’s very possible DL Hall gets a callup either on the next homestand or on September 1st, which is the day after the homestand ends.
Question: Who are the likeliest players to get a September callup? From: Phil Cooke via email
Answer: Phil, yours is another popular question. Daniel Frankel asks about shortstop Jackson Holliday and outfielder Heston Kjerstad as September callups. The Orioles are required to add two players on September 1st. Only one can be a pitcher, and if he’s not added before, I think DL Hall will be added. I think either Kjerstad or Joey Ortiz are the likeliest position players to be added.
Question: Do you think that the Orioles’ starting pitching is strong enough to get them all the way to the World Series? From: Birdman via email
Answer: Joel, that’s a hard one to answer. While Kyle Gibson hasn’t been as consistent as he was earlier in the season, and Jack Flaherty has had only three starts, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Grayson Rodriguez have pitched well of late. If those three plus one of Flaherty, Gibson, Cole Irvin and Tyler Wells gets hot, they can certainly be a contender to make it to the World Series.
Question: After a recent win, I noticed during celebratory handshakes a wide bevy of Orioles coaches in uniform — many more than I am accustomed to. Have coaching staffs dramatically risen in number? Is this an Orioles/analytics thing or widespread growth of uniformed coaches? From: Rusty Payne via email
Answer: Rusty, you are correct. The Orioles list 11 coaches –bench coach Fredi González; first base coach Anthony Sanders; third base coach Tony Mansolino; Tim Cossins, their major league field coordinator/catching instructor, who’s also their bullpen coach; Chris Holt, their pitching coach/director of pitching; Darren Holmes, their assistant pitching coach; Ryan Klimek, pitching strategy coach; Jose Hernández, major league coach; co-hitting coaches Matt Borgschulte and Ryan Fuller; and Cody Asche, their offensive strategy coach. Most teams have larger coaching staffs than you’re used to. The San Francisco Giants have the largest coaching staff in the major leagues, 16.
Question: What are the chances the Orioles add left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland to the major league team? From: @ionlyfollowos
Answer: T.J. McFarland was signed to a minor league contract last month and has a 1.98 ERA in nine games at Norfolk. Currently, the Orioles have two left-handers in the bullpen, Cionel Pérez and Nick Vespi, and another, Danny Coulombe, is on the 15-day injured list. If one of those left-handers gets hurt before Coulombe returns, then it’s possible because I think McFarland can pitch multiple innings, which is something Brandon Hyde likes in his relievers.
Question: I am wondering if the bullpen coach does any evaluation of the pitcher warming up. Do we check if the guy’s curve or splitter is working and if he can throw strikes tonight? Or do we just figure this is his job and he is going in there? From: John Miller via email
Answer: John, Tim Cossins’ job is to make sure the pitchers are ready, and to count the number of warmup throws in case they don’t go into a game. If he sees something wrong, he can point it out, but unlike starters, relievers may only throw a small number of pitches in the ‘pen, and performance in the bullpen, good or bad, may not be indicative of what will happen in an actual game.
Question: I see many teams wearing a patch on their sleeves advertising a product or company. So far, the Orioles haven’t joined in the trend, and I hope they don’t. There is enough advertising at the ballpark and I see no need to tarnish the uniform with additional advertising. Do you know if they have any plans to add a patch to their uniforms? From: Gene Lovelace via email
Answer: Gene, I don’t know if the Orioles are going to add an advertising patch to their uniform, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do. They also have never sold naming rights to Camden Yards, although they have the right to do so.
Question: My question involves outfielder Colton Cowser, who was optioned a few days ago. He has played 26 games and has 77 plate appearances. Does he still retain his rookie eligibility? (And thus be eligible for Rookie of the Year next year and draft pick compensation for the Orioles if he makes the Opening Day roster and finishes Top 2 in the voting?) From: Dave Burton via email
Answer: Dave, a position player is ineligible for Rookie of the Year if he has 130 at-bats or remains on the roster for 45 days. Cowser has 61 at-bats and was on the roster, by my calculation, for 39 days. If Cowser spends six more days on the roster between now and October 1st, he’d be ineligible for Rookie of the Year consideration in 2024.
Question: It’s obvious Cowser had problems at the plate but it seemed like he also had issues in the field – not getting to seemingly catchable balls, calling Ramón Urías off a popup, then failing to make the catch, etc. I know he’s advertised as a multiple position outfielder but how is he rated defensively? I never felt confident when he was out there. From: Bob West, Ellicott City
Answer: Bob, manager Brandon Hyde remarked the other day that he thought another stint at Norfolk would be a good thing for Cowser, and I think he’s right. I noticed the same things you did, and they hope that when he returns to the majors, he’ll be a more confident and much better player. MLB Pipeline rates him as a 50 in the field with a 55 arm, which are both considered good. His hitting and power are rated higher, 60, and he’s the 14th best prospect in the minors and behind only shortstop Jackson Holliday among Oriole prospects. While he struggled in his first major league stint, he’s still a solid prospect.
Question: Hi, Rich, can someone please explain why centerfielder Cedric Mullins isn’t batting leadoff now that he has returned to the team? He’s been our most productive leadoff batter and a proven motor that starts our lineup. Having a hard time seeing our catcher bat leadoff. Not convinced that Adley Rutschman is a better leadoff bat. From: John H. via email
Answer: John, that’s a question on the mind of a lot of Oriole fans. Before Saturday’s game, Mullins had an 0n-base percentage of .334 while Rutschman’s was .367. Rutschman was hitting .317 against left-handers and .255 against right-handers while Mullins was hitting .255 against right-handers and .250 against left-handers. Mullins has a .406 average batting sixth and .247 batting leadoff. I think that while Mullins’ speed is great to have up top, having it lower seems to be effective, too.
I remember in 2012, many fans scoffed when manager Buck Showalter batted rightfielder Nick Markakis first for some time because he was his best hitter and on-base threat. We just think that it’s natural to have a speedster leading off when analytics say it’s best to have your best hitter there.
Question: Should James McCann be Kyle Bradish’s personal catcher? His ERA is a run lower when McCann catches him than Adley Rutschman. From: Brian Nickel via Facebook
Answer: You are correct, Brian. Bradish has a 3.61 ERA when Rutschman catches him and a 2.52 when caught by McCann. We’ll see who catches him on Sunday. On the other hand, Dean Kremer has a 4.90 ERA with McCann and a 3.51 with Rutschman.
I haven’t had a chance to ask Brandon Hyde about personal catchers, but most managers don’t like having certain catchers for pitchers. I’m pretty sure he’s aware of that stat and keeps it in mind, but the bullpen is an important factor as well and Félix Bautista has an 0.83 with Rutschman, and you never know when he’ll be needed,
Question: After Brandon Hyde’s recent tirade and ejection in the Houston Astros series, I’m wondering how that affects a manager’s future professional interaction with an umpire? Next time he sees Hyde, Edwin Moscoso has to act as though it never happened, but does it affect his on field impartiality? Do MLB managers and umpires interact or even see each other off the field? From: Marty Adams via email
Answer: Marty, I remember reading that Earl Weaver felt for the most part that umpires were able to be professional the day after a blowup, and Weaver saw umpires much more often than managers do now because the American League had its own umpires. It’s possible that the Orioles won’t see Moscoso again this season.
Of course, umpires and managers are human and can hold a grudge, but umpires are fined and can be disciplined if they’re believed to be in the wrong. That sort of discipline is never announced. Umpires can be penalized by not being assigned postseason games, which is prestigious and lucrative, and, no, umpires and managers don’t generally socialize.
Question: Do you think the Orioles will sign Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins or Anthony Santander, all of whom are getting closer to free agency, to extensions? From: Mike Davis via Facebook
Answer: Mike, I would think Mullins has the best chance of signing an extension, but the Orioles haven’t yet signed a veteran to a long-term extension. Perhaps this year’s success will make this offseason different.
Question: Do you think that Adam Frazier, Kyle Gibson and Ryan O’Hearn will sign extensions after this season? From: John Rekas via email
Answer: John, Frazier and Gibson will be free agents after the season. O’Hearn is eligible for arbitration after this season, so he would remain under club control for another season.
Question: Lots of talk about the infield logjam, but wondering about your thoughts on the outfield logjam. With Ryan McKenna, Terrin Vavra, Kyle Stowers and Colton Cowser on the 40-man roster in Norfolk, Heston Kjerstad not far way, and the likes of Dylan Beavers and Enrique Bradfield Jr. in the pipeline, seems like some decisions will have to be made this offseason. Do you think they move some of the prospects, and which ones? Are Hays and Santander here for the long haul? From: Dan Klein via email
Answer: Dan, I’m not sure if the Orioles will attempt to extend Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, but, yes, some of the outfielders may be traded. I think this offseason will be an interesting one for the club, and we’ll see how aggressive they’ll be in possibly trading some infield and outfield prospects. They certainly seem to be in good shape in the outfield.
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