Here’s the second part of our mailbag. Part 1 ran on Thursday. We’ll have another mailbag right after the conclusion of the regular season. Questions may be edited for length, style and grammar.
Question: What’s your take on why the Orioles sent down Mike Baumann when they recalled Tyler Wells instead of making a different pitching move? Now, one of the best bullpen arms all year can’t come back for the final push for the division? From: @FirePix1075
Answer: Michael, that’s an interesting question. Frank Friedman wanted to know why the Orioles didn’t send Jacob Webb down instead of Baumann.
I was a little puzzled, too, because I also think they could have used Baumann. Webb has no options left and, as well as he’s pitched, would have been lost on waivers.
Yennier Cano and DL Hall are the only other relievers with options, and the Orioles weren’t going to send them down. Roster Resource lists Shintaro Fujinami with three options, but I’m not sure if his contract allows him to be optioned.
The Orioles could have designated Jorge López for assignment and hoped he passed through waivers, but they opted not to do that.
Question: What kind of defensive outfielder is Heston Kjerstad? From: Steve Burgan via Facebook
Answer: Steve, I don’t know. In the minor leagues, he was considered an acceptable outfielder, but defensively he’s not in the same class as Austin Hays, Aaron Hicks, Ryan McKenna, Cedric Mullins or Anthony Santander.
I saw Kjerstad play the outfield in spring training, and he looked fine there, and MLB Pipeline rates him as a 50 fielder, which is considered average.
I’ve seen all his games in the majors, but he’s only played in the field for two batters, and nothing was hit his way.
Question: If the Orioles host a playoff game on October 7th, will Billy Joel sing the national anthem? From: Mike Judge via Facebook
Answer: As Mike infers, Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks are scheduled for a concert at M&T Bank Stadium on October 7th, which would be the same day of the first game of the ALDS.
Billy Joel has sung the national anthem before Mets’ World Series games, and it was absolutely perfect. I hope he does, but it seems like a long shot.
Question: If the Orioles clinch the AL East early without the ability to catch Atlanta, should they, or will they, rest the entire team? The relief pitchers look like they need some rest. From: Andy Messer via email
Answer: Andy, the Orioles are carrying 14 pitchers and 14 position players, so they can’t rest all the starting players simultaneously, but in the event of an early clinch, I think you’ll see players rested and pitchers throwing fewer innings.
Question: Where is Chris Davis now? From: Louise Kolego via email
Answer: Louise, Chris Davis is living in Texas and visited the ballpark for Adam Jones’ retirement ceremony on September 8th.
Question: Do you think Mike Elias or Sig Mejdal could be a candidate for the Boston Red Sox’s top baseball operations job recently vacated by Chaim Bloom? From: John Flato via email
Answer: John, I don’t think so. My understanding is that Mike Elias is under a long-term contract with the Orioles, though I don’t know the length. Sig Mejdal, who’s his top assistant and an expert on analytics, isn’t likely to leave. I think Sig is happy in his current role.
Question: I kept an eye on Bowie when Jackson Holiday was there. And in the process I noticed Dylan Beavers, whom I’d never heard much about – if anything at all. He put up some really nice numbers. It seems that when the Orioles’ prospects are mentioned I hear the same names — Connor Norby, Coby Mayo, etc. But I don’t hear Beavers in the mix. Have I just not been paying attention or is there a reason why he doesn’t get much press? From: John Newell via email
Answer: John, Patrick Stevens, who writes Minor Monday for us, wrote about Dylan Beavers on July 31st. I think Beavers has been overshadowed by Jackson Holliday, who was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, but I think as he continues to have success, you’ll hear more about him. Beavers finished his season at Bowie with a .321 average, two home runs, 12 RBIs and an .832 OPS in 34 games.
Question: Who do you see as position players next year, including the bench? We seem to have too many guys, which is a good problem to have, but not for the guys. From: John Miller via email
Answer: It is a good problem, but you’re assuming that all of these players will be successful in the majors, and that isn’t going to be the case.
If I had to guess now, I’d say Adley Rutschman and James McCann will return as catchers, Ryan Mountcastle and Ryan O’Hearn would return at first. Gunnar Henderson will obviously return, and I think you’ll see Jackson Holliday at some point in 2024, though it may not be early. Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby could also be infielders, and Norby can play the outfield, too.
It will be interesting to see if they trade any of their veteran outfielders, but I think both Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad will start the season with the team.
Question: If the Orioles win the American League East and have time to set up the starters, who do you think they’ll be? From: Birdman via email
Answer: Joel, the last six games may be crucial for that. I would guess that Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez have the best shots for the first two games, and that John Means and Kyle Gibson could also be in the rotation.
Dean Kremer’s starts have been disappointing this month, and I think his next start this week will be important.
Question: Sorry to bring this now but do you think the Orioles will move one of the team’s starting outfielders for pitching this offseason. Could they afford to sign a Blake Snell or would they even try? From: Dan Contesti via email
Answer: Dan, I do think it’s possible that the Orioles will trade one of their starting outfielders for pitching. They’ll need to make room for Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad to play more often, and Kyle Stowers should get a fresh look next season.
I would be surprised if the Orioles were contenders to sign Snell. I think he’d be a good fit, but I can’t see them signing a free-agent pitcher for five years or more, which is what I think his market will be.
Question: When have you heard that Félix Bautista can come back? From: Mike Slabaugh via email
Answer: Mike, the Orioles aren’t dropping any hints on whether Bautista can come back for the Division Series or beyond. He wouldn’t be throwing bullpen sessions if they weren’t serious about his return, but I don’t think they’ll say anything until it comes time for an activation.
Question: Are there stats for the hits and runs the Orioles seem to get with two outs? It seems the Orioles are more productive with two outs. Is there any way to show if this is accurate? From: Heidi Tennyson Bertaux via Facebook
Answer: Heidi, the Orioles lead Major League Baseball with a .254 average with two outs? Interestingly, they’re hitting .267 with one out, and that’s fifth in baseball. With none out, they’re batting .251, which ranks 19th.
Question: Is there any talk about a streaming service for those of us without cable who can’t regularly watch Orioles games? From: Russell Vriezen via email
Answer: Russell, this is a question that comes up again and again, and with good reason. I have heard talk that MLB will come up with a streaming service for the 2024 season. Hopefully, that will end the blackouts that have harmed viewers trying to watch the Orioles and their other favorite teams.
Question: Which Orioles are eligible for arbitration this offseason? From: Lyle from Connecticut
Answer: Lyle, according to BaseballReference.com, the following Orioles are eligible for arbitration this offseason: Keegan Akin, Danny Coulombe, Austin Hays, Cole Irvin, Jorge López, Jorge Mateo, John Means, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Ryan O’Hearn, Cionel Pérez, Anthony Santander, Dillon Tate, Tyler Wells and Ramón Urías.
Question: Why isn’t Cedric Mullins batting leadoff? From: John Heimbach via email
Answer: John, Mullins is batting .240 with a .314 on-base percentage. Gunnar Henderson is batting .258 with a .328 OBP and Adley Rutschman is hitting .276 with a .372 on-base percentage.
Brandon Hyde isn’t alone in using what appears to be non-traditional leadoff hitters in the leadoff spot.
Buck Showalter used Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in the leadoff spot at times, and it’s becoming more popular to use a player with some pop at the top of the lineup.
Both Henderson and Rutschman have gotten on base more and shown more power than Mullins this year. I think it’s possible that Mullins could bat leadoff again next season.
Question: Adley Rutschman is known for working the count and taking lots of walks-and properly so. But there is another side to working the count: being called out on strikes, and I have not seen a thing written about the number of times Rutschman has been called out on strikes. So, my question: how many times? From: Jerry Langbaum via email
Answer: Jerry, Rutschman has struck out 96 times this season, 70 swinging and 26 looking. That’s 27.1 percent. Let’s compare to a teammate who has about the same number of strikeouts. Cedric .Mullins has struck out 94 times, 68 swinging and 26 looking for 27.7 percent.
Question: I have been an Oriole fan since 1995. Why on earth would the Orioles not try to sign extensions with Adley, Gunnar and Jordan Westburg to name a few? These current day Orioles could start a future Oriole dynasty. Your thoughts please. From: Richard Hewitt via email
Answer: Richard, I would be surprised if Gunnar Henderson signed a long-term extension with the Orioles because his agent, Scott Boras, discourages players from signing early.
While it would be great to have some core players signed early, I’ll be skeptical until I see it happen.