Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 -
Spring Training

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1

Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Orioles were off on Thursday, it’s time for Part 1 of our monthly mailbag. Part 2 will be on Saturday. Questions may be edited for style, length and clarity.

Question: Who is the better leadoff hitter, assuming all three are healthy. Gunnar, Adley, or Cedric? From: Damon Stout via email

Answer: Damon, that’s a good question to lead off with this month. I’d say catcher Adley Rutschman because he had a .374 on-base percentage last season. A lot of readers would like a healthy Cedric Mullins there, but even in his 30-30 season in 2021, the centerfielder’s  OBP was .360. His OBP batting first was .335 last season in 46 starts, and it was .372 batting sixth in 19 games. Shortstop/third baseman Gunnar Henderson had a .325 OBP, and while I think it will be higher this season, I still think Rutschman’s will be higher.

Question: How does new ownership for the O’s affect the media situation?  Any chance fans can look forward to new streaming options to watch games in the future? From: Stuart in Richmond, Virginia via email

Answer: Stuart asked a popular question. Related questions were asked by @steveo468, who wants to know why Durham, North Carolina is blacked out from receiving Orioles games on, and Bob Riley, from Hershey, Pennsylvania, who wants to know why more spring training games aren’t on television and radio. Bob suggests streaming more games.

Unfortunately, there aren’t going to be any changes for this season. It’s possible that MLB will allow the Orioles to sell their rights to control the Nationals’ telecasts. Currently, the deal mandates that if MASN shows seven Orioles spring training games, as they will this month, they must show seven Nationals spring training games, even though the Orioles have higher ratings.

For many years, the Orioles have broadcast 12 spring training games, and in 2019 and 2020, they did stream those that were not on the radio. After the pandemic, they have not. Since there’s more interest in the team, perhaps next season they’ll return to streaming Grapefruit League games.

As for streaming Orioles regular-season games, I think that will happen next year. The blackout rule is absurd, and it’s not just Oriole fans who are affected by it. MLB is looking at a streaming app for 2025 but needs the majority of clubs to participate. The Orioles could participate unilaterally, and I hope this is an issue that finally goes away because fans in areas far away from Baltimore are harmed by this policy. While MLB long ago allowed the eastern half of North Carolina to be designated as a home market for the Orioles, that rule is out of date and needs to be changed.

Question: In the past two seasons, the Orioles have had a breakout reliever come out of nowhere to help the team. Who is your choice for a breakout reliever? Mine is Wandisson Charles. From: thetenchimuyoyo via email

Answer: This question came in just as spring training was starting, and while Charles, which is pronounced Char-liss, has thrown three scoreless innings, he’s walked three batters. In 28 games for Triple-A Norfolk last year, Charles averaged 8.4 walks per nine innings, and that’s unacceptable for the majors. I’ll go with Albert Suárez, who’s struck out nine batters and given up two hits in nine innings. There may not be room for him in the rotation, but perhaps in the bullpen.

Question: Does Jackson Holliday have to play out of his mind to make the Opening Day roster? From: @Smumster

Answer: Scott, there have been many questions about shortstop/second baseman Jackson Holliday, and I’ll try to combine yours with Chris A.A. Riehl, who has a similar question, and Russ Lisa Vriezen on Facebook, who wants to know if Holliday begins the year with the team and is sent down and brought back in a month, can the Orioles still get a draft pick if he wins Rookie of the Year?

I think Holliday starts the season with the Orioles, and if he wins the Rookie of the Year award, he gets a season of service time, and the Orioles receive a Prospect Performance Incentive. In order to be eligible, the 20-year-old Holliday must be on the roster at the beginning of the season or be called up soon enough to earn 172 days of service time, which is a full year. There are 186 days in the major league season.

Question: I assume the amount varies, depending on the players being traded, but how much money is typically involved when a player is traded for “cash considerations?” $50,000? $100,000? From: Scott Shindell via email

Answer: Scott, players may be traded for cash considerations up to $100,000, which is the usual amount paid.

Question: My first experience with Ed Smith Stadium was a bit of a letdown. Compared with other spring training parks, like Atlanta’s CoolToday, the food options and fan interactivity between innings, the scoreboard, audio system weren’t as good. Is a refreshing of Ed Smith Stadium on the list of improvements for new ownership? From: Michael Brinley via Facebook

Answer: Michael, I’m not sure where sprucing up Ed Smith Stadium is on the list of priorities, but I agree with you. It’s a lovely venue, but the new scoreboard has been a disappointment, and the food options aren’t great. I was at CoolToday Park last Friday, and will be there again on Saturday, and was impressed with it, though I didn’t get a chance to roam the stands. Philadelphia’s BayCare Park is an excellent facility, too. I still like Ed Smith because, unlike the others, it seems like a spring training park and is very intimate, but some updating would be welcome.

Question: Are the Orioles interested in signing Jordan Montgomery? From: Ray Kowatch via Facebook

Answer: Ray, I’m grouping your question with that of Kevin Smith, also on Facebook, who wants to know if the Orioles would sign left-hander Blake Snell to a short-term deal.

Of the two, I would say left-hander Jordan Montgomery is a more likely target, but I don’t see them signing either.

If they signed Montgomery, they wouldn’t forfeit a draft choice because he was traded last season. If they signed Snell to even a one-year contract, they would lose their third-highest selection in July’s draft.

I’ve been astounded that Montgomery and Snell haven’t signed. With less than three weeks left until Opening Day, it would seem highly unlikely they’d be ready to pitch then if they signed today.

Question: Hypothetically, if Santander, Mullins and Hays are batting .175 at the end of March, while Stowers, Kjerstad and Cowser are hitting ,350 to .400, do we still see the veterans taking the field as the starters? And if we do not, what would we do with last year’s guys? From: John Miller via Facebook

Answer: If leftfielder Austin Hays, centerfielder Cedric Mullins and rightfielder Anthony Santander are all healthy on March 28th, they’ll be the Orioles’ starting outfield. I don’t think spring statistics are especially relevant when it comes to judging veteran players unless they’re extremely bad, and I wouldn’t say that .175 in 40 at-bats would qualify.

They’re looking at how younger players such as Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad and Kyle Stowers perform against quality major league starters, and it’s highly unlikely that all three make the club if Hays, Mullins and Santander are healthy.

Question: Between Cowser, Kjerstad and Stowers, who are the most likely one(s) to start the season on the roster? From: Birdman via email

Answer: Joel, I would give Colton Cowser the edge. Of the three, he’s the most versatile, and he’s 6-for-15 (.400) with six home runs and 15 RBIs. Stowers is hitting well against left-handers, but I think Cowser’s ability to play center field is a plus.

Question: What are the chances Errol Robinson makes the Opening Day roster? Plus speed guy who can play every day at shortstop or second base if needed, and he’s been hitting well in spring training From: @AaronInman4real 

Answer: Aaron, an identical question was asked by @maxlionnyy. Errol Robinson won’t be making the Orioles’ Opening Day roster. He has been an extra player brought in from minor league camp for nearly every game, but he wasn’t invited to spring training, as I thought he’d be, as a non-roster player.

Orioles guest instructor Adam Jones remarked on Wednesday how impressed he was with Robinson’s inquisitiveness, and manager Brandon Hyde has been impressed by his work ethic and hitting.

However, the Orioles are jam-packed with infielders, and I can’t see the 29-year-old Robinson making any headway just yet. If he goes to Norfolk and plays well, and there are injuries, perhaps he’ll get a shot. He’s a nice young man from Montgomery County and having the local angle is always fun.

Spring Breakout rosters announced: Top Orioles prospects Jackson Holliday, catcher/infielder Samuel Basallo, corner infielder Coby Mayo, infielder Connor Norby and last year’s No. 1 draft pick ,outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., head the roster for next week’s Spring Breakout game to be played at LECOM Park in Bradenton on March 14th at 7:05 p.m. It will be televised by MLB Network.

The Orioles’ prospects meet the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospects after a game between the Orioles and Pirates at 3:05 p.m.

Others on the roster are: left-hander Cade Povich, right-handers Trace Bright, Keagan Gillies, Nolan Hoffman, Yaqui Rivera and Kade Strowd, catchers Silas Ardoin, Connor Pavolony and Creed Willems, infielders Leandro Arias, Frederick Bencosme, Billly Cook and Max Wagner and outfielders Dylan Beavers, Matthew Etzel, Jud Fabian, John Rhodes, Thomas Sosa and Braylin Tavera.

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