Because You Asked - Full Throttle

The last 10 games of the season can’t pass without another dive into the ol’ “mailbag,” which requires actual quotation marks because air quotes won’t work here.

I tend to gravitate toward the duplicates, hoping that an answer will eliminate the repetition. But I’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t really work.

At least we’re having fun, right?

Right?

I’m running low on movie sequel titles. Similar to how the Orioles are running out of starters. But I’m not injured and I’m not on a titles limit.

Is Buck coming back as manager?
No one knows for sure. It’s all speculation. I’ll just repeat that the perception that he could stay as long as he wanted, basically what managing partner Peter Angelos told him, has changed.

Is Dan coming back as general manager?
Duquette is executive vice president of baseball operations. Teams like bigger titles these days. A guy preparing food in the press lounge is actually executive vice president of grill maintenance and marinating.

Is Dan coming back as executive vice president of baseball operations?
Sorry. Again, no one knows for sure and it’s all speculation and hunches. I think his chances have improved quite a bit over the summer, to the point where he’s the favorite now, if we’re placing odds. But the organization could go in multiple directions here. Sorry that there isn’t a firm answer. I’ve known all summer that changes weren’t coming during the season, that contracts would expire and everyone would be re-evaluated. And that’s how it’s unfolding.

Is this process going to drag out?
That’s not what I’m hearing. I’m under the impression that answers will come “sooner rather than later.” As it should be done.

What are the chances that the Orioles re-sign Adam Jones?
His market would have to crash. It’s crazy to offer a market prediction, especially after last winter’s free agent debacle, but Jones should be able to land a deal that’s out of the rebuilding Orioles’ price range. And they want to get younger, as stated multiple times.

Who plays right field when Jones is gone?
There isn’t an obvious replacement on deck. Austin Hays won’t be ready to handle the responsibility on opening day. DJ Stewart has played in seven major league games. Can’t assume he’s going to be the guy. The Orioles could shift Trey Mancini to right field and we could debate who’s going to play left. They might settle for signing a player to a one-year deal or minor league contract with a spring invite as a placeholder. We’ve seen that act before.

What’s Colby Rasmus doing these days?
Probably skinning something. Hopefully, it’s not an intruder. (I kid).

How is it possible that no one has been fired over the worst season in club history?
The Orioles, with some exceptions, prefer to make those changes after the season. And there will be changes. I don’t see the club standing pat.

Any chance the Orioles bring back Jonathan Schoop?
He’s still under team control in Milwaukee, so he’d have to be non-tendered or traded. And while it’s possible that the Brewers let him go, he’d still be arbitration-eligible and due another raise. It doesn’t make financial sense for the Orioles, who, in case you haven’t noticed, are hacking away at the payroll.

Why won’t the Orioles just release Chris Davis?
How does this one keep ending up in the mailbag? (I also have questions). He’s got four more years on that contract.

Why won’t the Orioles just trade Chris Davis?
He’s got four more years on that contract and there isn’t a market for him. Plain and simple. Other teams see what you see. The Orioles would have to eat most of that contract. All of that contract. Whatever. It would create the biggest belch in history. Barns would be toppled.

Ortiz-Throws-Black-Sidebar.jpgWho’s in the rotation on opening day?
It’s really too early to know. We can make the assumption that Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner are back. The Orioles are willing to listen to offers for them, but let’s say those three return. Now, you’re looking at guys like Yefry Ramírez, David Hess, Jimmy Yacabonis, Josh Rogers and Luis Ortiz. John Means is likely going on the 40-man roster to protect him in the Rule 5 draft and therefore will get a long look in spring training. The Orioles can consider whether Miguel Castro should give it another shot. It seems unlikely that Keegan Akin would skip Triple-A. I’m expecting the Orioles to check the market for a one-year guy, like what could happen in right field. A veteran who could give them innings and prevent the youngsters from being rushed.

Seriously, what’s Colby Rasmus doing now?
Probably burning something. Or slow-roasting it.

You don’t know what Rasmus is doing?
Using a do-rag as a gas cap? OK, I just know that he’s back home and living his best life. The man made his money and he wants to be with his family. Nothing wrong with that, as long as a team doesn’t try to sign him again.

Why isn’t Chance Sisco starting every game so he can be evaluated?
It’s complicated. Unfortunately, there are people offering analysis without being around the team. They’re not getting the full picture and just playing off the narrative that Sisco is one of the top position prospects and the Orioles are rebuilding. Sisco is working on multiple areas of his game at 23. It’s not just hitting and defense. And tossing him into the deep end of the pool wasn’t deemed wise upon review. In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have broken camp with the team after posting a .267 average at Triple-A Norfolk, but he had a huge camp, kept demonstrating on-base skills and carried the pedigree of a second-round pick. He was pushed. And the reason you carry veterans at the Double-A and Triple-A levels is to avoid it. The Orioles are taking a different approach now and we’ll find out next year if he’s ready.

Have you heard that Cal Ripken Jr. no longer is interested in managing?
Yes, since I’ve written it and stated it in interviews on multiple occasions. He’d much rather run a team, serving in a president role. The whole Ripken managing story and the Nationals tie-in were hugely overblown. The idea intrigued him.

What’s Brady Anderson’s role in the organization moving forward?
Stays the same or he’s elevated. Those are the two scenarios. He’d gladly take on more responsibilities, but he’s not pushing anyone out the door to do it. And he’s always going to be the Swiss Army knife of baseball executives, no matter which title is attached to his name. People need to accept that instead of harping on how unusual it is. He’s going to train players because conditioning and nutrition are in his wheelhouse. He’s going to shag fly balls in workout clothes and offer one-on-one hitting instruction. He’s going to wear jeans and an open-collar shirt with a sports coat, no matter the function. It’s fine.

Which players are the Orioles most likely to protect in the Rule 5 draft?
They’ve already put a few on the 40-man this month to shorten the remaining list. Dillon Tate and Means, both throwing down in Sarasota to stay ready, are notable exceptions. Branden Kline is a lock. They will again consider left-hander Luis Gonzalez. They really like catcher Martin Cervenka, which could prompt them to protect him.

Will Ryan McKenna get a shot in the outfield next year?
He’s more likely to repeat Double-A, assuming it’s too crowded in Triple-A, with the chance, of course, to move up later in the summer. Much of it is up to him. He batted .377/.467/.556 at Single-A Frederick this year, and .239/.341/.338 with Bowie.

Why isn’t Ryan Mountcastle on the roster this month?
Mountcastle doesn’t need to be put on the 40-man and spots are so valuable now that it makes no sense to have him clog one, other than exposing him to major league pitching. I’d love to see him in the lineup right now because I’m searching for storylines that aren’t dominated by historic loss counts, and I think his bat will play in the majors. I don’t care if he’s the designated hitter. Who made the ruling that early-20s players are too young be stuck in that role? I’d keep working him out at the infield corners and I’d make him shag fly balls until he was dizzy - hopefully more than 10 minutes - but in the meantime I’d live with the possibility of DH being his quickest path to the majors. But it’s too soon to put him on the 40-man.

Any updates on Victor Victor Mesa and his brother?
Poor Victor Mesa Jr. Destined to be known as “his brother.” Maybe that could be his Players’ Weekend nickname. Anyway, the Orioles will watch them work out and make an aggressive push to sign him. They have the funds. They need to get it done with Victor Victor for sure, if only for appearance sake (and hopefully they get more out of it than that.) It’s a really hard sell to fans to trade Kevin Gausman this soon before free agency, get $2.5 million in international slot bonus money, talk about being much more active in the market and then pass on the top guy. Unless he’s far below advertised.

Will any Orioles play in the Dominican Winter League?
No doubt. They spread out in other leagues, too. Pedro Araujo and Gabriel Ynoa are throwing again and expected to play winter ball.

Is it time to give up on Hunter Harvey?
No. And believe me when I say that no one is more frustrated than Harvey. He lit up in spring training while talking about his good health. He needs to be shut down for an extended period and, hopefully, he can avoid another surgery. It’s alarming that the elbow is flaring up again. But you don’t give up on a talent like him at 23.

Will the Orioles try the Rays’ approach and go with “openers”?
Not if Showalter is around, because he refuses to use the term. He challenged reporters to come up with another name. Using a reliever for the first inning or two is done out of necessity. It isn’t a long-term plan. It wouldn’t happen in Baltimore if Cobb, Cashner and Ortiz were healthy. If Rogers wasn’t shut down to an innings limit.

What happens to Tim Beckham?
He’s a non-tender candidate, but it’s so hard to predict without knowing who’s going to be in charge.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Sarasota?
I love sushi, so I highly recommend Yume on Main Street In a related story, I highly recommend walking Main Street. It’s got so many nice bars/restaurants/stores and it’s just a really cool scene. Parking can be challenging, but it’s fine if you want to get in your steps. And sometimes you luck out and there’s an open spot in front of or near your destination. Also, Hyde Park if you like upscale steak places. And it’s my “anniversary” spot because that’s where I took Emily the day we met and she interviewed me for a paper at Towson University (she was taking a writing class). We hit it off, I was hungry, she was hungry and I couldn’t find any parking at my first choice. I remembered that Hyde Park had valet service. It’s so ... me. Remove the parking stress. And now we go there on the same day every year and get the meat sweats. The seafood tower also is amazing. Roast was a great spot but it closed. Owens Fish Camp is fantastic, but really hard to get a table.

Have the wedding invitations to School of Roch gone out yet?
Wait, what?

Are Jonathan Villar and Renato Núñez part of the rebuild?
Villar for sure unless someone makes the Orioles an offer they can’t refuse. He’s under team control for a few more years and exactly what they need on the base paths. He’s going to run into some outs, but he knows immediately what he did wrong, if that makes anyone feel better. He can be the shortstop or second baseman and bat first or second. He makes pitchers nervous when he’s on base, he changes the way teams set up their infield. And he can hit. As for Núñez, he can’t stay unless he’s trusted defensively. It’s that simple. He’s gotten better, but I don’t think the Orioles are sold on him yet as the everyday guy at third base. No matter who’s managing, defense will be a priority.

How did the clubhouse handle Caleb Joseph’s critical comments over the past few weeks?
Some veterans were ... how shall I put this? They were disappointed and didn’t want anyone to perceive them as not caring and in need of having their jobs taken away. Those concerns were expressed and they’ve moved on. In a related story, Joseph has every right to be frustrated, angry, whatever. And that includes looking in the mirror and knowing that he didn’t produce at an acceptable level. He isn’t fooling himself. He’s taking the blame, too. But he’s been the most vocal. He isn’t arranging press conferences. The media approaches him at his locker and he responds. If the subject was the weather or hockey, he’d talk about that instead. But yeah, when you bring it that strong, there’s bound to be some ruffled feathers.

Why didn’t the Orioles re-sign Nelson Cruz?
Speaking of leadership. Man, this is an old one. The Orioles wanted to bring him back on a three-year deal. They were leery of offering a fourth year based on concerns that he’d break down. Specifically, his history of leg injuries. That’s what I’ve been told. And he proved to be more durable than expected. As I’ve stated, I’d take whatever I got for the first three years, but it isn’t my money.

What steps, if any, are the Orioles planning on taking to shift their organizational philosophy towards analytics?
It’s “toward.”

What steps ...
Never mind. Despite an industry-wide perception, the Orioles don’t ignore analytics. However, they know that they need to increase their staff, their focus, without becoming too heavily reliant on them. Anything to gain an edge without spending big. Travis Snider was recommended as Nick Markakis’ replacement based largely on analytics and, well ... Showalter is somewhat accepting of them. He knows there’s a place and time. He’s allowed others to educate him on certain facets of sabermetrics. But he doesn’t enthusiastically embrace them.

What’s Travis Snider doing now?
Sifting through his stats this summer with the Long Island Ducks. And probably barking at the media for congregating near the lineup card.

What’s Colby Rasmus doing now?
You again? I don’t know. Riding a four-wheeler. Trading in his flip phone. Setting a rabbit trap. Something involving tobacco juice. I ... don’t ... know.

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