A dozen immediate thoughts relating to Holliday's debut (move official)

BOSTON – The Jackson Holliday watch is over, and it’s a relief to fans and media.

Everyone knew it was coming, but when? The waiting is the hardest part. Tom Petty was right.

The Orioles obviously didn’t set an exact date and circulate it in public. Maybe it depended on his at-bats against left-handers and how he performed at second base. A specific number of ground balls or double plays aren’t botched and you get the kid on a plane.

He doesn’t need to be accompanied by an adult. He isn’t that young.

For media, it’s like an anvil hanging overhead. Waiting for it to drop – usually at the most inopportune time.

Be at or near a laptop if news breaks from another outlet. Don’t be driving. Don’t be sleeping. Don’t be showering.

Pay for the wi-fi on the flight.

Drop your guard and the anvil will follow, turning your torso into an accordion, just like the cartoons.

Some thoughts obviously crept into my skull after I filed last night’s story, like, good thing I didn't go back down to the hotel bar. I’m guessing that many of them are shared by others.

Holliday’s debut is on the road.

He won’t play his first game at Camden Yards until Friday night against the Brewers, stealing the attention away from the returns of DL Hall and Joey Ortiz. Sorry fellas.

Adley Rutschman made his major league debut on May 21, 2022 in Baltimore, but the Orioles brought up Colton Cowser on July 5, 2023 at Yankee Stadium, Gunnar Henderson’s first game was Aug. 31, 2022 in Cleveland, Kyle Stowers took his first swings on June 13, 2022 in Toronto while replacing Anthony Santander, who went on the restricted list, and Grayson Rodriguez threw his first pitch last April 5 in Texas.

Hall made his debut on Aug. 13, 2022 at Tropicana Field. The place was rockin’.

OK, not really. But Hall was a big deal.

Where does Holliday bat in the order?

He’s hit leadoff in the minors but Henderson seems entrenched in that spot. At least, until he isn’t.

My guess is that batting him first right away will be viewed as excessive. Let him get his feet wet first.

It wouldn’t be the first time. Rutschman and Henderson hit sixth, for example.

There’s always the possibility of the top three in the order being Holliday, Rutschman and Henderson, all of them former top overall prospects in baseball. Gotta be a first, right? But it’s much too early to press manager Brandon Hyde for an answer.

Think that’ll stop us?

Is Holliday in the lineup every day?

He ain’t here to platoon.

I don’t know about every single day, but I doubt that Hyde is playing matchups with the kid. And wasn’t the whole point of having him get more experience against left-handers to keep him in the lineup?

The Red Sox were supposed to start three right-handers in this series. They moved up Kutter Crawford for tonight with Nick Pivetta scratched. I don’t know about Thursday night.

I do know that Holliday won’t be on the bench very much unless he’s really struggling. And if that happens, he probably gets the Cowser treatment and is sent back to the minors.

What happens if Holliday slumps early?

Beyond the above graph, I’m wondering how quickly fans would turn on the club and complain that it rushed him.

Don’t pretend it hasn’t happened many times with other prospects.

What were they thinking, sending him back to Norfolk?

What were they thinking, bringing him up this soon when he clearly wasn’t ready? Now he’s ruined.

The time is ripe. Holliday isn’t too raw. And the offense certainly can use a hot bat, though we don’t know whether there’s a cooling process during that flight here.

The service time manipulation angle seems damaged.

The club could have waited three more days in an attempt to get that extra year of service time, or at least improve the odds. But he was told after last night’s game – checking the date, that’s April 9 – to pack his bags.

The Orioles remain eligible to receive a first-round draft pick, via the Prospect Promotion Incentive, if Holliday is chosen the American League’s Rookie of the Year.

Blah, blah, blah. Can we just focus on baseball instead of obsessing over business?

What’s the corresponding move on the 26-man roster?

Fingers point to Tony Kemp, also a left-handed hitting second baseman who seemed to be signed as a placeholder.

Terrific clubhouse guy and one of the nicest around, in or out of baseball. But Holliday could supplant him based on the whole left-handed hitting second baseman thing.

Kemp is 0-for-9, if that matters.

Ramón Urías is 2-for-22, but he’s out of minor league options. That last part could matter. The Orioles would risk losing him on a waiver claim.

Jorge Mateo is the other infielder impacted in some way by Holliday’s arrival. He’s played five games at second base, including four starts. But he began playing more outfield in spring training for this exact reason, to stick around after Holliday arrived.

And also, that whole elite speed thing.

Mateo is out of options, as well.

The 40-man roster is ready for it, and more.

I counted twice last night and again this morning to make sure.

The Orioles have two openings, not just one. Not none. Fitting Holliday is a breeze.

It could remain at two if the corresponding move involves designating a player for assignment, which feels inevitable.

Oh sure, they could option Jordan Westburg, but I don’t see that happening.

The double play combination is elite.

Henderson to Holliday to Ryan Mountcastle. Or Holliday to Henderson to Mountcastle. Or Ryan O’Hearn can be the first baseman.

Up the middle is amazing.

Who are we comparing it to in Orioles history? We can talk talent – defensively, the mind goes to Mark Belanger and Davey Johnson or Bobby Grich, for us older folks – or we can talk prospect status.

The infield on most days should hold high picks.

Holliday was a first-overall selection. Henderson was 42nd. Mountcastle was 36th. Westburg was 30th.

Mountcastle is the only holdover from the previous front office, taken as a shortstop before moving to third base, left field and finally first.

That’s some good drafting right there.

Maybe Connor Norby can play a little second base.

Norby has made one start at his normal position with the mighty Tides. Holliday was hogging it. And someone else was chosen if Holliday moved to short.

The path for Norby is clearer, and by that I mean, Diego Castillo was traded. No, seriously, the point remains that Holliday is the primary second baseman in the majors with Henderson set at short.

There are no apparent plans for Holliday to get some time at third. So Norby is going to keep moving around, with the outfield corners landing spots.

Norby extended his hitting streak to seven games last night. He’s slashing .400/.500/.800 during it, with three doubles, three home runs, 11 RBIs, six walks and 11 runs scored. He’s blowing up again at the plate, same as 2023.

What number will Holliday wear?

Finally, the important stuff.

The finalists appear to be 1 or 15, but there’s always room for a late entrant.

The Orioles have unofficially retired No. 7 for Cal Ripken Sr. Holliday looks like a 1 in many aspects.

We talked about it in spring training and he mentioned 15 because his dad, Matt Holliday, wore it.

It won’t be the 87 that he wore in camp, or the 18 he wore with Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. Hyde has dibs.

Who’s next?

Ah, the anvil is back. Keep the Advil handy.

Update: Holliday had his contract selected and will wear No. 7, his father's number with the Cardinals he wore 15 in 2009.

Kemp was designated for assignment.

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