The Orioles headed to the West Coast this week and my mailbag stayed in Maryland. A three-hour indifference if you don’t care.
This thing fills up faster than my tear ducts during the last scene of “Field of Dreams.” Have a catch? Yeah, toss me the tissues.
Fans are curious about the trade deadline. Who might go, who might arrive. Buyers or sellers. Live and let die.
Now I’m winging it.
I don’t get it.
This isn’t the interactive part.
Here’s the latest sequel to the original mailbag, created many years ago from all the repetitive questions I kept receiving, and my desperate need for attention.
You ask, I answer, we share information and maybe a few laughs.
Just a warning: I didn't edit for clarity, style, length or brevity. I like my steaks rare and my mailbags raw.
Also, my mailbag uses two-ply toilet paper while your mailbag uses one-ply.
Anthony Santander seems to be a very good fit for the Dodgers as a switch-hitting outfielder right now with all of their injuries and in the future as a veteran influence for their up-and-coming international prospects. Do you think a package of Tony and, say, Yusniel Diaz would bring back a young starting pitcher prospect or two?
The Dodgers surrendered Diaz in the Manny Machado deal and his value plummeted over the years due to injuries. Don’t think they’d be targeting him. Santander should be able to bring back a pitching prospect of some magnitude. I’m not talking the No. 1 guy in a system, but certainly a good young arm. Teams check on his availability every year. The increase in walks and on-base percentage add to the appeal.
Which Orioles will Mike Elias most likely "dangle" at the trade deadline, like he did with John Means at the Winter Meetings?
Means wasn’t really dangled. Teams called and Elias naturally listened. No one is off the table. It makes sense to check whether a front office executive is going to blow back his hair with an offer. None did. OK, now that we got that out of the way … Santander and Trey Mancini are two chips. The bullpen always seems to be an area where moves are made or talks are held. Remember Paul Fry and Tanner Scott last year? I’m sure there will be tons of interest in Jorge López, but would they dare? Again, only if the return is too good to pass up. He isn’t untouchable, but he’s so important to the Orioles.
Jonathan Araúz had good at-bats in his first two games with the Orioles. His versatility on defense is also a plus. Ramón (Urías) is still a ways away from returning, but how do you see the roster adjusting when he returns?
So much can happen before that date. Araúz has to hold onto his roster spot. Tyler Nevin doesn’t play the middle infield and isn’t hitting right now, which makes him vulnerable. Richie Martin could be optioned. Just so many possibilities.
How many players can the Orioles call up in September?
Rosters expand from 26 to 28. Or 29 if there’s a doubleheader.
Could you foresee us being buyers at the deadline if we’re within 10 games of the wild card?
That’s such a good question. Ten seems too far away. Can I talk you down to five? I don’t see the Orioles moving prospects in exchange for a veteran, however the wild card standings stack up. I don’t think there’s a Jim Thome or Andrew Miller in their future. Not yet. They won’t risk mortgaging the future in 2022. That said, they’ll check the odds of making the playoffs. You can calculate it. It’s all over the internet. And here’s a realistic scenario: A team makes a controllable starter available, no rentals, and the Orioles decide to get more aggressive. They’d consider it because of the impact on 2023.
Do the Orioles foresee DJ Stewart playing in the majors again?
Do I foresee these two questions coming from the same person? Stewart could return if they need an outfielder and he’s on a roll in Triple-A. I wouldn’t count him out. But he hasn’t made the taxi squad yet.
How likely is it that the Orioles trade no one at the deadline?
Always a possibility. But I think they make at least one move, even if it’s a Shawn Armstrong-type trade like they did last summer.
The Godfather movies began in 1972, 50 years ago. Of the three Godfather movies, which is your favorite?
I’ve never seen one from start to finish, believe it or not. Came the closest with the original. I know III is considered a disaster. Many people think II is the best. I’m a "Goodfellas" guy myself. My favorite film. Everything about it is perfect.
Will the Orioles hire another starter?
Interesting use of “hire.” I guess a player is fired when he’s released. They’re always looking for starters. The waiver wire is one of the first orders of business each day. Also, Matt Harvey is serving his 60-game suspension and pitching at Double-A Bowie, with a spot waiting at Triple-A Norfolk. He could be in the rotation later this summer. His suspension runs through July 7.
Is it a given that Matt Harvey will join the O's when eligible? Would he be a help to the rotation or a hindrance as being able to get the younger guys up from Triple-A?
Trust me, Harvey isn’t blocking anyone. The Orioles won’t say, “Well, we were going to call up DL Hall, but he’d take starts away from Matt Harvey.” Harvey isn’t a given, but he’s an option if they need a veteran starter. Think of the number of times that the Orioles have scrambled to find a fill-in.
With rosters set at 26, are there extra players for away games now?
Still taxi squads. Teams can carry as many as five players. The Orioles have gone as low, low, low, low as one.
There’s a certain Flo to this mailbag. Am I right?
I see what you did there.
Which stadium has the best food and beer?
Unfortunately, I’m in the press box or media dining. I rarely hit the concession stands. It happened at Camden Yards in 2021 when the only options were concessions or food from home. I know the fish tacos in San Diego are legendary. I just heard that Oakland has the best chicken tenders, a stunner considering the stadium is known for having the worst concessions. Which explains the food trucks parked outside.
How far ahead of schedule is this Orioles team playing, compared to Mike Elias' expectations for 2022? How does their performance impact his plans in terms of spending money or trading prospects for talent to help the major league roster?
Keep in mind it isn’t his money. As for the rest, Elias never has offered a timeline for moving past the rebuild. He wanted the Orioles to be more competitive this year, for more prospects to make their debuts while others moved closer. Missions accomplished. I don’t think the Orioles are ready to become big-time spenders or buyers.
What are your thoughts on getting to .500 for the season? Do you think they will make it?
The chances look a heck of a lot better this year, but the division hasn’t gotten any easier. I don’t want to dismiss it with a wave of my laptop, but it isn’t counted among my predictions. I can, however, adjust on the fly after the break. The pitching just needs to hold up.
Hash browns or home fries?
Hash browns by a mile. Makes me laugh to think of the mornings at Bob Evans in Eldersburg when I’d have to remind Emily of the difference. “You want the hash browns. Not the breakfast potatoes.”
Where's our list of Orioles who hit a home run in their last at-bat with the team?
As a follow to the list of players whose first hit with the team was a home run? The fine folks at STATS looked it up for me, with their research going back to 1974. Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado hit home runs in their last games in 2018 before being traded. Oscar Salazar homered on July 12, 2009 and was traded. J.R. House homered on Sept. 30, 2007 and concluded his final season with the team. Albert Belle homered on Oct. 1, 2000 and was done playing due to his degenerative hip condition. Jeff Tackett homered on Aug. 2, 1994 and ended his career. Mickey Tettleton homered on Oct. 3, 1990 and ended his final season with the team.
Why have Austin Hays and Anthony Santander switched positions?
It’s usually based on the ballpark. Hays covers more ground. Hays is going to be the main guy versus the left field wall at Camden Yards – the Orioles moved it back and created a 90-degree angle, in case you hadn’t heard – but Santander has gotten some starts there.
Do any of the players or coaches read our comments that you’re aware of? If so, who?
If they do, they aren’t admitting it. Then again, I’ll admit that I’ve never asked.
Any chance the wall gets tweaked in the offseason?
Ah, the wall. It’s been seconds since someone referenced it. No. Construction is done on that section of the ballpark. But with concerts returning, maybe Pink Floyd can put another brick in it.
Man, you’re old.
That’s not a question.
Can teams negotiate with potential draft picks before the draft?
Pre-draft deals can be done. I’ve heard terms of a player’s bonus from sources before his name is announced.
What happens if a baseball team's scheduled flight is postponed and/or canceled due to so many flights being canceled across the country?
Find another charter ASAP. I’d think it’s less likely to happen with a team charter, but it’s not unprecedented.
What are your favorite casinos?
None. I’m not a casino guy beyond walking through them during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The movie was OK.
Which year is the next World Series parade scheduled for? Does Mike Elias know?
He hasn’t shared a date or mapped out the route.
What are the odds Jorge López is traded?
I can’t place odds but he isn’t untouchable. Make an offer. Not you, but a rival executive. He’s eligible for arbitration again after earning $1.5 million. Depends how much the Orioles want to pay him. Depends if a team really steps up because it needs a high-leverage reliever. Again, not untouchable.
When do you think Heston Kjerstad gets bumped up to Aberdeen?
Elias told me this week that it won’t be rushed, which should surprise no one. Kjerstad is off to a great start, fantastic news on multiple fronts. And every Monday seems to bring another round of minor league promotions. But it may be too early, especially with Kjerstad coming back from a hamstring injury. There’s no set timeline. Kjerstad has been a unique case since his myocarditis diagnosis, which is why the Orioles say they don’t have a playbook. And this is a long-winded way of me saying that I don’t know when he’ll move up.
If they added a fourth hot dog in The Hot Dog Race, which condiment should it have on it?
Gotta be sauerkraut, right? Or wait, chili!
Will we see Baumann in Balmer again?
Buddy Baumann was released.
Yes, I can see him riding that shuttle. Unfortunate for him, in a way. Not ideal for development. But he may be that guy who’s on taxi squads and called up to fill a hole. Beats the minors. He’s starting tonight for Norfolk.
Any updates on Grayson Rodriguez? I miss him.
He misses you, too. Asked me to tell you "hello." G-Rod is rehabbing his strained lat muscle in Sarasota. Nothing exciting. Elias said that “it’s going fine,” but there hasn’t been any reimaging. Most important is there are no setbacks.
I noticed in that "mic'd up" video the Orioles posted about Anthony Santander that he was working out at first base. Is that something he does frequently? Is this new? Is he going to get some run at first base eventually?
Santander takes ground balls at first base, but the Orioles don’t need him to play the position. They have Ryan Mountcastle, Trey Mancini and Tyler Nevin on the roster. This is a way to get Santander comfortable at first in case he’s needed for some reason. Just some extra pre-game work.
What happens to the mailbag questions that aren't answered? Do you have a storage facility loaded with bags and bags of questions?
I just dump them in the trunk of my car, leave it open and race down the highway.
What do you think this off-season looks like for the O’s?
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Can’t have too much. They’ll check the market again for starters to bulk up the camp competition. To at least have a veteran or two in Triple-A in case any of the younger guys are struggling or injured. Remember that John Means might not be ready for opening day. Otherwise, there’s always a versatile infielder and veteran catcher on the list. I’m not as confident in my payroll prediction. Elias has indicated that it will increase as the Orioles move closer to contention. But is that 2023? And how much? And where does it go?
Is peanut butter porter a beer or a dessert?
Can’t it be both? And this is probably a good time to stop.