Because You Asked - Brave New World

On Sept. 24, 2014, the Orioles defeated the Yankees 9-5 in the Bronx to move 32 games above .500. They lost their next three, won 1-0 in Toronto and finished the regular season 96-66.

The 2023 edition is 77-47 heading into tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, with a chance to soar 31 games beyond the .500 mark for the first time in nine years.

Can’t clip those wings, though strains happen. And be careful with that back.

I remind myself of this daily as I hoist my mailbag. Lift with the legs, the only exercise they get.

I’m lightening the load by answering a few more questions this morning, the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original, while my body adjusts to East Coast time.

The difference in hours won’t change my editing approach. I don’t do much of it. Let’s keep it real and not get bogged down with disclaimers.

The clarity, length, style, grammar, brevity and Bravo are fine. Don’t sweat it.

Also, my mailbag flies direct and yours makes three stops after numerous delays.

It seems most likely that John Means, DL Hall, and Austin Voth will be rejoining the team soon. Assuming all three are added to the roster, and with one more spot for a pitcher becoming available on Sept. 1, who seems most likely to be removed from the active roster?
Ah, predicting who loses jobs. Always a fun endeavor. And you forgot Danny Coulombe and Tyler Wells. People much smarter and richer than me are working on it. Nick Vespi is a shuttle guy, so he could be headed back down. I’m curious about Shintaro Fujinami, who tossed a scoreless ninth inning Sunday and throws 102 mph but has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) and walked nine batters in 14 innings. He can be optioned. Would they dare? Jacob Webb is out of options and apparently allergic to runs. Maybe he gets them if someone scores. (Sorry). I think he stays. I know, I’m just as confused and curious as everyone else.

You see the O’s attempting to resign Jack Flaherty and Kyle Gibson or are they gonna get the Jordan Lyles treatment?
They could attempt to re-sign them. Said hi to the hyphen and become friends. Yes, it’s possible that they negotiate with one or both. I won’t believe that the club spends big on pitching until it happens, so money is always a consideration. And we don’t know how many open spots will exist. Like, for example, does DL Hall again report to spring training as a starter candidate? Is Tyler Wells staying in the rotation? I assume “yes” to both. But stuff like that.

If players like Kyle Stowers, Terrin Vavra, and Bruce Zimmermann are never going to be playing again in the majors, why didn’t Mike Elias trade them during the trade deadline?
Whoa, whoa! Who said they aren’t playing again in the majors? And if that’s the perception, I don’t see why any team would trade for them. But the Orioles aren’t kicking them to the curb. Also, important to note that making a trade isn’t as simple as, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ Otherwise, another reliever would have been acquired at the deadline.

Why do baseball writers use “an FIP” when FIP is always pronounced as a word, so it should be “a FIP”? I’ve done a lot of research and not found a single person who talks about baseball stats who says the individual letters.
Got a lot of time on your hands? I kid, I kid. I suppose it’s like saying “an RBI” instead of “a RBI.” Also, unlike many baseball writers, I don’t flip over FIP. Couldn’t tell you the last time I referenced it.

How much are the players watching other games and standings?
I don’t see guys sitting in recliners and sofas staring at games on the clubhouse televisions. Maybe a few glances, but they mostly are socializing, doing puzzles, playing cards and chess, eating. I’m sure that they check the standings and the scores that are posted during games.

Do you expect Tyler Wells and DL Hall to be up for Sept 1?
Only one pitcher can be added to the expanded roster, but of course, room can be made for others. Yes, I’d expect them on the staff by September.

What are the chances that Jackson Holliday gets called as the 28th man? If he gets called up, I would expect him to start at short.
I reflect back to someone this weekend in the organization, in the midst of all the Holliday speculation and rumors, blurting out, “What’s wrong with Gunnar Henderson at short?” Answer: absolutely nothing. I’ll say again that I’m hesitant to declare that it’s not happening because I hate being wrong, but I don’t expect the 19-year-old to go from Delmarva to Baltimore in one season. Finishing in Triple-A would be amazing. They don’t need him. There, I said it. He’s such a special talent, but there isn’t the Manny Machado obvious need like in 2012. Someone mentioned to me how his speed would be useful off the bench, especially in the postseason. That’s why Jorge Mateo is here. Ramón Urías plays more positions if you’re thinking utility. Joey Ortiz is a plus defender at short, who’s batting .338/.392/.534 with 40 extra-base hits in 77 games with Norfolk. I think he’s more likely to get the call again. I “think.” And I haven’t heard any serious talk about Holliday. A speculative line or two tossed in a story, and some people are running with it. Like, “it’s being discussed.” Yes, among fans and media. But what about the team? But hey, we’ll see. Prove me wrong and I’ll happily cover his debut.

Who is the most likely rookie Oriole to compete for ROY in 2024: Joey Ortiz, Jackson Holliday or Colton Cowser?
Cowser must retain his eligibility. He could rejoin the team in September, if not sooner, and the cut-off is 130 at-bats or 45 days on the roster. He’s at 61 and 39. If these are the three, I’ll say Holliday and assume he’s bouncing between short and second, with Henderson bouncing between short and third, and Jordan Westburg playing second, third and short. And Ortiz at short, second and third. And … Wow, this team is deep in young, flexible talent.

Is there room for Coby Mayo on this team?
Speaking of young talent. Nice segue, conversational mailbag. I think there’s room for Mayo but I also believe that Mike Elias will keep listening to offers that include Mayo. It’s a 26-man roster, not 36. Other teams know there’s a crowd building. Mayo could play some third base, serve as designated hitter, slide over to first base. But the folks who were ready to non-tender Ryan Mountcastle and had Mayo at first might want to rethink it. In case you haven’t noticed what Mountcastle is doing these days. Yeah, I see you.

If you could set up your rotation, who would pitch in the first playoff game?
Has to be Kyle Bradish, right? He’s evolved into the ace. Tied for lowest ERA in the American League at 3.03. Many of us assumed Kyle Gibson based on his veteran status, experience, Opening Day assignment. But if we’re going by results, Bradish seems to be the guy.

What's your starting rotation for a playoff series?
Oh sure, kill the goose laying the golden eggs over here. Can’t we just pause at Bradish? Guess not. We could be witnessing a competition. Gibson and Jack Flaherty would seem to be safe bets. But what if one or both have miserable Septembers? And what if John Means and/or Tyler Wells get back into the rotation and are dealing? What if I just keep asking questions and you answer them?

Not how this works.
Not a question.

Have any of the other Orioles Twitter insiders asked for a re-count of the Best of Baltimore award?
Wouldn’t surprise me. But hey, it’s an honor just to be nominated. It just won’t get you a plaque.

Who you got for September callups? And don’t say “your mom.”
I’d never! We must remember that rosters expand by only two players and only one can be a pitcher. Stupid rule. Make it 30 players, and as many pitchers as you want. What are we doing here? Forty was ridiculous, especially without the three-batter minimum rule for relievers. Joe Girardi would come out of the dugout after every batter. Anyway, this is a complicated question because some players we debate might already be here this month. And the Orioles can switch out players in September. Doesn’t have to be the same two. But Colton Cowser seems to have worked through his issues at Norfolk. Joey Ortiz would be useful off the bench for his defense and versatility. I don’t know whether the Orioles would bring up Heston Kjerstad this late for his major league debut, but man, the bat is so intriguing. John Means, Tyler Wells and DL Hall are expected to arrive at some point. Means definitely won’t get here before September.  

If you could play any sport for a living at the highest level, which sport would it be? MLB, tennis, MMA, NASCAR or anything?
What makes you assume that I don’t already do that? Nothing that requires cardio. Oh wait, I'm already at a high level in this scenario. Golf seems like a sweet gig. Body doesn’t take much punishment, you can play well past your “prime” years. Of course, being a star baseball player has its appeal. And you aren’t exposed to the winter weather. NASCAR is out. I have a tendency to leave my turn signal on, and it’s embarrassing.

What day in September will Holliday be called up? Labor Day would be appropriate, don’t you think?
Can you wear a white uniform after Labor Day? Again, I have my doubts about the Orioles promoting the kid. And why is everyone assuming that he’d easily make the jump from Double-A. Top prospects can struggle early. We’ve seen it here – with the Orioles, not the mailbag. And those players were older and came from Triple-A. But OK, maybe the tools are too good to leave down in Bowie.

How long do you think they’ll continue with this six-man rotation? Seems like it is taxing a tired bullpen.
That’s the gamble. Gain a starter, lose a reliever. But the Orioles needed a way to control innings with October baseball on the horizon. Heck, just getting some guys into September was looking like a challenge. Kyle Bradish seems to be thriving under these conditions, as Brandon Hyde mentioned in Oakland. The expanded roster will provide an extra reliever if they can wait that long. But this is sort of like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Is there any way to alert the website MTC guys about the constant “authentication” error when you click notifications and try to reply back to someone? It’s persistent. Maybe it’s a feature, and in that case, my bad.
I had to Google “MTC.” That’s how computer savvy I am. No way I’d ever sell MacBooks. Anyway, consider them alerted. Right here, right now.

Who is the Orioles' MLBPA player rep this season? And in his opinion, what are the two or three current most urgent issues players face?
John Means remains the rep. I checked with a teammate, who was pretty sure. Then he asked a couple players, who confirmed it. That’s how little Means is used in this role since we’ve moved past COVID and there’s a new collective bargaining agreement in place. If there are still urgent issues, they didn’t do it right. Means wasn’t in Oakland, making him unavailable to comment on union matters.

No doubt that Elias will want to upgrade the pitching in the off-season. He has plenty of exceptional prospects that he can trade for pitching. However, do you think they would spend big for a TOR free agent?
A free agent in Toronto?

Easy there. OK, top of the rotation. Got it. Spending big doesn’t seem like a path that ownership is ready to take. Increasing payroll, yes. But “big” in Baltimore is a Tom Hanks movie. That’s why I think, other than a Kyle Gibson type of signing, it’s more likely that the Orioles attempt to trade for one. They did at the deadline, going after starters a tier above Jack Flaherty. But we always circle back to which prospects Elias is willing to surrender. Teams are pretty bold with their requests. Like, stop asking about Holliday. Let’s start there.

So, what is the most impressive statistical record in MLB?
Hack Wilson’s 191 RBIs always comes up, as it should. I will keep nominating Cy Young’s 511 wins. That record will not, cannot, be broken. It’s impossible. Period. OK, comma, and not just because that’s a lot of victories. No starter will get the ball enough times to take a crack at it. He appeared in 55 games in 1891 and registered 43 complete games. Need I say more?

What will the decibel level be when Félix Bautista enters to Omar's whistle in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series?
You think it’s going seven games? Save the trolling for Twitter. Oh, sorry. For X.

What players do you think the O's will let go of after the season is over?
Ah, we’re back to predicting who loses jobs. Sweet. I’ll just say that the Orioles must create room in the infield and outfield. I wrote and talked about teams checking the availability of Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo back in spring training, anticipating that they could be traded. Didn’t happen. Is there room for one or both in 2024? The club isn’t running low on middle infielders and utility types. Adam Frazier will be a free agent, so that’s one potential opening.

Do you ever get bored and ban/unban someone for fun?
Having trouble replying to my reply? Awkward.

I don’t understand what is happening to DL Hall. He went to the FCL to improve his velocity in a non-competitive environment. Pitched in a game and then was sent to Norfolk on Aug. 5. And he has essentially disappeared. Has he been shut down because of an injury or a reset?
Your internet must be shut down. Try resetting it. Hall has made five appearances this month and allowed two runs with 15 strikeouts in 6 2/ 3 innings. He’s expected to join the bullpen next month at the latest. Isn’t stretched out enough to start.

A train leaves the Norfolk station and travels 50 miles per hour heading to Baltimore with Ryan McKenna on board. Fifteen minutes later, a second train leaves the same Norfolk station and travels toward Baltimore with Colton Cowser, on parallel tracks at 60 mph. How long will it be before Cowser catches up to McKenna?
McKenna is known as the Ferrari. He never travels 50 mph. And this is probably a good place to stop.

If you're moving to the country, are you gonna eat you a lot of peaches?
This is definitely a good place to stop.

A look at a solid recent pitching run, plus plenty...
Heading home after a series sweep to end the road ...

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