Because You Asked - Assignment Miami Beach

The current homestand is the longest of the season. I'd like to avoid carrying the heaviest mailbag.

Time again to empty it.

Same rules apply. You ask, I try to answer, sometimes you ask the exact same thing again and I decide whether to indulge you or shatter your hopes and dreams.

Confused by the title? Then you're new here. This is another sequel to the beloved 2008 original. I spend more time researching movie sequel titles and making sure I didn't repeat one than I do answering the mail. And in no way am I proud of it.

My editing is like my knowledge of 17th century literature. It's minimal. Practically non-existent. Style away, my friends. Write as long as you want. It's the internet. It won't break.

Also, my mailbag tosses free Orioles caps to fans and yours is charging $50 for a sweat-stained Kurt Birkins t-shirt.

Are the Orioles concerned about the lack of offensive production from the outfield over the last month?
They aren’t expressing it publicly and they keep winning, so they aren’t wringing hands. And it helps that Anthony Santander appears to be heating up. But Orioles left fielders were batting a collective .206/.298/.374 before yesterday, center fielders .190/.245/.387, and right fielders .241/.327/.483. They expect better from a healthy Austin Hays. They’re trusting Cedric Mullins’ track record but also sat him against right-handed starters in back-to-back games. And they made two roster moves after your question was submitted, recalling Kyle Stowers from Triple-A Norfolk, reinstating Hays, optioning Heston Kjerstad and designating Ryan McKenna for assignment.

Why option Kjerstad?
To get him regular at-bats again. If you’re gonna give someone the Kyle Stowers treatment, it may as well be Kyle Stowers. He can get more major league experience off the bench. Also, Stowers is a defensive upgrade and he hits left-handers. But it’s more about Kjerstad playing again.

Why does Ryan Mountcastle fare so much better versus Toronto than any other team?
That’s a fair question. He can’t explain it and he doesn’t want to jinx it. He was a career .330/.394/.619 hitter against the Blue Jays with 12 doubles, 15 home runs and 43 RBIs in 52 games before last night. Damage is done at Rogers Centre and Camden Yards. It’s done against different pitchers in different circumstances. Just one of those quirky things, I suppose. No one has been able to provide a solid theory. Some guys just beat up on certain teams. That’s Randal Grichuk in the corner, that’s Randal Grichuk in the spotlight.

Losing his religion?
Thanks for playing along, REM fans.

I wonder whether Cedric Mullins might benefit from a spell in Norfolk. I'm not sure whether that would help him but I still think he's an important Oriole. Your thoughts?
Mullins has two minor league options left. It isn’t unfathomable but I’d consider it an extremely bold move given his accomplishments, including the 30/30 season and All-Star selection. And how much manager Brandon Hyde loves Mullins’ defense in center field. I don’t know what playing in Triple-A accomplishes beyond confirming that he can hit Triple-A pitching. The Orioles made a couple moves yesterday impacting the outfield and he wasn’t one of them.

What about a six-man rotation in June?
Sure, OK. It’s under discussion and Brandon Hyde raised it as a possibility with only one off-day that month. It would solve the problem of fitting six starters in the rotation but you also must be careful about disrupting guys who might be more comfortable operating on four days’ rest.

What have you heard about the source of Cedric's problems at the plate? He hasn't been good at the plate for a full calendar year. Baseball-Reference says that since May 12, 2023 he's hit .207/.264/.378/.642 in 115 games. He's also had 16 homers over those games, so he can still slug, but the low .264 OBP suggests he's no longer seeing the ball well enough to hit major pitching consistently.
The question shouldn't be longer than the answer. I wish some people in Brandon Hyde's pressers would abide. Anyway, Hyde thinks that Mullins is pressing. Can’t blame him, right? I’m in the crowd that tosses out 2023 due to the two leg injuries. He just wasn’t the same player because of his health. We’re only 40 games into this season. I’m not ignoring his struggles, and it’s obvious that fans aren’t, either. But he just seems out of rhythm and is pressing to end the slide.

Who wins an MVP first: Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman or one of Colton Cowser/Jackson Holliday/Heston Kjerstad/Coby Mayo?
I’ll narrow it to Henderson and Rutschman. I’m giving Henderson the slight edge based on how he’s started, but Rutschman is breathing down his neck. And not only when they’re both drinking from the hydration station.

Are the O's considering acquiring a right-handed outfield power bat for this season?
I think they’re more focused on the bullpen. The outfield, though under-performing statistically so far, is pretty crowded.

Is Mr. Rubenstein considered the first utility owner? He kind of does a lot of things well for the organization.
Hoses down section 86, hands out caps to fans near the dugout, poses for photos. If he helps with the tarp, he becomes the Ben Zobrist of owners.

When are we trading for a reliever or two?
By the deadline. Could happen sooner. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale mentioned that the team has its eyes on the Cardinals’ Ryan Helsley, the Blue Jays’ Jordan Romano and the Astros’ Ryan Pressly, but that’s just naming a few. There isn’t a panicked rush but it’s always been an area that figured to be strengthened later.

When are you going to fill in for Mr. Splash?
As soon as I become a billionaire. I just need a little more time.

Why the angst from fans with the best record in the American League?
Fans have the best record? Phrasing! There’s always going to be angst and panic with this team. Expectations were raised through the roof after it won 101 games last season, so anything short of running away with the division is unacceptable. I have a friend who texts me late in games to complain about a reliever or a slumping hitter while the Orioles are ahead. I know people who treat a baseball season like it’s the NFL. And you can’t change them.

Realizing there’s no hard information on extensions, but any sense that Mr. Rubenstein will initially prioritize Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman for an extension? Is Gunnar the focus? Also, not mentioned much, but any feel for a surprise Kyle Bradish or Grayson Rodriguez deal?
I’d love nothing more than to spill the tea here, but I haven’t heard a peep about extensions. It’s not like I have information, but my Liptons are sealed. (See what I did there?) Obviously, Rubenstein understands the importance of locking up his own players and it’s a topic of conversation in the warehouse, but he isn’t that far into his run as owner. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a sudden flurry of long-term deals. I’d think Henderson and Rutschman would be the top priorities if it happens.

Do they really expect these young guys to do well not playing but like once every fifth game?
They know it’s a big adjustment going from every day at-bats in Triple-A to mostly sitting. There are just too many guys who are regulars in the lineup, like Colton Cowser, or Ryan O’Hearn against right-handers.

Why does a "dateline" usually leave out the date, then add a location? Seems unusual.
You seem unusual.

Do you like blue-color baseball gloves?
I find that it makes it easier to identify the pitcher from a distance. So yes.

How big of an impact do you feel Drew French has made with the pitching staff?
It’s really hard to say after 40 games and from a distance. I’m not in the pitching meetings. But I heard a lot of positive reviews during spring training. They like how he communicates. They seem comfortable with him. And it’s hard to argue with the results so far despite the rotation turmoil.

If you were the GM of an expansion franchise and could pick any current Oriole to start your team, who would you select?
Oh man. Henderson or Rutschman. Guess I’d go with the young shortstop.

Is Coby Mayo's defense the only thing keeping him from a call up to the majors?
There also isn’t a spot for him. The Orioles are set at third and first base. But an injury could open the door. I don’t suggest that you root for one, but I don’t see any other way at the moment that he gets the call. And especially with Jorge Mateo getting so many starts at second base, which puts Jordan Westburg at third. Did you see Mateo last night? The man could win a second Fielding Bible Award at a second position.

Do the O’s have a sports psychologist on staff?
Diamyn Hall is listed as the mental skills coach. He joined the organization this year from IMG Academy.

How are the ball girls and ball boys (or women and men) selected? Is there an age limit? I'm 76, have been Oriole fan since 1955, and I'd love a chance to do that job for a couple of games.
They hold tryouts. In the past they’ve stated that applicants must be 18 or older. You fit the “older” part. How’s your range?

Dillon Tate had a WHIP of 1.03, hitters were putting up a .167 batting average against him. Is he sending Mike Elias angry letters or is he just at peace and accepting that he has an option?
I’m sure Tate was disappointed, but he also understands the business. The bullpen is lacking in flexibility and he has options. That’s why he isn’t here. I don’t know about Elias’ mail, though I’ve swiped his newspaper at the hotel a few times.

They still leave newspapers outside the door?
No. I was lying and showing my age again. Also, stop being conversational because it still freaks me out.

Does Jorge Mateo know how much of a fan base he could have if he worked on his bunting?
That’s why more fans don’t embrace this man? It would be a nice way to take better advantage of his speed. That’s probably a better reason.

Best first four albums of any band. Go!
That’s not a question.

Best first four albums of any band? Go?
Eh, I’ll accept it. I’m pretending that you added, “Off the top of your head and without giving it much thought. Go!” Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning. That’s the quintessential quartet for me. But everyone is invited to submit their choices and I’ll also pretend that I considered all of them.

What exactly does a major league coach do? And don't say ...
Stop! I'd never! José Hernández is the Orioles' major league coach and he's had many roles in the organization. He’s in his 15th season as a coach. This is his sixth season on the major league staff. And he probably gets the least amount of attention. He talked to the media Sunday morning and I asked what he does. Here’s his answer: “Right now this year I’m helping Tony Mansolino with the infielders, doing ground balls, throwing BP and just helping everybody. (Anthony) Sanders with the outfielders, I help him, too. Just pretty much a little bit of everything.” If there’s such a thing as a super-utility coach, it’s Hernández.

What do the Orioles need to see in Coby Mayo's defense before they think he's ready to make his major league debut?
I’ll say again that there has to be a spot for him, too. It isn’t just about defense. But they want consistency. Make the routine plays. Be accurate with his throws, which we saw in camp. There’s still a debate over his future position. Do the Orioles keep developing him at third base or give him more reps at first and in the corner outfield? Seemed like they were leaning toward just third base in spring training but are wavering. There are no issues with that bat, though.

When is ownership going to open up the left field upper deck seats?
When the crowd size warrants it. It’s been done.

Dylan Beavers and Jud Fabian seem to be developing well. Are they trade candidates for a controllable closer down the line?
I don’t know about a closer, but they represent the kind of depth that can lead to a trade if they appear to be blocked. Let’s also keep in mind that Anthony Santander is a pending free agent and Austin Hays is arbitration-eligible again and making $6.3 million after winning his hearing. Cedric Mullins also is a free agent after next season and he’s making $6.253 million.

Could I possibly get the last four digits of your social security number along with your mother's maiden name? Asking for a friend.
This is probably a good place to stop.

If sharks developed the ability to breathe air and move on land but never developed legs, would humans still be in danger of sneak attack? And I'm not talking Chevy Chase land shark stuff.  I mean the real ones.
Thanks for clarifying. And this is definitely a good place to stop.

As O's have outfielders struggling, will Kyle Stow...
Orioles pushed to extra innings again and lose 3-2...

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