Because You Asked - Jaws the Revenge

I’ve left the Windy City and decided to blow through another mailbag.

Better than trying to do it in the Steel City. Much heavier and much harder on the back.

This is the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original. You know the rules. You ask, I try to answer, you wonder if I did much editing and I scold you.

We want levity and don’t care an ounce about brevity. Who’s printing the T-shirts?

Also, my mailbag directs all spam calls to your mailbag.

Tyler Wells status? Or has that already been asked?
Does it matter? It’s gonna get asked again. That’s what we do here. He was cleared to play catch down in Sarasota, but he seems a long, long way from pitching for the Orioles, which he hasn’t done since April 12. That was a long, long shutdown and it’s the elbow, which is always concerning. The rotation certain could have used him, and the back end of the bullpen, too, while Craig Kimbrel was slumping. Rotten timing and rotten

True or false: The Orioles need to address the outfield's offensive production more than their bullpen come trade deadline. Which do you choose?
I say false. But if the group is still underperforming it becomes more of a possibility that they address both. I’d recommend an Andrew Miller type of move. He was hugely impactful in 2014.

If you were the general manager, what would your focus be at the trade deadline? Who would you be willing to part with? And don’t say “your mom.”
Already? And I'd never! I’d want at least one bullpen arm, preferably with options but it isn’t a deal breaker, and I might need a starter with John Means on the injured list again. Not sure I can wait till the deadline on that one. But I don’t wanna give up much. Is that a problem? And don’t come at me with Connor Norby. Yes, I know, he seems to be blocked. But man, he can hit. This is why I’m not a GM.

Are the Oriole looking for upgrades for bats in the outfield?
This is what Mike Elias told me a few weeks ago: “I think it’s too soon for that. Generally speaking, going back to last year since the team’s been a known contender, the needs have been on the pitching side. We have such a plethora of position players that we’ve been a little more content to just handle that internally. Certainly, that’s something, I don’t want to be too stubborn about and we’ll keep an eye on it as the next couple of months unfold, but it’s also not something we want to race to a conclusion. I think we’ve got plenty of position player talent in this organization right now and I think it’s a good idea to watch the guys in the organization that we have play.” Now, anything and everything is subject to change. Check back around the deadline.

Why is Kyle Stowers getting so much more of an opportunity than Heston Kjerstad? How does the club view Kjerstad in the long term? Are they showcasing Stowers for a trade or do they really not trust Kjerstad in the field? Is a taco a sandwich? A judge in Fort Wayne just defined it as a "Mexican-style" sandwich.
Not sure what the record is for most questions in a row and for breaking up topics, but stay near your phone.

That’s it?
I’m still recovering. Stowers might be getting a little more action because the other outfielders are still scuffling, though I’ll say again that there have been some encouraging at-bats. Colton Cowser playing more center field is opening a corner spot for Stowers. Kjerstad is still viewed as a big-time power bat. Stowers is better defensively, and he isn’t playing to draw interest from other teams – though if it happens and the right offer is made, you probably pull the trigger. A taco is not a sandwich and that judge should be sentenced to six months. Or to six meals a week at Taco Bell. Let nature take its course.

Do clubs provide entertainment and games in the visiting clubhouse? Like an NES with dusty games that keep freezing, Candyland with missing pieces, deck of cards with only 51 cards?
Card games are popular. War isn’t just an analytics tool. OK, seriously, many clubhouses offer diversions. The Orioles have a pool table, bumper pool table and a chess board. They also have a cards table, and some game that appears to involve lawn darts with rubber suction cups. Anyone familiar? The visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field in Cleveland has some old school arcade games like “Golden Tee.”

Why is it such a big secret to name the official scorer at OPACY? Steve Melewski said it’s not for public knowledge. He seems to be giving the Orioles quite a few home calls this season. Ken Nigro never had an issue giving Brooks, Belanger, Johnson, Grich or Dauer errors.
Steve is giving the Orioles home calls? Oh, the official scorer. There are four of them. And from my past experience, at least a few over the years didn’t want their names shared on social media. Why ask for the trolling? But I can’t say that’s a universal feeling.

Deep Dish "Chicago Style" or New York thin crust?
Start spreading the sauce. (I feel like I’ve received this question before and gave the same answer.)

Why don’t the Orioles call up Connor Norby?
Right now they’re set at second base, which is his primary position. You’ve seen Jorge Mateo, and you’ve seen Jordan Westburg when he isn’t playing third. Norby also is getting work in the corner outfield. He’s a right-handed bat, which makes him different from guys like Kyle Stowers and Heston Kjerstad, but there isn’t a clear path for him at the moment. And I stress “at the moment.” Before you mention Ramón Urías, his appeal comes from his defense at third, where he won a Gold Glove, and the versatility. He isn’t hitting, but also, he’s barely playing.  

What can you tell me about Matt Krook?
He isn’t one.

What can you tell me about Matt Krook as a pitcher?
He is one. He’s a left-hander acquired from the Yankees in February for cash considerations. He made four relief appearances with New York last year, his first in the majors, and it did not go well. He allowed 11 runs and walked six batters in four innings. But he tossed another scoreless inning Saturday for Triple-A Norfolk and lowered his ERA to 1.59. Krook is on the 40-man roster. Keep him in mind.

How did the Orioles scout and sign Albert Suárez? Looks like it was a really smart move, but who all was involved?
May I point you to the April 20 article that I wrote and that you clearly missed. Click here. Mike Snyder, the Orioles’ senior director of pro scouting, played an integral role. They had interest for many years. The scouting group, Ben MacLean and Will Robertson in particular, really liked him.

Why keep playing guys like Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays when they’re struggling? Same could be said for Anthony Santander.
Guys can’t heat up if they’re sitting on the bench. Brandon Hyde isn’t going to bury them in May. He needs them to get back to previous form, and we’ve seen some signs of it. But it only happens if they play. Now, check back in a few months if the numbers remain down.

Why does James McCann hate walks?
Hate is such a strong and ugly word. But he hasn’t drawn a walk this season. Yeah, it’s a little weird. I’ll predict at least one free pass before the All-Star break. How’s that?

Cade Povich has improved his walk rate considerably this season, which is great to see. However, as of writing this question he has not been tabbed as a solution for the rotation injuries. What is preventing the organization from calling him up?
Stay patient. It’s coming. And especially with the rotation taking so many health hits. He seemed like a strong candidate for Saturday, but the Orioles chose Albert Suárez and he responded with four scoreless innings. But the Orioles might need him for long relief with Cole Irvin back in the rotation. And that would open the door for Povich, who is continuing with his development at Triple-A. To exhibit better control. MLB hitters tend to chase less.

Are you more of a cat or dog person? How do you feel about tropical fish or birds? Are these questions too personal?
Definitely not a cat person. Grew up with two big dogs – part Collie, part Doberman, and a Husky. My family wasn't clever with names. One was Dobie (get it?) and the other … wait for it … Husky. My wife still laughs at it. “Why not just ‘Dog’ and ‘Other Dog?’” Anyway, no cats. And now, no pets. Not home enough to care for one. Bought tropical fish for my daughter way back in the day. Lots of work, all of it done by me, but nice. But I'm in a pet-free zone now except for the red-eared slider turtle that belonged to my wife. Big tank, big turtle, she’s gonna outlive us. She’ll get the house when we die.

When do you expect major impact changes from the new ownership team to begin for O’s business operations and submission of their $600 million stadium improvement plan to the MSA?
Anyone's projections are purely guesses or assumptions or hunches. I’d think by the offseason. I don’t know that the major upgrades can be done this quickly, and I’m talking new scoreboard and improved PA system just for beginners. And shoving the press down the left field line. At least let us finish the 2024 season behind home plate.

If you owned the new expansion Montreal Canadian Bacon Slices and you could pick one currently active major or minor leaguer to start your franchise, who would you pick and why?
First of all, love the name. Please provide an artist’s rendition of the mascot. At the risk of sounding like a homer, I’d lean toward Gunnar Henderson based on his elite tools across the board and being only 22-years-old. Bobby Witt Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr. (unless I should worry about ACL tears in both knees over the past few years), Julio Rodriguez, Corbin Carroll and Adley Rutschman wouldn’t be bad calls, either. I ran this past some beat writers and one of them said Shohei Ohtani. “He can pitch and he can hit!” Can the Canadian Bacon Slices afford to take on that salary? Paul Skenes is intriguing, but pitching is so risky, and I feel like the industry is waiting for him to blow out his elbow or shoulder.

Can you name a better Orioles left-handed power-hitting prospect than Heston Kjerstad since 1990?
Are we excusing Gunnar Henderson from this exercise? Am I risking having you run screaming into the night if I mention Billy Rowell? Do not ever forget about Calvin Pickering.

Do you work out with the players to maintain your guns? Are you allowed access to the O’s workout gym?
No and no. But I’ve worked out in the same hotel gym as Jim Palmer on a few occasions. He’s shown me core exercises to get me away from the biceps machine. Brady Anderson used to tell me that I could use the Ed Smith Stadium complex weight room, but I declined. I respect boundaries.

What Orioles prospects are getting noticed by other scouts and GMs outside of the top 10?
Hard to say without taking a poll, but I’ve talked to scouts who really like catcher Creed Willems, ranked 29th by MLB Pipeline, and wonder about his future in the organization with Adley Rutschman and Samuel Basallo. Infielder Frederick Bencosme (No. 27) got the attention of a scout who’s very familiar with the system, calling him “an interesting guy” and “a pest.” He also said, “The kid is really, really interesting to me as a utility-type guy. I bumped him up a little more. He does a lot of little things that’s going to help a club.” I should add that Bencosme committed his 12th error yesterday with Double-A Bowie.

Is Cade Povich No. 1 on the next starter up list?
I’d say that’s a very safe assumption.

Is there any chance Mullins goes back to switch hitting? Any insight where you have seen him in practice bat from the right?
I’ve seen no evidence of it. He’s putting all of his work and focus into batting better from the left side.

How often do beat writers/announcers have to renegotiate their contracts? Is it an annual thing or is there a term contract?
Contracts can vary but I think two years is typical.

What is the route for the Annual Baltimore Memorial Day Parade?
Through your living room. Move the furniture.

Why is Gunnar Henderson leading off? He is a No. 3 or 4 hitter. Adley Rutschman is a good No. 2 because he makes contact and does not strike out. You could say he is the best option to lead off and that may be true to a point, but he is a better option as a 3-4 hitter, and our lack of runs is the proof. So the question begs when will they slot him correctly?
Rutschman is striking out more and walking less this season, but yeah, he can get on base. So does Henderson and he has a much higher OPS and is faster. So let’s silence any Rutschman as leadoff hitter talk. Henderson is having an MVP-caliber season and shouldn’t be messed with unless there’s a left-handed starter. That’s when he slides down to cleanup. Ryan O’Hearn is having an outstanding season and I see no reason to move him out of the third spot against right-handers. Perhaps Rutschman could move drop later to the heart of the order if, let’s say, Anthony Santander isn’t back to his 30-homer, 95-RBI form, but Tony Taters began yesterday tied with Rutschman for second on the club in home runs with nine and tied with Colton Cowser for second in doubles with 11. He hit the go-ahead homer Saturday. Brandon Hyde can do more juggling later if the offense keeps going stagnant, but it’s May 27.

Is there any truth to the statement that Jorge Mateo has a better zero-to-sixty time than the new Corvette?
Yes. And he uses less fuel.

With your best guess give us your day in August when the Orioles announce the signings of Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson?
If you’re holding your breath, find a soft place to collapse.

Will there be more commercials with Cal Ripken Jr.? I liked it.
Yes. In this one, David Rubenstein removes Ripken from an ownership meeting and inserts Manny Alexander, who promptly gets picked off. Alexander sits down next to Ripken, who stares straight ahead.

So you don’t know?

Are there any Dominican Summer League prospects who are blowing up and getting notice?
The DSL hasn’t started games yet. Let’s revisit this one later.

What’s your take on the Mason Miller talk. Is Coby Mayo untouchable?
He seemed to be at the Winter Meetings from what I heard outside the organization. The bat plays. The defense needs work. I don’t think the Orioles are ready to package him, but I don’t have inside information coming from the warehouse. The Mason Miller “talk” is coming from people who are making up fake trades or just dreaming that it happens, or they’re reporting that he’s a “potential” target. The asking price is understandably high. There are cheaper alternatives that would also be impactful.

Is there any chance the O’s make an offer in free agency to Corbin Burnes?
There’s certainly a chance, but they’ll gauge the market and decide if it’s too costly. We don’t know how much the spending is going to increase under new ownership. Lots of assumptions out there when you hear “billionaire,” but don’t automatically assume that the Orioles are ready to enter bidding wars. We just don’t know at this point.

The MASN blog search tool might provide the strongest evidence to date that black holes exist.
That isn’t a question.

Does the MASN blog search tool provide the strongest …
OK, nice try. Not sure how a mailbag question got cut off like that, but let’s not overthink it. I’ll say that I rely on Google searches. Type in the topic and add my name or the site’s.

Which prospects are we going to package for some pitching, and how soon? Not counting that tomato can and 19-year-old Dominican kid we got for Garrett Stallings the other day.
Whoa. Tough, tough crowd. Mike Elias isn’t going to provide a list of prospects who are deemed expendable in the right deal. Man, I hate to bring up Connor Norby again but yeah, I’d assume he be on that list. Did I mention that he can and will hit?

Why has Red Lobster filed for bankruptcy?
A statement from the company said it had “a bloated and underperforming restaurant footprint” and cited a difficult economic environment. Maybe the footprints are from people storming out of the place after trying it once. Or they’re bloated from the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. And this is probably a good place to stop.

Could we occasionally get a freshly prepared or even a buffet breakfast? The constant leftovers for breakfast is getting, well, stale and old.
So are you. And this is definitely a good place to stop.

(Speaking of stopping, I'm done for the day. Steve Melewski is handling game coverage.)

Looking back on a strange road trip that ended wel...
Bradish tosses seven no-hit innings and Rutschman ...

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