Because You Asked - Now You See Me 2

The mailbag won’t enter Canada unless it’s the postseason, but Florida is fine.

The Orioles begin another four-game series tonight at Tropicana Field and hope to do better than a split. The bar is raised. It wasn’t that long ago that winning twice against the Blue Jays would have been cause for celebration.

Let’s get to the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original, which is always worth celebrating. You know the rules. You send ‘em and I answer ‘em, with little to no editing.

Your level of clarity won’t ruin the hilarity. Your particular style won’t get me riled.

Also, my mailbag is at home beneath the dome and yours is allergic to fake grass.

What's going on with the rotation?
Cole Irvin is starting tonight, followed by TBA, TBA and TBA. Sounds like a heavy workload for TBA. Is it an opener? But seriously folks, Irvin is on normal rest and Kyle Bradish is pushed back until whenever.

Is John Means a free agent at the end of the season? If so, does that mean he’s rehabbing the elbow on his own next year and hoping for a big league deal the following season?
Means is a free agent. The Orioles supervise and pay for his rehab during his free agency. The team takes care of him.

Does John Means get another major league deal or does he settle for a minor league contract?
That’s a good question and the media’s been debating it. I’ve heard plenty of opinions. It would need to be a multi-year deal since he isn’t pitching for at least half of the 2025 season. That’s the tricky part. With reliever Nate Webb, he underwent Tommy John surgery during spring training 2023 and the Orioles signed him to a two-year minor league contract. He was about to join an affiliate last month but blew out his Achilles tendon. The June surgery for Means really cuts into his availability in 2025. The Orioles gave Means a two-year contract worth $5.925 million in May 2022 after his first Tommy John procedure. Seems like a similar arrangement could be made.

By the Orioles?
Oh, we’re conversational again this morning. Cool. Yes, that’s possible. They have a history.

I say $500 million for 15 years for Gunnar Henderson. That's an investment that pays off, right? See if he'll take it.
I’ll ask him later and pass along his response. Should I also alert ownership?

My son asked, are players allowed to bring cell phones in the dugout?
Bubble Charms and TikToks of cute puppies and Taylor Swift have to wait until they get back to the clubhouse. I’m partial to Wordle. “Adieu” is a good start word. Not that you asked.

Would the Orioles keep Cedric Mullins around as a fourth outfielder and late-inning defensive replacement before they sent him to the minor leagues? Would they consider either one of those things or just have him continue to fight through it and hope it turns for the better?
Manager Brandon Hyde’s usage of Mullins already has changed. Mullins isn’t starting every night and he’s been removed for pinch-hitters, even against right-handers. I’d think that Mullins, whose defense in center field has high value, isn’t in immediate danger of being optioned. But it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Why Connor Norby instead of Jackson Holliday?
Norby is a right-handed hitter who is replacing Jorge Mateo, who is a right-handed hitter. It also could be an indication that the promotion is temporary and the Orioles didn’t want to send down Holliday again. And Norby earned a shot.

When is Holliday returning to the majors?
This one gets asked a lot. If only there was a good answer. My guess is later this month. I’ll go with that. As long as he keeps hitting. He’s on another nice roll. Does an outfielder vacate the active roster? Jorge Mateo seems secure and Ramón Urías plays more positions and backs up at third base.

Would you say there is a different "feel" to the organization and/or gameday stadium experience with the new boss in charge?
Honestly, you wouldn’t really notice if not for David Rubenstein’s occasional cap tossing near the dugout. There’s the excitement that comes with a potential influx of cash, but we haven’t seen evidence of it yet. It’s early. Right now it’s just games played like any other season, unless we’re counting live hot dog races. Relish those moments. 

There was a nice discussion here last night about the possibility of the Orioles signing Corbin Burnes. Personally, I think the Orioles are in a good position to keep Burnes, but there are other teams capable of signing him. Right now, what do you think the chances are of Corbin Burnes remaining an Oriole after this season?
A nice discussion? Must not have been politics. Burnes is happy here. He likes his teammates and being on a contender. He certainly appreciates the defense behind him. But it comes down to money and we don’t know whether the Orioles suddenly are going to jump into bidding wars for free agents. We don’t know whether they’d be comfortable committing a huge chuck of payroll to pitching. It’s risky and getting worse with all of the elbow injuries. Burnes wants to test the market. He’s been quite open about it. My guess is he’s one and done with the Orioles – perhaps taking his World Series ring with him.

Who do you think will make the All-Star team?
It would be an absolute stunner if Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Corbin Burnes aren’t flying to Texas. Henderson and Rutschman could lead their respective positions in votes. So I’m saying at least three, with the possibility of a few others. Jordan Westburg could be a dark horse. Let’s check back on Ryan Mountcastle’s numbers and how many saves Craig Kimbrel amasses. Kyle Bradish sure had that All-Star look before his last outing. I’m already anticipating Henderson’s invitation to the Home Run Derby and the angst over ruining his swing.

Take out all Orioles bias, would you rather start your team with Elly De La Cruz or Gunnar Henderson?
No disrespect to De La Cruz, but come on. And I ain’t worried about bias accusations.

Last night, the broadcast mentioned Brandon Hyde joking about how Gunnar Henderson does an epic bat toss after every walk and some of them had almost taken him out. Is it just like, "Darn it, I wanted to swing" thing? Or a "Heck yeah, I'm on base?” Is he just trying to throw his stuff as far as possible to save the bat boy steps?
I wrote about Hyde saying that he almost got hit. Thanks for reading. This is what Henderson told the media in Toronto: "It’s just a habit. I think it kind of stemmed from just how quick the game is going and just trying to, I guess, get to first base as quick as I can. Just help the guy getting the bats, he doesn’t have to run as far. I usually put on two sliding mitts now, so, yeah, the game definitely speeds up on you. So, I try to get there as quick as I can and not have to wait on the guy to come get the bat and stuff. It has kind of stemmed from that and everybody is kind of taking it by storm here. I enjoy walks. For me, I treat them as good as I hit because I get on base for the guy behind me. I like running the bases too, so if they hit a double I like trying to score from first. I enjoy getting on the bases and just trying to help any way I can.”

Assuming one will be packaged at the deadline, can you handicap the prospect(s) most likely to be dealt between Connor Norby, Coby Mayo, Heston Kjerstad and Kyle Stowers?
That list might be fluid. An untouchable one day can suddenly be on the table. I still believe that Mayo is the least likely, though the lack of a set position, the defensive uncertainty, makes me wonder sometimes. But that bat … And here we are again, back to Norby being blocked at second base and becoming more and more attractive to other teams as he climbs to No. 6 prospect status in the organization via MLB Pipeline. I wonder if the Orioles would move Kjerstad, once deemed unthinkable, because of their young outfield depth and where he ranks defensively among the group. Or whether they see that Anthony Santander is a pending free agent and Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays are a year away and also having disappointing seasons, and decide that they need to hold onto Kjerstad and Stowers for later. Yeah, a pleasant problem.

What does it cost the team to “purchase the contract” of a player at Norfolk?
I like “select.” It seems more accurate. As far as money goes, it’s the difference between a minor league salary and major league coin.

What brand of beverage does your mailbag brew? Rolling Roch?
I don’t get it.

That’s what she …
That’s not a question. Kinda rude, too.

Is there any substance/evidence behind the rumors that James McCann is now Corbin Burnes' "personal catcher,” or is it just the way the schedule lines up?
Hyde doesn’t seem too keen on personal catchers. McCann tends to catch with the other team starting a left-hander, allowing Adley Rutschman to “rest” as the designated hitter. And when it’s a day game after a night game. Couldn’t help but notice that McCann was behind the plate this week with the Blue Jays starting right-hander Trevor Richards, but he was an opener. Left-hander Génesis Cabrera replaced him. McCann also was behind the plate for Burnes’ previous start, and the opposing pitcher was right-hander Kutter Crawford. And the start before that, when the opposing pitcher was right-hander Chris Flexen. And the start before that, when the opposing pitcher was right-hander George Kirby. Oh crap, maybe it’s true.

Are you permitted to bet on baseball or would you face a lifetime ban and be denied eligibility to the Hall of Fame?
It’s strongly discouraged, and not only because I’d lose every paycheck.

Did Jorge Mateo show signs of a concussion or was the IL stint just a precaution? Or maybe it’s mandatory when you get hit in the head.
He underwent tests and the concussion was confirmed. Not mandatory. I’m not sure what they check for in those tests. I sustained a concussion many years ago, like in the late ‘80s. Kept asking why my tooth was chipped. Didn’t remember any details about my night. My friends thought that was a bad sign and forced me to go to the hospital. I doubt that Mateo asked, “Who’s Cedric Mullins?” But there must have been other reasons to put him on the IL.

MASN showed Mike Elias in the stands the other night. He had AirPods in. What was he listening to? My guess was the 1987 Bill James Abstract Audiobook, narrated by Vin Scully. Can you find out?
It’s on my to-do list. Right after checking whether the tarp is actually made out of Fruit Roll-ups.

Down by one, bottom of the ninth, two on and two out. Who do you want at the plate? Jordan Westburg for me.
That’s an interesting choice and I don’t hate it. He has good at-bats. But I’m gonna give the more obvious answer and say Gunnar Henderson. Adley Rutschman also rates highly, speaking of good at-bats.

The fans really got into the live hot dog mascot race during the game on Memorial Day. Might we see a more Baltimore-oriented theme in the near future? Natty Boh guy vs. Francis Scott Key vs. John Waters? Maybe some characters from “The Wire?”
I love both of these ideas. Or traffic jams on 695 vs. 83 vs. 95. If you don’t mind five-hour games.

Who are the Orioles going to draft next month?

And don’t say “your mom.”
There it is. They have the 22nd overall pick in the first round, and also the 32nd from the prospect promotion incentive. A lot harder to predict when it isn’t one or two. Bleacher Nation’s early mock has the Orioles selecting Illinois prep right-hander Ryan Sloan. Here’s what I know about him with a Google search: (crickets)

Where is the School of Roch penalty box located, just in case we want to send cards to classmates in detention.
Third stall in the left field upper deck men’s room.

After they add all the new premium seating areas to the ballpark, where will they put the press box?
I’ll be filing my stories from the fourth stall. And this is probably a good place to stop.

Now that we've had the International Whistle Champion, any word on the next anthem performer? There's a guy named Mr. Methane who can …
This is definitely a good place to stop.

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