The mailbag collected questions in Boston and refused to board a flight to Arlington. Bought a seat for it and everything. Still, no.
That’s fine. I’ll share what I’ve got this morning, in the latest sequel to our beloved 2008 original mailbag.
Because I don’t want to be accused of tampering, I will continue to keep the editing to the bare minimum. Also, the bear minimum, which I guess belongs on a Cubs blog.
And finally, my mailbag runs the bases for free and yours must pay to get thrown out at second.
Do you think it's possible they kept too many players in camp for too long, which made it hard to give the actual regulars sufficient reps? Just trying to find a reason for the complete defensive flop we saw.
I feel like the regulars played a sufficient amount, and Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander got some reps in the World Baseball Classic. I don’t want to blame the conditions in Boston, but the cold, rain and wind presented some challenges. As if the outfield at Fenway Park needs more of them. But there were some botched plays in the infield, too. Maybe just write it off to a bad series.
Which pitcher(s) in the rotation have the shortest leash before facing being replaced/demoted?
I could spin this and state the obvious that Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin have the longest. No. 2 starter Dean Kremer shouldn’t be looking over his shoulder. But of course, there are limits. And I suppose Tyler Wells as the No. 5 starter would seem the most vulnerable on paper simply based on his placement at the end of the rotation. But then you see what he did on the mound last night when pressed into an emergency relief role - five scoreless and hitless innings - and, well, he earned his spot and it shouldn't be questioned. The Orioles will be patient and hope that eventually Grayson Rodriguez and/or DL Hall force them into some really tough decisions.
Which player do you predict that was assigned to the minors gets recalled to the Orioles this month?
Here was my response before last night's game: "I could answer this one a lot easier if I knew it was based on a specific injury. But I’m assuming that’s not in play here. I don’t know how Josh Lester would fit, but he’s boiling hot at the plate. The more likely move would involve a reliever who’s needed as a fresh arm. Joey Krehbiel was a very late cut. He’d be a good pick if you’re creating a call-up pool. Also, Spenser Watkins or Bruce Zimmermann." And now, my answer after Kyle Bradish took a line drive off his right foot and sustained a contusion, with preliminary X-rays negative for a fracture: "The bullpen really could use a fresh arm, though Wells was a hero with the coverage that he provided and how dominant he was against a lineup that scored 29 runs while sweeping the Phillies. Completely shut down the Rangers. Buried them. Not all heroes wear capes. The rotation has been adjusted with Wells no longer starting tonight. Zimmermann logged 4 2/3 innings on Saturday and Watkins worked five innings on Sunday, so they aren't immediate solutions. Kyle Gibson could move up to tonight and a starter would be needed for Wednesday. Or one is needed tonight. Manager Brandon Hyde told reporters last night that a decision hadn't been made. Grayson Rodriguez would be on normal rest Wednesday, but I'm not sure that they'd go there yet. So ... I don't know. Maybe Austin Voth makes a start and someone like Krehbiel comes up for the 'pen."
What time will the gates open on Opening Day at OPACY?
Noon. See you there. Well, not at the gates, but the ballpark.
Jim Palmer stated that Ryan McKenna should have used two hands to catch that pop up. I rarely see any player doing this. Why?
McKenna took a step more than he wanted while chasing the fly ball and had to reach back a smidge, which made it much harder to use two hands. But yeah, you very rarely see it done anymore, and especially when a player is sprinting for a ball. Must not be emphasized in spring training drills. Not sure that the bare hand near the glove would have saved McKenna from the drop, but we’ll never know.
Have any of the starting outfielders ever played a ball off the wall before?
I sense some frustration.
Are the left fielders' gloves juiced?
A lot of frustration.
So, seriously, what’s up with the defense?
It was just three of those days. There also were some stellar plays, including diving catches by McKenna and Austin Hays, and an outfield assist for Hays made possible by Jorge Mateo’s lunging tag. Gunnar Henderson showed off his cannon arm. But too many bad routes on fly balls, which might be due to the conditions or just some early hiccups. It will get better. Kyle Stowers and Ryan Mountcastle made terrific plays last night, but Mateo committed his second error.
Do you prescribe antidepressants?
Already? Check back with me at the All-Star break. I don’t prescribe them but check back anyway.
Is there a simple explanation for the 10 stolen bases in the first two games that set a record?
Mostly speed and big jumps. The Orioles timed the pitch clock nicely, and Boston pitchers pretty much ignored them. I get that the new rules limit pickoff attempts, but at least glance over to first. I’m sure they worked on it in spring training.
Could Coby Mayo get called up this summer?
He's at Double-A Bowie, so yes. Not a big leap. He'll make it to Triple-A at some point if he's hitting, especially if other infield prospects are promoted to the majors. His raw power is incredible.
Based on the number of errors the defense has made, do we fear that it is contagious throughout the organization and we could see The Bird fall off the top of the dugout during “Country Boy” or something?
Hopefully, Jim Palmer doesn’t fall out of the MASN booth and somehow land in the concession area.
Cakes on the griddle.
Sorry I asked.
That isn’t a question.
Reviewing our first three games all played in the cold, do you think MLB will ever rethink the home/away schedule for April having domed and Southern-based teams get weeks one and two so the players don't have to face bad/cold weather?
Never. It makes too much sense. Better to play in Boston, Chicago and Minnesota. The last team to lose all feeling in its extremities is awarded the tie-breaker for the wild card.
Is Adam Frazier going to be a "nugget"?
I think Adam Frazier is going to be an upgrade over Rougned Odor at second base and that’s why the Orioles signed him. And they liked his versatility, being able to play him in right field. It’s a one-year contract and maybe he’s flipped at the deadline if there’s interest and one of the infield prospects in Triple-A is beating down the door. But I think he’s going to contribute.
Why did the Orioles lose?
The other team scored more runs.
How much do the Orioles miss Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens?
A lot. Those are really important high-leverage relievers. They have track records, and especially Givens, who's always been so durable. The Orioles have pitching depth but it's pretty hard to subtract those two guys and not feel it. And there's often regression in bullpens. This isn't helping.
Which new rule do you think MLB will tweak and how soon? My guess is extending the time on the pitch clock.
Some adjustments are being made to the pitch timer, but it’s still 15 seconds with the bases empty, 20 seconds with runners on base, and hitters must be alert to the pitcher at the eight-second mark. The tweaks are more common sense based, like giving the pitcher more time to return to the mound after covering the bag or backing up home plate, giving the catcher more time to put on his gear after running the bases or making the last out. Giving an outfielder more time to get from, say, the right field fence to the third base dugout if he’s leading off the next inning. Give a hitter more time to remove his heart from his throat after a 100 mph fastball almost decapitates him.
Is the baseball juiced again?
Seems that way. I actually have no idea, especially after just a handful of games, but I wanted to use “seems”. It definitely was flying out of Fenway.
Looking at the ERA of our starters through the first series, does Mike Elias still think Grayson Rodriguez wasn't ready?
There’s no connection unless you’re saying, “Heck, even Grayson could fail to go more than four innings.” But that wouldn’t be a good reason to have him pitch in the majors. The bar has to be set higher. Also, Kyle Gibson, Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin were locks. They didn’t bump Rodriguez. In the end it came down to Rodriguez and Tyler Wells. And Rodriguez wasn’t sharp in his first start with Norfolk. He’s got the stuff and makeup to be a staff ace. A total stud. But might have to wait a little bit on that.
Have you heard any rumblings about any current Orioles sneaking out to check out Springsteen on Saturday night, ala Ponson, Erickson and Conine?
Ah, the Metallica trip from New York to Baltimore. A classic story. Glory days, for sure. Don’t know whether any of the players have tickets, and it's on Friday, but at least it’s a shorter ride if they’re out in the street. Or the backstreets, as it were.
Who will get more playing time throughout the entire season, Ryan McKenna or Kyle Stowers?
Man, that’s a tough one. McKenna is more likely to get into games late as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner, but Stowers could get more starts as a left-handed bat with power who’s been found in past prospect rankings. They aren’t assured of staying with the club all season. And we must consider how the Orioles will make room if/when Colton Cowser is ready. So yeah, that’s a tough one. I’ll just blurt out Stowers, though we barely saw him in Boston. One pinch-hitting appearance in the third game. He did start last night in Texas. So yeah, Stowers.
Who is going to win the season series, Ketchup, Mustard, or Relish? It will not be my mom.
I'd ... oh. Don’t bet Relish. I’ll guess ketchup. But I am not here to encourage wagering.
What improvements/milestones are they looking for from Jordan Westburg to trigger a callup?
A spot needs to open. So, improvements in open spots. Also, just some more at-bats and infield work. He received 413 plate appearances in Triple-A last summer, so we’re not talking much. Cutting down on the strikeouts would be good. But he was really impressive in camp. The ball explodes off the bat.
How long will James McCann be out?
Per reports out of Arlington yesterday, McCann hit on the field and ran the bases yesterday. Oblique is much improved. Said he’s on track and making progress every day. He’s eligible to come off the injured list Thursday, which is home Opening Day. Shouldn’t be very long beyond that if he isn’t quite ready.
Surprised that Jackson Holliday returned to Single-A Delmarva?
No. He’s advanced, for sure. The Orioles invited him to major league camp at age 19 and he impressed everyone. But he only played in 12 games with Delmarva last season and 20 games total as a professional. It isn’t outrageous to keep the kid with the Shorebirds for at least a short period and bump him to High-A Aberdeen. Again, he’s a one/one but only 19.
I’ve heard that life on the farm is kinda laid back. Can you confirm this?
It’s kinda laid back if you aren’t the one getting up at 4:30 every morning.
On average, how many days per week do the O’s take team infield-outfield, or is it all just BP with some side grounders to infielders?
I don’t have an average amount, but they arrange the occasional early drills beyond just what we see in batting practice. It isn’t just fungoes and shagging flies while hitters are in the cage. Catchers will gather early. Infielders will take grounders, sharpen the execution of double plays, etc.
Why are they called double U’s and not double V's? Just look at it. They are clearly two V's.
This seems like a good place to stop.
If sharks had arms, do you think they'd be short like the T-Rex?
This is definitely a good place to stop.
Why did the T-Rex go on the injured list?
Because he was dino-sore. And now, seriously, we're done.