Because You Asked - I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer

The Orioles are in Canada this weekend and my mailbag returned to the U.S. after getting held up in customs.

That’s why you won’t find me there.

Here’s my vow to you: I’ll go back to Toronto when the Orioles have playoff games at Rogers Centre. Or if Steve Melewski is sick. Or if I’m needed in the MASN broadcast booth, which happened last summer.

But that’s it.

Let’s dive into the mail and risk the paper cuts. You ask and I answer. It isn’t complicated, except for time spent searching for movie sequel titles that I haven't used since this started in 2008.

It also isn’t edited for length, style, brevity or clarity. But I do edit for Claire Danes.

This is my so-called mailbag, and it sprays Perrier from its hose while yours sprays rusty water.

What are the Orioles going to do with Grayson Rodriguez? He seems great at times but over his head at others.
They’re going to remain patient with him, as they should, and keep giving him starts, as they should. He has nothing left to prove at Triple-A and posting a 0.800 WHIP against minor league hitters offers no value. He had to figure out how to get through major league lineups. He has the stuff. That said, harsh beatings every five or six days would force the Orioles to make a change. But the kid has allowed four runs total in four of his eight starts. Patience is the theme here. I recommend it.  

Why now with the Anthony Santander at first base experiment? He got some time in spring training, but why did they wait until a month and a half into the season to try this instead of against that soft underbelly portion of the schedule?
The Orioles really missed out on a fun marketing opportunity. A soft underbelly promotion. So many possibilities. Santander works out at first base all the time. The club didn’t need to rest Ryan Mountcastle earlier in the season. Now, they’re exploring ways to get him off his feet, whether as the designated hitter or sitting on the bench. Expanding their backup options. And yes, opening up right field if someone else needs to play there.

Hi Roch, I really enjoyed your blog entry about the logjams in the minors, so here's a question for the mailbag. Donning your best imaginary GM cap (and I'm sure that's one spiffy looking hat) what combination of prospects and/or current 40-man roster players would you trade for a starting pitcher of the Corbin Burnes ilk?
Thanks. As for your question, this is touchy territory, and not only because I don’t know what rival GMs want in return for their aces. Not everyone agrees on the value of players on the other team. Also, I’m not real comfortable suggesting which prospects or players the Orioles should unload. I know trades are inevitable because of that logjam. The roster can’t hold more than 26 players. I’d be real uncomfortable parting with Colton Cowser or Jordan Westburg. There, I said it. But hey, make me an offer. Maybe I’m blown away by it. You also should know that I think highly of Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby. And don’t come at me with Heston Kjerstad. Does this help? No? I’ll pass the hat back to Mike Elias.

Are we seeing the real Jorge Mateo now?
I think the real Mateo is somewhere between the player who hit .347/.395/.667 in March/April and is (5-for-43) this month. If that’s the case, we still haven’t seen the real Mateo.

Why do fans not realize what a great player Mateo is and how he helps the Orioles win games?
Y’all are funny. He helps in the field. He can help at the plate when he’s able to get on base, due to his plus-plus speed. And he provides power at the bottom of the lineup. The issue is getting him on base consistently. Which is why I understand the frustration from some fans. And it’s not like the Orioles are low on shortstop prospects.

Do you expect the Orioles to continue to have a bottom five payroll for the foreseeable future?
I don’t see them winning many bidding wars. The payroll will climb steadily. It has to with arbitration, and the possibility of locking up young players long-term. Let’s start with Adley Rutschman. And as the Orioles leave behind the ugliness of the teardown/rebuild and attendance climbs, at least as anticipated, they should become better equipped and more inclined to spend in free agency or take on a big contract. But I don’t know when that time comes, especially with such steely focus right now on plans for Camden Yards and the surrounding area. And with so many teams spending wildly.

Now that we have the “sweeper," what about the “mopper"?
Isn’t that a reliever who enters blowouts?

Any timetable on John Means’ return?
Still July, whether before or after the break.

Will the Bird Bath last all year?
That’s the plan, unless there’s a water shortage or temperatures drop below freezing. In which case, Mr. Splash becomes Mr. Slushy.

Is there a Mrs. Splash?
If so, she’ll make an appearance later this summer. Someone has to stay home and take care of the Splash Kids. The droplets.

Would Colton Cowser and/or Jordan Westburg need an everyday role in order to be promoted, or would a situation that allows them to get a majority of starts be enough?
Majority rules. As long as they aren’t tied to the bench, which happened to Kyle Stowers after breaking camp. The handling of prospects varies. I think Cowser and Westburg, if they’re here, aren’t going to get much bench time.

Does Bryan Baker consider 12 or 13 strikeouts as a dozen?
Good one. It’s a thinker. Twelve, but I see and like what you did there.

I asked in spring training whether Tyler Wells would get more starts or relief appearances this season. What say you now?
Ugh. I hate that phrase. But I like you. Honest. He gets more starts. Thanks for letting me revisit my answer now that we’re in May.

What's going on with negotiating a new lease agreement for the stadium?
It’s all hush-hush. The Orioles aren’t going public with incremental details. Maybe it’s an All-Star break present. Certainly by the end of the year. How’s that for narrowing it down?

You aren’t really good at this, are you?
Thanks for phrasing it as a question. Next?

Who gets their first MLB at-bat, Cowser or Westburg? And don't say "your mom."
I'd never! An injury or trade could impact the answer. No fair. Westburg has played in a lot more Triple-A games, he was a very late cut in camp, and Mike Elias noted how the young infielder is close, so I’ll go with him. An earlier arrival by Cowser wouldn’t floor me, but I’ll say Westburg.

As the season continues, will there be less untouchable players? As in, if certain players do not produce to the level required to be a championship team, will they be traded off to allow space for players like Cowser and Westburg to be promoted?
I sense a lot of interest in Cowser and Westburg. Trades seem inevitable to make room for them. Unless, gasp, one or both are traded in a prospect package. I’m not predicting it. Just bracing you for every possibility.

Are you on the trade Westburg train like so many on SOR? All the guy does is hit and the SOR experts are usually wrong, so the answer is obvious.
So why ask me? But seriously, I am not on that train. But also seriously, who am I getting in return? Prospects are just prospects until they become proven major leaguers. Or something like that.

A relief pitcher comes in and gets the third out of the inning with the first batter he faces. At this point, he can be replaced without having to face two more batter. The same pitcher opens the next inning. Question: Since he wasn't removed after facing one batter the previous inning, does he have to face at least two batters in the new inning?
He does not. Once he faces the one batter to end an inning, the minimum rule no longer applies.

The team has their water celebrations, the fans have the Bird Bath. Is there some sort of water ritual in the press box, maybe as an excuse to get that one stinky colleague to shower more often?
I will spit on anyone who jinxes the pace of the game by saying, “Man, it’s really flying by!” Won’t solve the hygiene issue, but I’ll feel better.

Of the seven team cycles, how many came at home? I think Ripken was in Minnesota and I recall Pie scraping the right field wall for his triple at Camden Yards. Hays and Mullins were at home, but not sure about the other three.
If only the internet hadn’t been a fad. You could have looked it up. I kid, I kid. Hold on while I look it up. Brooks Robinson was in Chicago in 1960. Aubrey Huff was in Baltimore in 2007 and Jonathan Villar was in Baltimore in 2019. Ripken was in Texas in 1984. His 3,000th hit came in Minnesota.

When can I purchase playoff tickets?
Not before the All-Star break.

When the team has an off day, what are the players required to do?
Stay out of trouble. If they’re smart, they stay off social media. Otherwise, it’s their time.

When discussing the emergency catcher role with Terrin Vavra, were you tempted to mention Caleb Joseph?
I didn’t treat it with a Kevlar attitude. Get it? Cavalier, Kevlar.

This seems like a good place to stop.
That is not your decision.

Is Jackson Holliday moving "faster than a speeding bullet" through the farm system?
He’s already gone from Single-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen and he continues to dominate, which isn’t the norm. Young players routinely struggle after joining the IronBirds. Holliday isn’t just any young player. He’s almost a sure bet to reach Double-A Bowie later this summer. Could make his major league debut in 2024. That’s speeding.

If Gunnar Henderson's batting average is still under .200 at the end of May, do you send him to Norfolk or is he here to stay this season?
Henderson doesn’t get a free pass. He isn’t immune to an option. However, the Orioles are going to be very patient with him. He was pressing a bit. A scout from outside the organization made the same observation. But he’s making more solid contact (Henderson, not the scout). You see the jump in exit velocity. You see hits in six straight games, with a triple and single Wednesday. I think the leash is pretty long.

Any minor league acquisitions lately?
So funny that you ask! The Orioles acquired shortstop Robbie Glendinning from the Royals yesterday for cash considerations and assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. He must eat his meals in the Glendinning room. OK, that was weak. Anyway, he's 27, he's a native of Australia, he's a former 21st round pick of the Pirates in 2017 out of the University of Missouri, he's never played in the majors, and he's a career .263/.367/.421 hitter in five minor league seasons with 62 doubles, six triples, 36 home runs and 184 RBIs in 333 games. He's struck out 408 times. He can play anywhere in the infield.

Is that it?
Oh please. They also signed catcher Tim Susnara as a minor league free agent and put him on Double-A Bowie's roster, while returning Mark Kolozsvary to Norfolk. He's also 27, bats from the left side, is a former eighth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2017 out of the University of Oregon, has never played in the majors, and wasn't with an affiliated team since 2021 with Double-A Tennessee in the Cubs' system. Don't see him listed with any team in 2022. Has hit .211/.308/.307 in 223 minor league games.

Who on the beat would you least like to share a yard dog with?
This seems like a good place to stop.

You’re at a vineyard this weekend? How merlot can you go?
This is definitely a good place to stop. But I’ll break a rule and post some mailbag leftovers this weekend, since I’m away from the team and mostly away from my laptop.

Gibson on Grayson: "We all know how good he is"
Orioles' attempts at winning series short-circuite...

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