The first post-Winter Meetings mailbag is here. It got lost at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
We sent out a search party and found it. Employees had wrapped it in lights and covered it with poinsettias. Families were posing with it for their holiday cards.
One intoxicated baseball fan tried to buy it a drink. Another took it for a boat ride below the Delta ballroom and tried to dump it like a mafia body.
You’re about to read the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original. In all its glory.
I’ll admit to a little editing in this mailbag. I deleted a space between the last letter in a sentence and the punctuation mark.
Is that style, grammar or brevity?
Also, my mailbag is represented by Scott Boras and yours handles its own negotiations and gets minor league deals with no spring training invites.
Is there any chance Félix Bautista pitches in 2024?
Alfredo Simon was pitching in intrasquad games in 2010, with good velocity on his fastball, 10 months after his Tommy John surgery. That’s freakish. Bautista isn’t expected to be in the bullpen next season unless he’s grabbing handfuls of candy out of the backpack.
Besides regifting them, what are the best alternative uses for uneaten Christmas fruitcakes? Door stops? Boat anchors? Bricks to construct a fruitcake museum?
Sources tell me the new left field wall is made out of it.
Did crowds arrive later for 6:35 games this season?
First, thanks for saying “this season.” It’s still 2023. I also hear people say “last year.” I’ve changed it in quotes. Anyway, I wish that I paid closer attention to it, but I’m always so busy. I do recall talking about “late-arriving” crowds to other writers, looking up from my laptop and finding fewer empty seats than earlier, but I can’t swear that it was for 6:35 p.m. games. Some fans are just slower getting to their seats from Eutaw Street or outside the ballpark.
Do you think anyone will ever hit the warehouse in a game? Which current Oriole has the best chance?
Crazy that it hasn’t happened yet. Let’s give Heston Kjerstad 500 at-bats and see what happens. Gunnar Henderson might get some votes, too, if we’re gathering nominations.
Why do the Orioles wait so annoyingly long to announce spring training report dates?
Has any team announced its report dates? Go to springtrainingonline.com. I see a long list of “to be announced.”
Where does Connor Norby fit in? He cranked out mucho extra base hits (64) at Norfolk, and that indicates he can hit (.290) and with authority. But can he crash a loaded infield party?
This is one reason why “logjam” feels like an accurate description, especially if Jackson Holliday breaks camp with the team and Jordan Westburg returns. Where exactly is Norby supposed to play? He’s a second baseman with left field experience. Maybe he stays with Norfolk as insurance. There are worse ideas than keeping that bat in the organization. Bring him up if a spot opens. But also, he isn’t untouchable and other teams might be expressing interest.
Have you spoken to Mike Elias about my recommendation of trading for Justin Lawrence? His analytics work perfectly for the Orioles and OPACY.
Sorry, I misunderstood and said Joey Lawrence. Whoa, my bad.
Have you heard of any changes to the television or radio crews?
The Orioles haven’t announced the broadcast team and I haven’t heard about any changes. I’m pretty much out of that loop.
Does Mike Elias sign a starting pitcher to another one-year deal or will he sign one to a multi-year deal this time?
If it isn’t a trade, it’s probably a one-year deal, maybe with an option. Alex Cobb is the last recipient of a multi-year contract in March 2018. That’s pre-Elias and rebuild. Not to say that attempts haven’t been made. It just hasn’t worked out.
Why were the Winter Meetings shorter this year? Three days doesn’t even seem like enough time for Scott Boras to clear his throat.
They were shorter last year, too. We had the pandemic and lockout. We have video calls now and other technology that makes face-to-face meetings less important. Deals can be struck anywhere and at any time. I enjoyed your Boras reference, though.
Do the Orioles see Tyler Wells as a guy who can get through a whole season as a starter?
They’d like to find out. Roles for Wells and DL Hall haven’t been decided. I get the sense that out of the two, Hall is more likely to go to the bullpen and be a real weapon in the late innings. Just the vibe I’m picking up. Wells hasn’t proven that he can get past the first half and keep motoring, but he might get another opportunity depending on other offseason moves. I doubt that the Orioles would consider him as a starter if they were convinced that he’d be fried by the break.
From comments made by O’s personnel during the Winter Meetings, I got the impression DL Hall is bullpen bound and Tyler Wells will get more of a look as a starter in spring training. Did you get the same impression?
See above. But again, the team hasn’t made a decision, and Hall seems like he’s geared mentally to vie for a spot in the rotation.
Who has a better chance of being in the rotation, Hall or Wells?
See above and above.
If you are taking an Uber, are you sitting in the front or the back?
I usually take Lyfts unless I can’t find one, which, unfortunately, is becoming more common. I don’t see why anyone would want the front seat. That’s weird. Also, I called for a ride for four of us in Arlington during the playoffs and the driver refused because he said it’s illegal for a passenger to sit in the front. He could be ticketed by police. I don’t know if that’s true, but two of my colleagues walked.
Do you get the inclination that Ramón Urías will be traded? If not, is Joey Ortiz trade bait?
They aren’t untouchable. Urías was tendered a contract because the Orioles don’t know exactly what’s happening with their infield, and they aren’t going to just let him walk like my two colleagues. He might return in a utility role. He might be expendable later. Ortiz could be the utility guy or packaged in a trade for a starter.
Taco Bell or McDonald's?
Haven’t been to either one in a very long time. Taco Bell at 1 a.m. used to be money. And I love a Big Mac. Plus, the fries are the best. I hit up a Burger King at my gate at the Nashville airport because it was there, ordered a double Whopper with cheese, ate it in like 90 seconds and immediately had regrets. Good thing I also had the entire row to myself on the flight.
Well, what's the skinny on the potential sale of the O’s?
The breadth of my knowledge on the subject is the Bloomberg article. I don’t recall seeing the word “soon” or anything to indicate that it could be close to happening, but some outlets are including “soon” in their links as clickbait. Don’t know if the sides are deep in talks, it’s just surface stuff, something in between or none of the above. The Banner reported that John Angelos assured Gov. Wes Moore that the family isn't selling. The Orioles aren't commenting on the story. So, there's that.
Did you prefer a free-agent signing by the Orioles or the typical Rule 5 pick of years past at the Winter Meetings?
The signing of a major league free agent was a nice change. And Rule 5 day was much easier. Write the streak obit and move on from it.
Who has the best crab cake in Maryland? And don’t say “you mom.”
I'd always! I haven’t gone to Koco’s, Pappas, or Faidley’s, but friends rave about their crab cakes. The ones at G&M are the size of hubcaps but much tastier. I've had ones from Jimmy's Famous Seafood's food truck - I really need to go to their restaurant - and absolutely loved them. You can’t go wrong with The Costas Inn, always my recommendation for steamed crabs.
How do the players offered arbitration and the minor league prospects ready for the big leagues all fit on the active roster?
They might not. That’s the trick.
Are all of your Ugly Christmas Sweaters smedium-sized?
XLs. Shocking, I know. I ordered one last December for a party that has, let’s say, a strategically placed candy cane on Santa.
Chances of Cedric Mullins or Ryan Mountcastle being traded with prospects for a starting pitcher?
I’d say zero with Mullins. He’s their center fielder. Who else are you playing out there? I’d also expect Mountcastle to stay because there isn’t a first base prospect lined up for Opening Day, but it could be interesting at the deadline if Coby Mayo is ready. I don’t know.
Do you have any opinions regarding the sale … at Michael's? They've pretty much had Black Friday prices for nearly a month.
Good one. And no. Though my daughter loves the art supplies and crafts department. Do they have crab cakes, too?
Can you set up a 90-foot race between Jorge Mateo and Enrique Bradfield Jr.?
I wish. Seriously. Maybe I can suggest it in spring training. Teammates could wager.
Are you watching the WVU-Clemson Men's Soccer Final Four match this evening?
Who’s holding the gun to my head?
While we are looking for starting pitching and have high expectations for guys like Grayson Rodriguez and Kyle Bradish and John Means, whatever happened to Cole Irvin? Was or is he injured?
He’s fine and in the organization. He wasn’t put on the Division Series roster, though he probably would have been helpful. He’ll vie for jobs in the rotation and bullpen next spring. He’s out of options. He’s likely to be used in long relief.
If you were a Superhero, would you be Roch-it Raccoon?
“Roch Lobster” could be intriguing. Fighting crime in the ocean, freeing other lobsters from pots of boiling water. I’d live in Maine and bathe in melted butter. I already do one of those.
You commute from Maine?
Do you think the Orioles are done with the bullpen?
Not necessarily. It’s crowded in there, especially if one or both of Tyler Wells and DL Hall are used in relief and if Dillon Tate is able to return. But Mike Elias left open the possibility of one more addition. It just isn’t a huge priority. A reliever with options would be attractive. There isn’t a lot of flexibility right now.
When is the Craig Kimbel "vulture pose" bobblehead night?
Get on it, Orioles! My guess is marketing already is scheduling meetings.
We've asked (and Boras has answered) about whether the O's have sought early extensions with Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman. Is there any thought to extending guys still in the minors, as just happened with the Brewers?
Boras was asked about Henderson and Jackson Holliday. Rutschman isn’t a client. Holliday counts as a kid in the minors, but not much longer. There’s definitely a thought. It’s the execution that’s missing.
Do you agree with Buster Olney that secrecy surrounding Shohei Ohtani's decision-making process is bad for baseball?
I missed that article. Not sure why it’s bad. To me, it amps up the drama. There must be other reasons. Probably should have read it. I know the Angels media thinks it’s bad for baseball that he hasn’t talked to them since August and he blew off the conference call after winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Is Roch the name on your birth certificate?
Yes. My mother-in-law asked at least a half-dozen times if it was short for “Rochester.” Said there's no way it could be my real name. I began to wonder. She was pretty convincing.
Would you, Roch Kubatko, if that is your real name, rather acquire Dylan Cease or Corbin Burnes if you were the man making the decisions?
Whichever one costs the fewest prospects. Cease has two years of team control, which is nice. And his numbers in 2023 are deceiving. The White Sox stunk behind him. I like Burnes more and could just go for it and not care about rental status. Be all-in in 2024. But yeah, gimme that second year with Cease if I’m parting with prospects.
Any chance of catcher Anthony Bemboom re-signing with the Orioles?
Not after he signed a minor league deal with the Tigers on Friday. He was expected to leave the organization. Would have been good for catching depth. Maverick Handley will be at Triple-A Norfolk, and No. 2 prospect Samuel Basallo should eventually join him after appearing in four games this summer with Double-A Bowie.
If a Christmas ball has a photo of Jackson in an Oriole uniform, is it a Holliday ornament or a Holiday ornament?
Seems like both. And this is probably a good place to stop.
Wouldn't the mailbag make you the carrier? It's a federal offense to open mail in the mailbag. Shouldn't it be mailbox or inbox?
If you’re gonna be a carrier, this is the right kind. And it’s definitely a good place to stop.