Because You Asked – Holiday Heist

The fatigue that I keep blaming on tryptophan, which makes no sense because I use the excuse year-round, limits how much heavy lifting I can do in one day.

The mailbag isn’t a priority compared to daily workouts, but I decided to empty it this morning while it’s still relatively light.

While I don’t need relatives to assist me.

This is the holiday sequel to the beloved original. You ask, I answer, you ask again, I answer again. Why do I still feel the need to explain it? You get it by now.

Also, my mailbag is in charge of carving the turkey, while yours is stuck washing the dishes.

Is Grayson Rodriguez in the opening day rotation?
Yes, as long as he gets through camp healthy. I suppose he could be optioned if he’s walking every batter he faces or giving up hit after hit without retiring anybody, but that’s highly unlikely.

Is Gunnar Henderson definitely making the opening day roster?
Yes, as long as he gets through camp healthy. I suppose he could be optioned if he strikes out in every plate appearance and commits an error on every ball he tries to field, but that’s highly unlikely.

Why so much angst about backup catcher? Are the O's really that concerned about it? I'd just hand the job to Anthony Bemboom and get on with my life. But I also take the first parking spot available and often end up walking a long way to the store.
Same here. The steps are good for you. I wouldn’t call it “angst,” but it’s a need and the Orioles have a certain type in mind. They obviously like Bemboom or he’d be gone. Right now, I’d classify him as the favorite based on the rest of the field, which is incomplete. There could be a major league contract coming to a free agent. Maybe it’s through a trade. They definitely intend to bring in someone. And that pursuit isn’t distracting them from other business.

Who you got winning the World Cup?
Who’s in it? I don’t follow soccer. I do, however, laugh at the flops. You breathe on a player and he falls to the ground and bounces around like a fish pulled out of the bay. Tremendous athletes. That’s a lot of running. But 1-0 soccer games, or those 0-0 gems, interest me about as much as watching a guy rotate my tires. But Argentina lost to the University of Phoenix online college, so I’ll say Brazil. Are they still in it?

Never mind. Are you disappointed Ubaldo Jiménez did not make the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot and won't get credit for his Cooperstown-worthy career?
I wonder how some players are deemed worthy and others aren’t. There are plenty of obvious one-and-done candidates. Zero chance that they’re inducted or get the prerequisite five percent of the votes to stay on the ballot. Ubaldo Jiménez threw a no-hitter. That puts him ahead of a lot of guys I’ve ignored. I wish Cooperstown had a super-nice guy wing.

Will you vote for J.J. Hardy on your Hall of Fame ballot?
No. But he also belongs in the super-nice guy wing. And I’ll always respect what he meant to the Orioles. The undisputed leader of the infield, and he made all the plays. Ground ball hit anywhere near him, and I was marking “6-3” on my lineup sheet before he made the throw.

When you say the Orioles aren't shopping in the top tier of free agency, does that include Carlos Rodón?
He’s in the top tier. The Orioles may float some offers, as I’ve said, but they’ll be much more aggressive on the second and third levels. Upgrades are available. To say they’re “fishing in the deep end” of free agency doesn’t mean they’re ready to break the bank. It means they’re talking to agents and getting an accurate read on the prices. Never hurts to do that.

Is it true, as many here have said, that Brandon Hyde doesn’t construct the actual day-to-day lineups, that he gets his marching orders from Sig Mejdal? I apologize if this has been asked in other mailbags.
People say that? I’ve read a few variations of this theme. Hyde gathers all of the information available to him, as he should with this analytics department at his disposal, checks on the health of certain players and then he makes out the lineup.

Did the Orioles begin their offseason shopping at 4 a.m. on Friday morning?
And fight that crowd? No way. They started much earlier.

Are the Orioles waiting until after the Rule 5 draft to make any significant moves?
Not intentionally. Maybe it happens that way, but they’re already negotiating with free agents. It takes two sides to strike a deal. The Orioles are trying. I’ve heard that they’re being aggressive.

Will the Orioles make a selection in the Rule 5 draft?
That’s the not-so-bold assumption. They do it every year. They don’t have the first or second pick next month, but I’d be shocked if they passed. They have two openings on the 40-man roster. It doesn’t cost much.

Are you looking forward to the Winter Meetings?
I never do. My least-favorite assignment. But it’s a day shorter this year and the hotel in San Diego is media-friendly. Easy access to the lobby. Don’t need a map to navigate it. And there might be more to write about, though, as I always warn, executives can fly back home and continue to do business. It doesn’t end on the last day of the Winter Meetings.

Who is No. 3 in games played by an Oriole after Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson? Whole career, start to finish.
So, that eliminates shortstop Mark Belanger, who’s third with 1,962 but ended his career by playing 54 with the Dodgers in 1982. I thought Al Bumbry with 1,428 games, but I must have erased from memory his 68 games with the Padres in 1985. Rich Dauer played in 1,140, exclusively with the Orioles.  

Pumpkin or apple pie?
I’m not much of a pie guy. I know that’s weird. My mother is known for making great ones. People rave about them. But I just don’t care for the crust. The fact that I used to eat Pop-Tarts was a source of tremendous controversy in my house. Because I’m so spoiled, she’d make a special Thanksgiving crustless pumpkin dessert for me.

Do the Orioles actually need a $300 million shortstop when they have more pressing needs? I guess that counts as a leading question.
It’s a popular one. The perception is that they don’t intend to go there. They have plenty of shortstop options in the organization and aren’t going to spend like crazy. Money can be spread out to cover numerous areas, including arbitration raises, starting pitching, and left-handed bats.

How many quality players do you see the Orioles acquiring, either via trade or free agency?
More than one. Fewer than a dozen. We could debate your definition of “quality,” but they want multiple veteran starting pitchers and a couple of potentially impactful bats.

Is Chris Bassitt a possibility for the rotation?
I believe so. As a second-tier guy who could start near or at the top of the rotation. But he won't come cheaply if is correct in its projection of a three-year, $60 million contract.

For John Angelos’ concerts at OPACY in 2023, which group or performer would you like to see him book?
I think any act is a good idea. The ballpark should be used for more than baseball. Bring that revenue into the city. That said, I’ll skip any road trip to see Pearl Jam. A bucket list item. Emily got us tickets to the Wrigley Field show in August 2018, an early birthday present, but we found out about my father’s cancer diagnosis shortly before the trip and canceled. No way we could have enjoyed ourselves. He passed away five months later. Anyway, sorry to bring down the room. I’d love to see them. I’d also love to see Bush now that they’re back together, but I don’t think they’d sell nearly as many tickets.

Way to stay current, Roch.
That isn’t a question.

How will two separate teams both play in one stadium in Frederick? Will the Orioles have any relationship with the independent league team?
I had the same question about the former. The new Frederick team will play 48 home games, sharing Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium with the Keys. Each of the other nine teams will have at least 63 home games. So, creative scheduling? Frederick isn’t an Orioles affiliate, so there’s no relationship.

Aloha Roch! Have you heard anything about Anthony Santander working out at first this offseason? How serious were the comments Tony and Hyder made about him playing first base? Mahalo!
Aloha! I’m not aware of any workouts at first base in the offseason. I guess he could start taking ground balls at some point, but that’s more likely in camp. He did it a lot during batting practice as a “just in case.” To get him comfortable there, especially with Trey Mancini destined to be traded. The depth in the outfield is more manageable if Santander can occasionally rotate to first base rather than just the designated hitter spot. But the Orioles are in the market for a first baseman/DH to spell Mountcastle. That’s M-O-U-N-T-C-A-S-T-L-E. Santander won’t be the primary backup.

Are there any secrets you and Elias have? That you can share. You can tell us. It'll stay here. Nobody else will know.
Nothing. But if he’d like to share his chili recipe with me, I’d certainly take it.

Mike Elias has a chili recipe?
I don’t know. Just playing along.   

Any time changes on the 2023 schedule?
It’s easy to access online, but I’m glad to help here. Looks like the usual 7:05 p.m. times Monday-Thursday, switch to 6:35 p.m. while kids are in school. So, until May 30 and beginning again on Sept. 11. Looks like more 1:05 p.m. weekday starts, as well. I’m all for it, if anyone cares.

Since the nickname "Thor" has already been taken, what nickname will Hyder give Heston Kjerstad?
Knowing how baseball nicknames usually work, probably “Hesty” or “Kjersty.” I’d go with “Kjerstud.”

Will there be in-park betting at Camden Yards like there is at Nats Park?
The Orioles announced in August that the ballpark hopes to open a retail sports lounge in 2023. But it’s a “themed” sports lounge, where betting doesn’t take place. But folks could start placing mobile sports bets as early as 2023. That’s the extent of my research on a topic I haven’t written about.

Who is faster, Jorge Mateo or Secretariat?
Well, Secretariat’s dead, so …

When do pitchers and catchers report to spring training?
The dates haven’t been announced.

Which unprotected player do you think the Orioles could lose in the Rule 5 draft?
I think they’ll lose more than one. I agree with that right-hander Nolan Hoffman, chosen last year in the minor league phase of the Rule 5, is at risk after reaching Double-A Bowie and striking out 17 batters with two walks in 12 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, where plenty of scouts watched him. Pitchers are easier to stash, too. Kyle Brnovich could be a temptation despite his Tommy John surgery. Depends what scouts see and like. Maybe there’s a team that envisions Adam Hall has a potential utility-type player and is intrigued by the second-rounder’s career .367 on-base percentage in five minor league seasons. Maybe there’s some interest in Easton Lucas, Garrett Stallings or Blaine Knight.

Do you think the O's might have a giveaway day next season where the first 15,000 fans get a backup catcher?
I beg your Pardo? I assume this is an example of your sharp Whitt.

But do you?
It sounds like a Teagarden party. Maybe there’s a Lavarnway to do it, though I wouldn’t bet the House. If not, they could go Bako to their original giveaway schedule. Tackett on your wall. Thinking it could actually work is a roll of the Fordyce.

Yeah, even I’m disappointed. Someone might find it amusing, but I wouldn’t Widger on it.

I’m begging you to stop.
It’s just a Quirk of mine. I get it from my Parent.

Let me try to end this. Is stuffing a savory bread pudding or a dry casserole?
This seems like a good place to stop.

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