Because You Asked - Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman

I reached inside my holiday mailbag last night and found a lump of coal.

At least, I hope it was coal. Or I need an exterminator, pronto.

This is lovely weather for a sleigh ride together or to just chill out at home and field more questions in the latest sequel to the beloved original mailbag from 2008.  

The editing here remains sparse. Be clear or unclear, have style or no style, be succinct or ramble.

This is the internet. You can’t crash it like you did with your neighbor’s ugly sweater party.

Also, my mailbag watches “It’s A Wonderful Life” and your mailbag gathers the family for “Christmas With The Cranks.”

What happened to first baseman Lewin Díaz?
The Orioles designated him for assignment on Wednesday and traded him to the Braves last night for cash considerations. He's on the move again. What's the record for two months?

Who's the odd man out with the signing of Adam Frazier? Seems like it's between Terrin Vavra and Ryan McKenna.
There’s room for both of them.  However, if I need to single out the player who’s most impacted by Frazier, it’s got to be Vavra because he’s also a left-handed hitter who mostly plays second base. McKenna is a right-handed hitter who can play anywhere in the outfield. But don’t count out Vavra in December. Also, don’t go to the mall without your laptop.

Any updates on the lease extension for Camden Yards?
None. But as reported, the Orioles can exercise an option for a five-year extension by Feb. 1. They aren’t leaving Baltimore. Period. OK, comma, but fans will be anxious until there’s a new agreement.

What’s the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to agree to contracts for 2023?
The sides will exchange figures if a deal isn’t reached by Jan. 13. The Orioles are file-and-go – still not as catchy as file-and-trial – but there are exceptions. For instance, Trey Mancini and John Means in 2022.

When do you expect John Means to return?
June or July are reasonable projections. Can’t narrow it down more than that. And believe me, he’s going to want to return sooner. But you can’t rush it. Just like how you can’t hurry love.

Did you vote "yes" or "no" on Elon Musk resigning as CEO of Twitter?
I didn’t vote, but I’m willing to start a poll on whether I should delete my account. I’ll get the ball rolling by voting “yes.”

Do you think it is still more likely than not the Orioles acquire a starting pitcher who slots into the opening day rotation?
I think they do, but not necessarily as the No. 1 immediately after the ink dries. Nathan Eovaldi would be an exception, or so it appears. A trade would bring a No. 1 if the Orioles are willing to dip into their prospect stash. Or if they’re willing to poke some holes in their major league roster.

Any chance/info on the O's using a six-man rotation in 2023?
I don’t think it’s under discussion at the moment. Could it happen? Well, sure. There are so many candidates, and that’s without signing or trading for another veteran. But the plan for now is to go with the standard five. Let’s check back in spring training.

Any specific’s on the new grass going in?
Let me respond first with a question. Why the apostrophe? Maybe I should edit. Anyway, meet the new grass, same as the old grass. At least, that’s my assumption. It’s just been replaced. And quickly. One week, the field looked like a beach. Nothing but sand as far as the eye could see. I was going to set up a chair and umbrella and work on my tan. The next week, it’s all grass except for the basepaths and warning track, of course. I didn’t know it could be done that quickly. And that’s what she …

Has the offseason been more active, less active or precisely the amount of activity you expected from the Orioles?
Less active as far as acquisitions until about a week ago, and there could be more before Opening Day. There was a recent flurry with Adam Frazier, Mychal Givens and James McCann. But maybe we should rethink whether what’s happened so far seems less active to some simply because there hasn’t been a top-tier free agent signing. That it’s more about the name than the number.

Figgy pudding or fruit cake?
Please tell me there’s a third option.

What is your interpretation of "feathered up"?
Takes me back to my burlesque days. Agent Scott Boras used the phrase it at the Winter Meetings, which seemed odd because he usually tries to avoid the spotlight. Unlike me during my performances. I took it to mean they’re better equipped to compete, they’re ready to soar. But I’m open to suggestions.

Seriously, how hard is it to find a backup catcher?
This is an old one. Sorry. I roamed the entire Columbia Mall and couldn’t find one. I wouldn’t interpret the delay in a signing prior to McCann on Wednesday night as difficulty in locating one. It was more back burner - until it wasn't. Mike Elias indicated at the Winter Meetings that this was a position where the market could play out first. Wait while some catchers are traded and check the impact on the market. Anthony Bemboom was the favorite until Wednesday. The Orioles wanted to thicken the competition. Flour often works.

What are the O's seeing in this new acquisition who hit .160 last year?
OK, this is a new one. First, it's still "this year." (I also use "this season" until Jan. 1). Second, he hit .195! McCann is a big defensive upgrade over Robinson Chirinos if you trust the metrics. He was an All-Star in 2019. And his signing allows me to accidentally call him "Brian" at least once.

Would you sign Curt Casali as backup or just roll with Anthony Bemboom?
We're back to old. Statcast ranked Casali 42nd in pitch framing among qualified catchers. Chirinos was 60th and last. He isn’t much of a hitter but has earned a reputation as a terrific defender. There were some better options out there and the Orioles are confident that they found one. The trick in free agency is finding a catcher who doesn't mind sitting a lot. But maybe not as much as you'd think. As for Bemboom, I wouldn’t have committed to him this early anyway, but he certainly is deserving of another chance. It's just going to be hard to beat out McCann. Less so if he was McCan't.

Did MASN buy Jim Palmer his cowboy hat and cowboy pajamas from the social media video he posted recently? Did you get a set, too?
I actually had to scroll back and find the video you referenced. Maybe the best thing I’ve seen on Twitter. I did not get a set from MASN, but we shared a laugh over the toaster they gave me as a holiday gift, with instructions on how to use it in the bathtub. Those pranksters.

Who will be in MASN TV booth this season? And don't say "your mom."
I'd never! The club hasn’t sent out a release on its broadcast crews and I don’t have any inside information. Haven’t heard of any changes or additions. Hope that was helpful.

With all the hype our analytics and development team have been receiving (top farm system, Austin Voth improvement), was management surprised we were able to keep all coaching staff members and lost no one in the Rule 5 draft? Or do others feel we are overrated?
Don’t assume the latter. I don’t think the industry as a whole is scoffing at the Orioles’ farm system or the success stories tied to the pitching and hitting programs. You can’t get everyone in agreement. There will be critics and skeptics scattered throughout the industry, but the approval rating is soaring. Not losing anyone in the Rule 5 draft isn’t a commentary on the system. Well, maybe in some years. But there are multiple factors in play. Maybe they just protected the “right” guys. There were some position players and pitchers who seemed to be candidates. The Orioles wanted their coaches to return and made it happen. There wasn’t a coaches expansion draft and everyone passed.    

Is giving your significant other a nice vacuum cleaner for Christmas an appropriate gift?
Don’t do it. The idea sucks.

You must be letting your granddaughter answer some of these.
That’s not a question.

Does Tyler Wells make more starts or relief appearances in 2023?
Great question. I’d feel better about my guess, and that’s all it is, if I knew the entire field of starting candidates. Someone else is expected to join it. I’ll say “starts,” knowing that the math might not add up if the two newbies, Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer become locks. How this shakes out is going to be one of the most interesting storylines in camp. Maybe the most interesting. Definitely the most interesting.

Any word on Carter Baumler? He made it back from injury, but only made four appearances before being shut down again in June. He's the highest drafted pitching prospect of Mike Elias' tenure.
Baumler injured his shoulder. He’s expected to report to the spring training complex in early January and resume throwing late in the month. The Orioles hope to see him pitch in games in the early part of the season. Maybe a month or so into it. Timelines are tough to trust because things change.

Do you prefer ham or turkey for Christmas (holiday) dinner?
The turkey novelty usually wears off after Thanksgiving and days and days of leftovers. But in this family, it’s usually both. My sister is bringing the ham Sunday, which is normally my mother’s domain, and we’re preparing a beef tenderloin. We offered to do lamb instead, but there actually are people in the family who’ve never tried it and seemed fearful of it.

If the Orioles traded Jorge Mateo, do you think it would be for a current major league player?
That’s my read on it. As opposed to a minor leaguer. Whether alone or packaged, he might be able to bring back a starting pitcher of some caliber. But I’m stressing that listening to offers isn’t the same as actively shopping him. Teams contact Elias about other players, including Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins. Don’t read too much into it.

If we make zero additions or subtractions from here forward, when do you see Jordan Westburg and/or Joey Ortiz debuting?
There will be other moves made. Trust me on this. The best I can do here is say that I expect both of them to open the season at Triple-A Norfolk. And this is assuming a trade doesn’t mess with my assumption. After that, there are factors that can’t be nailed down in December. How they’re hitting, how a spot opens up, when a spot opens up. It’s not like the club has circled dates on a calendar.

Have you ever circled back to someone you used to date?
Yes, but let’s stick to baseball.

Is there a difference between a $15 wine and a $50 wine?
So much for that. Yes, $35.

Do you have an update on Anthony Santander playing first base or working out this offseason at first base?
I haven’t heard anything about Santander changing his routine. I think the pregame drills were blown a bit out of proportion. Other players, including Terrin Vavra, also took grounders at first. Just a way to get guys comfortable at the position, especially with everyone knowing that Trey Mancini would be traded. And the Orioles lacked a true backup until getting Jesús Aguilar. Santander didn’t play a single inning at first. Much ado about nothing.

Does the left field wall ever look to where it used to be and sigh, wistful for the good old days?
This is probably a good place to stop.

Which is faster, toboggan, sleigh, or plastic circle sled? And which one injured you?
Yeah, let’s stop here.

Catching up on a few recent moves
A few minor league O's that can fly under the rada...

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