Being aware of the mounting number of airline safety issues, I’m afraid to bring a heavy mailbag to Sarasota and risk having the landing gear fail or a few bolts bust off the wings.
Let’s lighten the load here in our last pre-spring training sequel to the beloved original in 2008.
You ask, I answer, you wonder if I’ve finally relented and began doing some editing, and I wonder if you started drinking early.
I adore your style, length (shut up), clarity and brevity. To change it would be like tossing soup on the Mona Lisa.
Also, a reminder that my mailbag refuses to be pushed around or disrespected, and yours does a bully’s homework.
Any free agent relief pitchers on the Orioles’ radar that we know of? You can never have too many.
Mike Elias won’t tip his hand, but I don’t think he’s stopped considering bullpen options despite signing left-handers Ronald Guzmán and Andrew Suárez to minor league contracts. I don’t think the Orioles need another major acquisition, especially with Dillon Tate healthy, but you’re right. You can never have too many. And anyone with a minor league option is appealing.
Are players required to attend their arbitration hearings?
No. That’s why they have agents. But it’s common for players to leave camp if the hearings are held during spring training. Starter Rodrigo López and outfielder Alejandro De Aza are two of the many examples that I’ve encountered on the beat.
Did you miss us? (Well, most of us.)
There was lots that I didn’t miss, but you know how I feel about our community here, and that’s why I kept you updated. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was gone for good. Maybe if I took more vacations, it wouldn’t seem so weird.
Any word on the bird bath area and Mr. Splash returning for 2024? if so, any special Mr. Splash guests announced?
They’re back. No word on special guests, as far as I know. Would be one way for new ownership to connect with fans. But seriously …
Does the addition of Nick Maton and Liván Soto suggest there's a trade on the horizon to move Connor Norby and others for Devin Williams?
Don’t pull a hammy jumping to conclusions. I think Elias is making depth maneuvers based on the possibility of the Triple-A infield thinning due to promotions to the major league roster and possible future moves. But not because anything is pending with Norby or someone else, or that Elias is making a strong push for Williams.
What do you feel would be a good nickname for Adley?
The Masked Marvel.
Will our ballclub win the pennant? Do you think they have a chance? And tell me, friend, how in the world have you been? - Marvin Gaye, “What's Happening Brother”
Nicely done. This is not a good place to stop. I’m really motivated to keep going. Thanks.
Which storyline do find most compelling for Spring Training: 1. All Things Corbin Burnes. 2. Jackson Holliday competition for Opening Day. 3. Colton Cowser versus Heston Kjerstad for Opening Day.
Yes. All of the above. Great content. If I have to choose, I’ll say again that Holliday’s bid to break camp is No. 1.
How weird was it not submitting an article for publication for almost a full week? Were you shaking like an addict in detox?
I was shaking from laughing at the speculation and theories about my disappearance. Well, get used to it. It was my call and I had my reasons. It will all be in the book one day. Oh, who are we kidding? That sounds like way too much work. But make me an offer, just in case.
With so many relievers out of options, will Brandon Hyde change his strategy on bullpen usage or will we look for late spring training additions with options?
Another arm could show up, but Hyde isn’t going to let the option situations dictate how he tries to win games. That could be disastrous. OK, that’s a little dramatic. It’s only baseball. But he can’t go with a less favorable matchup because a pitcher can’t be sent down.
How many spring training games will be on MASN this year?
If you hear anything, please let me know. Of course, I won’t be watching because I’ll be in Florida.
Ryan O’Hearn a lock for opening day?
It sure seems that way as long as he’s healthy. He earned it. And there’s still a spot for him.
Are there any plans to modify Camden Yards to remove the awkward outfield wall and/or modify Ed Smith Stadium to mirror Camden Yards?
Nothing is imminent on either front, which is not a Who song. (If you know, you know.) The wall and its dimensions could undergo another change in the future, but nothing is set in concrete, so to speak.
Who is in the Opening Day roster, assuming Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander are on the team and healthy – A. Kjerstad. B. Cowser. C. Both. D. Neither.
It’s possible to keep both, which would be “C,” but it’s harder if Ryan McKenna also makes the club as a needed right-handed bat and a defender at all three outfield spots. McKenna is out of options, so he can’t be dumped on the shuttle again unless he clears waivers. And clears them again. And again.
Do you wear Crocs, sandals or sandals with socks or flip flops?
None of the above. I’ve tried flip flops at the beach or pool, but my feet aren’t trained for them. They keep sliding, with my heels going east and west, I find myself clinching my toes to hold on, and it’s just not comfortable or worth it. My private shame that’s now public.
Who’s your Opening Day second baseman?
Who’s starting for the Angels? Could be Jackson Holliday if he breaks camp. Otherwise, could be Jordan Westburg, or Ramón Urías if he’s on the team and Westburg is at third base.
Your Super Bowl pick? And don't say, 'Your mom.'
I'd never! I think the Chiefs win. I'm going with the quarterback I trust the most, though Brock Purdy has more weapons and Chiefs receivers treat the ball as if it could cause an electrical shock. And a K.C. win will further annoy the Dads, Chads and Brads who complain about Taylor Swift's 22 seconds of airtime that she doesn't want and tried to avoid in the AFC championship game by standing in the back of the suite and saying, "Please go away," if you can read red lips.
Could we see Jorge Mateo in center field in 2024?
You saw him there in 2023 if you were paying attention. The Orioles will give Mateo more reps in center in spring training and could use him as a backup during the season. And maybe that influences roster construction.
Since we signed Liván Soto, who had a better career, Liván Hernández or Mario Soto?
Oh, aren’t you the clever one? Hernández had a longer career and was World Series MVP. Soto had the lower ERA and WHIP, one more All-Star selection and four top nine finishes in Cy Young voting. Too bad he couldn’t stay healthy. I’ll go with Hernández.
If we don't trade a starting outfielder, how do we get at-bats for Kjerstad and Cowser, realizing that DH is used for resting players with Hyde? Are we blowing the trade value of Santander by waiting too long?
Taking the last one first, the Orioles are in it to win it. They aren't thinking trade value while trying to make a serious run at the World Series, which Santander can aid with his run-producing bat. A fluid DH spot makes it easier to get at-bats for the extra outfielders. Santander is a free agent after the season. Austin Hays would love to spend his entire career with the Orioles and hopes to hear extension talks, but there aren't any guarantees. Same with Cedric Mullins. The outfield logjam, or whatever we're calling it, will work itself out.
Have you ever thrown out a first pitch? And if not, don’t you think it’s time?
I’ve never done it. Maybe on my last day on the job if I'm asked.
And when will that be?
This is probably a good place to stop.
This is definitely a good place to stop.