Leftovers from the Orioles mailbag

Emptying out the mailbag isn’t as easy as it sounds. Questions are missed or held, the latter to keep the post at a reasonable length.

I’m not worried about breaking the internet. Just your spirit.

Here are some leftovers from last week, with a smattering of newbies. Enjoy my disregard for editing. And be aware that my mailbag leads the parade, and your mailbag follows the elephant with a shovel.

Is the Orioles 49-game improvement over two seasons the record now?
The Orioles tied the 1890-92 Cleveland Spiders for seventh, according to STATS. The 1884-86 Detroit Wolverines are first with a 59-game improvement. In more modern baseball times, the 1981-83 Blue Jays improved by 52 games. However, the ’81 season was shortened by the players’ strike that lasted from June 12-July 31.

Is the rotation or bullpen the No. 1 offseason priority?
Don’t know whether the Orioles post official rankings. The business can be conducted simultaneously. Whatever gets done first is first. And bullpens tend to be a little easier based on cost and supply.

Do the Orioles overvalue veteran presence? For instance, Adam Frasier and Aaron Hicks have more experience than Jordan Westburg and Heston Kjerstad/Colton Cowser/Kyle Stowers. Kyle Gibson and Jack Flaherty have more experience than Kyle Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez. But I know which ones I prefer to have on the postseason roster.
I don’t think they “overvalue” the vets. They seek the experience and leadership and try to create a blend, figuring that the younger players benefit from it.

Who’s your spring training dark horse to make the club?
Whoa. You’re a tad early with that one. Let’s wait until the team releases the camp roster.

What is the O’s win total for next year and the finishing order of the five teams in the AL East, and how far along do they get in the postseason?
Double whoa. I’d like to withhold my answers until I’m able to study the rosters of those five teams, the business they conducted over the winter. But I’ll get a head start on whether they make the playoffs again. Yes. That’s my early prediction. The rest will have to wait.

Are there assigned seats on the charters, or do players sit wherever they want? And is it always in the same places?
The seats aren’t assigned. However, there’s a players’ section toward the back half. Media is closer to the front, from what I’m told. I don’t fly with the team.

Why don’t you fly with the team?
Is this coincidence or conversational? Anyway, it’s too difficult for me to be on the team’s travel schedule. I might be transcribing or writing while it’s boarding buses to the airport. And we see enough of each other. Also, of course … those Southwest points.

Do you know the candidates to be considered by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee for the Hall of Fame? And any Orioles connections?
Yes to both. Former Orioles manager Davey Johnson and general manager Hank Peters are among the eight finalists. Lou Piniella played his first four games with the Orioles in 1964. You also could count former Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, despised in Baltimore for leaving Mike Mussina in the bullpen in the 1993 All-Star Game. They’ll always be linked. Also on the list are former manager Jim Leyland, umpires Joe West and Ed Montague, and former player, broadcaster and National League president Bill White.

A few years ago, the Orioles rid themselves of their major league scouts. Is that still the case today, and if it is, will the Jack Flaherty acquisition bring the need for more major league scouts to Baltimore?
Flaherty won’t influence how the club operates. Here’s the list of U.S.-based scouts: Rich Amaral (Cal.), David Blume (Cal.), Quincy Boyd (N.C.), Ryan Carlson (Il.), Dan Drullinger (Texas), Trent Friedrich (Ky.), Ken Guthrie (Texas), David Jennings (Ala.), Donovan O’Dowd (Md.), Jim Richardson (Ok.), Eric Robinson (Ga.), Logan Schuemann (Az.), Brandon Verley (Fla.), Scott Walter (Cal.), Joe Drake (Fla.), John Pierson (Az.) and Jake Tillinghast (Az.). Drake, Pierson and Tillinghast are consultants.

Have you seen the new Taylor Swift movie?
Nope. Same goes for “Barbie.” But to be fair, I don’t get out much.

The 40-man roster protects players you don't want to lose, but how does the team prevent other teams from sniping our front office/coaching/training personnel? And a follow-up question: Is our bench coach being interviewed for any of the managerial positions opening up?
I haven’t heard Fredi González linked to any of the openings. If he is, it’s kept quiet or I missed it. As for your first question, permission to interview can be denied but it’s usually granted if a promotion is at stake. And this is the price you pay for being good and the industry seeing that your approach is working.

Because our farm system has been ranked No. 1 for the last four or five rankings, is management afraid we will be raided in the Rule 5 draft? And is there a limit to how many players an organization can lose?
Not necessarily raided, but you can only protect so many of them. That’s also the price you pay for being good. And there’s no limit.  

Did you know that No. 5 West Virginia beat No. 1 Marshall in men's soccer?
(In my best Johnny Carson voice): “I did not know that.”

How do you fit Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz, Jackson Holliday, Connor Norby, Gunnar Henderson, Coby Mayo, Jorge Mateo, Ramón Urías and Adam Frazier into one corner of the locker room? Or do some of them go to skid row?
Frazier goes into free agency. Others may also go to other organizations.

You're going to a concert. Do you wear a band shirt of the band you're seeing or a different band?
Neither. But I have fond memories of buying concert T-shirts in the parking lot after show. The ones with the three-quarter sleeves that disintegrated after two washings. Special shoutout to Aerosmith’s “Night in the Ruts” tour that stopped at the old Baltimore Civic Center. Swap a couple of letters and see what they did there.

In the offseason, do any of the players train together? Other than those on a specific injury rehab assignment.
They do. Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer work out together in Arizona. Tyler Wells and Mike Baumann train together in Florida. Those are two examples.

With a few months before the next Orioles game, have there been any plans to start any updates or changes to OPACY?
Gotta sign the lease first and get that $600 million. That’s my (memorandum of) understanding.

I see what you did there.
That’s not a question.

I like dudes with two last names, which brings me to Robinson Chirinos. Brandon Hyde speaks of him with such affection. Any chance Chirinos becomes some sort of coach in Baltimore?
I was told to never trust anyone with two first names. Guess it works in reverse here. The Orioles don’t have room for Chirinos on the coaching staff. He’d like to manage someday, but they don’t have room for him in that capacity, either.  

Any word on when Mychael Givens and Dillon Tate will be back? Think they'll pitch before August 2023?
I didn’t realize there were stale leftovers in the mailbag. You could break a tooth on this one.

Do you think Coby Mayo may not be traded in the offseason?
I could see him packaged in a deal for pitching. I could see the Orioles holding onto him. Hope that helps.

What additional types of calls by umpires do you expect to be reviewable in 2024?
Wake-up calls for Ángel Hernández at their hotel.

Who will be the O's No. 1 broadcaster on TV next season? And don’t say “your mom.”
I’d never! The club hasn’t sent out a broadcast press release.

If you had to guess over or under a figure of $5 million in total free agent spending, what would you guess?
They gave Kyle Gibson $10 million and Adam Frazier $8 million. Take the over.

Why is a left-handed pitcher a “southpaw?” It’s not like a right-handed pitcher is a “northpaw.”
My research reveals that late 19th-century ballparks were laid out so that the pitcher looked in a westerly direction when facing the batter. The throwing arm of the lefty would be to the south.

Why “paw?” Why not “southclaw” or “southhooves?”
This is probably a good place to stop.

Should players nominated for the Gold Glove then have to battle one another by fielding their position using actual Gold Gloves?
This is definitely a good place to stop.

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