Because You Asked - “Back to the Minors”

The non-waiver trade deadline alone can fill up a mailbag. When the Orioles are connected to it, we’re talking about a major overflow. You could paper the streets.

The same five or six questions, but still ...

There’s a burning desire to separate fact from fiction, which is as complicated as splitting the atom - or knowing whether the Orioles will split from Adam.

Let’s get to it and check off another blog-entry sequel.

Machado Chess Sidebar.jpgWhich team is the favorite to sign Manny Machado?
I don’t understand how anyone can handicap this race. What constitutes a favorite? The team with the most appealing prospects or the team that’s making the most calls to Dan Duquette’s cell phone or the team that includes the most emojis in text messages? It’s silly for anyone to reference a “favorite” unless they know exactly which players are offered and which ones the Orioles want. The Dodgers, Phillies, Cubs, Cardinals, Diamondbacks and Braves seem to be in the mix, in whatever order you want to put them. I’ve been told the Cardinals were the most aggressive team at the Winter Meetings, and that the Diamondbacks doubled back to the Orioles toward the end to reaffirm their interest. I remember the Phillies’ side shooting down reports of their interest, the argument being that they could just wait until he’s a free agent. Meanwhile, they’re now one of the “favorites.”

Who represents the Orioles in the All-Star Game if Machado is traded?
By rule, it has to be one of the batting practice pitchers.

So, you don’t know?
I’m still unclear whether the Orioles under this scenario must be represented. I know that if a player is injured and can’t participate, the replacement doesn’t have to come from the same club. But I’d say Adam Jones would be a serious consideration. Dylan Bundy’s ERA is under 4. There aren’t a lot of solid choices.

Would you trade Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy?
No one should be deemed untouchable at this point, but there are levels of availability. It would have to be one heck of an offer. These guys are under team control beyond next season. I understand the argument that it doesn’t really matter if the Orioles aren’t going to contend before they reach free agency, but what if you’re trying to speed up the process? What if you don’t want to lose 100-plus games for the next five seasons? The trades would have to net starters in return who could join the rotation. The Orioles don’t have the kind of depth in the system that would allow them to just start plugging in guys and still try to compete. Maybe Keegan Akin becomes one of those guys. Hunter Harvey’s on the shelf again. It’s too soon for prospects like Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther and DL Hall. So yes, I’d consider it if I’m blown away by an offer, but it would have to move my hair, and if you’ve seen the amount of product I keep in the bathroom ...

What’s Harvey’s status?
Still single.

What’s the latest with Harvey’s shoulder injury?
I reported on June 27 that he could start his throwing program in one week. He made 25 throws yesterday from 60 feet.

Will the Orioles ever get more involved in the international market?
I heard back in May that they were open to spending more internationally. Not for the top-shelf, bidding-war talent, but they’d be more involved. I think there’s going to be at least a slight shift in organizational thinking.

Are the Orioles leaving Baltimore?
Only on their next road trip.

Why aren’t more people talking about Jonathan Schoop’s regression this season?
I can give you 161 million reasons. So much attention falls upon Chris Davis due to his franchise-record contract and dramatic fall from his 2015 season. And the lineup is loaded with low averages. Schoop didn’t stand out, though being Most Valuable Oriole in 2017 should have warranted closer scrutiny. He’s getting more of it now, especially after his exclusion from the last two lineups.

Is Schoop’s oblique still bothering him and causing his issues at the plate?
Not according to anyone we’ve asked. Maybe he’s keeping it a secret, but I think he’s just gotten into some bad habits again and now he’s pressing.

Will Adam Jones waive his 10-5 rights in a trade?
The Orioles will need to find out. They still hadn’t checked with him last week. Maybe it actually requires an offer from a club rather than just asking, “Hey, if we can find the right deal, will you let us?” Jones might actually want to have control over where he goes, which is the perk of attaining 10-5 status.

How hard is it to cover a team that’s playing this bad?
You have to accept that everything is your fault, at least according to the Twitter notifications. Once you’ve done that, it’s a breeze.

When will the Orioles start calling up their prospects?
I hate to keep pointing this out, but there isn’t a wave of them that are blocked. The top position player, if awards were handed out today, would be outfielder Ryan McKenna, and he began the year at Single-A Frederick. He’s twice been chosen as the organization’s minor league Player of the Month. Right-hander Baumann and left-hander Lowther moved up to the Keys from low Single-A Delmarva. It’s too soon. Outfielder Cedric Mullins has heated up at Triple-A Norfolk, raising his average to .259 going into last night after a 2-for-24 start, and his speed and defense already make him an attractive option. He’ll probably debut at some point this summer, the chances increasing even more if Jones is traded. And now that Colby Rasmus is gone. Left-hander Akin is tapping on the door. Ryan Mountcastle’s bat could get him to Baltimore. Harvey needs to get and stay healthy. Austin Hays needs to get out of a walking boot, stay healthy and hit the way he did in 2017. But there will be changes, and the average age gradually should be lowered.

Any other trade chips besides Machado, Jones, Britton and Brach?
I keep mentioning Danny Valencia. Nice bat off the bench, and he’s doing more than just mashing left-handed pitching. He can play multiple positions. He isn’t going to cost a top-tier free agent, and he doesn’t cost much after agreeing to a minor league deal in spring training that paid $1.2 million.

Why is Pedro Álvarez still on this roster?
He isn’t. The Orioles outrighted him to Norfok. Guess I need to empty this mailbag a little more often.

Fire somebody!
That’s not a question.

Why won’t the Orioles hold people accountable and ... fire somebody?
It’s always possible that changes are made in-season, but I got the impression after checking around that people will be reevaluated after the final game, and after contracts run out. But I suppose anything goes when a team is losing with this much regularity.

Are you leaving Baltimore?
Yes. I’m flying to Minnesota on Thursday.

Now that Colby Rasmus has left the team and again quit baseball, how many right fielders have the Orioles used since Nick Markakis?

Is that an exact total?
I rounded up.

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