Because You Asked - Catching Fire

You ask me lots of questions. I have legitimate answers on a few occasions. It’s really hit or miss.

I’m the Dave Kingman of live chats and mailbags. But somehow we make it work.

(Yes, I’m an Orioles beat reporter who referenced Dave Kingman. That’s the direction I chose.)

I embrace the inquiries that don’t fly over my head or elicit a blank stare. No matter how many times I’m asked, because people have a tendency to skip over the comments on this blog or on my Twitter timeline. And hence, the “sequel” theme to this blog entry.

The repetition fuels me. And donuts. Repetition and donuts. But only one is bad for my Type 2 diabetes.

Let’s tear into this “mailbag” and educate the masses.

If Trey Mancini keeps hitting like this, could the Orioles trade him at the deadline and pick up some prospects?
No one is untouchable on this roster and the Orioles will ... wait for it ... listen on anyone because it’s the responsible thing to do. Mike Elias won’t screen his calls. But a decision must be made whether to consider talking contract extension with Mancini’s agent, an increasingly popular move in baseball, and building around him. Otherwise, there certainly would be the temptation to sell high.

Any updates on Austin Hays?
The splint is off his left thumb and he’s in a hitting progression. Starts with dry swings and continues with tee work, soft toss and batting practice. Upon completion of this sequence, Hays can begin playing in games and work toward a return to the majors.

Who will the Orioles select with the first pick in the draft?
It’s pretty much down to catcher Adley Rutschman or prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

Who will the Orioles select between Rutschman and Witt?
Sounds like a decision hasn’t been made. Solid arguments for both players, of course. Two really special talents. Rutschman is much closer to being ready for the majors, of course, because he’s a college player, and catcher is such an important position. Witt could move quickly despite being a prep player and there’s a belief that the smart teams stock up on shortstops because their athleticism allows them to move to other positions.

So you don’t know?
Not a clue.

How can anyone watch this team?

I mean, how can ...

Let’s remember that the Orioles are rebuilding. This is a lengthy and at times ugly process and one that some fans were clamoring for as far back as 2016. A complete teardown. Move the best players, get as much back as possible and start over. Well ...

How can anyone not want to watch this team?
Just won their first home series since August 2018, only six games below .500, playing much better defense, happy to ditch their station-to-station reputation. There’s an energy. Or “a gleam” as former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer used to say. And no one knew what it meant.

Can he pitch?

Anyone the Orioles call up who isn’t a pitcher.
Oh, jokes. Got it.

Are the analytics telling pitchers to give up all these home runs?
No. Poor location is running the show. Not taking advantage of pitcher’s counts. The problem is clear. Fixing it is the challenge. But the data isn’t to blame for baseballs flying out of the park.

Why does Brandon Hyde keep going to his bullpen instead of letting guys pitch out of jams?
He’d love to reduce his trips to the mound, but he’s been in come-to-rescue mode. He isn’t going to let a guy blow out his arm while trying to get that last out. He’s also trying to win games and has made the extra move or two at times because, again, the guy on the mound labors and forces his hand. He didn’t want to bring in Jimmy Yacabonis Monday night in a lopsided game, but Miguel Castro threw 45 pitches in two-thirds of an inning. He had to put catcher Jesús Sucre on the mound for the ninth because he didn’t want to extend Yacabonis and risk injury. He’s also trying to keep guys available by limiting their innings. Handling a bullpen is one of the most difficult tasks for a manager.

How beautiful is Arnie Beyeler’s mustache in person?
Um ... I don’t ... huh?

Smith-Hits-White-sidebar.jpgHow many years of team control on Dwight Smith Jr.?
He’s arbitration-eligible in 2022 and can become a free agent after the 2025 season. So he isn’t going anywhere for a while if the Orioles want to keep him.

Does anyone else think this is going to be a very long season?
It’s the first year of the rebuild under a new regime. It’s still baseball. Get to know the new guys. Appreciate someone like Mancini, a holdover who’s performing at a high level. Enjoy the aggressive approach that’s been encouraged. And wait for some of the organization’s top prospects to surface in Baltimore. Patience is a requirement. The ability to focus on the bigger picture.

Does Miguel Castro have any options left?

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Don’t know. Would just shrub my shoulders. (Sorry)

Why not Anthony Santander instead of Stevie Wilkerson?
The Orioles wanted a versatile player for their short bench and someone who could back up Joey Rickard in center field. Also, Wilkerson’s numbers were much better, though Santander has a higher ceiling and the Orioles are hoping that he’s eventually an outfield option for them. That he can build on his tremendous spring training. Remember, it’s all about development.

Do the Orioles anticipate signing any significant international talent when the pools refresh in July?
That’s their intention. There’s a reset and then they can go after the top-shelf talent that was gone earlier this year. And they’re going to be more confident now that they’re getting people in place who have more contacts and can increase their presence and legitimacy. Having the most international signing bonus slots wasn’t automatically going to make them the favorites to sign everyone with an international pulse.

Bring up Ryan Mountcastle.
This isn’t a question.

Why won’t the Orioles bring up Ryan Mountcastle?
He’s 22 and in his first season at the Triple-A level. Also learning a new position after moving across the diamond. He’d probably have to DH right now and a three-man bench demands more flexibility. But Mountcastle could make his major league debut later this summer if healthy and continuing to mash.

Who’s the Orioles All-Star rep?
Seems kind of early for that topic, but right now it’s Mancini. The stats and some name recognition.

Is it possible to DFA an entire bullpen?
Technically, yes. But the Orioles won’t resort to such drastic measures. Man, tough crowd here.

Is Chris Davis back?
Technically, he never left - other than attending to a family matter yesterday. He’s become more productive at the plate, though this isn’t the 2013 and 2015 versions that destroyed baseballs and took on superhero status. Eighteen of Davis’ first 34 balls put in play registered 95 mph or more, the highest percentage on the team at 52.9. He’s getting around on fastballs and no longer looking like he’s swinging underwater. But there’s obviously lots of room for improvement or his average would be above .200 and he’d have more than two home runs. This is a process like pretty much everything else on the team. There are encouraging signs. Try to forget the contract for a few minutes and appreciate the progress being made and the importance of it to a team that really wants him to become a dangerous hitter again.

Do the Orioles have any interest in Gio Gonzalez?
Too late if they did. He just signed a one-year deal with the Brewers. But I didn’t hear anything suggesting they wanted him. They have six starters now counting John Means.

When will Chris Tillman make his debut in the broadcast booth?
That’s one way for him to get back in a rotation.

When is Mark Trumbo returning?
He still isn’t doing baseball activities beyond throwing. It’s all about getting the knee strong with no discomfort. The best I can do here is say his return isn’t imminent.

Who’s been the biggest surprise to you so far?
Tough one because of the long list of candidates. I gave Means no chance to make the club and I don’t think the odds he placed were much better, but he’s been outstanding and really needs to find ways into the rotation. Smith was supposed to be outfield depth when Elias traded for him in camp. Except no one told Smith and he’s been terrific in left and at the plate, an absolute keeper. And a head-scratcher that the Jays let him go, especially when he still has an option.

How many types of liquids has Richard Bleier drank in his life?
That’s really, really, random. As the story goes, he’s only had water and milk his entire life except for the time that his Yankees teammates paid him like $100 to down a Powerade. Crazy, right? How is this even possible? You’d think a juice box would have infiltrated his world at some point. At a kid’s birthday party. Like one Capri Sun would have killed him.

Who’s the next starter to come up if the Orioles need one?
I’m sure they’re watching Yefry Ramirez, who hasn’t allowed a run in 14 innings with Triple-A Norfolk. But he also could slot into the bullpen if that’s the area of need. They really seem to have plenty of starters right now.

Can we get a “Wall to Wall Baseball” where Tom Davis and Rick Dempsey break down the Mueller report?
Bill Mueller has a report?

Would the Orioles be willing to trade (insert name)?
No one is untouchable. Going back to an early question. Anyone could be moved at the deadline if the right offer comes along. Especially if pitching is the return.

What’s up with all the beards?
It’s a new club policy that the Orioles must have every player with reddish hair and a beard. But also, the facial hair restrictions have softened. There wasn’t a formal announcement, but I see what you see.

Do you hear what I hear?
A star, a star, dancing in the night. But he’s doing it in San Diego now.

Why is this team struggling so badly?
Rebuild (ree-bild):
1. To repair, especially to dismantle and reassemble with new parts.
2. To replace, restrengthen or reinforce.
3. To revise, reshape or reorganize.

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