The month of November allows baseball media and fans to keep compiling lists - whether on paper and laptop screens or in heads - of the offseason issues facing a particular team.
We mostly talk about the Orioles here, so let’s stick with them.
Go back to the 2018 offseason and you’ll find the same inquires surrounding Chris Davis. He’s a top five subject.
What are the Orioles going to do with Davis? Well, it’s been made clear to us that he’s reporting to spring training, three years left on his contract, and hoping that his work back home in Dallas produces the desired results.
Taking in new information that’s available to him. Seeking advice from new people.
Tuning out the speculation over his status with the club, whether ownership is willing to eat the remainder of that contract.
We don’t know. No one in the organization is setting a date. No one is making assurances in any direction.
Davis appeared in only nine games in September and went 6-for-18 in the last five. He slashed .162/.279/.316 in the second half. And he bristled, to say the least, if anyone questioned his desire.
Other questions will follow him to Sarasota, Fla. The same ones.
We wondered last winter about Brandon Hyde, a first-time manager whose hiring leaked at the Winter Meetings and caused a bit of a mess.
Cleanup in aisle five!
How would Hyde handle a job that he never touched beyond one game with the Marlins on an interim basis?
Grades are incomplete in the initial season of a massive rebuild, but nothing jumped out to suggest that Hyde is overmatched. He gained the respect of his players in rapid fashion and they played hard for him, which explained why I had to keep changing the score in my game stories in the late innings.
Maybe not the outcome, but the margins of defeat.
Hyde kept it loose but didn’t relinquish control. Players sensed that he had their backs, and he impressed the media by expressing his frustration with the obvious problems rather than act as though they didn’t exist, which would have chipped away at his credibility.
The lack of quality pitching, the embarrassing number of home runs allowed, the occasional mental lapses. He didn’t throw people under the bus, but he also didn’t pretend that the emperor wore new clothes.
I don’t expect to find Hyde on many lists this winter. Does anyone wonder how he’s going to handle his second season on the job?
Many of us asked a year ago about the trade candidates on the roster and only a few of the names have changed.
Alex Cobb was supposed to be a trade chip at the deadline before injuries and hip and knee surgeries destroyed that plan. He’s expected to be healthy at spring training and the Orioles will try it again.
There’s no Andrew Cashner or Mark Trumbo to include in the speculation, but reliever Mychal Givens returns to the discussion. He could be moved before opening day. The Orioles will check the market for him.
The same goes for Jonathan Villar if he isn’t non-tendered.
The Orioles seem inclined to keep Trey Mancini, but he isn’t untouchable. Make them an offer.
It better be a real good one.
We wondered last winter about the closer. As if that’s an important designation for a team projected to lose 100-plus games.
Givens was the highest-leverage guy, with Hyde using him when important outs were needed. Didn’t have to be the ninth, though that was the preference.
The splits made it clear that Givens lost effectiveness in the ninth and when pushed beyond one inning, and Hyde eventually had to adjust.
Hunter Harvey could become the highest-leverage reliever in 2020. But there’s no reason to call him or anyone else “closer.”
We’ll know who’s doing it when that person begins to warm for the ninth.
We ranked the biggest needs last winter, and pitching returns to the top. The rotation has holes. The bullpen has holes. Hyde needs people he can trust and the shuttle needs a break.
The Orioles are going to concentrate again on pitchers who can be acquired on one-year deals and perhaps flipped at the deadline. They tried it with Nate Karns and Dan Straily. They hope for different results.