Because You Asked - Heading Home

The month of July is behind us and the ol’ mailbag is swollen like a tick on a Doberman.

The dog days of summer are upon us.

I need to get back to answering your questions - over and over without complaint or pointing out how many of them are repetitious. It can be done with sincerity or a dash of sarcasm. It can be informative and fun. It’s a floor wax, it’s a dessert topping.

There is no editing for length, clarity, style or brevity. It’s the internet. We have room.

Also, my mailbag cup checks your mailbag.

Has Ramón Urías thrust himself into the picture for 2022?
He has, largely because of what he’s doing to pitchers in 2021. In what role is to be determined, but at the very least he’s got to be a utility player providing coverage in the middle infield. At the most, I think he can break camp as the starting shortstop and latest placeholder.

Could the Orioles sign another free-agent shortstop?
They could. A Freddy Galvis type. Freddy Galvis himself. That one-year guy who turns into a half-year guy after a deadline trade.

Where is the Orioles shortstop of the future currently playing? A major league team, minors or another organization?
Most definitely in the minors. There are too many shortstop prospects to say otherwise. The question is whether Gunnar Henderson or Jordan Westburg moves to third base. And it would be rude to ignore Joey Ortiz, Anthony Servideo, Cadyn Grenier, Adam Hall, Maikol Hernández and Darell Hernaiz. Richie Martin would like your attention, as well. He was hard to miss last night.

Is Dean Kremer going to get called up again?
If he’s pitching well, I think he’ll resurface. If he isn’t, he won’t. Sorry to complicate it. The Orioles are making sure to keep him available, just in case, by being careful with his innings at Norfolk.

How much longer before Jahmai Jones is recalled?
As soon as the Orioles are comfortable with Jones being comfortable at second base. That seems to be it. Now, it’s not like he’s batting .400 with a 1.000 OPS. But yeah, giving him the position over the last month or so would seem to be the right call. Evaluate him. Check whether he can be the guy on opening day. And I understand the desire to keep him off the shuttle, but there’s no way to really know if he’s ready until playing him at this level. Which does not answer your question.

What was your first reaction to the news that the Orioles called up Dusten Knight and Marcos Diplán?
Knight was the man with Diplán.

You stole that off Twitter, right?
Like a thief.

Any updates on Heston Kjerstad?
Unlike the Blue Jays with Austin Martin, the Orioles have not traded Kjerstad. Checkmate! OK, the latest is that Kjerstad remains shut down but we’re expected to receive some good news relatively soon, which would mean clearance to resume light workouts/activity. And to remain hopeful that his professional career can get off the launchpad in 2022. And most important, that he’s fully recovered from myocarditis and can lead a long and healthy life. There’s that, and then there’s baseball.

You trying to make me feel bad?
A little.

Is there any indication if Kjerstad will be full-go in spring training?
Depends on what he’s able to do leading up to it. The Orioles certainly think it can happen.

What do you think the Orioles will do with Trey Mancini?
Consider any trade offer and a contract extension. Revisit the market over the winter or next summer, or begin talks on a long-term commitment, which still hasn’t happened at the time of this mailbag. The more months that pass, the less value Mancini brings to another team as a rental. The more months that pass without serious talks about an extension, the more likely that it’s too late, if history is any indication. Of course, that’s history attached to the previous regime. The franchise operates in a different manner and we must take this into account when analyzing any situation. What’s important here is knowing that, while nothing concrete has been laid out for us, it’s evident that an extension is an option. I had my doubts in a rebuild.

Scott-Tanner-Delivers-at-White-Sox-Gray-Sidebar.jpgAre you surprised that Paul Fry and Tanner Scott weren’t traded?
I expected one of them to go, though it takes two to trade. The Orioles weren’t pressed into making a deal with both pitchers approaching their first years of arbitration eligibility. No reason to just dump them at the deadline. But I assumed that, as the two Orioles generating the most interest, Mike Elias would find an acceptable offer. Meanwhile, it never occurred to me while placing odds to check Norfolk’s bullpen.

Why is every sportswriter’s list of anything always five items?
I’ll let you in on an insider secret of the profession, but you can’t tell anyone: If the list is four or six items, an alarm goes off and arrests are made.

Why did Chris Davis delete his Twitter account?
I wasn’t aware that he did, but can you blame him?

How is Chris Davis’ rehab coming? Will we see him in September?
He’s rehabbing in Baltimore. Haven’t seen him at the ballpark but I don’t expect him to be hanging around the dugout during our batting practice access. Davis is doing some exercises for the hip, we’re told. Some baseball activities, we’re told. But he’s not playing in 2021, we’re told.

Will Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez see any time in Norfolk?
Rutschman is just a matter of time. Maybe by next week. He’s been on deck, so to speak, for a while now. And we know he isn’t kept back because his defense needs to improve. Rodriguez already has moved up one level and I’m not as certain about him, but it’s possible.

Will fans be disappointed if Rutschman has a major league career similar to Matt Wieters’?
I’d say most of them would be disappointed because Wieters was supposed to be Johnny Bench and have his Hall of Fame speech ready before his first major league at-bat. He had a real nice career. A four-time All-Star and team leader. A big reason why the Orioles became contenders again. But Wieters is a .249/.313/.409 hitter in 12 seasons, never hit more than 23 home runs, never had more than 83 RBIs and received some harsh criticisms for his framing and the targets he set. And he never cured any major diseases. Not even the small ones. So yeah, Rutschman will need to do better.

Any early indications on a work stoppage or a resolution allowing the season to start on time?
Nothing yet. Just a lot of bracing for the worst because the owners and union are as compatible as peanut butter and axle grease. The bad blood got pretty deep in 2020. And teams must make some roster decisions based on the possibility of a stoppage and players only allowed in minor league games.

Is the money being saved in salary over the last few seasons going to be reallocated to the free agent market or extensions eventually?
It’s more likely to happen when the team reaches contender status, though Mancini can be an exception. A lot of money previously has been funneled into the international scouting and analytics departments. They had to be built. And there’s also the Dominican academy. These things aren’t cheap. Plus, my annual raises (I’m kidding).

Is there any indication that the Orioles could take a slightly more aggressive approach in free agency? Signing a Taijuan Walker type instead of a Matt Harvey type?
Not sure that they’re quite at the point where they’re ready to spend more. My expectation is they’ll again try to find veterans on one-year deals to plug some holes and who could maybe be flipped at the deadline. Ideally, there will be fewer trouble spots, but so far Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells can’t be penciled into the 2022 rotation. DL Hall didn’t get out of Double-A Bowie before his season-ending elbow injury. They’ll need more veteran signings to team-friendly deals.

Like the O’s had “DDDD” (Dumpster Diving Dan Duquette), do we now have “MEME” (Maximum Execution Mike Elias)?
I won’t dump on Duquette, who played a major role in those playoff teams and didn’t have certain green lights given to Elias. You think he’d like to have the same enthusiasm for analytics and international signings? Many of the players and prospects who excite fans now arrived under his watch, which Elias has pointed out many times. But I give you high marks for the clever nickname for Elias and you may have just given MASN a promotional idea.

What were you thinking when the cat ran onto the field Monday night?
Besides how it wasn’t the first time a cat ran on a field and it wasn’t really a “story” and didn’t deserve that much media attention?

OK, yes.
Relievers are instructed to slam the door, but maybe one of them could have opened the darn bullpen gate and saved us about five minutes.

How long was the cat actually on the field?
I didn’t time it, but it felt like 27 minutes.

Not 26 or 28?
No, exactly 27.

How can a mailbag be conversational?
Next question. You, in the back.

Who is most likely to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 draft?
Three pitching prospects and an infielder appear to be slam dunks in DL Hall, Kyle Bradish, Kevin Smith and Terrin Vavra. Outfielder Robert Neustrom has developed into an intriguing case with his outstanding 2021 season. There’s also infielders Grenier and Adam Hall and pitcher Blaine Knight to consider, to name a few more.

Could Neustrom be called up to the majors this year?
Do I expect it? No, since the outfield seems to be filled and Anthony Santander wasn’t traded. Though Yusniel Diaz’s inability to stay healthy, get hot at the plate and push for a promotion may open a door. And Neustrom has to be added to the 40-man after the season. Is Neustrom doing everything he should in order to garner consideration? You better believe it - which I’m assuming is why you asked. September rosters only expand by two players, which is a detriment. But don’t sleep on Neustrom, if for no other reason than it sounds uncomfortable.

Will Colton Cowser get promoted to Delmarva?
Yes, as long as he’s healthy. He’s in the Florida Complex League to get his feet wet. Which is pretty easy with all the rain they’re getting down there.

Is Luis Ortiz, the No. 30 prospect, the same ...
No.

Is Hunter Harvey going to do anything different in this offseason to try and shake the injury bug that’s been swarming around him for the last five years?
Try to, not try and. It’s a pet peeve. Not as bad as “could care less,” but it’s on the list. Not sure what else Harvey could do. He’s in shape. Weird things keep happening. Like, what exercise could prevent an oblique injury? Did he neglect the oblique over the winter? Doubt it. A line drive off his shin. A line drive toward Bowie’s dugout that caused him to flinch and injure his shoulder. Running a few extra laps at home or going strictly Keto aren’t likely to protect him.

Why in the U.S. do we mail letters at the post office, and in Britain they post letters at Royal Mail? Oh, sorry, you wanted questions in the mail, not about the mail.
I thought I made that clear.

Will Brandon Hyde’s option be picked up? He deserves hazard pay.
It may have already happened. The Orioles refuse to talk about it. Or anything contract-related. But the expectation is that he’s back in 2022. I think it should be made public as a showing of support and to quiet any ridiculous speculation to the contrary.

Who’s the backup catcher next season if Rutschman is the starter?
If? Austin Wynns certainly is appealing with his defense. The arm is a weapon. But you know the Orioles are going to sign at least one veteran to a minor league deal. They’ll have to figure out what to do with Brett Cumberland, who’s in Triple-A. Whether they’re willing to try him behind the plate as the opposite of a prototypical veteran backup. He could be exposed again in the Rule 5 draft, a switch-hitter with power. An offense-first catcher.

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
African or European? Never mind. About 24 miles per hour or 11 meters per second.

How quickly can you reach the bottom of your mailbag?
Done.

You really don’t think this seems conversational?
I said done!

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