Questions For The Baltimore Orioles
Typically Spring brings about feelings of renewal. You climb out of the slumber of Winter and think of warmer days ahead. Spring Training is a reinforcement of that. The slate from last year is wiped clean, and life begins anew.
In Sarasota, the Grapefruit League schedule has begun. This Thursday, the calendar turns to March, and the countdown to Opening Day (the 29th) will ramp up.
In many years, optimism would be increasing by the day. Be that false hope or otherwise, there would be a feeling that the new season is approaching and growing excitement for the Orioles to prove what they are (either way) between the lines.
I believe the general feeling which exists among Oriole fans can best be described as apathy. In someways those apathetic feelings matching the weather in Baltimore today. Grey. Overcast. Not too cold, nor too hot. Just meh.
It would be better for the Orioles if their fans were largely lathered up and angry. Instead, they have a fanbase which is shrugging their shoulders and trying to talk themselves into caring.
Opening Day will be a sellout.
Oriole players will run down the Orange Carpet, and fans will cheer.
O’s fans will check the boxscores each day. They will watch at-least part of most games on MASN, or listen to the the games on 105.7 The Fan.
What they won’t do though is emotionally invest into the overall product, until the Orioles give them a reason to do so.
That lack of emotional investment boils down to this. The fanbase can see that the primary goal for the Orioles is not winning the organizations first World Championship since 1983.
If the organization is not committed to ending that drought, why would you expect your fans to care?
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
I don’t have Press Credentials with the Orioles.
When this site started, I did a number of Q&As with personnel within the O’s Baseball Operations Department. Dave Stockstill, Joe Jordan, Dan Duquette.
I reached out to those individuals directly, and they were gracious enough to answer our questions.
The Orioles decided that they were uncomfortable with allowing their personnel to continue to decide as individuals if they were willing to answer questions; and requested all interview requests to be filtered through their Communications Department.
We’d love to again speak with Duquette.
Also Brady Anderson (VP, Baseball Operations), Sarah Gelles (Director, Analytics), Gary Rajsich (Director, Scouting), Kent Qualls (Director, Minor League Operations), Brian Graham (Director, Player Development).
Not to mention EVP Mr. John Angelos.
The Orioles have made clear they have no desire in speaking to us.
That is truly fine. They have the right to operate as they like.
It’s not their responsibility to speak with us (or anyone else).
In their calculation, speaking with us opens up a can of worms.
The organization’s position is that they do not want to be in position to have to credential every site that comes along.
My thoughts have always been:
A) If I present questions in a Q&A form, you (the organization) can choose what you are and are not willing to answer.
B) Credential anyone that wants credentials, and take them away if you deem it necessary.
I provide this background, because I’ve seen it mentioned by some in the ‘Mainstream Press’, that if Blogs want their questions answered, they should come and ask those questions.
I’d be glad to do so, but that access doesn’t exist.
I’m biased obviously, but I think it would be hard to argue that our Analysts are any less accomplished vs. any other local outlet.
Since I am not in position to question the O’s directly, I’m asking some of our questions here. The O’s can decide if they’d like to answer or not.
Q1: Neither Duquette or Showalter has a contract for 2019. Do they want to be with Baltimore going forward? If yes, is the organization / ownership aware of that desire? If so, why haven’t either been extended? If the organization knows they don’t want to be here past ’18… why are they in place here for ’18? It’s rumored the duo have a strained relationship. Can those suggestions be dispelled?
Q2: The organization did not trade Machado prior to the 2017 season when he had two years of team control remaining, and could have brought back more in return. The O’s balked at the offers they received to-date. If Machado plays out this season in an O’s uniform, and is not extended; the Orioles will essentially lose a HOF caliber talent for nothing. If the O’s are going to have him as part of the 2018 roster – effectively saying you are trying to contend this year – why are you seemingly committed to the 5th starter being either a Rule 5 selection (Cortes), a reliever (Castro) who threw 66 innings last year, or one of the three (Wright, Ynoa, Asher) journeyman options?
Q2a: The O’s 2017 team salary was approximately $164M. The O’s 2018 team salary appears likely to be considerably less. If you are trying to contend in ’18, are you more likely to do so with the rotation including one of Arreita, Cobb, or Lynn or one of Cortes, Castro, Wright, Ynoa, or Asher?
Arrieta, Cobb, and Lynn represent numerous price points and differing levels of ability to potentially push the Orioles closer to Wild Card contention. Can you look your fans in the face, or yourself in the face and pretend that any of them, are not better than the existing 5th starter options?
Q3: Besides the drop in payroll from 2017 to 2018; as we look ahead to 2019 the Orioles figure to have a starting lineup which features Sisco, Hays, Mountcastle, and Mancini all making very little money. With future payroll commitments being low, why wasn’t there a greater impetus this Winter in adding difference making talent to surround the existing core (since again, you did not trade away the existing core)?
Q4: Is the organization willing to give Machado $30M Annually? Would the organization give Machado multiple opt-outs? Is Machado willing to take deferred money? If the answer to any thing here is no, why wasn’t he traded prior to ’17?
Q5: The Minor League system entered 2017 regarded as one of the worst in the game. Entering 2018, the system is now looked at as middle of the pack. The Baseball Operations staff (particularly Scouting and Player Development) deserve credit there. Still, the primary reason the system is not even further along, is that the organization punts on any international efforts.The Orioles do the least internationally of any organization in the game.
Why is that?
Isn’t this simple math? You’ll spend less obtaining and developing talent internally, vs. trying to obtain via trade (player capital) or Free Agency? You acquire numbers and depth internationally. Some will progress and you’ll use yourself. Others will provide further depth for trade.
Q6: Why was there no progress this Winter with an extension for Schoop? If Schoop replicates his ’17, clearly the price for an extension only increases.
I believe you can squint and see how the O’s could contend for a Wild Card in 2018. Davis, Tillman, and Trumbo (to career averages, not ’16) would need to rebound. You’d need Mancini to maintain. Britton would need to get back earlier than initially expected. Brach / Givens / O’Day hold down the fort in his absence. You’d hope that Rasmus has a 20 homer season, or gives way relatively early to Hays who produces. You’d like to see Sisco join the lineup at some point, and provide a lift. Cashner doesn’t have to be particularly good, but does have to provide a step-up over Jimenez or Miley’s 2017 production. You get what you expect offensively from Beckham, and hope he is above average defensively at 3rd. Schoop has to have another monster year. Machado producing like the MVP talent he is would obviously help. Gausman and Bundy leading the staff, and both taking a leap is plausible.
Overall, basically the same formula that has existed since 2012. Lots of power, good defense, the rotation does just enough, and a quality bullpen. The team overcomes the limited on-base ability, and the middling rotation.
I can squint and see a team that contends for a Wild Card.
I don’t see a team that contends for an AL East title.
I don’t see a team that ends the World Championship drought for the organization.
I don’t see a team whose sole focus is ending that drought.
I don’t see a team that is focused on accumulating assets under long-term team control, and building for 2019 and beyond.
Above I said I perceived apathy among O’s fans as this 2018 season nears.
While I believe that to be accurate, that’s just my perception. Ultimately I can’t speak for others, only myself.
I’m currently in a state of indifference.
I’m hoping the Birds will give me a reason to care.