The issue is command, though there’s obviously concern — with good reason — about his health. Bundy — who will start Thursday — has insisted he’s fine, and the Orioles will continue to weigh whether to shut him down for the season.
Bundy seemed particularly frustrated after his last outing against the Rays — calling it a level “10 out of 10,” and admitting he has little idea where the ball is going right now. The O’s Opening Day starter, Bundy is within his innings limit for the year. But you have to wonder how much good it’s doing to keep running him out there every fifth day.
How long does the front office expect this rebuild to take?
— Ellie F., Baltimore
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has referenced a three-year plan several times, but with an expiring contract, there’s no guarantee Duquette may oversee the rebuild. It depends on how you view a rebuild: Could they be competitive in three years? Sure. Will they be a true division contender by then? It remains to be seen.
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As with all rebuilds, it’s going to hinge on whether the trades the Orioles made of their veteran players actually pan out. The O’s farm system has improved in recent years, but they still aren’t in a position where there’s an heir apparent for guys like Manny Machado or Jonathan Schoop in the infield. The bullpen — without Darren O’Day, Zach Britton and Brad Brach — also remains in flux, as does the catching situation in the future. There are a lot of question marks and I think in the next year or two you’ll have a much better idea of how this rebuild is shaping up.
Do you think Adam Jones has a role with the 2019 Orioles and do you think he wants to be part of that team?
— Todd, Earleville, Md.
I think there was a time he wanted to stay and finish his career in Baltimore. I’m not so sure that will be an option, though.
Jones was already moved off of center field and now his playing time has dwindled in right. The 33-year-old wants to win and this could be his last chance to do so. I would hope the front office realizes what an important role he’s played in the winning years in Baltimore and what kind of impact he’s had on the community. But unless the Orioles can get him on a good deal, it’s tough to see how signing him as a free agent fits in with their plans to rebuild and reduce the big league payroll.
What’s the clubhouse morale like?
— Richard F., Glen Burnie, Md.
About as good as it can be given that the Orioles have cleared the 100-loss mark. Manager Buck Showalter talked at length on Sunday about checking in with the younger guys to make sure this experience isn’t something that sticks with them negatively.
“It’s something you look for,” Showalter said. “Everybody’s morale is challenged. Your whole life you’ve lived in an arena where you’re competing and trying to win the game … there’s a lot of, I call it a negative feeding frenzy and a positive feeding frenzy. You’ve got to be careful about drinking too much of that Kool-Aid on either side.”
Is there talk of Duquette and Showalter coming back?
— Daniel B., Baltimore
Both have said, on the record, that they’d like to stay and continue with this rebuild. But there’s obviously going to be some changes within the organization as the O’s march toward becoming the worst team by record in franchise history. There’s no way to handicap what ownership is thinking right now, and I’d hate to speculate on people’s futures in print. Still, I’d be surprised if everything remained status quo. Keep in mind, there are a lot of reasons why things went wrong this season and pinning it on just those two wouldn’t be fair.