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Three questions with Jim Palmer on upcoming interview show, expectations for 2019 Orioles

For as long as Baseball Hall of Famer and Orioles legend Jim Palmer has been in the O’s broadcast booth, there's always been a chance he'll veer off into a story about one of the game's greats while looping it back into the here and now.

There was no such pull back to the present, however, when Palmer joined this week's episode of “Undeniable with Dan Patrick,” which airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the AT&T AUDIENCE Network.

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Ahead of his appearance, Palmer, 73, spoke to The Baltimore Sun this week about the interview with Patrick, plus his thoughts on the 2019 Orioles season. Palmer will be back for a 27th season as the lead analyst on Orioles broadcasts on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Anyone who has watched an Orioles broadcast knows you have a story for everything, but how much fun is it to get to tell those stories in a venue like you did on this show?

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The Orioles looked to recent champions in Houston and Chicago to assemble the trio of general manager Mike Elias, manager Brandon Hyde and assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal to take the team in a new direction

Well, they edited it. It was probably about a 3½-hour interview. … I had talked to Dan many times, but I don't know if I'd ever met him. I might have met him one time, and he did a very nice job. I know Joe Buck had done the show, and now he's doing it. You think about all the people that they could choose from, so it was quite an honor to even be chosen to do that. ...

They sent it to me last week and I watched part of it, and I liked it. You look at it and you go, “Maybe I could have answered that a little bit better.” But when my wife, who's a very tough critic likes it — when Susan says, “I thought you did a really nice job and he did a nice job,” … I look at it probably a little differently than other people. I was always accused of being a perfectionist.

But it was fun. He asked questions about my youth and all that stuff. I think a lot of people know that, yes, I pitched for the Orioles. In my era, they might have done a story of a little more depth. I lived in Baltimore, raised my kids in Baltimore, got divorced a couple times in Baltimore. I think everybody knew my life story, so I think they'll get to know me as more than somebody who talks on MASN. And I didn't do a very good job last year, because they won 47 games.

I wanted to get to that. What, as someone who has been watching baseball and been around baseball for as long as you have, what are the one or two things you're going to be looking for in the Orioles pitchers, especially, to say, “This is what's going to be a marker of improvement,” as this season gets going?

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I think we saw from last year, when you look at the records, [David] Hess was what, [3-10]. Guys had horrendous records. I mean, [Alex] Cobb pitched well the second half, so I think you could kind of explain the pitching poorly because of the lack of spring training — you did see a totally different guy. [Andrew] Cashner got right around three runs a game, which is kind of the story of his career. The year before, he got 5½, and he was 11-11, but he pitched much better.

Hess is not a stuff guy, so the analytics probably have a chance to help him, because when I watched him last year, he actually pitched well a lot of games. He gave up what, a home run to [Matt] Duffy in a three-run home run in the first inning [of his debut and won], and they actually had a pretty good offensive team. I think David's probably going to fare well in the sense that he can use those analytics and he's a bright guy.

In lieu of counting major league wins, this week, we’re counting down five players whose performance in the majors this year can go a long way toward judging the first year of the Elias-Brandon Hyde era of Orioles baseball. The third on that list is outfielder Cedric Mullins.

But you touched on it two days ago when they sent out [Austin] Hays, and not so much [Anthony] Santander — if Cobb gets off to a good start and somebody needs starting pitching before the trading deadline, you've got to trade him, and you might even eat some salary. Because they also want to develop their pitchers. It'll also give them 2½ months to look at — and it depends on who makes the ballclub, whether it's Josh Rogers or John Means, you'd like to have a lefty in the rotation.

But, I'm getting the message here that you also have to be at a point where they think you'll have some success. Now, what is success for a pitcher on a bad team? It's, “Can I pitch well?” Nowadays, if you pitch well and they don't score a lot of runs for you — this could be an offensively challenged team — then you've done your job. That's hard to do for 162 games. I think we saw that in September last year. Of course, Cobb got hurt, so he didn't pitch. Cashner had the two injuries.

So I guess what I'm looking for is, and Brandon — Hyder, as they call him — he touched on it when he took the job. You come to the ballpark every day, you compete and you get better. I think if you play on a bad ballclub, I would imagine with the analytics and the way that they can actually look at the performance of players and project the performance of players, this would be a pretty good club to pitch well and pitch on. I think that would be an encouragement. Nobody wants to lose ballgames, but you can only do so much.

You see it all the time. One guy gives up 3.9 runs per game and he's 8-11, and the other guy gives up 3.9 runs and scores 6.5 runs per game and he's a winning pitcher. In a perfect world, you pitch really well and they support you well and the defense — I'm getting the feeling the defense will be better than it was last year when you look at the metrics, with maybe the exception at third base. It'll be interesting if they think [Renato] Núñez, if he ends up playing third base, is going to be good enough defensively to be a guy who's going to play on a competitive winning ballclub.

That's definitely one of the last things that needs to get sorted out down here, but I wanted to get your thoughts on pitching coach Doug Brocail. I know you've had a little time around camp and have talked to him. But what do you think he can do, especially for the types of pitchers they have — the young guys who have a little time, have gotten a bad taste in their mouth, but need to get in a position to get to that next level?

First of all, he pitched for 18 years, so obviously that doesn't automatically qualify you to be a good pitching coach. But he was a pitching coach in the Houston organization, they're big in analytics. He goes down to Texas. Quite honestly, I only met him one time before this year. Even though I'd go to the Rangers games because my daughter lives in Dallas, a lot of times you don't see the pitching coach on the road because they're out in the bullpen or whatever.

I found him, No. 1, to have a wealth of knowledge. I think he embraces the analytics, which is very important in the direction that Mike Elias and Sig [Mejdal] are going in. I think that's another tool — that's funny about analytics. I think they're very meaningful and they can do a lot of good, but at the end of the day, you still have to be able to from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint go out and use those tools. I think he understands that because he did pitch. And he was a starter, and he was a reliever. He was a multitasker when it came to pitching at whatever level you need. I think he understands what guys are going through. It'll be interesting when the season starts. You want to win games, but you also want to develop it. We'll see how his patience is. I think he recognizes things pretty right on, and from talking to him, it was apparent that he did his homework coming into the season. ...

I think he's a very aware guy to have as a pitching coach. I think he's a good guy to have. He's easygoing, and I think he's also physically intimidating, so I think they'll look at him. But he's a good guy and I think it'll go well.

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