2019 will be a different type of season for the Baltimore Orioles and their fans. For starters, Brandon Hyde will be manning the Orioles’ dugout instead of the venerable figure of Buck Showalter. You can also substitute Mullins for Jones in center, Villar for Schoop at second, and Nunez for Machado at third.
But it’s more than just different players. The Orioles started over, in essence smack in the middle of the season last year. 2019 is all about youth and finding new talent to plug into various positions. It’s about trusting that process as headed by new GM Mike Elias, and seeing it through.
Whereas in past season previews I’ve said the Orioles will go as far as their pitching takes them, this year the slogan will be trust the process. And seriously, I’m not sure how often in the past I said that but about pitching, but it was often. As I said, 2019 will be a different type of year in Birdland.
However that should also excite Orioles’ fans. Odds are, this won’t be the year where the Birds will come out of nowhere to contend. Granted, you never know – this world is capable of some pretty strange things. However these aren’t the 2012 O’s. I wouldn’t bet on it.
But what will happen is that the foundation will begin to be laid for whatever happens in the future. IF the Orioles are contending in 2022 for instance, fans might point back to this year and realize that this is kind of where it began. As I said, the foundation will begin now.
Ironically one area in which the Orioles do resemble last year’s team is the starting rotation. Alex Cobb of course will start the year on the injured list, however many of the faces we saw last year (the Cashner’s, Bundy’s, Wright’s, and Hess’ of the world) in fact remain. One thing that is different is that the Birds are expected to go with using Nate Karns (who signed as a free agent) in the role of an “opener.”
Offensively the Orioles don’t have the horses that they’ve had in the past. Again folks, this is the foundation for what’s to come. However also keep in mind that last year when they did have the horses things weren’t exactly smooth. It’s also worth noting that Brandon Hyde’s philosophy seems to be to be more aggressive on the base paths. So…could they perhaps be better offensively?
I’m not sure if better’s the term for which we’re looking. But if the spring slate of games is any indication, we’ll see more team speed, more guys in motion, etc. Yes, that means that mistakes will be made on the base paths. However when you put guys on base and put pressure on the defense, mistakes can happen. And if nothing else, advancing a runner into scoring position or staying out of a double-play could represent the fine line between winning and losing.
All of that said, it’s going to be a tough year in Birdland in terms of wins and losses. Keep in mind that last year’s team won 47 games. Will this year be easy? Not in the least. Will the improvement in terms of wins and losses be exponential? Doubtful. But will the O’s win more than 47 games? I believe so.