Results tagged ‘ Brandon Hyde ’

Baltimore Orioles: How will spring training 2020 be different from 2019?

Next year’s spring training should have a slightly different vibe for the Baltimore Orioles. 2019 was all about finding out what the Orioles had. Next season will be different.

In some instances the Orioles now know what they have. This past season brought a new manager in Brandon Hyde, and a slew of new players. Nobody really knew what to expect of anyone – including the fans. This time around we’ll have a better idea. We know the ebbs and flows of how Hyde manages a game. We know who the leaders are.

The question will be will this team be able to take a greater step next year. They took a good step this past year by winning more games than they did in 2018. But they need to build on that in 2020. And that process starts in spring training.

Actually it starts before spring training. Hyde told each player what he needed to continually work on in the off season. Regardless of what that was for each individual player, the message was loud and clear. You shouldn’t begin working on these things in the Florida Grapefruit League. That process needs to begin in the off season.

In effect, if your assignment was to cut down on your swing, that should be perfected by the time you report to camp. That right there should tell folks that the Orioles intend to be more competitive in 2020. That doesn’t mean that the playoff race is a reasonable goal, because it isn’t. But they intend to be more competitive. And that starts in spring training.

Baltimore Orioles 2019: A bridge to tomorrow

The Baltimore Orioles led by new manager Brandon Hyde weren’t expected to do much in 2019. According to their 54-108 record, they lived up to expectations. However in my season preview prior to Opening Day I said that success for this team would be to win more games than they did last year.

And that happened – to the tune of seven additional wins. That won’t win you anything. But it also shows the beginnings of progress.

The O’s surprised a lot of people by taking two-of-three on the road both from New York and Toronto in the first two series’ of the year. However reality soon set in, as they dropped seven of their next eight. And that’s pretty much how the season went.

The Birds would drop a string of games, and eventually get a win. Again, this season wasn’t about wins and losses. It was about seeing what the organization had in the first year of a rebuild.

And the process ended up being as painful as advertised. I think a lot of fans say that they understand that rebuilding isn’t an easy process. But in practice it’s even tougher than advertised. As the Orioles found out, it’s not for the faint of heart.

But there were promising signs. Starter John Means was elected to be the Orioles’ All-Star Game representative. Richie Martin, Anthony Santander, Hanser Alberto, and others all showed promise. As did Austin Hays, who received a September call-up. And that may end up parlaying him into a spot on the roster going into Spring Training next year.

Overall, the season itself was forgettable. However a funny thing happened in the final six weeks or so. The players really came together and became a close unit. I don’t necessarily mean that the wins came or anything, just that the players played as a team. And again, going into next year’s spring training, that’s a good sign.

Trey Mancini was voted the Most Valuable Oriole for 2019.. He led the team with 35 home runs on the year. That’s a bit of a surprise that someone on the Orioles would hit that many homers however Mancini has long been seen as a potential weapon on offense for the Orioles. And he showed it in 2019.

The hope is that going into 2020 the team can improve on it’s record once again, by way of the progress made towards the end of 2019. It is possible; I’ve see it done.

Baltimore Orioles: Did Brandon Hyde out-manage himself?

One day after trading for him, the Baltimore Orioles promoted Asher Wojchiekowski to the big leagues to make the start tonight against Tampa. And aside from the very tail end of his outing, he didn’t faire poorly. He kept the O’s in the game for sure Wojchiekowski’s line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K.

Wojchiekowski have up a first inning home run to Lowe, however the Orioles evened the score in the third at one on a solo homer by Chris Davis. For what it’s worth, Davis had gone 86 consecutive plate appearances without a homer. However Lowe put Tampa ahead once again in the bottom of that third inning with an RBI-single.

But the sixth inning is where Wojchiekowski started to tire. Manager Brandon Hyde would leave him in to pitch to Diaz (keeping a righty-righty match up), who proceeded to smack a two-RBI double. One inning later Hyde would bring in Jimmy Yacabonis to match up righty-righty against Pham – who proceeded to smack a two-RBI double. The O’s would close to within 6-3 in the ninth on Chance Sisco‘s two-run homer, but that was as close as they got.

Granted all other things being the same, the O’s would have won that game 3-2 if not for those Hyde moves at the end. I think it’s easy to say based squarely on the results that Hyde erred in judgement by playing the match ups there. It’s also easy to say that he’s a rookie manager and he’s going to make mistakes.

However matching up is the right thing to do on paper in that situation. “The book” says to do exactly what Brandon Hyde did. But is the book being re-written?

Baseball’s evolving more and more every year. As an example, I used to call pitches during games, taking into account what the hitter’s track record is in the game, the situation on the base paths, the count, etc. And I used to be pretty good at it. Notice I said used to be; I certainly haven’t forgotten how the game works. But the fact is that the game’s passed me by in a sense.

There’s no such thing as a fastball count anymore. Or an off-speed count, etc. You can’t anticipate that anymore because now it’s about doing the opposite of what your opponent thinks you’re going to do.

What does this have to do with Brandon Hyde? It’s meant to show how the game is changing. Old school people such as myself don’t have to like it but that’s how the game is evolving. Another way is that perhaps matching up isn’t the advantage it used to be. Nowadays hitters are simply preparing themselves to hit whomever and whatever comes at them.

That aside, keep in mind that matching up was also about commanding the inside corner. However hitters are seemingly more patient now than they were in other eras. If you can’t hit the black, teams are just going to take a walk.

These are things of which Brandon Hyde needs to be aware. Again, I personally think that he did the right thing in these situations. But conventional wisdom seems to have a way of backfiring of late.

The series closes tomorrow night at Tropicana Field. John Means gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa hasn’t yet announced a pitcher. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: What do division rivals have that the Birds do not?

The Baltimore Orioles welcome in the New York Yankees tonight for a four-game set at Camden Yards. Ironically that’s a longer series than normal, but it amounts to the shortest home stand of the year. Once everyone gets settled in at home, it’ll be back out on the road after Thursday’s matinee game – to Denver, for a three-game road swing before coming home again!

Everyone knows that the Orioles are rebuilding. That’s why their record overall isn’t as big of an issue as it was last year at this time. Nobody expects them to be good. Not now at least. However, they’re playing a team that had a similar moment a few years ago when they were about the rebuild. However New York not only tore down, retooled, and rebuilt in seemingly one fatal swoop, they thrived while doing it.

Heck, in 2016 when they traded for the likes of guys like Aaron Judge, they actually improved after knocking down what was in place previously. Consider that for a moment; the season was going south (by New York standards), they sold, and they actually improved. They made an outside run at the post season that year, but fell short (they fell short to the Orioles, who won the second Wild Card in the American League).

This year however, they have the biggest single excuse NOT to be good: injuries. Yet they still are. Regardless of who they plug into the lineup, he seems to produce. They signed Kendrys Morales last week, of course who’s an aging slugger. Granted he’s only had 13 plate appearances, but he’s hitting .300. This as opposed to .200 to that point with Oakland. Heck most recently, they took first place from Tampa over the weekend, in a series that featured New York with a seven-run inning in yesterday’s game. A seven-run inning from a group of guys put together with mud and spit?

Speaking of Tampa, they have something similar going on. Last year I all but scoffed at them trading literally everyone of note who had been on their team away. In doing so, they acquired what rightfully should have been single-A talent. That team of single-A talent finished with 90 wins last year, and is probably on it’s way to doing something similar this season. With guys of whom nobody’s ever heard.

So what do those teams have that the Orioles do not? I think that a certain small percentage of the fan base expected something similar to occur in Baltimore this season. That the team would show up and just blow everyone away. And for a week or so in the very beginning, they were raking in the wins. So again, what gives?

It’s well-known that the Orioles over a long period of time have made mistakes in their scouting – both of players for their own organization, and for players in other organizations. Both New York and Tampa have made it their business to know their competitors as well as they know themselves. That’s a tough thing to do. But you see the results, against of course what the Orioles’ results have been to this point.

This is not to say that the current crop of Orioles are simply a band of misfits thrown together by chance or as a matter of convenience. Most of the guys earned their roster spots in spring training. And we’ve already seen a few diamonds in the rough, such as Dwight Smith Jr., and Richie Martin.

The Orioles are just going about their rebuild differently, basically because they have to. They’re building the organization back up in a brick and mortar type of manner – similar to how the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs did a few years ago. And go figure, current Orioles’ GM Mike Elias was a part of that organization, and current manager Brandon Hyde was a part of the Chicago Cubs’ organization.

So if I were Orioles fans, I wouldn’t put too much stock in why New York or even Tampa was immediately good again, and the O’s aren’t. As I said, the organization is building up in a different manner. Neither way is right or wrong, although New York/Tampa’s way does actually yield to instant gratification. But the goal is to have sustained success as an organization, which is what the Orioles are building towards doing. If that happens in the next few years, the process will have been a success. The ends justify the means.

Baltimore Orioles let down by their pitching in Cleveland finale

The Baltimore Orioles and starter Yefry Ramirez were on the ropes early this afternoon. Literally from the first pitch onward. The Birds looked like a team that was looking forward to their flight home more so than they were playing the game that preceded it. And Cleveland looked like a team keen on winning this game before going onto tomorrow. Ramirez’s line: 3.1 IP, 6 H 5 R (4 earned), 4 BB, 3 K.

Ramirez came out of the bullpen to make this start, however what’s unclear is whether or not Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde was inserting Ramirez into the rotation or if this was simply a bullpen game. My personal opinion is that it’a the latter. Either way, Ramirez set the tone for a tough day all-around for the team. Santana’s RBI-single in the first gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead, which ran to 2-0 on Gonzales’s sac fly-RBI.

The game could have ended right at that point and the end result would have been the same. You can’t win if you can’t score runs. And the O’s got nothing off of Cleveland’s starter Bieber – who was outstanding. Bieber struck out 15 Oriole batters overall in the game. But having said that, at a certain point blowout games like these make guys kind of go into auto-drive just to finish the game.

Cleveland would score on a pass ball in the second, and then a solo homer by Perez and an RBI-groundout in the third. At that point Cleveland was well on it’s way to a blowout victory over the Birds in this series finale.

Gabriel Ynoa was tapped to eat a few innings l, and in essence to take one for the team. With the game out of control, Hyde and his coaching staff have to look forward to tomorrow’s game (and the next series). However Ynoa was unable to finish the game, and the O’s had to turn to Miguel Castro to pitch the eighth. And given that he sent Cleveland down 1-2-3, that eighth inning might have been the highlight of the game for the Orioles.

Going back to Ynoa for a moment, he had an out and runners at first and second in the sixth. He induced a comebacker, giving the O’s a golden shot at nailing the lead runner at third base. However Ynoa air mailed the throw, netting Cleveland yet another run. That was the tale of this game for the Orioles.

The O’s will now head home for a short four-game home stand against New York at Camden Yards. Andrew Cashner gets the start tomorrow night for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s J.A. Happ. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Is Brandon Hyde mismanaging the Oriole ‘pen?

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde spent a lot more time on the field tonight than he intended. By that, I mean he changed pitchers a lot, beginning with starter Dan Straily. Was Straily however lifted too early, and did that set the tone for the game? Straily’s line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K.

Straily gave up a solo homer in the first to Kipnis, however the Birds took the lead in the second at 2-1 on Rio Ruiz‘s two-run homer. Trey Mancini would extend the lead to 5-1 in the third, and for a moment it appeared that the Birds were going for a rout. However two RBI-singles in the third would cut that lead to 5-3 and one in the fourth would cut the Birds’ lead to 5-4.

Straily came out to pitch the fourth, however was lifted after pitching to one hitter. Hyde turned to Ynoa, who proceeded to give up a three-run homer to Kipnis – his second of the game. But more importantly, the O’s trailed. That set a certain tone for the rest of the game.

I’ve noticed about Brandon Hyde that he has a quick hook. He doesn’t leave pitchers out there under any circumstances if they’re not getting the job done. But is that the right thing? Managing a bullpen isn’t easy – I’m not going to pretend that it is. But Hyde went through four relievers tonight. Who knows how things would have gone had he not done so, but the fact is that he blows through relievers with ease. Is that wrong? Not necessarily. But it’s certainly not working out – yet.

The saving grace is that Stevie Wilkerson gave the Birds the lead back in the fifth with a two-RBI double. However Cleveland came back in the sixth. But Cleveland would tie it again in the sixth when Kipnis grounded into a run-scoring double play. Santana’s RBI-single, and Martin’s two-RBI single would turn it into a two run-inning.

And Cleveland added on from there, often on Oriole mistakes. This while Brandon Hyde continues changing pitchers. Again, is it possible that he isn’t good at managing things as such?

The answer is that I don’t know. Buck Showalter was great at managing a bullpen. But you can’t judge a young manager against someone of Showalter’s stature. However Hyde’s a rookie manager; if he is mismanaging the bullpen, it’s probably out of lack of experience. This isn’t to say that Cleveland and their 14 runs tonight was the direct result of poor managing overall. It’s a thankless job in a sense. And there’s no magic bullet for managing the ‘pen.

So is it fair of me to ask questions? Absolutely. Is it fair to say that things need to improve? For sure. But for the record, many other things occurred in this game. And sometimes you just have to tip your cap. If part of the issue in some losses is Hyde and his bullpen management, there’s every chance that will improve in time. You have to give people a chance to grow into their roles.

The series continues tomorrow night at Progressive Field. Dylan Bundy gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Jeffry Rodriguez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles have to limit the homers

Manager Brandon Hyde‘s said it on numerous occasions: the Baltimore Orioles need to keep the ball in the ballpark if they’re going to win games. This evening against Tampa, they gave up several solo shots (and a multi-run homer as well). Starter David Hess probably figured those solo homers wouldn’t hurt him – but obviously if you give up several, that’s a different story. Hess’ line: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Lowe smacked a three-rum homer in the first inning, and Tampa was off to the races. Zuni o would add an RBI-single in the second, and Tampa led 4-0. The Orioles hung a lot of pitches in this game, and when they weren’t hanging pitches Tampa was guessing right. That said, the Orioles probably aided them a bit in guessing what was coming.

The O’s went down 1-2-3 in the top of the third, and all three were strikeouts and called strike three’s by home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor. All three pitches were low and inside – well out of the strike zone, and well beyond the point where a hitter should swing with two strikes. The Oriole bench was beyond livid.

Tampa’s a team who uses just about every piece of analytical data that they can to win games. Every team uses analytics now, but their usage is almost shameless. So they saw that the Orioles were overly jazzed up about the strike zone. And they used that piece of “data” to their advantage.

It didn’t take a genius to think ahead and figure that Hess was going to try to pitch low and in. Hess and the Orioles figured that since Tampa got those calls, so why shouldn’t they? And sure enough, the Orioles pitched down and in – resulting in back-to-back solo homers by Choi and Diaz.

To add insult to injury, Bucknor ejected Brandon Hyde in the last of the third. But it wasn’t Hyde who was complaining – once the smoke cleared it was Tim Cossins who was ejected. Bucknor has such a bad night that he couldn’t even eject the correct guy.

Tampa would add two additional runs on RBI-doubles, and Rio Ruiz would get the O’s on the board with a solo homer. So message to the Orioles; keep the ball in the ballpark, and try to contain your anger even when an outburst is justified. Sometimes that can telegraph your eventual intentions.

The series concludes tomorrow at Tropicana Field. Andrew Cashner gets the start for the O’s, and Tampa is yet to name a starter. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

Baltimore Orioles: Opening Day musings

In reviewing my twitter feed, there was a lot of angst following the Baltimore Orioles’ 7-2 loss to New York yesterday on Opening Day. I’m not suggesting that it was a stellar performance. However games like that are part of the rebuilding process.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Birds had what could have amounted to a rally in the first inning. Jonathan Villar was on first base and what appeared to be a base hit was going between first and second. That would-be single smacked Villar on the foot, making him automatically out. Now ironically, no umpire called him out, so he kept running – and was thrown out at third. So whether that was a base running blunder or a bad break is anyone’s guess. (Odds are had he been safe at third New York would have challenged the call – and won.)

Manager Brandon Hyde addressed some of the bad breaks after the game:


I thought we had some unlucky breaks there. For the most part we’re going to give singles the other way to Stanton and Judge and Gary Sánchez, guys like that that can hurt you and do real damage. They found some holes against us today. Over time that will go the other way, I would believe, and some balls go through the other way on us today and hopefully we can take advantage of that offensively at some point also.


Quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports

But as former Washington DC sportstalk host Ken Beatrice used to say, if ‘if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, oh what a party we would have!’ Those were the types of breaks that went against the Orioles all season last year – and they were plentiful. But you have to play the games as they unfold, not wish they unfolded differently.

Whatever your thoughts on the game itself may be, remember that it’s one of 162. That game counts as much as next Tuesday night’s game in Toronto. Or Monday night, or Wednesday afternoon. Things are certainly under more scrutiny on Opening Day because…it’s Opening Day. And Opening Day is special, because baseball’s special. But again, one of 162. Long way to go!


Baltimore Orioles: 2019 Season Preview

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.

Baltimore Orioles: 2019 Season Preview

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.

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