Baltimore Orioles


The first part of the rebuilding of the Baltimore Orioles begins this season. There’s a new man in charge in the front office (Mike Elias), a new man in charge in the dugout (Brandon Hyde), and a plan in place to give the Orioles a minor league system that will funnel players to the majors, just as Elias helped the Astros do.
This first year could be ugly at times, so Orioles’ fans should expect to see a lot of players who won’t accomplish much. What will be interesting is to watch how fast the front office changes things with regards to the farm system, analytics and in other areas. Elias has been here before and knows what to do – the question is how long it will take to do it.
What’s New
Well, just about everything. The Orioles have effectively cleaned house in so many ways, really starting with the moves former GM Dan Duquette made at the trading deadline. When Elias took over for him, the former Houston executive made it known that the Orioles were going to rebuild and change everything.

And that work has begun.

The Orioles are diving into analytics, something that wasn’t relied upon nearly as much in the Duquette/Buck Showalter regime. Baltimore is not going to be sitting around waiting for the three-run homer any more.
Still, the Orioles are a much different team from last year. Gone are players like Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones (for now), Zack Britton, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day and others.
The Orioles did very little in terms of off-season moves. In fact, as of this past weekend, they had made just one major-league move, signing right-hander Nate Karns, who has not pitched in the major leagues since 2017. Shoulder and elbow problems kept him out since then, but he could be in the starting rotation. The Orioles made a lot of smaller minor-league type deals but nothing else.
Baltimore is going to have a new catcher – it could be Chance Sisco, who fizzled last year – or newcomer Jesus Sucre. Rule 5 pick-up Richie Martin could get a long look at shortstop, and the outfielders could have someone like Austin Hays, sidelined by injuries for much of last season. Also, will Cedric Mullins be able to handle center field on a daily basis for a full season.
What Could Change
The Orioles want to see what their younger (and cheaper) players can do, and this is the year they’ve got to start that process. It will begin in Spring Training and stretch out into the regular season.
This team is going to put players like Martin, Sisco and Hays out there and really give them long, hard looks to see if they can play at the major-league level. Don’t expect the Orioles to go after big-name free-agent signings. Trades probably won’t happen much either, except for minor-league type players trying to make the majors.
The Orioles have a number of younger players who have shown at times they’ve got major-league skills. Still, Baltimore needs to know for sure. Ryan Mountcastle had a great season at Double-A Bowie last year, but can he make the jump to the majors from there? Spring Training will give the Orioles part of the answer to that question, although here’s betting he starts at Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles are going to be filled with young players trying to show they belong at this level. Trey Mancini could be the leader of this group, and this is just his third season, but he’s already shown his strong skills.
For this season, though, the biggest question might involve first baseman Chris Davis. After a terrible 2018 – he batted just .168 and struck out 192 times – if Davis can somehow turn things around and get going again, he’ll give the Orioles a big bat in the middle of the lineup. The problem is, he is due $92 million in guaranteed money during his contract, according to, and that could make him so tough to move. If Davis bombs out, the Orioles could easily move Mancini to first or go with Mark Trumbo.
What’s Coming
This will be another long season for Baltimore fans. They will lose many games again, and it would be surprising if the Orioles are not in last place once more.
But remember that this is the first step in a journey that’s going to take a few years. They are building the farm system and need to see what the young players they have can do up here. That means lots of strikeouts, errors, mistakes and losses at times, but it also will give the team a real hard look at what they’ve got and the moves needed.
The Orioles will be trying to lay the foundation for better things, and that can be tough on a first-year manager like Hyde. Still, if he’s working in tandem with Elias and the front office, here’s a message for the fans – do not worry too much about the team’s record this year, it’s the start of a new era, and that takes time to build everything.
If the Orioles can eventually find some kind of consistency from the starting pitching and the bullpen along with getting some good performances from the younger position players, than 2019 will represent a good first step. The fans, though, need to be patient.
Best-Case Scenario: The Orioles show progress on the field, lose fewer than 100 games and get a top 5 draft pick in the first round.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Orioles look like a complete mess once more, lose more than 100 games but somehow don’t get a draft pick as high as they want – those draft picks are important to them -- as other teams also have big-time problems.


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