Hyde wants Orioles to be smart and aggressive - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Hyde wants Orioles to be smart and aggressive

Brandon Hyde
Photo courtesy Baltimore Orioles

BALTIMORE—Brandon Hyde remembers his first professional trip to Baltimore well. On June 23, 2010, when he was working as the Florida Marlins’ minor league infield coordinator, he received a 6 a.m. wakeup call, telling him to pack his bags and head to Baltimore, where the Marlins were in the midst of a three-game series against the Orioles.

Upon landing, he found out that manager Fredi Gonzalez, bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley had been fired, and Hyde had been named bench coach.

Coincidentally, Presley’s next job was as Orioles hitting coach under Buck Showalter, and Tosca has managed in the Gulf Coast League for the past two seasons. Hyde was disturbed because they were his friends. Another man he admired, Edwin Rodriguez, had been named Marlins manager.

“My intro to the big leagues was getting off the plane and all of sudden you’re a big league bench coach with a manager that had never been a big league manager,” Hyde said.

The trip he took last weekend was much better planned, and now Hyde begins the challenge of trying to turn around the Orioles after a 115-loss season.

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“There’s a lot of adjectives that will go into the type of team I would like,” Hyde said. “I think you’re always going to manage to your team and what the roster consists of whether it’s going to be a bunch of power guys or some speed guys. I’d like to have a balance of both.”

Hyde and general manager Mike Elias both participated in impressive turnarounds — Hyde with the Chicago Cubs, and Elias with the Houston Astros.

Although that didn’t seem important at first to Elias and Sig Mejdal, his assistant GM and chief analytics aide, it feels right now.

“It wasn’t a consideration as we entered the process,” Elias said. “Once we talked to Brandon, it made me feel really good that he understood the scope of this, and he’s been through it in the same way Sig and I have, and to have that experience and that shared perspective is an asset.”

Elias reportedly interviewed five other candidates for the job. Three had significant managerial experience: Manny Acta, Chip Hale and Mike Redmond, who managed for a combined 11 seasons—without a winning record.

“I think it speaks to how impressed we were with Brandon,” Elias said of the lack of managerial experience. “Still, he beat out very good candidates that did. I was a little bit attracted to experience because I’m a first-year GM, and we have a lot to do all around the organization.”

Once a coaching staff is hired, Hyde will begin to get to know the Orioles, who not only set a franchise record for losses but used 56 players, more than any other team in franchise history.

“I want an aggressive team that knows how to play smart, smart baseball,” Hyde said. “Aggressive in the right moments, grind out at-bat-type of attitude.

“Mike and Sig’s job is going to be to get as much talent in here as possible, and my job is going to be to develop it in the big leagues, and however long it takes.”

Elias and Mejdal worked together in St. Louis and Houston, and Hyde likes their past.

“There are similarities between the Cubs and the Astros,” Hyde said. “I want to believe there are going to be similarities here. Those guys have been through it before. That’s what really attracted me.”

Hyde worked in the National Leauge Central, which includes the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers, who made it to the seventh game of the NLCS. Now, he steps over to compete with the Boston Red Sox, who finished an unfathomable 61 games ahead of the Orioles in the AL East.

“I want our players to focus on competing,” Hyde said. “To getting better every single day, to being a great teammate, to being held accountable, to hold others accountable.”

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, who had the second-longest tenure in Orioles managerial history.

“I have so much respect for Buck Showalter,” Hyde said. “As a young coach, that was somebody I looked to on TV … When he was on ESPN, I’d always listen to him.”

Hyde is the 20th manager in team history, and he seems eager to learn about what came before him.

“I’m going to be me, but I definitely have a ton of respect for who’s been in that chair for the last eight or nine years,” Hyde said.

The losing season hurt Showalter badly, and Hyde is aware that another difficult season might be coming up.

“We’re going to be patient,” he said. “We’re going to be positive … No promises made, except that we’re going to play really, really hard. We’re going to play to win every single night.”

Hyde is eager to manage in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. He knows that spring training is less than two months away.

“I’m looking forward to putting our staff together, get to know our players, get down to Sarasota and ready to go compete in the American League East,” Hyde said. “It’s not daunting. It’s more like I’m excited to start.”

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. bigdaddydk

    December 18, 2018 at 8:35 am

    The one thing he said that resonates with me is that he wants guys who grind out at bats. Frankly, I got tired of hearing the “gotta keep grinding” mantra when the team was in a free fall from September 2017 onward. Cap tipping got old too. But in this case, I like the idea of hitters extending at bats. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched our pitchers have to fight through eight, nine, ten-pitch at bats because other teams have guys who can foul off tough pitches and extend them. Guys like Mookie Betts and Brett Gardner. Those guys have frustrated me to no end because at bats like that, even when they end in outs, build a pitcher’s pitch count and shorten outings. How many times have I watched our pitchers heading to the 5th inning with counts in the 80s and the other team’s pitchers in the 60s? Again, I’ve lost track. But being smart at the plate and extending at bats puts pressure on the other team, which can only work to your advantage. I hope we see more guys that can do that coming in. I’d take a team full of guys who see 5 pitches per PA, hit 15 HRs/yr., and have an OBP of .320 over guys who are first pitch swingers who hit 40 HRs/yr. and have an OBP of .280.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 18, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Bigdaddy, I’ll be interested in watching the Orioles’ at-bats in 2019 to see if there’s a change in approach.

    • Mau

      December 19, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      This^^^

      From Dr Buckle to Mr Hyde. I loved Buck, and he often worked magic with what he had, but it is music to my ears to hear a manager speak of a balance of power and speed and grinding at the plate. Elias work is cut out for him.

  2. Hallbe62

    December 18, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Plate discipline is needed. Defensive fundamentals need immediate improvement.

    Team speed (base stealing) is weak by MLB standards and you can’t teach speed.

    Pitching can always be improved. So what we have is a ballclub that must improve in all facets of the game.

    So let’s hire some coaches, scouts, and whatever Suits need to be added to the front office and get this slow train moving out of the station and on down the line.

  3. jkneps63

    December 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I like smart and aggressive over dumb and passive! Researched some pitches per plate appearance stats and the 2018 Orioles averaged 3.89 while at the plate and 3.88 while on the mound. Like BigDaddy, I remember long ABs by Orioles opponents and big differentials in pitches thrown by starters, so these stats surprised me a bit. Also surprising, both HOU and CHC saw below average pitches per plate appearance in 2018 and their pitching staffs both had above average pitches per plate appearance! So maybe grinding it out at the plate isn’t an effective strategy.

    HOU was second in contact % per swing while at the plate and first in contact allowed while pitching; the Orioles were in the bottom four in both contact made at the plate and contact allowed while pitching. Hopefully some of that “secret sauce” from HOU will translate into some improved performances for the Orioles in 2019.

    Rich – I read your 2015 article on the Orioles process for hiring Lee Mazzilli, great article! I don’t see Mr. Elias headed towards any open and transparent processes anytime…that’s a shame for us fans anxious to hear what is going on with the team, but probably advantageous to the organization.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 18, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      jkneps, I appreciate your researching and finding something I wrote so long ago. Make sure and keep quiet about the ones that don’t measure up.

      I would have liked a transparent process. I think the fans would benefit, and last year the Yankees arranged conference calls for all their managerial candidates.

      Most teams do it the Orioles’ way, and I think that’s not going to change.

  4. cedar

    December 18, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    I like Hyde’s opinion on what type of players he wants on the team and I also like that he states it’s Elias job to get them, and his job to develop them at the major league level.

    I hope that the coaches he hires will follow along the same lines – tough, smart managers who grind out ways to improve this club.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 18, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      I’m eagerly awaiting the coaching staff hires, cedar.

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