The new partnership of general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde began on an up note Monday. Their time together promises to be much less contentious than the administration that precedes it.
For much of the seven years that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter worked together, there was tension between the two. Elias and Hyde are very different than Duquette and Showalter.
Both Duquette and Showalter had years of experience as GM and manager before their arranged marriage with the Orioles, and both had strong opinions about how the franchise should operate.
In their first five seasons, they co-existed, perhaps not in harmony, but with success. The Orioles made the postseason in three of those five seasons.
If Elias and Hyde manage to construct a team that qualifies for the postseason as often as their predecessors did, fans would be ecstatic.
Elias seems determined to ensure that the old ways of the Orioles are in the past, even if he did acknowledge Brooks Robinson’s presence at Monday’s introduction for Hyde.
He hasn’t commented, except in generalities, on the reported candidates but none had ties to Elias or to the Orioles.
“In terms of our interview list, we did not interview anyone amongst our finalists who is currently in the Orioles’ organization,” Elias said. “I don’t know that that was intentional. We’re doing some new things here.
“I view outside perspective and outside experience as a plus. [Hyde’s] going to bring best practices and ideas to this organization that aren’t here now, that I’m not aware of that I’m not bringing with me. There’s some attraction to that.”
It’s clear that the horrifying 115-loss season convinced John and Louis Angelos that the Duquette-Showalter show had to end and that their dysfunctional relationship had only exacerbated the problems of last season.
“We view … the manager’s chair as an outpost of the front office,” Elias said. “While he’s on a nightly basis managing the 25-man roster, worrying about the players on the 40-man roster, trying to win games on the major league level, he’s also a full-blown, senior member of our front office team.
“He’ll be involved in every decision, strategy. That’s the dynamic I’m most familiar with because of my experience in Houston. That’s the dynamic that I know works around the league.”
The Orioles’ success from 2012-16 was achieved without much use of analytics, and minimal international scouting, two areas Elias has vowed to improve.
Now that he’s had a month to view the Orioles’ organization and its shortcomings, Elias has developed an understanding and appreciation for the team that had success before the collapse. He said he didn’t set out to do things differently in an intentional way.
“The past era here was hugely successful,” Elias said. “It was done against a lot of odds and a lot of expectations. I’m incredibly impressed by what the last group did here. It came to an end last year.
“This is a new era. I’m new. He’s [Hyde] new. It wasn’t part of my thought process. It was just getting the right person for this next era, what team we have now, how we’re going to approach things, what we’re going through. That was really what was on my mind.”
For their first six years together, Duquette would come out before nearly all home night games to watch batting practice and catch up with Showalter. This year, those meetings didn’t occur as regularly.
Duquette rarely traveled, except to Boston and New York. Elias said he doesn’t expect to travel often because of his many other duties. At last week’s Winter Meetings, Elias emphasized that he would be in constant contact with Hyde.
“This is a big job,” Elias said. It’s a complicated job. There’s a lot that goes into all of our decisions, and we want him a part of it and vice versa.”
Hyde said he welcomes healthy disagreements, and Elias seems to echo that philosophy.
“I come from a scouting background, and I’ve been in a lot of draft rooms,” Elias said. “We air it out, so to speak, in the draft room. We don’t agree on everything, but you end up with a decision that represents the organizational decision, and everyone is on board with that as soon as a decision is made, and that’s part of the fun of baseball, having those types of conversations.”
“We want to have a very open back-and-forth about those things because it leads to a better outcome and decision at the end of the day.”