SAN DIEGO—When it came time for the Oriole manager’s media session at the Winter Meetings a year ago, there was no one to talk. Nearly 12 months later, Brandon Hyde, who was hired shortly after the meetings ended, has had plenty of time to prepare.
“You’re going to continue to see players come through our organization,” Hyde said Wednesday. “You’re going to continue to see different opportunities for different guys.”
Hyde wasn’t happy with the won/loss record, 54-108, but he was happy with the vibe of the clubhouse.
“I want to continue to keep that going and improve that,” Hyde said. “If you walked into our clubhouse, you wouldn’t have known that team was in the last place in the AL East.”
Last week, the Orioles traded two key players from the 2019 team, starting pitcher Dylan Bundy and infielder Jonathan Villar. Hyde doesn’t know how he’ll replace them, but knows he’ll miss them.
“I think I’m really realistic,” Hyde said. “I’ve seen good players traded away in situations like ours, so I know that anything is possible. I knew with the second halves that those guys had, that there would be interest from other teams.
“It’s great for them. I’m happy for them and happy that they put themselves in that position. [General manager] Mike [Elias] liked the return that we got back.”
Villar played second and shortstop, leaving the Orioles with a gap in the middle of the infield. He also hit .274 with 24 home runs and 40 steals.
“Exciting player,” Hyde said. “He brought so much from an energy level. Played 162 games, never wanted to come out of the lineup, played banged up … He’s going to be a big loss.”
Hyde will take a look at some players he hasn’t seen before, including left-handed starter Keegan Akin and catcher Adley Rutschman, the top overall draft choice last year. Hyde did get to see starter Dean Kremer in the Arizona Fall League.
“That’s the exciting part of us right now is we had some guys really perform well in the minor leagues,” Hyde said. “Some guys with upside. Instead of watching them on video, I’m watching them in big league camp.
“We’re going to be pretty young, and we’re going to be pretty inexperienced. It’s going to be exciting to see who takes the next step and is ready to compete and contribute at the big league level.”
Elias said on Monday that he hoped to have “as many as possible candidates” for the starting rotation. Hyde said he wanted eight possible starters when spring training begins.
The Orioles have hired but not announced Anthony Sanders as first base/outfield coach and Fredi Gonzalez as major league coach. They haven’t selected a bullpen coach. The team has interviewed several candidates at the Winter Meetings and hope to have a selection next week.
It’s too early for Hyde to think about a leadoff hitter for next season with Villar gone, but it’s reasonable to think that Austin Hays, who could be the Opening Day centerfielder, is a leading contender with what he showed at the end of 2019.
“We saw that the last few weeks of September,” Hyde said. “The talent level he has, the speed factor, how he plays defense, the ability to steal a base, the ability to hit for average and power. I thought he really displayed it well in September. I’m really happy with what he brings. We’re excited about his future, and excited about him going forward as well.”
Manfred on Baltimore’s baseball future: Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed speculation about an Orioles move and the team’s declining attendance.
“I think Baltimore is a viable baseball market,” Manfred said. “It’s got a great facility. I think the uncertainty surrounding the MASN situation is on the road to resolution. We had a [Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee] decision that has been confirmed.
“That decision should move the process along in terms of getting MASN into a more stable situation. I’m sure that as the team becomes more competitive, which I think it will with the great baseball operations people they’ve hired, the attendance in Baltimore will pick up.”