It will be quite a while before it will be possible to gauge the success of the new braintrust that hopes to shepherd the Orioles franchise to a brighter future, but at least there will be peace in our time.
The honeymoon period for new executive vice president of baseball operations Mike Elias and newly introduced manager Brandon Hyde figures to be a long one, since everyone seems to understand that turning last year’s 115-loss team back into a consistent winner will require a lot of time and patience.
So, for the next few years at least, you probably won’t be reading anonymously sourced tweets about friction in the front office. There will be no unconfirmed reports that the GM and the manager don’t get along. No behind-the-scenes struggle for the full faith of ownership.
That’s all so yesterday.
The Orioles hired Buck Showalter in 2010 to take over a team that was in the midst of a 14-year string of losing seasons. They hired Dan Duquette 15 months later to take over the rebuilding effort when club president Andy MacPhail chose to leave for personal reasons. Showalter and Duquette would never have been a perfect match on eharmony.com, but nobody really cared while the O’s were reaching the postseason three times and leading the American League in regular season victories from 2012 to 2016.
When things started to unravel at the end of the 2017 season, however, the predictable whispers about dysfunction behind the walls of the B&O Warehouse became increasingly audible. After the Orioles drove over a competitive cliff this past season, new managing partners John and Louis Angelos ended any perceived power struggle by allowing the contracts of both Showalter and Duquette to expire.
Both Elias and Hyde went out of their way during Hyde’s introductory news conference Monday to heap praise on Showalter and Duquette for the job they did returning the Orioles to respectability, but they acknowledged that creating a more collaborative relationship between the front office and the manager’s office was an important point of emphasis during the managerial search.
“Very much so,’’ Elias said. “We view — and it’s just not me, it’s Sig [Mejdal] and the rest of the baseball operations staff and Brandon — we view the manager’s chair as an outpost of the front office. So, 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 at the major league level, he’s also a full-blown senior member of our front office team.
“He will be involved on every decision and strategy. That’s the dynamic that I’m more familiar with because of my recent experience in Houston, and that’s the dynamic that I know works best around the league. This is a big job. It’s a complicated job. There’s a lot to goes into all of our decisions and we want him to be a part of it and vice versa.”
Hyde had been the subject of a lot of managerial interest over the past couple of months, but he said he felt a kinship with Elias that obviously was mutual.
“That was part of the process of me going through all these interviews that I went on after the season,’’ Hyde said. “I wasn’t in a hurry to do anything. I was really happy with what I was doing. Am I going to have the right fit? Am I going be able to have that great relationship with the front office? That was the most important thing for me. Right away, with Mike, I felt that and here we are.”
It didn’t just come down to personal compatibility. Elias cited Hyde’s wide-ranging experience at the minor league, major league and front office levels to explain how he reached the final decision to choose him from a list of six finalists for the job and put him in charge of what promises to be a very challenging rebuilding project.
“We are going to be working toward the same goals,’’ Elias said, “and doing so in a collaborative, open manner where we’re communicating constantly. So, to me, the connection that I felt personally in dealing with Brandon was very important as well.”
Of course, that all sounds wonderful and it should. The Orioles and their fans have been to hell and back over the last 15 months and everybody’s getting a fresh start. Whether Elias and Hyde can lead them to the World Series obviously remains to be seen, but — right now — there is no place to go but up.