Before reports emerged Tuesday that the Orioles selected Chicago Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde as their new manager — which executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias called "premature" and still haven't been confirmed by the club — Cubs manager Joe Maddon outlined the advice he'd give to someone who is taking over a rebuilding club like the Orioles.
Maddon's first job with the Tampa Bay Rays was in similar circumstances; he took over a 95-loss team ahead of the 2006 season, lost 101 games in his first season, but brought the upstart Rays to the World Series in 2008.
Hyde, once officially chosen, could have a similarly tall task with the Orioles. Elias will have looked at his track record as a minor league manager and player development official as much as his time on Maddon's staff, but in melding the technical side with the man-management side, Maddon's advice is to focus on the latter.
"Everybody wants the, 'Well, we're going to be tougher. We're going to run plays, whatever.' You've got to build relationships from the ground up,” Maddon said. “You've got to get to know people first. And they've got to get to know you. When you do that, you start trusting each other. And once you trust each other, I promise you the ideas flow more freely. And then when you're constructively critical of one another, you're not pushing back.
"It starts right there. It's not complicated. And then after that, you have to have a specific plan when you go out to practice. I believe in simplicity. You go out and create a simple plan that's easy to follow and make sure that it's adhered to. And if there's anybody there that doesn't belong there, they need to be gone. Early. So they're the group that's going to drag you down, drag your program down. When the program is being dragged down and they inflict these little wounds constantly, it's difficult to get this thing to fly."
That task will be on the entire Orioles management team. Elias said Tuesday that he views the potential manager as an "extension of our front office, and we want that level of communication and rapport." That rapport will extend both up the chain to the front office staff and down the chain to coaches and players. Elias has also said he prefers the major league manager choose the Triple-A manager as well as his major league coaching staff, thus continuing that flow of information and singularity of message to the top level of the farm.
Hyde and the other five candidates likely came to the Orioles with plenty of ideas for the baseball side. Maddon's advice was that he let that take hold by building relationships.
"It's not complicated, it's not sexy, the explanation, but you've got to pay attention to those kind of things there before you really get your program running, and then you start playing right, you get the right dudes out there,” Maddon said. “Talking about the guys in the clubhouse, this team camaraderie and the sameness or this oneness about how you go about your business, that's what matters."