In case you are reading this and the Orioles are in the midst of a 12- to 15-game winning streak (chances are they won’t be), manager Brandon Hyde will still have an overall win-loss record that will have many calling for him getting the heave-ho at season’s end. But that would be the exactly wrong move to make, and my money is on general manager Mike Elias being much smarter than trying the all-too-typical sleight-of-hand trick used by insecure GMs when their team is committed to a rebuild that doesn’t feel like it’s moving fast enough.
Letting the 47-year-old Hyde go would merely be a move to take the spotlight off of Elias. There really isn’t anyone more deserving of the next 2-3 years to see this thing to its end game than Hyde.
The contract statuses of Elias and Hyde are a bit murky. But it’s believed that Elias is on a five-year deal, which would make sense, given what he was giving up in Houston.
It’s also believed that Hyde’s deal is three years with a club option for 2022. Can anyone who watches the Orioles day in and day out really blame the team’s win-loss record on Hyde’s managerial acumen? Yet the ugly numbers will be forever etched onto his managerial career record. Entering play June 11, Hyde had a career mark of 101-183.
When former executive Theo Epstein originally left the Boston Red Sox to push the Chicago Cubs toward a world championship, he entrusted the managerial reins to a first-time skipper in Dale Sveum, who lasted just two seasons (2012-2013) and went 127-197. In came Rick Renteria, and he improved the record to 73-89 in 2014. For his good, solid work, he was shown the door when Joe Maddon was able to exercise an out in his Tampa Bay deal.
Renteria was quickly snatched up by the cross-town rival White Sox. Renteria knew things wouldn’t be easy, but he dug in to do the work. His record wasn’t great with the White Sox, but GM Rick Hahn knew it wouldn’t be. His first three seasons were very tough. Renteria went 67-95 and 62-100 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. In 2019, with some better talent on hand, the record improved to 72-89. And in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020, the Sox made a substantial jump to 35-25, good enough for their first trip to the playoffs since 2008.
As a thank you to Renteria, the White Sox turned the keys of the club he helped build over to 76-year-old Tony La Russa. That’s Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, who had not managed a major-league game for a decade.
I have been covering the Orioles professionally since 1981. That’s a lot of years and a lot of leaders, from Earl Weaver, Buck Showalter and everyone in between. I am not going to insult your intelligence and claim that Hyde is the only man capable of delivering this team to the other side known as the promised land of relevance.
But, I will tell you this: I have watched some good baseball men — think Cal Ripken Sr., Sam Perlozzo and Dave Trembley — throughout the years, and I can’t say that given similar circumstances I’d be standing so firmly in their corner.
So, what has impressed me so much about Hyde? You can name almost anything important on a checklist of what makes a quality manager, and he gets the requisite check.
Do his players play hard for him? Check. Does he command respect? Check. Have any doubts about this? Well, his mostly young club had zero COVID outbreaks last year, which suggests his players followed the league’s protocols closely. Hyde’s players look to him to lead them.
How are Hyde’s communication skills? His three seasons in Baltimore have been perhaps the weirdest three seasons in MLB history. Yet, there he is Zoom after Zoom after Zoom, answering reporters’ questions with clear focus, sincerity and honesty.
He gets the fact that the questions asked by reporters represent the questions of the fan on the street.
Overall, what you see day in and day out from Hyde is what you get. There are no hidden agendas from him, and Elias knows this. His skipper understands the chain of command and buys into the need for all members of a team to have all the oars pulling in the same direction.
This isn’t about Hyde being the only one who can ultimately be successful when this Orioles team is ready for a nice, long sustainable run of excellence that can make baseball truly relevant in our town.
No, this is about doing something the right way. For Elias, this is about truly measuring up as the man in Baltimore sports history to come out at the other end of a rebuild of this magnitude.
To do it is one thing. To do it the right way is something else altogether.
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