For many, today is a cold return to reality. The holiday season has come and passed, the year 2018 has come to a close, and a great number of people find themselves back at work. The Christmas lights are coming down, but there are still many cold days ahead for Orioles fans that aren’t based in sunny Sarasota, Florida.
While the holidays often provide a welcome distraction, along with some unwelcome stress, the status quo is back in full force. The recent hirings of manager Brandon Hyde and executive vice president Mike Elias have served as a similar distraction. Hyde, Elias and other new hires have allowed Orioles fans to focus on the future instead of the woeful 2018 season.
As we all snap back to reality, we see that the roster really has not changed much. The Orioles did not do any holiday shopping, and they likely won’t even head to the store until the clearance rack is half empty. An Amazon gift card can’t play shortstop, and the Orioles probably wouldn’t load it up with a lot of spending money anyway.
When the Orioles were competitive under the Duquette and Showalter tenure, they often applied a similar strategy. Baltimore waited until spring training neared, and then it pounced on a piece it felt could help the team at a reasonable value.
The approach makes more sense now that the Orioles are not immediately pursuing a championship. Still, it is not exactly comforting knowing that there are not reinforcements on the horizon.
The Orioles will still try to get better in 2019. They’re making resolutions just like you and me, but hopefully they don’t throw in the towel as quickly as I do on my gym membership. What are a few things the Birds hope to do in 2019?
The Orioles need to select the best player in the 2019 MLB draft. That’s easier said than done, but Elias, Sig Mejdal and others in the organization are doing everything they can to evaluate the draft class. Elias and Mejdal have hit on top picks before, and they’ll certainly rely on their experience, along with analytics and projections, when they make the choice in June.
Even if the Orioles don’t come away with the best player, they cannot afford a bust. Bobby Witt Jr. or Adley Rutschman will not single-handedly save the Orioles organization, but the pick represents the first step in the right direction for the current administration. Baltimore hopes that whichever player they select will play a role in the next winning window for the Orioles.
Baltimore will strive to win more than 47 games this year. The team may not be chasing a ring yet, but it still wants to see improvement on the field and in the win column. The Orioles could increase last year’s .290 winning percentage and still come away with another top pick in the 2020 draft.
The Birds will be made up of young players that the organization hopes will one day contribute for a playoff contender. If some of the young guns play like they are capable of, Baltimore should win a few more games this year.
The Orioles must handle their prospects properly this year. Hyde has managed in the minor leagues, and he should be able to assess the status of talent. Hyde, Elias and new hires like Tim Cossins (who previously served as the Chicago Cubs minor league catching coordinator) will all do what the organization thinks is best for prospects in the long term.
The Orioles don’t want to call up top prospects like Yusniel Diaz or Ryan Mountcastle just because there is room for them on the roster. To the same tune, the Orioles don’t want Dillon Tate or Hunter Harvey facing major league hitters until they are prepared to do so.
After finishing 47-115, there are countless things that need improvement in Baltimore. Hitters will be looking for bounce back seasons, pitchers will aim for consistency and the Orioles are going to try and win a few more games. What do you think is the most important New Year’s resolution that the Orioles should set for 2019? Let us know in the comment section, and feel free to include a personal one too.