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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where it’s Brandon Hyde’s Orioles anniversary

The O’s manager was hired on this day three years ago. Don’t blame him if he’s aged 30 years since then.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Lately, with the MLB lockout freezing all transactions around the league, we haven’t had much to talk about in these parts besides Buck Showalter’s bid to become manager of the Mets.

But for now, let’s shift our focus from the previous O’s manager to the current one. It’s the three-year anniversary in Baltimore for skipper Brandon Hyde, who was hired on this day in 2018.

Hyde, who was the Cubs’ bench coach at the time of his hiring, wasn’t far removed from being part of a World Series championship in Chicago. He knew he was in for an arduous task by taking over a rebuilding Orioles club. I’m just not sure he knew how arduous.

Three years into his tenure, Hyde’s Orioles clubs have a combined 131-253 record. They’ve lost 108 or more games in each of his two full-length seasons. The team has been overmatched and undermanned at nearly every turn. They’ve become the media’s resident punching bag as an example of how tanking is ruining the sport.

Still, if you’re grading Hyde as a manager, it’s hard to give him anything other than an “Incomplete.” The rosters he’s been saddled with during his three years have been...not spectacular, shall we say. It’s hard to measure a manager’s strategical acumen when the pieces he has to work with are, by and large, not major league caliber.

It’s possible that a different manager could have squeezed a few more wins out of these teams and helped them avoid the long losing streaks that became characteristic of the 2021 Birds in particular. But it’s also possible that a different manager could have collapsed under the weight of the relentless losing and fermented a noxious, negative clubhouse culture. To Hyde’s credit, he seems to have a limitless tolerance for pain. He doesn’t act like he’s given up. And GM Mike Elias and the O’s front office seem pleased with Hyde’s work behind the scenes, helping develop young talent and keep the rebuilding process on track. For now, that’s about all the team can ask for.

Late last season, the Orioles picked up Hyde’s 2022 option, so he’ll be in the dugout for at least this upcoming year. As the Birds’ homegrown talent starts making its way to the majors, beginning with Adley Rutschman early next year, perhaps we’ll get a better feel for Hyde’s managerial mettle.

In honor of Hyde’s anniversary, check out today’s Camden Chat Sporcle quiz. Can you name the Orioles hitters who have played the most games during Hyde’s managerial tenure?


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! One living ex-Oriole has a birthday today: right-hander and 2002 Rookie of the Year runner-up Rodrigo Lopez, who turns 46. Three late Orioles born on this day include righty Jeff Robinson (b. 1961, d. 2014), infielder Bobby Adams (b. 1921, d. 1997), and righty “Toothpick Sam” Jones (b. 1925, d. 1971).

The O’s have made a few free agent signings on this date in history, mainly pitchers. On this day in 1992, they signed 30-year-old journeyman lefty Jamie Moyer, who hadn’t pitched in the majors the previous year and seemed to be on his way out of baseball. But Moyer rejuvenated his career in Baltimore for three years, then went on to pitch a whopping two more decades, finally ending his career with the 2012 Rockies at age 49. Wow.

On this day in 1995, the Orioles signed veteran closer Randy Myers, a three-time All-Star and World Series champ, to a two-year deal. Unlike later O’s contracts for free agent closers (Kevin Gregg, Mike Timlin, Mike Gonzalez), the Myers deal worked out swimmingly for the Birds. He racked up 76 saves in two years, including a league-best 45 in 46 chances during the Birds’ wire-to-wire 1997 campaign.

And on this day in 2015, the Orioles re-signed Darren O’Day to a four-year, $31 million contract. It seemed like a good idea at the time; the popular O’Day was the lynchpin of the Orioles’ stellar bullpen during the 2012-14 glory years, pitching 273 games with a 1.92 ERA in his first four seasons in Baltimore. But the new contract turned sour when O’Day couldn’t stay healthy or as effective, and the O’s dumped off his salary on the Braves in the Kevin Gausman trade in 2018.