There’s been an assumption for the 2021 Orioles season up until now that Brandon Hyde was a lame duck manager, playing out the string on the final year of a contract with no job security beyond this year. Turns out that was never correct. The Athletic’s Dan Connolly reported on Wednesday night that Hyde and the Orioles quietly agreed over the past offseason to guarantee what had been a club option for 2022. He will be back for a fourth season as manager of the club.
An optimist might think that this vote of confidence in Hyde is a sign that the team sees some potential improvement coming for 2022 and wants to evaluate how Hyde might to if games matter a little more, with a bit better of a roster and a bit more game decisionmaking that might make a difference to be made on a nightly basis. A pessimist might think that this is a sign the front office feels no hope for 2022 and so they might as well put Hyde into the meat grinder again. I guess we’ll see which one is more connected to reality in a few months.
Hyde inspires surprisingly strong opinions from some people in Orioles fandom for a guy who’s had the misfortune to be filling out the lineup cards for two 100+ loss seasons in three years and a third one that would have been 100+ losses if a full 2020 season had been played.
For me, the state of the roster is what it is. There is not much point in getting critical about Hyde over things like bullpen use or pinch-hitting decisions or what have you when just about everyone in the bullpen and everyone on the bench sucks. The major league payroll has bottomed out. If it wasn’t for Chris Davis, the 2021 payroll would have been well below $50 million. You cannot assemble a quality roster at that level of team salary and indeed the Orioles have not tried to do this during Hyde’s tenure as manager.
In the meantime, the Orioles clubhouse does not seem to be in the middle of a joyless march as they go through the motions in these 100+ loss seasons. Players are not publicly sniping at one another or getting into dugout fights with each other. They seem like they have a good attitude and are able to enjoy the good moments of a game or season. I think Hyde deserves a lot of credit for that. The players are bad but they are ready to be happy when good things happen.
Contrary to the claims of Hyde’s detractors that he never shows fire, I feel like he is frequently pumped up on behalf of his team. Earlier in the 2021 season, when crowds were limited, it was not uncommon to hear Hyde jawing with umpires every time there was a borderline-or-worse strike call that went against his team. You could tell it was him when there were audible shouts of “FUCK!” on the TV broadcast.
More recently, when Blue Jays pitcher Robbie Ray apparently started griping during a game and accusing the Orioles batters of stealing his signs while they were knocking the Cy Young contender around, Hyde got into a shouting match with Ray over the whole incident.
I mean, honestly, what a whiny loser Ray was over that whole thing. Hyde gave him an earful from the dugout because he cares and he sticks up for his guys. I like him for that. It reminded me of the early days of Buck Showalter’s tenure here, where he wasn’t afraid to just start yelling about Derek Jeter, and every time reporters would ask him questions about things like this he’d say, “It’s not about me, it’s about the Baltimore Orioles.”
Through three seasons with the team, Hyde has managed the club to a 127-247 record. It’s 246 losses as I write this sentence, but Eric Hanhold just gave up a two-run home run to blow an O’s lead and point them towards loss #247. That’s exactly the reason why Hyde deserves a better roster. You can’t find out much about him when his best option is Hanhold in the sixth inning, when the rotation is a patchwork of ex-prospect jabronis.
Maybe that will get better next year. Hyde deserves a chance to see what he can do with a winner, or at least with some less pathetic losers.