Ch-Ch-Changes: Orioles 2019 Season Preview Part One

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Ch-Ch-Changes: Orioles 2019 Season Preview Part One

Jack Corcoran and Cameron McHugh

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Spring is just around the corner which means that Orioles baseball is almost ready to start. From new faces on the field, to brand-new management in the front office, Orioles fans have a lot to look forward to this upcoming season aside from, well, the product on the field.

After the disastrous 2018 season that ended with a 47-115 record, the O’s made sweeping changes, firing longtime manager Buck Showalter and the vice president of baseball of operations, and replacing them with Houston Astros Assistant GM Mike Elias and Cubs Bench Coach Brandon Hyde.

The rest of the coaching staff is filled out with hitting coach Don Long, pitching coach Doug Brocail, and bullpen coach John Wasdin. Hyde also elected to take an unusual bench coach-by-committee approach, meaning that no singular coach will hold the title.

Elias has also elected to take a long-term approach in rebuilding the “Baby Birds” and is willing to take all the time needed to make sure that this team will be competitive in the coming years. This is how Elias’ former team, the Houston Astros, built up their long-dormant franchise into the 2017 World Series Champions.

The Orioles’ overhaul didn’t just happen at the major-league level. In order to develop their expected bevy of prospects that they will gain over the next few seasons, including the no. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Elias decided to continue his organizational overhaul at the minor league level . The minor-league coaching staff has been totally revamped as well. The Norfolk Tides have a new manager in Gary Kendall, who is entering his 20th year in the Orioles organization. Kendall previously was the manager of the Baysox for the past eight years and has won over 900 games as a minor-league manager.

Following Kendall’s promotion, a partially familiar face was hired as the Baysox manager. Buck Britton, brother of former Orioles closer Zack Britton, is now the first former Baysox player to manager the team. Britton led the Delmarva Shorebirds (the O’s low-A affiliate) to a 68-66 record in his first managerial season.

Rounding out the minor leagues, Ryan Minor will return for his 3rd season with the Frederick Keys, Kyle Moore will be promoted from Aberdeen to Delmarva, and Kevin Bradshaw will be back as coach for the Ironbirds for his 4th season.

All in all, the Orioles made the changes that needed to have been made after a franchise-worst year. While the results might not be pretty, all these new hires from the majors down have one theme: player development. This shows that the Orioles aren’t taking the quick fix route just to make the playoffs anymore, that they’re taking the long-view in order to build a championship contender for years to come. All aboard the Mike Elias train.