A wish list for the 2023 season

As the New Year begins today, here is a wish for health and happiness for all of us. Without the first, it gets more difficult to have the second. Let’s all go two-for-two in 2023.

As it relates to baseball and the Orioles, here is a wish list for a few people for the 2023 season.

Manager Brandon Hyde: A wish that he not change one thing. Not anything. He has proven to be a great leader for a young clubhouse and has experience handling young talent. He is just what the Orioles need right now as skipper, and I can see him leading some very good O’s teams for a long time. I love the relationship he seems to have with Mike Elias, and the duo make a great team at the top of the O’s baseball operations.

On a personal note, Hyde has been great for local reporters, although I, of course, can only speak for one of us. He’s fair with media and has shown enormous patience. In baseball, in every market, managers get a lot of the same questions over and over again. Hyde has never played media favorites and respects reporters. It is clear that he does. He is just a good guy who works well with people and cares. In 2022 more and more O’s fans realized what they have in the dugout.

Pitcher Mychal Givens: Welcome back, and here’s a wish for a great year. I think Givens would love to be a key member of another good O’s team, as he once was. He’ll be a great fit in this ‘pen – both on the mound and in the clubhouse.

Infielder Ryan Mountcastle: I would say a closer left-field wall, but we know that wish is not coming true, at least not for this year. No doubt the new dimensions contributed to some of his slumps in 2022, and they seemed to linger too long. Here’s a wish that all that goes more smoothly for a real good young talent in 2023.

Outfielder Anthony Santander: Another guy we could tell not to change a thing. He’s just a wonderful person who is almost always smiling. His name seems to often come up in trade rumors, and he handles it all very, very well. Keep swinging it, Anthony.

Catcher Adley Rutschman: Health for a full season and the willingness and ability to slowly take on more of a leadership role. If Rutschman is going to be the best player on the team and face of the franchise – and he’s pretty much both already – a bigger leadership role will follow. He’s clearly ready for that, but last year respectfully deferred to the veteran leaders already in the clubhouse.

Outfielder Austin Hays: Another mostly healthy year and the realization of his full potential. Hays looked to be on his way to a great year in 2022 with an .810 OPS at the end of June. I think he played banged up in the second half, and while he stayed on the field and was proud of that fact, I think that had to hinder his stats. I see a guy here who has five tools and could produce an .800 OPS for a full year. I hope he proves me right this coming season.

Pitcher John Means: An earlier-than-expected return from Tommy John surgery. Wouldn’t that be huge for him and his team? Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow threw five scoreless innings in a playoff start last October. He had TJ surgery on Aug. 4, 2021, making it back into minor league games about 13 months out. Means had his surgery on April 27, 2022. So 13 months out and, say, another couple of weeks of rehab outings could put him back with the Orioles maybe sometime in June in a best-case scenario. July and maybe August is more likely, but the sooner the better, if his elbow can handle it. Plus, we have to realize Means won’t return throwing scoreless outings at the outset. But just the sight of him back will be big for the ’23 Birds.

For O’s fans: A 2023 regular season that ends with the club headed to the postseason for the first time since 2016. Should be a fun ride, and if the club plays postseason baseball, we have a special season ahead of us.

Happy New Year!

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