Chasing a playoff spot means dealing with much higher expectations for the Orioles

When asked yesterday about his Orioles having higher expectations for this season, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said his own words are one reason for that.

The Orioles take on the season ahead is not one to temper, but rather take on the expectations of a fan base expecting their team to make a run at the playoffs. After all, winning and playing in October is the obvious goal. And this team is ready to take on the challenge of both higher expectations and the fact that no one considers them a pushover anymore.

“Part of that is based on stuff I’ve been saying,” Elias said. “Because I’m excited about the future of the team and the fact that I believe that our rebuild is behind us and we’ve got an incredible chance now to be a very, very competitive team for years. I think we are all excited about that.

“So, the front office and the manager, when we talk to media, we feed those expectations. But we also live in the reality of our business. We approach things very carefully. We have a lot of smart and experienced people in our front office working on our plan. And that includes growing the team over the next few years, managing our payroll, trying to get into contracts that make sense for the long haul.

“So, we have to navigate all those factors too. And a team like the Orioles in particular has to be careful about. A lot goes into it. The bottom line is we want to win, and everything we’ve done since, going back to 2018, has been about getting us to that point. And we’re going to continue applying our know-how to take the next step.”

Manager Brandon Hyde was also asked about the greater expectations and hopes for the 2023 season ahead. The Orioles won 52 games in 2021 and 83 last season. 

“I just think embracing it (is how to approach that),” Hyde said. “I think we’re ready for it. It was a tough few years, not just from my seat, but fans also, and everyone that follows the team. It was hard. To have expectations I think – we have confidence in our guys. And our players have a ton of confidence. I just want them to take it head on, honestly.

“It’s good to have people think you are good. And we want to embrace that we have a talented group. So, I’m not worried about that, honestly. I like the makeup of our team and I think they’re going to go out and play their butts off.”

And as the Orioles move further into win mode and further distance themselves from rebuilding mode, how they use their farm system will change too. Winning teams are often more likely to call up prospects sooner and put up with growing pains as they try to help the big league club win. A rebuilding team is more likely to let that player get minor league seasoning and complete development on the farm. Plus, winning teams are more likely to trade minor league players for major league talent, as the Orioles just did in moving shortstop Darrel Hernaiz to get lefty Cole Irvin from Oakland.

Things are changing around here.

“I think there will be maybe a little bit more, hopefully we are in the mix this year and competitive," Elias said Friday at the warehouse. "You might be faced with a little more of a tradeoff where someone can come up and help from Triple-A. Maybe not be a full-time player, maybe go into the bullpen. There is going to be more of a balance towards making some decisions like that, that could come a little bit at the expense of a player’s development path, but help the major league team.”

Couple of farm notes: Stop us if you have heard this before, but ESPN ranks the Orioles with the No. 1 farm system in the majors in its latest rankings, out yesterday. They are listed here (subscription may be required).

Baltimore is No. 1, followed by Arizona, Cleveland, the New York Yankees and Cincinnati. published its list of the top 38 O's prospects on Friday. This list has outfielder Colton Cowser, ranked as high as No. 30 on the ESPN national top 100 list, as the club's 12th-best prospect.

Gunnar Henderson is ranked No. 1 and Jackson Holliday, ranked third by many outlets, leaps pitcher Grayson Rodriguez for second, with Rodriguez third. Coby Mayo is way up there at No. 4, followed by DL Hall, Joey Ortiz, Heston Kjerstad, Cade Povich, Jordan Westburg and Connor Norby rounding out the top 10. Then Dylan Beavers is just ahead of Cowser at No. 12, with Jud Fabian right behind him. The O's then have back-to-back international prospects rated No. 14 and No. 15 in Samuel Basallo and Frederick Bencosme. 


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