Though the Orioles coaching staff lacks anyone with managerial experience in the majors, resumes include handling the same job and responsibilities in the minors. One example is first base coach Arnie Beyeler, who spent the past three seasons guiding Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins system. He also managed in the Red Sox system and led Triple-A Pawtucket to the Governors’ Cup championship in 2012 before his promotion to the major league staff
Beyeler knows rebuilds. He understands the patience that’s required. He can call upon his past, including his background in player development, to brighten the Orioles’ future.
“Very much so,” he said. “I’ve been 25-plus years in player development and very blessed to get the big league opportunity over there in Boston and slide into a pretty good team in ‘13, so that was a lot of fun.
“Being over here and being in player development, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about guys putting the time in, putting the work in, and then when you get up here they’ve got to play.
“The big league level is about wins and losses. It’s not about trying. We joke with the guys that the big leagues aren’t a try league. The minor leagues are the try league. When you get up here you’ve got to play and you’ve got to produce. If you don’t, they’re going to try to find somebody else that does, so eventually the players have got to play and, hopefully, we can put the work in and get some reps and get guys better and get more consistent. They’ve got to play and they’ve got to get the experience, and it takes time to do some of that.
“You have to learn in the big leagues. It’s tough, and some guys are a little better at that than other guys and develop a little quicker, and some guys it takes time. You hope you’re integrating one or two guys a year into your big league team, bring them along, but when you’re bringing a lot of guys along like we did over there at the end, it’s tough, and it’s a tough league to do that in. You’ve got to have some guys perform in this league and in the AL East and in the big leagues to win.”
Manager Brandon Hyde and his staff need to push the returning players past a 115-loss season that wore down many of them mentally. How do you rinse out such a bad taste?
“In a baseball player’s mindset, you have to have a short-term memory or you’ll just wear yourself out,” said bullpen coach John Wasdin, formerly the minor league pitching coordinator. “It’s in the back of their minds, but they don’t dwell on it on a day-to-day basis, like, ‘Oh man, we were the worst team.’ No, they don’t do that. So it becomes, ‘Hey, today is a new day. What can I do? As long as I’m better tomorrow than I was today or yesterday, then it’s all success.’
“So your success depends on how much better you are, how much more knowledgeable you are then you were yesterday. And if you do that step by step, day by day, inning by inning, pitch by pitch, then that’s old news, that’s history.
“The sun rises every morning. It’s a new day, a new day to achieve success, and that’s what they’re looking for. That’s what we’re looking for. And that’s what we’re going to preach.”
The remaining veterans in the clubhouse can be valuable resources. Trey Mancini, with only two full seasons in the majors, is thrust into the role.
“Life will come at you fast sometimes,” he said. “I played just over two years here and I’m considered a veteran, so you can get thrown into the fire. It’s happened to me before and I’m absolutely ready to take on that role.
“I’ve got to be a little more vocal. Toward the end of the year a lot of guys were coming up to me asking what they should do about, like, their 401(k) and all that stuff. I just asked people that the year before. I had no idea. So I tried to study up on that and get more educated as far as things about the union goes and stuff like that. In those regards I’m trying to step up to the plate a little bit.”
And while he’s there, avoid the same slow start that marred his 2018 season. The .216/.292/.363 slash line prior to the All-Star break.
Did the team’s struggles contribute to his own?
“I think we all did that to a degree,” Mancini replied. “We just kind of got off to a rough start last year and couldn’t really recover from that, unfortunately, and we kind of let it spiral out of control a little bit.
“Toward the end of the year I thought we started playing a lot better, especially the last road trip stuck out. We got beat by Boston bad that first game of the doubleheader, came back and beat them the second game, and I thought we played really well that last series in New York. It was a bunch of young guys just playing like they had nothing to lose. If we keep that attitude and approach, I think it’ll be a really fun year.”
It’s going to be a season of transition with new front office leadership spearheading the move toward a heavier reliance on analytics.
I still haven’t found a player who objects.
“It’s just a fact now that analytics are an important part of baseball,” Mancini said. “I’m really looking forward to getting even more information in that regard, and I feel like that’s what the new regime is really all about. So I’m really looking forward to looking at some things and seeing some adjustments I can make personally, and things other guys can do, too, to make themselves better.”
“I’d like to learn,” said Mark Trumbo. “I’d like to know kind of what that means in a little more detail other than just analytics. And I think that’s one thing that we’re probably going to cover when we get down there.
“I want to pick some people’s brains that know more about it and see how, exactly, you can use it to your advantage. I think we already have some. We probably have more than most people think, but I’m sure there’s quite a bit more that can be kind of distilled down so we can actually use it to our advantage.”
While Mancini adjusts to his new image as a veteran and clubhouse leader, Trumbo brings nine years of major league experience covering 1,085 games and a birthday last month that flipped his age to 33.
“I think everybody that’s my age or similar is going to have to do what they can,” he said. “Just be approachable. And I think sometimes just starting a conversation goes a long way.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys who are eager to learn, more so through the coaches, but if anyone needs any of us, I think we can help.”