Winning stays on back burner as Orioles continue transformation

Nothing that the Orioles are doing as you read this first sentence is geared toward making a significant jump in wins in 2020.

It’s building up various departments in the organization, especially in scouting, analytics and internationally. It’s a restructuring that reaches every level, with recent dismissals or reassignments in ballpark operations, sales and community relations. It’s creating new positions such as director of baseball development, with an industry source confirming yesterday that the Orioles hired Eve Rosenbaum after the Bethesda native and Harvard graduate worked for the Astros as director of international scouting since 2017.

The Athletic first reported Rosenbaum’s hiring, which reunites her with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, assistant Sig Mejdal and director of pitching Chris Holt. As the highest ranking female in baseball operations, she’s going to be involved in analytics, scouting and player development.

It’s also finding creative ways to improve the talent in the organization and plug holes that can’t be filled from within it. To not rush prospects, especially on the pitching side, and give manager Brandon Hyde a more competitive team.

Not a contender.

The only similarity is the first letter.

The same dynamic will exist next season. The Orioles being transparent with their plans to rebuild and how they can’t be hurried. Hyde and his coaches and players, meanwhile, geared toward winning while also understanding the front office’s intentions.

“No one in that clubhouse likes losing ballgames,” Stevie Wilkerson said last week. “It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning ballgames. That means everyone’s playing well, the coaching staff’s making the right decisions. They’re happy, we’re happy.

“We understand the state of the organization right now and that emphasis from the front office might not be on wins as losses as much as it will be in the near future, but in the clubhouse we’re trying to win every game. The emphasis is there in the clubhouse and the dynamic and the vibe is always a lot more fun when you’re winning ballgames.”

Hyde-Frustrated-Dugout-Railing-White-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles won 47 in 2018 and 54 in Elias’ first year running the show and Hyde’s first as a major league manager. But success is measured in the farm system rankings and usage of analytic data that’s been shunned by the organization or unavailable to it in the past.

In the manner in which the Orioles are becoming more modernized. Pulled into the present, not the future.

Elias made it to the General Managers Meetings in Arizona after the Orioles asked Brian Graham and Tripp Norton to represent them last year. Graham was dismissed later in the month, Norton earlier this summer.

The Winter Meetings will feel more normal to Elias, who won’t be navigating through a managerial search and the breaking news of an agreement that, at the most, was a tad premature but certainly not inaccurate. He can focus a lot more on the roster. Resuming some trade talks that were held at the GM Meetings and setting up new ones. Sitting down in his suite with agents.

The three coaching vacancies are expected to be filled before the end of this month. After the Orioles set their 40-man roster, a task that must be completed later today and figures to involve Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Ryan McKenna.

Items are crossed off a list. No one pretends that they’re reaching the end of it.

They also have to decide whether to tender contracts to all seven of their arbitration-eligible players and how to reach agreements with the ones who are retained.

Elias told me last week that director of minor league operations Kent Qualls, coordinator of advance scouting Bill Wilkes and director of baseball administration Kevin Buck are “spearheading” the club’s arbitration efforts. They were part of the Orioles’ contingent at the GM Meetings.

Finances could factor into the decisions, as Elias conceded earlier this month. They’re certainly a major complication.

“There’s seven guys and they’re good players, but there is money involved,” Elias said. “You’ve got to take it into consideration and it may influence the decision whether or not to tender a contract in the first place. But also your threshold for trading those guys if there’s interest elsewhere. That’s part of running any business and it’s part of reality.

“Money and budgets are a huge part of our business.”

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