Saturday night was just another Jim Johnson save. There have been 36 of them this season. Johnson is now tied for third on the Orioles single-season save list. His next one will tie him with Gregg Olson for second place with 37.Only Randy Myers with 45 in 1997 has more.With the season third-quarters complete, Johnson has a good chance to eclipse Myers mark. Hes been the Orioles closer for a year. It was on August 14, 2011 that he bailed out an ineffective Kevin Gregg against the Tigers. Since then, Johnsons been the man.Johnson converted his first 17 saves opportunities this season. He blew the 18th, but recorded the win. His second blown save on July 14, was also an Orioles win.Only once, on July 27, has a Johnson blown save resulted in an Orioles lost. That was the only game this season the Orioles have lost when leading after eight. His 3.20 ERA isnt all that impressive, but 11 of the 18 runs Johnson has allowed come from two horrid outings. In the July 27 game, Johnson gave up six runs in one-third of an inning and in a July 16 blowout, he allowed five runs in one-third. Take away those two appearances, and Johnsons ERA is 1.26.As impressive as Johnsons year has been, is it good enough to be award-winning? Recently, a colleague suggested that Johnson and not Adam Jones be considered for the Most Valuable Oriole Award.Thats certainly a credible argument, but how about Johnson as a Cy Young candidate?A reliever hasnt won the Cy Young Award in 20 years. Oaklands Dennis Eckersley was the last to do it in 1992 when he was 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 51 saves. Eckersley also took home the MVP Award.Detroits Willie Hernandez (1984) and Oaklands Rollie Fingers (1991) also both awards as relievers. The only other AL reliever to win the Cy Young was the Yankees Sparky Lyle in 1977.Johnsons competition comes from both starters and relievers. Tampa Bays Fernando Rodney enters Sunday with 38 saves in 40 opportunities compared with Johnsons 36 in 39. Rodneys ERA is a sparkling 0.79. Hes allowed just five earned runs.Rodney has struck out 55 and walked just nine and given up only two home runs. Johnson has struck out 28, walked 12 and allowed three homers.However, Rodney has worked in 58 games and thrown 56 23 innings. Johnson has worked in 52 and pitched 50 23. Rodney and his teammate Joel Peralta are tied with New Yorks Boone Logan for most appearances.With the luxury of a deep bullpen, manager Buck Showalter has been able to not overuse Johnson. None of the Orioles relievers are among the league leaders in appearances, something Showalter is proud of.For him to be considered as a Cy Young candidate, Johnson must continue to pitch well and the Orioles need to contend. If Rodney has a few bad outings and the Rays falter, perhaps Johnson can get some votes.There are also several starters in the mix. Tampa Bays David Price is the current favorite with a 16-4 record and a league-leading 2.39 ERA. Jered Weaver is 15-3 and a 2.74 ERA and Chicagos Chris Sale is 14-4 with a 2.72 ERA. Felix Hernandez, who won the award two years ago is 11-5 with a 2.60 ERA on a team thats seven games below .500.Johnson can hope to best Myers 1997 season. Not only did he have a club record 45 saves, but he blew only save chance. Myers finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting, behind three 20-game winners. Myers also finished fourth in the MVP voting. Myers also had two postseason saves.He left the Orioles after the 1997 season, and his career ended a year later.Despite the unlikelihood of Johnson winning the Cy Young, the Orioles can rejoice. Johnsons just 29, and cant be a free agent until 2015. While its risky to sign closers to long-term contracts and the Orioles have Pedro Strop on hand, they may consider a multi-year deal in the offseason.Johnson lives near the Orioles spring training headquarters in Sarasota, Fla., and is a low maintenance closer. Showalter wont pitch him four days in a row, even if Johnson wants to.If the Orioles get to the postseason, Johnson is likely to be a great asset and he could benefit from a schedule that allows for more rest.There was talk last winter that the Orioles would convert Johnson to a starter. Theres none of that talk now.
The Orioles have finally found their man.
After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.
Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.
Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.
“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”
Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.
Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.
Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.
Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.
Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.
The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.
Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.
Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”
Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man.
For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez).
But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"
Elias said no decision made on manager, no offer made and probably no hire here. Called report on Hyde, shown on TV in suite, “premature” #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 12, 2018
Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.
Asked what’s the value of keeping search close to the vest, Elias replied, “I don’t see any value in not keeping it close to the vest.” #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) December 12, 2018