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Five Orioles who may not be back in 2013

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Five Orioles who may not be back in 2013

The Orioles will undoubtedly look different next year.  There will be some popular and valuable players missing.

Here are five key possible departures:

1) Joe Saunders

Saunders wasn’t an Oriole for long this season. He was acquired in late August from Arizona, and was thrilled about it.

He was 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts. Saunders won the Wild
Card game and pitched well in Game 4 against New York.

At 31, Saunders was a devoted Orioles fan the last time the team was in the post-season. A Northern Virginian, Saunders would love to stay with the team, but it might not be in either side’s best interest.

Saunders earned $6 million this season and the Orioles may be reluctant to pay him that much or more in 2013 and beyond. With lots of young starting pitching, it would be nice to have another veteran on hand, but perhaps not at his price.

Unless Saunders agrees to give the Orioles a hometown discount or there isn’t a huge market for him, the left-hander probably ends up elsewhere.

One possible destination is Seattle. Saunders, who pitched six seasons for the Angels, is 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA in nine starts at Safeco Field.

2)  Nate  McLouth

Two years ago, McLouth made $7 million from Pittsburgh. This season, the one-time All-Star earned a quarter of that.

McLouth had a superb 2008 season with the Pirates, leading the league in doubles, but two years later he was in the minors. After Pittsburgh let him go in May, he was signed to a minor league contract by the Orioles, and was generally unimpressive at Norfolk.

Tides manager Ron Johnson implored manager Buck Showalter to take a look at McLouth, who had an opt-out clause.

McLouth was surprisingly effective, showing some power and speed for the Orioles. He was the club’s leading hitter againsnt the Yankees and his defense shored up left field.

If McLouth re-signs, he may have to platoon with Nolan Reimold in left. He may want to test the market,  though he may need more than a strong two months to get a long-term deal.

3) Mark Reynolds

In early August, Reynolds looked to be in his final weeks with the Orioles, but his offense perked up and his defense at first picked up.

He’s become a solid first baseman, and while the Orioles may not exercise the $11 million option in his contract, they have no real inn-house candidates to replace him, and the free agent candidates aren’t impressive.

The Orioles don’t want Chris Davis or Wilson Betemit as their everyday first baseman. In a time when nearly every available body was recalled during September, Joe Mahoney wasn’t.

It’s likely the Orioles will make a deal to keep Reynolds around for at least another year, maybe two.

4) Robert Andino

The Orioles’ second baseman for 2013 is probably not currently with the team. Andino filled in acceptably the last two years, but he’s best suited to the “superutility” role that Showalter envisioned for him last spring.

The problem with that role is it doesn’t exist. J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado are the shortstop and third baseman for next season, and Andino really isn’t an outfielder.

If the Orioles want to keep Andino around as a backup infielder while they acquire another second baseman, that would be fine, but in arbitration, Andino would probably get a hefty raise from his $1.3 million. That might make him overpriced for his value.

Look for the Orioles to explore a deal for him.

5) Pedro Strop

Strop feel out of favor with Showalter after his shaky final six weeks of the regular season. He was impressive against the Yankees, but if a team wants to make Strop its closer, the Orioles may be willing to deal him.

He has a big-time arm, and while Darren O’Day supplanted him  as the bridge to Jim Johnson, Strop could get that role back next year.

Strop may want to be a closer, and as long as Johnson’s around and effective, that isn’t going to happen.

He may be the most valuable trade chip around and if the Orioles can use him to get a quality second baseman, Strop may be moved.

The team may also try and move Luis Ayala, whose $1 million contract makes him very attractive.

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

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!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.