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Orioles' five biggest underachievers of the first half

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Orioles' five biggest underachievers of the first half

The Orioles’ first half was marked with significant disappointments. There were injuries galore, though with Wesley Wright’s removal from the 60-day disabled list and designation for assignment, only Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia remains on the DL.

Who were the most significant disappointments of the first half?

1) Bud Norris

Perhaps Norris wasn’t expected to duplicate his 15 wins from last season, but his 2-9 and 6.86 ERA in the first half was an abomination.

Norris will be a free agent this fall, and if he could have come close to replicating 2014’s stats, he could have gotten a three-year contract worth perhaps $40 million.

Now, he’ll be fortunate to get a one-year major league contract at half his current $8.8 million.

Things began going south after his first spring training start, which didn’t go well, and manager Buck Showalter suggested he needed some prodding.

Later in spring, he nearly was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. His awful spring didn’t get any better once the regular season started and he became infected with bronchitis.

Norris’ rehab assignment went longer than expected, and eventually lost his place in the starting rotation.

He was responsible for one of the better Orioles quotes of the season. After a rehab outing at Norfolk, Norris was asked about his next move. “You tell me and I’ll let you know. This Showalter guy, he keeps all of his chess pieces close, so I have no idea,” he said.

2) Steve Pearce

One of last year’s biggest surprises is one of 2015’s biggest disappointments. Pearce hit 21 home runs last year and batted .293.

This year, he’s hitting just .228 with seven homers.

Pearce is another one of the Orioles’ seven possible free agents, and like Norris, he may be costing himself a multi-year contract.

Unlike Norris, he’s been healthy all season. His attitude and work ethic are outstanding, and he’s well-liked by his teammates. He just hasn’t produced the way the Orioles were hoping. For $3.7 million, the Orioles were expecting more.

3) Chris Tillman

The Orioles were expecting Tillman to continue as their clear No. 1 starter, but he had an awful first two months of the season.

He hasn’t lost since May, and while he’s won his last four decisions, Tillman is still 6-7 with a 5.40 ERA.

The best news for Tillman is that Matt Wieters is back, and no one knows Tillman like Wieters. In the six Tillman starts that Wieters has caught, he’s struck out 22 and walked seven, and hasn’t lost any.

Ryan Lavarnway caught him three times, and Tillman walked 11 and struck out six.

Talk of an extension has ceased, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tillman continued trending up in the second half.

4) Alejandro De Aza

There was some chatter last fall that the Orioles weren’t going to tender De Aza a contract. In the end, they did, and they regret it.

De Aza became just the second Oriole to take the team to arbitration in Dan Duquette’s four years, and he lost, but ended up with $5 million.

He batted just .214 in 30 games before he was designated for assignment and eventually traded to Boston for minor league pitcher Joe Gunkel.

The Red Sox are paying $1 million of the $3 million owed, leaving the Orioles to pay $2 million.

While De Aza is hitting .323 in 31 games for the Red Sox, there didn’t seem to be any room for him with the Orioles.

5) Everth Cabrera

When Cabrera was signed in February, the move was heralded as insurance in case of injuries. In fact, three infielders, Ryan Flaherty, J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop, all spent time on the disabled list, and Cabrera was gone before all were back.

There was no demand for Cabrera, who had criminal charges in California pending yet the Orioles signed him for $2.4 million.

Cabrera made three errors in 27 games at shortstop when Hardy was hurt. He wasn’t awful in the field, but his bat was nonexistent, hitting just .208 with two extra-base hits in 29 games.

He didn’t get much of a chance to show off his speed and had just two stolen bases.

Two years ago, Cabrera was somehow a National League All-Star. A day after the All-Star Game and more than a month after his release, he’s still looking for work.

DISHONORABLE MENTION: David Lough, T.J. McFarland

Lough is one of the fastest baserunners on the team, but has managed to be thrown out in four of his five stolen base attempts. He hit a dramatic homer against Boston in April, but little else.

McFarland has a 2.70 ERA yet has averaged more than two baserunners an inning. The Orioles still have high hopes for him.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles designate lefty for assignment upon return from DL

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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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USA Today Sports

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.