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Orioles are projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2017

Orioles are projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball in 2017

The Baltimore Orioles made the playoffs last season on the strength of one of the top offenses in baseball and a dominant bullpen, but they lost in heart-breaking fashion in the Wild Card game to the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles largely have the same roster as they did last year, but according to Baseball Prospectus, Baltimore is projected to finish in last place in the American League East, and have one of the worst records in baseball at 73-89. Only the Royals (91 losses) and the Padres (93 losses) are expected to have more losses than the O's. Additionally, Baseball Prospectus is giving the Orioles a 3.1 percent chance to win the division, and a 7.8 percent chance to make it to the Wild Card game. The 73 wins that are projected for the O's would be the fewest the team has had since 2011 when manager Buck Showalter took over in his first full season as the skipper. The Red Sox are projected to win 90 games and win the AL East in 2017. 

With designated hitter Mark Trumbo back with a new contract, the Orioles offense should still be a juggernaut, but the pitching staff is what is expected to let them down in 2017. Baltimore is projected to allow 816 runs this season, which is the highest projection in all of baseball. The Reds are expected to give up the second most at 803. 

That high projection for the Orioles seems to be a result of a well-below average starting pitching staff which, according to USA Today Sports, ranks as the 24th-best rotation in baseball

Although expectations aren't high for Baltimore in 2017, they shouldn't be counted out entirely. The team is still led by an MVP level player in third baseman Manny Machado, still has the best closer in baseball in Zach Britton and has steady veteran leadership in centerfielder Adam Jones, shortstop JJ Hardy and first baseman Chris Davis. 

If the Orioles are to compete for a playoff spot it will most likely come down to the starting rotation playing above expectations. If Kevin Gausman can continue the roll he was on in the second half of last season, and if Dylan Bundy can blossom into the stud he was drafted to be, the O's could end up pushing the Red Sox and Blue Jays at the top of the division. 

Related: Camden yards named best sports stadium in North America

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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USA Today Sports Images

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.