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MLB Playoffs A Reminder Of How Far Orioles Have To Go

October 9, 2019
The Baltimore Orioles did get a taste of the postseason in 2019: they watched the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their seventh straight National League West crown on the field at Camden Yards. 

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde chalked it up to another learning experience for his young team. 

One day, Hyde would love to be in the mix of the playoff race and have a starter like Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler, who scattered four singles with 11 strikeouts and no walks in seven innings on that night.

"I think I might have said in the third or fourth inning, I'm glad our guys are watching this because this is what it looks like in October," Hyde said. "That's what it looks like on the mound in October. Those are the types of guys you face on a nightly basis and then the bullpens are loaded up, also. So it just shows you how good you have to be.

"And you look at the athleticism on the field ... they have so many moveable pieces, they put together a really good roster the last handful of years."

While the Dodgers are getting set to play a deciding Game 5 against the Washington Nationals, the Orioles are looking ahead to 2020 and beginning the second phase of their rebuild.

Orioles general manager Mike Elias saw progress in his first year at the helm. While the team went 54-118, it was still seven games better than the previous season. 

However, the 2019 campaign wasn't about wins and losses. Elias knew there was going to be some struggles, especially with the team's top players -- Manny Machado, Zack Britton and Jonathan Schoop -- sent packing the previous year via trades.  

"Here at the big league level, we're still losing games, way more than we want to," Elias said. "This is not fun. It's not easy to crawl out of. Almost all the players that were on the team last year got better this year. I think this team has played its butt off all year. 

Several former Orioles who dealt with some of the franchise's past struggles found themselves playing in this year's postseason. Each of the final eight playoff teams had at least one former Orioles player on the roster. 

Atlanta Braves: Nick Markakis, Darren O'Day 
Houston Astros: Wade Miley  
Minnesota Twins: Jonathan Schoop, Nelson Cruz 
Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Turner
New York Yankees: Zack Britton
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Wieters
Tampa Bay Rays: Oliver Drake, Chaz Roe
Washington Nationals: Gerardo Parra

The current Orioles hoping they can also one day be part of a playoff team ... in Baltimore. 

Several of those players, most notably Anthony Santander, John Means, Pedro Severino and Hanser Alberto, have put themselves in position to play a vital role with the cub in 2020. Trey Mancini has established himself as the face of the franchise and was the Orioles' MVP this season. He proudly said that he wanted to be around when the Orioles finally put the pieces in place to build a contender.

Elias has experience taking teams from worst to first, underscored by his management skills in Houston. 

The 2013 Astros finished 51-111 and 45 games out of first place. Four years later, they went 101-61 and won the first World Series in franchise history. That title-winning team was the culmination of a complete rebuild that began with back-to-back 100-plus loss seasons. 

The Orioles' blueprint for success is often compared to the situation in Houston because of Elias and Sig Mejdal were two of the main architects of the Astros' success. Elias was the scouting director and later the assistant GM, while Mejdal headed the club's analytics department.

Houston is also the favorite to win this year's World Series ... if they can get by the Rays. 

The Orioles will take some time off and then the players will get back to work. There is plenty of heavy lifting to do this offseason. 

Hyde and Elias will eventually meet and talk about the current makeup of the roster. Hyde also got the players' input about their performance in exit interviews, which took place prior to the end of the season.

"I think it's really important," Hyde said. "We talked about it in spring training. I met with every single player in camp as a kind of get-to-know and start a good relationship process. It's really interesting to hear what's on their mind and what they think about the year coming up and about things they did well, did not do well.

"This is my first time doing this from the manager's seat, so I'm interested in seeing how guys self-evaluate. Looking forward to those conversations."

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox