Baltimore Orioles: Learning From the Past, Looking Toward the Future
From 2012 to 2016, the Baltimore Orioles won the most games in the American League. So what happened? A short-sighted strategy built an Orioles franchise that was born to die. Losing seasons are not over in Baltimore, but Mike Elias is committed to a blueprint for future success.
A new season of Baltimore Orioles baseball is within sight; pitchers and catchers reported February 11, position players report February 16 and the first spring training game is February 22. This time is perfect to get a look at some of the young players that hope to be a part of the future. Fans drooling at prospects and envisioning their future success will only cause pain when they are smacked back to reality.
Predictions for 2020 are expectedly low as USA Today slots the Orioles at fifth place in the AL East and a record of 57-105. Yes, the O’s may lose over 100 games again, but a win-loss record should mean nothing to fans right now.
The Orioles are in no shape—nor were they ever the last decade—to win titles in a sustainable manner. As we enter the second full season of the Great Rebuild, Elias & Co. have a vision and are sticking to it, something Dan Duquette could learn from.
In 2018, when the Orioles lost their 115th game of the season, Duquette could no longer hide gaping holes in the organization that crippled a once promising team. Deadline trades that depleted their farm system, investing money into the wrong players, investing nothing into advanced analytics and international talent, and poor development of prospects were major shortcomings by Orioles management in recent history.
From the beginning of the Duquette/Showalter era in Baltimore, we will see highlights along the way hoping to justify our current situation and optimism for the future.
Before the Showalter-Duquette era, the Baltimore Orioles were led by Andy MacPhail who is currently the General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Hired following the draft in 2007, MacPhail inherited a ballclub without a winning record since 1997, which also happened to be the last time the O’s appeared in the playoffs.
He spent his time in Baltimore laying the groundwork for success that didn’t pay off until after he left. Numerous players he acquired, either through trades or drafts, contributed heavily during the prospering years.
Notable draftees of his are Caleb Joseph and Brian Matusz (2008), Mychal Givens (2009), Manny Machado (2010), Dylan Bundy, Mike Wright, and Zach Davies—who was traded for Gerardo Parra under Dan Duquette— (2011).
Regarding his trades, in 2008 he executed one of the better deals in recent memory by dumping Erik Bedard at his peak to acquire Adam Jones and Chris Tillman. In 2010, he traded for J.J. Hardy. Then in 2011, he traded away Koji Uehara for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter.
As GM of the O’s from 2007 to 2011, MacPhail failed to build a team with a winning record making it 14 consecutive losing seasons. Patience was thin in Baltimore and owner Peter Angelos was likely unsatisfied with the results, which led to the end of the MacPhail era.
Fresh Faces (2010 – 2011)
Hired by MacPhail and brought in two-thirds of the way through the 2010 season, Buck Showalter immediately brought stability and success as manager. After going 32-73 that year, Showalter turned the Orioles around to finish with a 34-23 record.
After the 2011 season, Dan Duquette stepped in as GM of an emerging organization on the brink of fruition. Still, he made solid acquisitions that offseason claiming Darren O’Day off waivers (who turned out to be a staple in the bullpen for years), signing Miguel Gonzalez (who had a 3.82 ERA across four years), and signing Wei-Yin Chen who had a 3.72 ERA in four seasons.