BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles want fans to understand their 2019 season isn’t necessarily about making the playoffs.
For a franchise focused on the future, the most important “P” word is patience.
New general manager Mike Elias and rookie manager Brandon Hyde cautioned Saturday there will be no quick fix for a team that underwent a complete overhaul during and after the worst season in Orioles history.
The roster was gutted in July, and vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter were subsequently dismissed in November after Baltimore staggered to a 47-115 finish.
Sitting side-by-side on a stage at FanFest — the annual winter event for the team’s ardent backers — Elias and Hyde cautioned the turnaround may not be quick. They explained the goal this year is to further the rebuilding process.
“Our priority is to raise the overall talent base in the organization,” Elias told the crowd. “This isn’t going to be an immediate reward.”
The message was a departure from the previous six years, when Duquette and Showalter spoke enthusiastically about reaching the postseason.
Now it’s up to Elias and Hyde to assemble a team capable of bringing Baltimore its first World Series victory since 1983.
“There’s an economic structure. There’s nothing we can do to just flip a switch and get back to the playoffs immediately,” Elias said. “I hope it happens this year, but we’re going to have to build a sustainable base of talent for this organization.”
Elias and Hyde are quite familiar with the rebuilding process, which is exactly why they’re together in Baltimore.
“Brandon went through this with the Cubs, and I went through this with the Astros. Both of those rebuilding processes went incredibly fast,” Elias said. “I can’t say that’s always going to be the case with these things.”
Fans appear to be on board. Many of the estimated 8,000 people in the Baltimore Convention Center seemed thrilled over the prospect of seeing a young team develop before their eyes.
“It’s just as many people that always come here, and everybody is really excited,” outfielder Trey Mancini said.
Though Orioles fans loved Showalter, they’ve been quick to embrace his successor.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with positive comments, and people have been really, really nice,” said Hyde, formerly the Cubs bench coach. “I know our players are unbelievable energized. There’s a sense of, we want to be really good. Whatever that timeline is, I can’t tell you. But I think we’ve taken really good steps so far.”
Elias hasn’t done anything significant in free agency, but he didn’t dismiss the possibility of getting involved in the weeks ahead.
“We’re monitoring everything,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas in mind for what might make sense for what we’re trying to do for improving the club this year and possibly advancing some of our longer-term strategic goals.”
Not even Adam Jones is off the table. Jones pretty much said farewell to Baltimore in the season finale last year, but the outfielder remains a free agent and Elias didn’t dismiss the notion of a return.
“Our focus is on elevating the capabilities of this organization and the talent level of this organization. I’ve got to keep sight of that,” Elias said. “But we’re looking for ways to be opportunistic and shrewd with the players that are left unsigned right now. We’re just going to have to see how things play out.”
The Orioles are so young now, Mancini is considered to be a veteran despite having only two years of experience.
“Toward the end of the year, a lot of guys were coming up to me and asking what they should do with their 401k plan,” Mancini said. “I was asking people that same question the year before.”