CHICAGO — Brandon Hyde knew there would be bumps in the road when he agreed to leave his job as Cubs bench coach to manage the 115-loss Orioles.
But not all rebuilds are alike, and Hyde may not have realized how difficult a task it would be.
Entering the weekend, the Orioles were 17-39 with a major-league-worst run differential of minus-111. Their pitchers had compiled a monstrous 5.70 ERA and served up a jaw-dropping 117 home runs.
One reason Hyde was hired was his work developing young players in the Cubs system after President Theo Epstein made him minor-league field coordinator in December 2011 and promoted him to director of player development in August 2012.
Hyde believes the state of the Orioles in 2019 compares to the state of the Cubs seven years ago. It may look bleak now, but there's a rainbow somewhere down the road.
"There are a lot of parallels from when I came over with Theo and that group in '12," Hyde said. "Just trying to get as many impact players as we can in our organization. That was Theo's mantra too -- increasing the talent level in the entire organization.
"We understand we're process-based and we're not in a rush, but we're going to try to get as much talent as we can in here, and that's what (general manager Mike Elias) is doing."
The Orioles will take a big step in their goal of collecting talent Monday when they make the No. 1 pick in the draft, likely Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. The Cubs' top pick in the first year of their rebuild was outfielder Albert Almora Jr. at No. 6, but manager Dale Sveum wasn't around by the time Almora made it to the majors.
Hyde should get a much longer leash, and he'll need one to turn this team around.
The Orioles traded Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman last season under former GM Dan Duquette, and they let Adam Jones leave via free agency over the winter. The only big name remaining is faded slugger Chris Davis, who is virtually untradable in the middle of a seven-year, $161 million deal.
Hyde, 45, was hired by the 36-year-old Elias to replace Buck Showalter, an old-school type who wouldn't have fit in well with the rebuild. He's the second of Joe Maddon's bench coaches to get a major-league managing job, following Dave Martinez's hiring by the Nationals before the 2018 season.
Like Martinez, Hyde wants to use some of the things he learned under Maddon but doesn't want to be seen as a Maddon clone.
You have free articles remaining.
"I love Joe and have a ton of respect for Joe, and I watched Joe very closely because I respect him so much," Hyde said. "We were really good those four years (2015 to '18) and won a ton of games. His consistency, how he was on a daily basis, how he dealt with the media and how he was in the clubhouse, was something I really wanted to take with me.
"That's what I learned the most, how he was the same person every day whether we had just clinched a playoff spot or lost five in a row. His way about him, I'd never seen that. You have this roller coaster of a baseball season, and Joe really stays consistent. It was something I really admire."
But no magicians, mimes or animals have been spotted in the Orioles clubhouse.
"No, I'm going to be my own person," Hyde said. "I'm not going to change my personality. But Joe did a lot of things I want to implement here. I liked how Joe was creative. He sees the big picture but he also understands when to go for it in certain games."
As in most rebuilds, getting fans to come out and watch the team lose night after night is a tough sell. The Orioles rank 28th in average attendance and on April 8 drew 6,585 to Camden Yards, the smallest crowd in the park's 28-year history -- aside from the fan-free game against the White Sox in 2015 caused by rioting in Baltimore.
Hyde thinks Orioles fans are buying into the rebuild, despite the small crowds at one of the best ballparks in the majors.
"Publicly it's been fairly positive," he said of the fan reaction. "It sounds like people understand. They've never gone through any type of rebuild before, so I think people felt it was necessary. At the Orioles Fest, the fan convention, people understood where we were and have a lot of confidence in (Elias) doing the same thing he did in Houston and what I went through in Chicago. So we kind of understand the whole timeline of how it works.
"One thing that's exciting was in Chicago, it went a hell of a lot faster than we thought it was going to be and '15 came quick. The second half of '14, when (Javier) Baez, (Kyle) Hendricks and (Jorge) Soler came up and we got (Jake) Arrieta and (Pedro) Strop going, you started seeing some exciting stuff on the field. And then that offseason Theo signs (Jon) Lester, trades for (Miguel) Montero and (Dexter) Fowler, and we just got really good in a hurry. That's a great blueprint."
Whether the Orioles can get back on their feet as quickly as the Cubs did is debatable, especially playing in a division with the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox plus the Rays, perhaps baseball's most innovative organization.
How long will it take to turn the corner?
"I don't want to put a timetable on it," Hyde said. "We have a long way to go and I feel good about this first year, the process. We're starting to put in the culture changes. I feel good about how hard our team plays. Our mantra is we want to compete every night, and as we grow and get better over the next two to three years, anything is possible."