Challenges facing Elias with Orioles are formidable -

Rich Dubroff

Challenges facing Elias with Orioles are formidable

Photo credit: Alex Brandon - AP Photo

The challenges facing Mike Elias, the soon-to-be named head of the Orioles’ baseball operations department, are enormous. The opportunity is just as great.

Elias’ reported hiring after a six-week search has drawn positive comments from fans who don’t know much about the 35-year-old but like that he’s experienced in analytics and was responsible for drafts that procured some of the major leagues’ best players for the Houston Astros.

Next June, Elias will have the chance to pick the best player for the Orioles in the First-Year draft. Between now and then, fans will get a chance to evaluate his methods.

He’ll immediately begin a search for a manager to succeed Buck Showalter, who was dismissed on Oct. 3 along with executive vice president Dan Duquette. Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who interviewed for several jobs this fall, will be considered the favorite.

Espada, who has also coached for Miami and the New York Yankees, worked for one year under A.J. Hinch after Alex Cora left for Boston.

There will be other candidates, too, that might include onetime Orioles shortstop and current MASN broadcaster Mike Bordick and Bowie manager Gary Kendall.

Elias will have a wide selection because no other team is looking for a manager but probably will want one in place before the Winter Meetings begin in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

Besides Espada, former managers Joe Girardi, for whom Espada worked in New York, John Farrell and Mike Matheny are among those available. Ron Roenicke, who managed Milwaukee from 2011-15 and was Cora’s bench coach in Boston this year, could be considered.

Additions to the 40-man roster must be made by Nov. 20, and Elias will get a crash course on the roster from Player Development Director Brian Graham, who has been serving as interim general manager during the search.


Pitcher Dillon Tate, catcher Martin Cervenka and perhaps left-handed reliever Luis Gonzalez could be added to the 40-man roster.

By Nov. 30, contracts for arbitration-eligible players must be offered, and decisions need to be made on the future of infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph.

Contracts of the Orioles coaches on Showalter’s staff have expired, and a staff for a new manager must be assembled.

Elias will have to build a front office that was heavily disassembled during the past few weeks. It’s been reported that Sig Mejdal, the Astros’ analytics guru, is expected to join him in Baltimore.

Most of Duquette’s key aides did not have their contracts renewed. In the front office, Graham, scouting director Gary Rajsich and Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson are among those who remain. Anderson’s role in the new administration remains unclear.

The Orioles’ scouting staff remains small, and both domestic and international scouts will be added.

By the time the Winter Meetings begin, a clearer picture of Elias’ style of operation should be evident.

It’s not known if Elias will consider trading starting pitchers Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb or reliever Mychal Givens, or what his philosophy will be with regard to free agents.

While Elias joined Houston during its low point in 2012, he wasn’t in a decision-making position on major league personnel. He concentrated on the draft.

At 35, Elias won’t be the major leagues’ youngest GM. David Stearns, who was his predecessor as assistant GM with the Astros before heading to Milwaukee as the Brewers’ GM, is a year younger.

Elias must prove to a skeptical fan base that the Orioles are on the upswing, and while mathematical improvement from the franchise-worst 115 losses in 2018, may be fairly easy to accomplish, the public will have to be convinced the Orioles are going in the right direction in their rebuild.

Does Elias believe real improvement is possible in 2019 and 2020? Will he preach patience?

For now, Orioles fans who’ve waited for weeks to find out who Duquette’s successor will be, will have to continue to be patient until the hiring is made official and we hear from Elias.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. DevoTion

    November 15, 2018 at 6:40 am

    This guy looks promising. I like that he was with the Astros during their turnaround

  2. deqalt

    November 15, 2018 at 7:03 am

    So far so good the real test will be if he is allowed to what he needs to and the days of ownership blocking will end! Go O’s!

  3. Sisco Kid

    November 15, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Something I’m enjoying about this is the fact that this hire would never have happened if Peter Angelos was still in charge of the club operations. I get the feeling that we would have hired Colletti or someone else of the older guard, which would have set the team back many years. I think this hire bodes well for our team being competitive again in a short window.

  4. ZantiGM

    November 15, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Great Move
    Hopefully he can bring some good people with him

    • bigdaddydk

      November 15, 2018 at 10:00 am

      Yep. Like the Astros starting infield. He’s welcome to put them into a moving van and bring them on up.

  5. OsfaninNC

    November 15, 2018 at 8:56 am

    With a Nov 20th date for the 40 man and him not being officially announced as of yet….. he will have a lot of work and little time to do it if even if he was announced today. Unless maybe he’s been hired and working quietly until officially announced? Crickets chirping…….

    • SpinMaster

      November 15, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      OsfaninNC: I would bet that he has already been briefed by Brian Graham on the roster status and the potential arbitration cases. My guess is that the only thing that remains is the official introduction of Elias.

  6. Orial

    November 15, 2018 at 8:59 am

    His presence hopefully will give the franchise instant respect and remove the dunce cap. Maybe the baseball world(press,opposing teams) will take the Orioles serious now. Defense,defense,defense should be number one on Elias’ agenda. He still has a good chunk of that 6k International money left. Hope he can spend it wisely. To me having Elias come on board compares to any big FA signing. I’m excited and very confident with the future AND burrying the SNL atmosphere that has been following the O’s. A good day in Birdland!

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 16, 2018 at 12:04 am

      Looking forward to covering him, Orial.

  7. bmorebirds

    November 15, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Sisco Kid, you may be on to something. A friend who knows the Angelos family well says Peter the Great is the primary reason agents and rival GMs self-medicate when they have to interact with the Orioles. With Peter’s influence waning, John & Louis Angelos seem far more likely to embrace the kinds of baseball practices that have turned Boston and Houston into American League monsters.
    John in particular has been an Orioles muckety-muck for 19 years, so it’s not like this is some kind of hobby he’s just familiarizing himself with.
    Eagerly awaiting the next Warehouse press conference, and eagerly awaiting the analytics age of Orioles baseball.

  8. John in Cincy

    November 15, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Formidable challenges? He’s the right guy to tackle them. This is a move in the right direction for the Orioles, no question. And getting Mejdal along with him is huge.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      An interesting move, John.

      • John in Cincy

        November 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm

        Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, Rich, or am I misreading you?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 15, 2018 at 11:58 pm

      Fans like the move, John. It’s not my
      job to endorse. Eager to meet him
      and cover him,

      • John in Cincy

        November 16, 2018 at 3:20 am

        That’s very true, Rich. Though you do give an opinion on the potential hire, it’s a non-committal one (“interesting move”).

        I have seen some national analysts giving their thumbs-up already, but they don’t deal with the front office on a regular basis the way you do.

  9. PA Bird Lover

    November 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    There are plenty of if’s in this process. The first is he hasn’t signed on the dotted line…yet. I hope he does.
    If he is the guy, he’ll need to slide in as the franchise guy and not simply a puppet of PA. If PA is truly staying at home this man may find success working alongside the sons. It’s an exciting time for O’s fans, but we all need to be patient.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 16, 2018 at 12:03 am

      We have good reason to believe Elias that Elias is the Orioles’ choice, PA.

  10. willmiranda

    November 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    “Anderson’s role . . . remains unclear.” As long as this is true, everyone else’s role is unclear. And, in my opinion, unclear roles have much to do with the O’s present plight. Elias’ first presser should set out the organizational chart. If he can’t do that, the fly is still in the ointment, the elephant is still in the room, or whatever other analogy you like.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 15, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      I think he will have full autonomy, Will.

  11. Birdman

    November 15, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Elias must have full autonomy over personnel decisions, both on the field and in the front office. If Elias determines that Brady Anderson will be helpful to the rebuild and he wants to keep Anderson, okay. But if he is pressured by ownership to keep Anderson, that’s a bad sign, and does not bode well for the future.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 15, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      I expect full autonomy, Birdman.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 15, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      I think he will have full autonomy, Birdman.

  12. mcgooding

    November 15, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    I feel like all of the local sports writers are just like our local weather forecasters. Reporting that something is going to happen and keeping their fingers crossed that nothing changes. This isn’t official, and we are talking about the Orioles after all. It makes me nervous that multiple reports have been saying this is a done deal, but nothing is official yet. Hopefully Elias doesn’t turn into our next snow forecast!

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 16, 2018 at 12:00 am

      Mcgooding, it’s not like weather forecasting. We gave good reasons to believe Elias is being hired. Because of the owners meetings this week, an immediate announcement hasn’t been made.

  13. ptmt86

    November 15, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Elias is the Orioles best GM hire since Frank Cashen.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 16, 2018 at 12:00 am

      How about Paul Richards, ptmt?

  14. Hallbe62

    November 18, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    My heart is with Bordick getting the Managers job. But my brain says look someplace else.

    I don’t think Girardi, John Farrell or Mike Matheny would touch the job with a 100 ft. pole but it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong.

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