Elias says Orioles can win again if they trust the process - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Elias says Orioles can win again if they trust the process

Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

BALTIMORE—The hiring of Mike Elias as the Orioles’ new executive vice president and general manager is important for the team, and his Monday introduction served not only as his debut but as a demonstration that a new era is here.

The 35-year-old Elias, who was appropriately dressed in an orange tie, sat between Orioles managing partners John and Louis Angelos in an armchair in the middle of the clubhouse, an unusual setting for a team event.

Elias was chosen after a six-week search, and the Angelos brothers estimated they had spent 25 to 30 hours speaking with their new GM.

He comes from the Houston Astros, where he served as assistant general manager, and while he didn’t offer many specifics, he spoke with confidence.

“The plan is simple,” Elias said. “We’re going to build an elite talent pipeline that’s going to extend from the lowest realm of our minor league ladder … all the way up to Triple-A and up to the major league roster in Baltimore.”

Elias said that he’s seen the system work in Houston and St. Louis, where he worked before joining his mentor, Jeff Luhnow, with the Astros.

“This is a process,” Elias said. “It’s a process that doesn’t have shortcuts, but it’s a process that works, and it’s a process that is worth it. … It’s a process that I’ve been a big part of before and the fact that I have done this before, really twice across two different organizations, gives me a special level of confidence that we’re going to do it again and have the same type of success here in Baltimore.”

As a boy growing up in Northern Virginia, Baltimore was where Elias came to watch major league baseball, and he says he’s long had an affinity for the city.

“When you’re a kid growing up in Northern Virginia, Baltimore is a place that you come to to have fun,” he said. “I grew up coming to Camden Yards, visiting the Inner Harbor, visiting the aquarium.”

“I already have a lot of positive memories and positive impressions of the city. I love this city … I also got to see Camden Yards during that time. The stadium was filled to the brim and the city was supporting a championship-caliber team, a playoff-caliber team, so I know that there’s no place better in baseball.”

Elias refused to comment on the length of his contract or set a timetable for the team’s turnaround. Nor did he say what he’s looking for in a manager to replace the departed Buck Showalter.

He said that he’s already begun the background work on managers, and wouldn’t say if he hoped to have a manager in place in time for the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

“It’s not something to rush for the sake of meeting artificial dates in the wintertime,” Elias said.

The Angelos brothers didn’t rush in selecting Elias.

“He was incredibly prepared, thoughtful,” John Angelos said of Elias. “Just an impressive performance.”

When Elias joined the Astros, some of their key players who helped the team win the 2017 World Series were already in the organization, and he believes that’s also the case in Baltimore.

“There are players, a lot of players on this team right now and in this organization, who are going to be a part of the next playoff team in Baltimore,” Elias said.

“A lot of good players and more coming … There are some future stars in the system, some really good pitchers. There’s more than enough to work with. Part of the attraction of this job to me is that I know there’s already players here that we’re going to be able to lean on over the next few years and watch grow.”

The Orioles have more than $6 million in international signing bonus money remaining. Elias, who has served as an international scouting director, didn’t say if he thought there were prospects worth using that money on, only that it was an important area to focus on. He also said he was accustomed to having a top-notch farm system, and that would also be a priority.

Analytics, an area in which the Astros excelled, is something that’s key to Elias.

“I have confidence that we can do this,” Elias said. “We can do this is in the right amount of time, and the analytics’ part of it is not optional in today’s game.”

Elias said that he thought the team makeover, which began with the trade of Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 18, was smart.

“Those were the right moves,” Elias said. “I’m glad those moves happened.”

As for first baseman Chris Davis, who still has four years and $110 million left on his contract, Elias was in no hurry to cut ties with the slugger, who had a nightmarish 2018.

“This lineup of this team is at its best with a productive Chris Davis, a productive Chris Davis in the middle of the lineup,” Elias said. “I want to see that happen. He had a frustrating campaign this year. I think the chances are good of him bouncing back and improving upon that.”

Elias seemed comfortable with the new leadership of the Orioles.

“I think very uniquely this organization has in its history, and its DNA, having at one time being considered as the smartest, the most forward thinking, most progressive thinking organization in baseball,” Elias said. “We’re here to restore that reputation.”

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Ekim

    November 19, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    To be consistent with what I’ve written here before, a good pitching coach and a good hitting coach should be as much of a priority as the manager. I’d love to know why MacDowell was allowed to stay on for as long as he did. He had to have had something on somebody in the organization.

    • Bhoffman1

      November 20, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Bucky was reason he stayed any other manager would have fired him last season

  2. PA Bird Lover

    November 19, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    ”He had a frustrating campaign this year. I think the chances are good of him bouncing back and improving upon that.” – “this year”
    2010, 2014 and 2018 BA below 200.
    3 seasons barely over the 200 mark.
    He’s a 238 career hitter. I will give him credit for home run production. But, far to many plate appearances resulted in a strike out, where his bat stayed on his shoulder. Counting on Chris Davis is like catching lightning in a bottle. My guess is what else could he had said, sitting between the Angelos boys? I hope Elias well.

  3. TheGreat8

    November 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    new tie? houston’s got orange too…

  4. bmorebirds

    November 19, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Nice question about ownership transparency/accessibility moving forward, Rich.
    Elias was slick enough not to get tied to a rebuild timeframe.
    I can be patient, but I’ll be damned if I want to see a succession of 100-plus game losing seasons. As Elias accurately notes, there’s talent already in the system . . .

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Bmorebirds, expect little in 2019. I think it will take a while, but it should work if done correctly as Elias points out.

  5. cedar

    November 19, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    So far everything I’ve read has been positive. My biggest concern is will they stick to “the plan?” It’s easy to say that now, but 3 years from now?
    Any chance Gary Kendall gets a look as manager? If you are going to build from the farm system, who better than be to lead the team the next few years?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 7:38 pm

      As you know, Cedar I wrote about Gary Kendall as a possible candidate several weeks ago.

  6. Orial

    November 19, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    To me the managerial choice is just a formality compared to the importance of building and implementing his process. As much as impressed as I was by Elias I was equally impressed by the Angelos Sons and their eagerness and professionalism. Rich are the Sons going to be more aggressive in the marketing of not only the Baltimore area but in the DC area(they did mention they’re building business ties)? If they can regain a small foothold back in Northern Va area it would do wonders especially at a time when fan empathy may come into play.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      The Orioles have always marketed in DC. Their games on the radio, but it’s a real uphill climb to get traction there.

  7. 8ripken2131

    November 19, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Elias exudes confidence, and I can’t believe that someone of his caliber would’ve taken the job unless he truly felt he’d have autonomy. I’m excited.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 20, 2018 at 8:26 am

      8ripken, he’ll have autonomy.

  8. Bhoffman1

    November 20, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Very positive words from Elias except Chris Davis. He has been bad and last year no words for how bad he was for over two years. The likelihood of him being productive in the middle of the lineup next year are slim.

  9. Dmytro_ODonnell

    November 20, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Elias just came out of having a hand in one the most perfect blow-up/rebuilds ever. Houston got what they could for the talent they had but knew wouldn’t be around when it was time to win again. They drafted very well. They were patient. They didn’t sign anyone for the sake of optics.
    It may not/probably won’t happen in the relatively short order that it did for Houston, but I have no reason to believe Elias will try to speed it up for the sake of doing so. I believe this guy, with the help of the Angelos boys, will get it done.

  10. VICTORTEE

    November 24, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Looks like a good hire. But his challenge is much harder here than for Astros. We have the two Beasts of the East in our division plus the very smart Rays and Toronto which has a top ranked farm system. A LOT tougher division than the AL West.

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