The Mike Elias era with Orioles begins today - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

The Mike Elias era with Orioles begins today

Photo Credit: Juan DeLeon/Icon Sports Wire

The Mike Elias era in Baltimore begins at 11 a.m. That’s when Elias will be introduced as the Orioles’ executive vice president and general manager. Elias, who will be the first person to carry the GM title since Frank Wren in 1999, has been promised “full autonomy.”

That phrase delighted skeptical Orioles fans.

Elias’ hiring is intriguing for those of us who will cover him because we know so little about him. His resume is impressive, and his youth is striking, but judgments are months away.

At his press conference today, Elias undoubtedly will talk about how important scouting and player development are — two areas he worked in with the Houston Astros — and about analytics, another area where he’s demonstrated expertise.

Comparisons will be made about the situations in Houston and Baltimore. When Elias, Jeff Luhnow and David Stearns were hired by the Astros for the 2012 season,  the team had lost 106 games.

Five years later, they were World Series champs and Stearns in Milwaukee and Elias in Baltimore have their own franchises to run while Luhnow continues his ultra-successful tenure in Houston.

The Astros lost 107 and 111 games in Elias’ first two years, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Orioles, who lost 115 games in 2018, had two more rocky years before times got better.

But there the comparisons end. The new Astros management team inherited Brad Mills as manager, and they’d cycle through him and three more managers until settling on A.J. Hinch in 2015, when the team surprised baseball by qualifying for the postseason.

Two key pieces of the Astros’ successful four-year run, Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel, were already on hand. Another, Marwin Gonzalez, was one of the first acquisitions of the new regime. George Springer had been Houston’s top draft choice in 2011.

With the Orioles, there’s no inherited manager, and Elias will quickly embark on a search. He also will bone up on the Orioles’ 40-man roster and minor leagues to see if there are any future Altuves, Keuchels and Springers.

Nearly all of the 56 players who performed for the Orioles in 2018 will be long gone by the time the Orioles become respectable again.

By the time the Astros were ready to contend, four seasons into Elias’ time in Houston, the roster had turned over and important players such as Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. were drafted. Alex Bregman would be selected in the 2015 draft.

The Astros, considered baseball’s brainiest franchise, won a World Series despite making critical errors. They released J.D. Martinez in March 2014, and their No. 1 overall picks in 2013 and 2014, Mark Appel and Brady Aiken, never made it to the majors.

Their failure to sign Aiken turned out well, though, when they drafted Bregman as compensation.

Fans are hoping that Elias’ autonomy will include the ability to end Chris Davis’ time with the Orioles, but that’s something that needs to be addressed in 2019 — not now.

A new manager and hitting coach will have an opportunity to work with Davis, who is still owed $110 million by the Orioles in salary and deferred payments.

The Orioles’ investment in Davis is so enormous that a quick decision shouldn’t be made. They must see if they can get some production from him, and if they can’t, the decision will be made not by Elias alone, but in consultation with ownership, as it should be.

Naïve fans who believe that Davis and his powerful agent Scott Boras will accept something less than the $110 million owed as a “buyout” should realize that would set a precedent that players will never accept.

Elias has first-hand experience with one returning Orioles regular. Jonathan Villar was traded by Houston after the 2015 season to Stearns’ Brewers.

He’ll have to make quick decisions on Villar, who played second and shortstop after he was acquired by the Orioles on July 31, and others. Both Villar and Tim Beckham are among the handful of players with arbitration eligibility who must be offered contracts by Nov. 30.

Villar will be retained, but Beckham may not be.

Besides listening to Elias, who will probably be long on generalities and short on specifics, at least at first, it will be fascinating to see John and Louis Angelos, who will introduce Elias this morning.

Their father, Peter, wasn’t present at key Orioles announcements, but his sons, who chose Elias, will be there.

Elias has years of work ahead of him, and Oriole fans are going to be eager to hear his vision.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Orial

    November 19, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Yesterday Lamar Jackson today Mike Elias. Yes these are refreshing/encouraging times in Baltimore. It will seem like Elias will have to hit the floor running but in actuality it will be a slow tedious crawl. We fans are going to have to be patient and let the process work. Just hope the O’s fans with “ADD” don’t jump to the Nats in the process.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 8:59 am

      Orial, it’s likely to be a tough year or two before things start to look better.

  2. bmorebirds

    November 19, 2018 at 8:56 am

    For once I can’t wait for the Rule 5 draft. We pick first, and who knows better how to raid Houston’s minor-league cupboard than Elias? As for two more horrid seasons under Elias, we’ll see. It could argued that B’more already has more minor league talent than the Astros did when Elias arrived in Houston.
    Whatever happens under the new boy, I think the Orioles’ days of relying heavily on MLB dumpster diving (leading to gems like Colby Rasmus) are over. Yea!

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 9:29 am

      If there’s a Dallas Keuchel, Jose Altuve or George Springer on hand, please let me know, bmorebirds.

  3. VICTORTEE

    November 19, 2018 at 9:08 am

    I hope Elias does a great job with the O’s. But I hope O’s fans know that the Astros were one of the first teams in MLB to intentionally tank to get #1 picks. So don’t expect anything for the next several years. Also the Astros were in a mediocre at best division (the AL West) while the O’s are in the best division with two 100+ winners, a 90 games winner with a top farm system and the Jays who also have a top farm system. So however badly the Astros played the first 2 years after Elias (and his boss) arrived it is reasonable to expect the O’s to be much worse. How about 110-120 losses for 3 or more years?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 9:30 am

      I wouldn’t go that far, Victor. By 2021, they should be somewhat better.

      • VICTORTEE

        November 19, 2018 at 11:10 am

        Every team in the division (the best division in MLB) is WAY ahead of them. And the Houston model is tanking. The 76R’s called it “The process” but the Astros perfected it.
        I doubt if they will be much better by 2021. I hope you are right but I doubt it.
        The Astros did not have the Red Sox and Yankees in their division. As the wresting slogan used to be “Where the Big Boys play”.

  4. TheGreat8

    November 19, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Rich – has anyone mentioned the length of his contract yet? I feel like it needs to be at least a 5-year deal for him to have the security and timeframe he needs to make some progress here.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Elias was asked about the length of his contract. He did not answer it, Great 8. The guess here is five years.

  5. GSISDANNO

    November 19, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I certainly hope this guy has autonomy like it says it does.
    This organization has made a lot of mistakes in recent years and it is going to take time to be competitive again.
    In fact, the only position players I would keep are Villar, Mullins and Mancini unless Adam Jones comes back.
    Any Orioles fans “who jump ship” weren’t really Oriole fans to begin with. Genuine fans stick by their team through tough times.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 20, 2018 at 8:34 am

      Danno, I will be interested in Elias’ judgements on players. He will have autonomy.

  6. mcgooding

    November 19, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Now that Elias is in place Rich, do you have an inkling to who he will hire to manage the team? I read an article this weekend of 10 candidates for the job, but wasn’t impressed with the likes of Ron Washington, Manny Acta, and John Gibbons. Are there any up and comers like Boston has to manage the O’s?

    • Dominate The State

      November 19, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Who wrote THAT article that you refer to.I sure hope they don’t hire some retread like the names you mention.

      • OsfaninNC

        November 19, 2018 at 1:36 pm

        Agreed. I’ve also seen Girardi and Farrell mentioned. No thanks. Someone fresh and new. As he ME said in his comments there are plenty of available candidates. Hopefully plenty of up and comers

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 19, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      I don’t have an inkling, mcgooding. He wasn’t specific when asked about it.

    • mcgooding

      November 19, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      The article that I read was on CBS Sportsline.

  7. mlbbirdfan

    November 19, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    What is the benefit to keep the LENGTH of his contract secret??? Dislike! Does it contain an opt-out allowing him to jump ship in a year or two if a bigger- market job opens up? How come NO ONE in media has asked (or speculated) about the rational?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 20, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Executives do not have opt-outs. My guess is that he has a five-year deal, mlbbirdfan.

  8. Roman

    November 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

    great

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