Reading between the lines of Mike Elias' message to Oriole fans -

Rich Dubroff

Reading between the lines of Mike Elias’ message to Oriole fans

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Orioles

Thanksgiving is over, and Mike Elias has some decisions to make this week. By Friday, he’ll have to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens and Jonathan Villar are certain to be offered arbitration. Tim Beckham and Caleb Joseph’s future must be decided.

Elias’ introduction of a week ago drew rave reviews from fans as did the addition of his longtime aide, Sig Mejdal, to head the team’s analytics department.

In an email to Orioles season-ticket holders, sent on Tuesday, the day before Mejdal’s appointment, Elias reiterated some of the points he made in his introductory news conference, and provided some clues about his next moves.

“A lot of our future core is already here,” Elias wrote. “Homegrown players like Trey Mancini, Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens, and Cedric Mullins will soon be joined by others. And over the coming weeks, we will select our next field manager, who will be responsible for establishing the culture and style of play for the next era of Oriole baseball.”

Bundy and Givens won’t be eligible for free agency until 2022, and by Elias labeling them as part of “our future core,” it’s obvious that he’s not looking to trade them when the Winter Meetings begin in Las Vegas on Dec. 9.

No one was forcing Elias to name who he thinks are important parts of the team’s future, but by including Bundy and Givens, perhaps he thinks that by 2021, the final year they’re under team control the Orioles will be nearing contention.

The inclusion of Mancini and Mullins shouldn’t be surprising. Mancini has four more years under team control and Mullins, who began his major league career on Aug. 10, has six years until he’s eligible for free agency.

The Orioles are committed to only two players, Alex Cobb and Chris Davis, beyond 2019. Cobb has three more years under contract and Davis four.

Elias addressed Davis’ status during his introduction, saying that he thought he could be able to rebound from his disastrous 2018 season.


Cobb isn’t homegrown, but it will be interesting to see if Elias decides that the team should try to trade him. He still has three years and $43 million left on the contract he signed last March. Based on his performance in 2018, would Cobb, if he were a free agent, be able to command a three-year, $43-million deal? I think not, and as a result, the Orioles might have a hard time trading him if they wanted to.

Without Cobb and Andrew Cashner, who can be a free agent a year from now, the Orioles would have a difficult time cobbling together a respectable pitching staff for 2019.

Cashner and Mark Trumbo are the only players on the 40-man roster eligible for free agency a year from now. (Cashner’s two-year contract could be guaranteed for 2020 if he pitches 187 innings, a figure he’s never reached.)

The Orioles will surely sign or trade for additional players who’ll be eligible for free agency at the conclusion of next season.

Elias’ proclamation that the team’s next manager “will be responsible for establishing the culture and style of play for the next era of Oriole baseball” seems to indicate that he’s not looking for a placeholder.

Some have speculated that Elias would look to a veteran manager initially to hold things together in what promises to be a rocky 2019 and perhaps 2020.

He certainly could choose a manager who’s run a major league team before, but he would be one Elias would like to keep around for more than just two years before moving on.

Next year could be nearly as difficult to watch as the 115-loss 2018 season. Of course, there wouldn’t be the tumult of midseason moves. But, since Elias can’t shuffle the bulk of the 40-man roster by Opening Day, at least some of those who struggled last season will be on hand when spring training begins in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 13.

If the Orioles lose 100 or more games again, it could be traumatizing for a first-time manager, but Elias, who seems confident in his abilities, will hire a manager who won’t be fazed by the possibility of a rocky 2019.

Elias also inherits a team whose attendance fell last season to 1.56 million, the lowest full-season mark in 40 years.

“Among the many things I have learned in my experience with this type of process is that the support of the fans will be critical to our success,” he wrote. ”We need you. I promise to communicate with you as openly and as often as I can, and we will rely on you to hold us accountable.”

Elias knows that if the Orioles on-field play improves, attendance will increase, but if next season is nearly as bad as the recently concluded one was, will fans who are supportive now still be patient?

While he’s off to a terrific start, there’s one part of Elias’ note that will certainly be true. Orioles fans will have no problem holding him and others accountable.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB





  1. bmorebirds

    November 26, 2018 at 9:06 am

    The most interesting part of Elias’s presser was his pledge (threat) to be actively involved in Chris Davis’ offseason preparations. Any truth to the rumor Elias showed up at Davis’ house Thanksgiving morning accompanied by a sports psychologist, tapes of Davis’ 2013 batting stance and several syringes of (ahem) vitamin B-12?
    I think that whatever plagues Davis is between his ears, so hopefully Elias & Co. can push the right buttons. It was painfully obvious Duquette/Showalter/Coolbaugh no longer could.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 9:12 am

      The Orioles have a rather large investment in Davis, bmorebirds, and it behooves them to find out if he can be helped.

    • Bhoffman1

      November 26, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Look Davis was on Adderall in 2013. Either get him back on this drug or hire the best pharmacologist in the world to find a alternative med. Nothing else will work


    November 26, 2018 at 9:27 am

    If they lose 100 again??? HA! HA! HA! The Astros tanked enough to lose 105, 106 and 111 in consecutive years to get the overall top pick three years in a row and they were playing in the mediocre AL West not the AL East. Facing the Red Sox, Yanks, 90 win Rays and the Jays who along with the Rays have a couple of the best farm systems in MLB add up to how many more losses than in the AL West? To me at least 5-10 more per year. That bumps the losses to 110-120 per year. I hope they don’t lose that many but you have to remember the Astros were one of the first teams in MLB to openly tank. The Rays and A’s have no $ but always do their best to pick up vets to win each year. That was NOT the Astros model.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 9:37 am

      Victor, check back next year to see how many they lose. If they lose 98 instead of 115, that’s still bad. It’s just a cosmetic improvement. Not many teams have lost 100 in consecutive years, though as you point out the Astros did it three straight years.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 9:40 am

      The Astros were in the NL Central in their first two years of losing 100-plus.

  3. boss61

    November 26, 2018 at 10:10 am

    On the topic of attendance and ticket renewals, we’re renewing our plan. We’ve had it since 1984. Stop now? I imagine traffic will be less and parking will be closer unless giveaways and the weather both are spectacular.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 10:32 am

      That’s one way to look at it, Mark.

  4. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    November 26, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Elias knew coming in this will be a long process. The Orioles don’t have the elite prospects other teams have. They have to draft well moving forward and develop their core talent internally. This takes time and patience. The Cubs and Astros have shown you can turn a team around following this method – so can the Orioles. Its obviously going to be a long season next year, possibly a worse record than this past year.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 10:34 am

      I think the season will be difficult, Grand Strand, but I think the record will be somewhat better. Not good, but a little better.

  5. Hallbe62

    November 26, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Yes the next 2 seasons will bad if all you’re looking at is wins & losses.

    I will still scream, shout, & throw my little fits when the O’s commit mental errors or go against the grain when it comes to Baseball fundamentals. Those are things that drive me batty.

    But I will have patience with the O’s otherwise, and as I’ve stated before I believe that Elias’s process will eventually get us to the promised land.

    That’s called hope, and I’ve got that in spades.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Hallbe, I’m sure Mike Elias appreciates your confidence in him.

  6. Orial

    November 26, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Caleb and Beckham will be gut wrenching decisions. Caleb for obvious reasons,Beckham because I still think he has some talent(just not at SS). Elias has some interesting Rule 5 choices. Just hope he keeps it to 1 or 2 at most. I expect the months leading to SP to be quiet with,other than naming a Mgr,all to be status quo. Final thought and your opinion–Elias is still sitting on that $6 million international allotment. Will he be active with it?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 11:28 am

      I’m not sure, Orial. If there are good prospects still left in the market, I think he’ll spend, but why waste money if there aren’t?

      • Jbigle1

        November 26, 2018 at 11:36 pm

        There has to be some prospects. Ronald Acuna was signed for something like 10K. Our own prospect encarnscion I believe was a 15K signing. We should at the very least take some lotto tickets.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 27, 2018 at 7:42 am

      I’m sure they will, jbigle, but I’m hardly an expert on Latin American markets.

  7. TheGreat8

    November 26, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Rich – more of a diner question and one i think we’ve touched on a little. Not saying anyone would do it but would you trade Davis straight up for Robinson Cano? He has one more year than CD but the money is comparable and at least you’re only clogging up second instead of first base/outfield/DH.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      A shorter bad contract is better than a longer bad contract, Great8.

      • Jbigle1

        November 26, 2018 at 11:43 pm

        But 5/120 for cano isn’t nearly as bad as davis. It’s more money but it’s money that could be moved. You could probably find a team to pay half of cano’s salary and you certainly couldn’t say the same for Davis.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 27, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Jbigle, it’s not going to happen, so we can now discuss more productive topics.

  8. mlbbirdfan

    November 26, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Should Orioles season ticket holders keep buying ???

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      That is an interesting question, mlbbirdfan.

    • BirdsCaps

      November 26, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      Hey mlbbirdfan,
      If you decide against the season seats, the secondary market for tickets offers O’s seats at a very steep discount. During the week (assuming they aren’t playing NY or Bos), tickets are super cheap. Weekends are a little more expensive, but I don’t think they were much more than season seat discounts. I think that its quite possible to get weekend/promotion seats at lower than sth discount if you look hard for deals.

    • Jbigle1

      November 26, 2018 at 11:45 pm

      If you like sitting in the same seat every time you go. Season tickets for the orioles definitely aren’t cost effective now.

  9. PA Bird Lover

    November 26, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I don’t envy him. This undertaking is mammoth and perhaps the largest rebuild in franchise history.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 26, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      It will be an interesting time for Elias, PA.

  10. BirdsCaps

    November 26, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t know what to expect going forward. Obviously a GM can’t be expected to do much in terms of short term success. Unfortunately, Elias will need to be near perfect in his decision making for the birds even to pull off only a 3-4 year rebuild. One side note is that the birds are definitely all in on the analytics front. As I was doing my daily indeed search, I noticed the site full of statistician jobs for the Birds. So I guess our team motto is going from the oriole way to revenge of the nerds? Hopefully it works as it did in Houston, Oakland, and STL.

    • Raymo

      November 26, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      What is a “daily indeed search”?

      • BirdsCaps

        November 26, 2018 at 10:20 pm

        Indeed is a job search website.

    • Raymo

      November 27, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Thank you

  11. 8ripken2131

    November 26, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    Elias has his work cut out for him, but how can you not like his pedigree? I’m looking forward to hearing about his hires in scouting, player development and international.

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