Former O's Baines and Smith elected to Hall of Fame; Elias to talk today at Winter Meetings - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Former O’s Baines and Smith elected to Hall of Fame; Elias to talk today at Winter Meetings

Photo credit: Mark Goldman - Icon Sportswire

LAS VEGAS—Harold Baines and Lee Smith, two former Orioles, were elected to the Hall of Fame on Sunday. The Today’s Game committee elected Baines, who never got more than 6.1 percent of the vote in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He was named on 12 of the 16 ballots.

Smith received votes from all 16 committee members. In 2012, Smith received 50.6 percent of the vote of the BBWAA. Seventy-five percent of the vote is required in both the BBWWA and veterans committees.

Lou Piniella, who began his playing career with the Orioles, and was on the ballot as a manager, fell one vote shy with 11.

Orel Hershiser, Charlie Manuel, George Steinbrenner, former Orioles manager and second baseman Davey Johnson and three other former Orioles, Albert Belle, Will Clark and Joe Carter, each received fewer than five votes.

Baines, a native of St. Michael’s, Md., played seven seasons in three iterations with the Orioles. He had 638 of his 2,866 hits with the Orioles.

He played the bulk of his 22 seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He also had three stints in Chicago. Baines also played with Oakland, Texas and Cleveland. He was at home with his wife and dogs when he received the news.

“We were very shocked when we got the phone call,” Baines said in a conference call. “We weren’t really expecting it. I’m very grateful that it happened. I have four wonderful kids that are very proud of their dad today.”

Smith played just one of his 18 seasons with the Orioles. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Smith led the American League with 33 saves.

Mike Elias will talk with media today

As the first Winter Meetings of the Mike Elias era begins, the new Orioles’ general manager will hold his first press briefing with the local media since his appointment later today.

Elias has been notably silent and while one of his big moves, the hiring of Sig Mejdal to head the Orioles’ analytics department was announced, the dismissal of scouting director Gary Rajsich and minor league guru Brian Graham were not.

The new GM will be asked about his search for a manager. Four candidates were reportedly set to be interviewed: Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, Chicago Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde, Kansas City Royals quality control/catching coach Pedro Grifol, and Arizona Diamondbacks director of player development Mike Bell.

According to The Athletic, former Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond has also interviewed. Redmond went 155-207 in parts of three seasons from 2013-15. He’s the bench coach for the Colorado Rockies.

Hale is the only other reported candidate to have managed in the major leagues. He ran the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015 and 2016.

Joe Espada, who worked for Elias in 2018 as the Houston Astros bench coach, turned down an opportunity to interview, according to a source.

There could be other candidates whose names haven’t surfaced.

Elias will be asked about his search for replacements for Graham and Rajsich as well as his opinions on some of the players already on the team.

One thing that seems certain is that the Orioles will continue their string of selections, the longest in baseball, in the Rule 5 draft. Elias will be asked about that, too.

What we don’t know is his vision for 2019. Is he looking at the upcoming season as a laboratory of sorts? Is the team going to try to be somewhat competitive? Or are they just going to audition player after player to see who can cut it?

His selection of a manager will be illustrative. If he picks one of the names mentioned, what will be their style? Is he looking for a teacher—or a strategist?

A year ago, the Orioles suddenly became the center of attention when they decided to shop Manny Machado, but at this year’s Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, they may not make many moves at all.

Elias could take the time to interview front office candidates as well as managerial candidates besides talking with other teams about possible deal and agents to discuss free agent additions.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Orial

    December 10, 2018 at 7:58 am

    May sound sacrilege in Orioleland but Harold Baines doesn’t seem HOF material to me. Lee Smith –yes. “Elias had been very quiet”–seems to be a common theme around here. That’s ok still have all my faith in him. Espada turned it down. Interesting. Any idea why? Thought he would be a frontrunner.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Orial, I don’t know why Espada turned down the interview.

    • Jbigle1

      December 10, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      One more season as AJ hinch’s Right hand man could open the door to much better opportunities for Espada. This is not an attractive position. I’m not surprised to hear the names interested. Mildly surprised a guy like Hyde is interested. I expect a retread manager who wasn’t getting much consideration for any of the other positions this offseason.

  2. bigdaddydk

    December 10, 2018 at 8:12 am

    What is it going to take for Mussina to get into the HOF? His numbers are comparable to some other HOF pitchers. I have no problem with Lee Smith. Harold Baines was a guy I really liked, but aside from 2800 hits his numbers don’t really jump out at me screaming HOF.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      bigdaddy, if you look at the next piece, you’ll see that there’s a different electorate for Mussina than Baines. I think Mussina will get into the Hall of Fame within the next year or two.

  3. chico salmon

    December 10, 2018 at 8:55 am

    It’s interesting to me that the Today’s Game committee exists. Baseball’s popularity and attendance have been in decline so, in an effort to give today’s fans more familiar and recognizable players to follow into the HOF, they may have calibrated a new standard. Not that it’s lower, necessarily, just different. I think they are trying to emulate the NFL, which seems much more likely to enshrine more recent players.

    Then again, the NFL is such a younger league. My point is that Alan Trammel and Harold Baines, wonderful players, are symbolic of MLBs recognizing that they have to change things up. Let’s hope abolishing the shift (they have illegal shifts and strict rules on formation in football, right?) is another step in MLBs attempt to create more interest.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      Chico, the reason the Veterans committees exist is to elect candidates who have been overlooked in the Baseball Writers’ voting. Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were the first living players enshrined by the Veterans committees since Bill Mazeroski in 2001.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    December 10, 2018 at 9:12 am

    I’m from Baines hometown, where he is a legendary figure. His contributions to youth and High School baseball are generous and he is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. But it pains me to say, I’m completely stunned that he is headed to Cooperstown. The Baseball Hall of Fame now features Harold Baines and Bert Blyleven but not Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. That just seems absurd.

    • bmorebirds

      December 10, 2018 at 9:35 am

      Bancells, Clemens and Bonds were HOF a$$hats who weren’t necessarily beloved by baseball writers. And who decides who goes to Cooperstown? Yup, baseball scribes. In addition to being incredibly unlikeable, Clemens and Bonds both have a strong PED aroma about them.

      • Bancells Moustache

        December 10, 2018 at 10:19 am

        Likeable or not, you are talking about two players who have very strong cases for being the best pitcher and best hitter who ever played the game bmore. And the Hall of Fame is for baseball players, not ministers. I just think the PED thing has run its course and it’s silly and a bit petty to act as if these guys never happened.

        • bmorebirds

          December 10, 2018 at 10:56 am

          I hear ya, Bancells. Pettiness has blocked many a path to Cooperstown. As for the other stuff, maybe the Hall of Fame guys could build a special PED wing? Along with wings for A$$HATS and gamblers? Might give folks an added incentive to visit Cooperstown, lol.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      Bancells, Bert Blyleven was justifiably elected by the Baseball Writers. He had a 95 WAR, higher than Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins and Pedro Martinez. To suggest that he’s a marginal candidate, as Baines was, is not correct.

      Bonds and Clemens aren’t in for obvious reasons, and has nothing to do with why Baines and Blyleven are in.

  5. bmorebirds

    December 10, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Being from Maryland, I have no problem with borderline Harold Baines making it into the Hall of Fame. Besides Baines and some guy named Ripken, who else from MD became a HOFer?
    What the heck is up with Joe Espada??? The Bluejays passed on him and now he blows off the Orioles! Having worked with Mike Elias, does Espada know something the rest of us don’t? Whatever. I’m sure Elias & Co. will select a first-rate manager who can hold the hands of a bunch of clueless rookies, and later expertly guide a playoff-caliber ballclub.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Bmorebirds, Babe Ruth, Al Kaline, Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, Judy Johnson, Home Run Baker and Vic Willis were all born in Maryland.

      • bmorebirds

        December 10, 2018 at 10:41 am

        Rich, thanks much for delineating the Maryland-to-Cooperstown contingent. If I have any major misgiving about Baines, it’s that he didn’t spend more of his career in Baltimore.

  6. bats in the blefary

    December 10, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Baines in the hall is a joke. he was a fine player, but he is NOT hall of fame material. It’s a farce.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Bats, I don’t think Harold Baines in the Hall of Fame is a farce. 2,866 hits is a pretty substantial number even if there aren’t many other numbers to justify his election.

  7. PA Bird Lover

    December 10, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t envy his job, at least now. He’s between a rock and hard place. Fans will undoubtedly be divided on every move he makes and that includes a manager pick and for sure certain player selections. If Elias is worth his salt, he’ll let fan noise roll of his back.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      PA, I think Elias not make moves just because they may be popular.

  8. BirdsCaps

    December 10, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    I was a little surprise that Baines got in. I was even more surprised with who didn’t. Pinella was 1 short and he will eventually get in. However, I would have guessed that Manuel and Steinbrenner would have gotten close, or in Steinbrenner’s case got in. I also thought there was an outside shot for Herschiser and Clark.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      BirdsCaps, I was very surprised that Baines was elected. I think Piniella is right on the precipice. Manuel didn’t manage long enough to get in. Steinbrenner was a polarizing figure. I thought Orel Hershiser might get more support than he did.

  9. GSISDANNO

    December 10, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Harold Baines was a very good player, a clutch hitter who had long career. However, I am very surprised he made the Hall of Fame. But he is hardly the least deserving player to make it. In my mind, Ron Santo and Bill Mazeroski are very borderline Hall of Famers. Baines’ numbers are much better than those two guys. The Hall of Fame is all about creating conversation about baseball. They get it right most of the time.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 10, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Danno, I agree with you about Baines, and I think Mazeroski was a borderline Hall of Famer. Ron Santo, on the other hand, was long deserving, and it’s a shame he didn’t get in while he was alive.

      Santo was a five-time Gold Glover, a nine-time All-Star and had a WAR of 70.5, higher than many Hall of Famers. He’s one of the best third basemen in history, and that’s a position that’s generally underrepresented in the Hall of Fame.

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