Elias says 2019 goal is to improve talent in Orioles organization - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Elias says 2019 goal is to improve talent in Orioles organization

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Orioles

LAS VEGAS — Mike Elias is less than a month into his job as Orioles executive vice president and general manager, but his vision seems clear. After he hires a manager and coaching staff, he wants to construct a club that can improve upon its franchise-worst 115 losses.

However, that’s not the primary goal.

“I want to improve the aggregate talent base of this organization and that’s going to come in the form of additions to this organization via the draft, international signings, perhaps some trades that might occur,” Elias said during his Monday session at the Winter Meetings.

“I’d like to see the record improve, but our organizational goal, our organizational direction is to improve the aggregate talent base across this organization. That’s our directive, first and foremost. My hope and expectation is that will come alongside an improvement in the major league record.”

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Elias dismissed scouting director Gary Rajsich and minor league chief Brian Graham, and is looking for replacements. He didn’t offer reasons for their terminations.

“This is an area, scouting and player development, where I’ve been my whole career,” Elias said. “We’ve had a lot of success in that area across two different organizations and the reason we were brought here … It’s going to be a major focus of this organization for the next few years and beyond …We’ll get the right people. We’ll get them in good time … It’s an area I’ll be very personally involved this year.”

When Dan Duquette was fired as executive vice president on Oct. 3, Graham, Rajsich and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson remained under contract. Anderson is the only one who remains, and he is in Las Vegas this week.

“There’s a lot of good people here,” Elias said. “They’re doing good work. They’re helping out across a lot of areas. I view him as no different. He has a lot of institutional knowledge, not only as a front-office executive, but also dating back to when he was a player that is very valuable to me. We’ll keep working and figure out what is the best way to deploy that and provide value to me and to us. I’m working very well with a lot of these guys here, and he’s one of them.”

Elias said no trades of veteran players were imminent, and that he viewed Jonathan Villar as the team’s primary shortstop. Villar played for Houston while Elias was with the Astros before he was traded to Milwaukee.

Elias did not specify positions he’s targeting for upgrades.

“We’ll look for improvements everywhere,” Elias said. “I can’t say with any certainty that there’s going to be outside free-agent help brought in in any position.

“The players that are here on the major league roster and in the minor leagues, we want to see them get better. To me, this season, this year, will be a success if we see the talent base across the entire organization, from top to bottom, go in the right direction. We’ve also got a lot of investment in infrastructure-related projects that we want to get going.”

To get that talent level up, the minor leagues are going to have to improve.

“I’m very accustomed to having an elite farm system, wherever I’ve been,” Elias said. “That’s what I’m used to.

“Are we there? Is this a Top 5, Top 10 farm system right now? I don’t think there’s a lot of rankings that would place the farm system in that regard. There are a lot of individual players in the farm system that I’m very excited about. I think there are some really good pieces there.

“I think there are some really good pieces on the major league roster, but my standards are really high just because where I’ve been in my career and what we’ve been able to do. I won’t be satisfied until I feel that that’s the case here.”

Elias said he hopes to have a manager by the end of the month but that free agents aren’t concerned about that.

“People know that this is a good organization,” Elias said. “It’s a great place to play. It’s a great ballpark to play in. It’s a great town to play in. They’re excited about the direction that we’re taking the franchise.

“This is going to be a wonderful place to play. They’re excited to talk to us. The reality is that we’ve got a lot going on. We’re not going to be a fast mover, I don’t expect, in the free-agent market. We’re going to monitor it very carefully and be active in that regard and see what plays out.”

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. cedar

    December 11, 2018 at 8:07 am

    I like Elias’ focus on building the talent and love the confidence he has. With this fan base and how it’s felt about the ownership, I feel that Elias will have to keep hammering that point home and I hope we can all be patient and stay the course.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      Cedar, it will be interesting to see how fans feel in August if the team hasn’t shown much improvement on the field.

  2. bmorebirds

    December 11, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Lot of news here, Rich. If Mike Elias finds value in having Brady Anderson around, works for me. Also found it interesting that Elias tabbed Villar shortstop and that Elias sees valuable cogs in the farm system. Finally, like cedar, I love Elias’ confidence/arrogance. Just walk the talk, son.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      bmorebirds, I’m intrigued to see what 2019 will bring.

  3. Baltimore Castaway

    December 11, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Obviously this fellow is highly educated and experienced for the job ahead.

    It will be interesting to see how he handles himself during the season.

    He seems rather cocksure of himself. Not sure how that’s going to play in Charm City…

    A little warmth and humility goes a long way once in a while ….

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      Castaway, as many have said, winning is a great deodorant. If the team plays well, then Elias will be a hero.

  4. bigdaddydk

    December 11, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Elias is spot on about building the talent pool in the farm system. The biggest problem the team has is that the system is depleted. The attempt to contend after 2014, and even during to some extent, left the system a mess as future talent was traded for the immediate needs. Not that the system was totally loaded then, but it’s worse now. Long term competitiveness is closely tied to the ability to reload instead of rebuilding. A steady supply of MLB talent coming through the system is essential. The best teams have solid systems that contribute and don’t just build through free agency. Talent in the system feeds the parent team, but also allows you to make trades. So, the team has been hamstrung in recent years in that there isn’t the flow of talent to replenish the parent team, and the assets to make trades and acquire controllable talent hasn’t been there either. I for one welcome a return to the days when the O’s farm system was the envy of MLB.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      Lots of good points here, bigdaddy.

  5. bats in the blefary

    December 11, 2018 at 9:43 am

    I’m interested in the Villsr piece. He sure looks like a 2B to me. If he wants to play young kids, I thought maybe they’d grab Martin in the rule 5 and see if he can handle SS, with Villar at 2B.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Villar came up as a shortstop, and I thought he played much better there than at second, bats. There will be much experimentation in spring training and during the season. I’m sure you’ll see lots of combinations you never imagined.

      • jkneps63

        December 11, 2018 at 5:02 pm

        Villar’s stats seem to indicate he is better at 2B with Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at 7 over his MLB career and a fielding % of 0.972. At SS, he has a DRS of -4 and a fielding % of 0.953 (that’s about one error every 20 chances). Hopefully Elias knows something about Villar at SS the stats aren’t showing!

  6. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    December 11, 2018 at 10:47 am

    This is the rebuilding approach most have expected from him. The Orioles need to improve their farm system through the draft as well as signing top international talent. Their talent pool has improved somewhat through the trade deadline acquisitions and recent draft. However, they rank around 20th right now. The upcoming June draft is should continue this improvement. Its still a long process and will take several years to get to where they hope to be.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      I agree with you, Grand Strand.

  7. Hallbe62

    December 11, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve said this before, the O’s will be enjoying high draft picks for the next few years.

    They’ve got to hit more than they miss on those picks. Drafting well is but one piece of the puzzle, but a mighty big piece.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      Hallbe, it’s going to be interesting to see how the draft proceeds.

  8. BirdsCaps

    December 11, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    So far, I like Elias. He is being relatively straight with the fans by saying he wants to improve the organization, instead of emphasizing W’s. However, I wish he would use more traditional baseball terms. The term “aggregate talent base” is one that I would like to see dropped. This is baseball, not macro or micro economics. What’s next, are we going to discuss spending using marginal propensity to consume/spend and how can we use the circular flow (C+I+G+NX=Y) to analyze the team free agency. No matter what if the press conferences start talking about Keynes’s demand theory or Hayek’s knowledge theory, I’m out. In other words, no one wants their economics or stat mixed with baseball when a GM or manager is talking to the fans in a presser. However on an analytical blog/show or in the actual decision making they should use whatever theory, term, or stat that is useful. I know this is long, but I miss the romantic (Ken Burns baseball doc) view of the game and I get irritated whenever wonky terms are used when they don’t have to be. That was my rant for the day.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 11, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      BirdsCaps, I always thought you were a Milton Friedman kind of guy.

      • BirdsCaps

        December 11, 2018 at 7:43 pm

        Friedman is great, but Hayek is the Man!!!!! The article “The Use of Knowledge in Society” changed the way I look at economics and human interactions. I’m glad you could follow my rant, since it’s a little inside baseball.

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