Five observations on Mike Elias' first Winter Meetings - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Five observations on Mike Elias’ first Winter Meetings

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Orioles

LAS VEGAS—With his first Winter Meetings as Orioles general manager behind him, here are five impressions about Mike Elias’ Vegas experience

1) The Orioles will have a new manager shortly, but it wasn’t a smooth path.

Elias was taken aback when reports surfaced just before and during his Tuesday daily media briefing with Baltimore reporters that the Orioles had an agreement with Cubs coach Brandon Hyde to become the team’s next manager.

He denied there was an agreement even as the television near him headlined the news.

On Wednesday, Elias said that the Orioles were moving closer to naming their next manager. Though he never specified Hyde—or anyone else—the Chicago Cubs were discussing how to replace him as bench coach.

Perhaps there will be an announcement of Hyde’s appointment today—or Monday—with a press conference to introduce him early next week.

2) Hyde will get to pick his own coaches—to a point

Elias said he asked each of the six managerial candidates to share names of possible coaches.

Elias said that choosing a coaching staff is a collaborative process, but that the manager would have much more say than he would.

One name that’s surfaced is Tim Cossins, the Cubs’ minor league field coordinator. He could be the team’s catching coach.

Atlhough some holdovers in the team’s administration appreciated the work of third base and infield coach Bobby Dickerson, Hyde has no ties to him.

There are a number of coaches at the major league level who were let go because of managerial changes this past season. They could be hired without any issues. The Orioles could promote some minor league coaches, too.

3) There was little trade buzz around the Orioles

Because Elias was hired so late, he got a late start on selecting a manager, and with his dismissal of scouting director Gary Rajsich and minor league director Brian Graham, he has a number of vacancies to fill in the front office.

The managerial and coaching search takes precedence, and the other hires may not come until after the holidays.

As a result, there was little chatter about the Orioles in the trade or free-agent market.

Elias said that the Orioles likely would be more be active in the free-agent market later.

4) Elias was less than impressed with the infielders he inherited

Even though Elias labeled Jonathan Villar as the team’s “primary shortstop” this week, he was part of an administration in Houston that traded Villar to Milwaukee when Carlos Correa was ready to play.

The Orioles added three players in Las Vegas—all infielders.

Besides Richie Martin, the first pick in the Rule 5 draft, and Drew Jackson, Philadelphia’s pick, who they acquired for international signing bonus money, the Orioles also acquired Rio Ruiz on waivers from Atlanta. Drafted by Elias in Houston, Ruiz is a third baseman, and he hits left-handed.

Besides first baseman Chris Davis, the Orioles have four holdover infielders on the 40-man roster: Villar, switch-hitters Breyvic Valera and Steve Wilkerson, and right-hand hitting Renato Nunez.

Jace Peterson, who was a utility player last season, has been signed to a minor league contract.

Even though Elias said he would consider reuniting with Tim Beckham after he was not tendered a contract, the additions of Martin and Jackson make that appear unlikely.

 5) Elias’ second Winter Meetings will be much different

The Orioles were the first team in memory to come to the Winter Meetings without having named a manager. Elias did allow that it was a disadvantage not to have his manager on hand.

Next year in San Diego, Elias will have a full front office contingent and more solid ideas on trades and the pursuit of free agents.

His goal for 2019 is for the Orioles to acquire more talent, from the draft, by signing international players and from trades.

Next season is likely to be a learning experience for Elias, just as his first Winter Meetings was.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. bigdaddydk

    December 14, 2018 at 8:22 am

    What I really like is that Elias is focused on specific needs but versatility to fill them. The acquisitions via waiver claim and Rule 5 indicate a move toward players that can play multiple positions. Villar has the versatility to move between SS and 2B, and Martin and Jackson both have logged time at more than one spot. I believe Jackson has also played some OF too, which should help him compete for a utility job. I’m less concerned about big bats than defense because it’s easier to prevent runs than to score runs.

    For what Elias has had to work with (both in terms of time and personnel) I don’t see anything wrong with what he did at the Winter Meetings. He stated recently that increasing the talent pool throughout the organization is his priority. While that doesn’t translate into Ws at the MLB level right away, it creates sustainability, which this organization has been lacking. All we need to do is look at the best teams in baseball and we’ll see that they have strong organizations from top to bottom. They don’t rebuild. They reload. Seems like that’s where Elias wants to get this organization. I’m willing to give him the latitude to do that, and hopefully we’ll see the farm system grow a lot stronger to support the parent club.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 14, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Interesting thoughts and well stated, Bigdaddy.

  2. Bob Horner

    December 14, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Elias traded Villar to Houston when Houston was ready to play Correa? Hmmmm …

    • jkneps63

      December 14, 2018 at 10:17 am

      Elias traded Villar to Milwaukee, think that is a typo in the article…

      • Steve Cockey

        December 14, 2018 at 10:18 am

        Corrected. Thanks!

  3. jkneps63

    December 14, 2018 at 10:27 am

    ‘Even though Elias labeled Jonathan Villar as the team’s “primary shortstop” this week’ – glad you put “primary shortstop” in quotes. It seems to me that most of what Elias says should be in quotes casting doubts about the veracity and/or completeness of his statements. Elias may be a baseball genius, but he does not seem very honest nor does he seem very transparent IMO. Maybe deception and lack of transparency is required by the nature of the business or has been dictated by Orioles ownership, I would like to think that is not the case that deception and lack of transparency are required (color me naive), if it is required, it is another characteristic of professional sports that is not very attractive.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 14, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Jkneps, I’m still in the early days of dealing with Mike Elias, and it will take time for me to get to know him and how he operates.

  4. Hallbe62

    December 14, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    2 of his acquisitions immediately made our “Top-30 Prospects” list. I see that as a positive move.

    Over time, I believe the talent of those top 30 Oriole’s prospects will improve to the point where at least 6-8 of them can be everyday starters or pitching every 4-5 days in the Major Leagues.

    If not for us, then some other MLB club that can supply us with some of our club’s needs in a trade.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 14, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Those are worthy goals, hallbe.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    December 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    The Orioles filled the middle infield need with the rule 5 draft. As far as trades go they really have few options there. Although there were reports the Orioles would like to move Cobb, this seems unlikely at this point. Item # 1 whereby by news reports stated the Orioles hired Hyde as their manager probably annoyed Elias. He seems very professional and would let the other candidates know his decision prior to any announcement. However, with many all the media there, its possible someone in the organization spoke prematurely about the decision. If that was the case I am sure that type of thing won’t happen again under Elias.

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