Mike Elias slowly molding Orioles into the team he envisions - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Mike Elias slowly molding Orioles into the team he envisions

HOUSTON—Last week, Mike Elias took another step toward making the Orioles his team with his first draft.

It will be several years before the results of that draft can be fully analyzed. In the interim, Elias will trade and pick up players on waivers, as he’s been doing since he took over as general manager last November.

The results of the early months of 2019 have been hard to watch.

Through Saturday, the Orioles are 20-44. In 2019, they didn’t win their 20th game until they had played 70.

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It shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s record isn’t much better than it was last year. Other than Trey Mancini and Jonathan Villar, none of the other six players who started Saturday’s game has much of a big league resume.

There haven been some pleasant surprises. On Tuesday, Pedro Severino hit three home runs, the first Orioles catcher to ever do that.

Left-handed pitcher John Means, with his 5-4 record and 2.67 ERA, has shown promise with the addition of a changeup.

Renato Nunez, who’s usually the designated hitter, has 16 home runs, including one on Saturday.

Nunez and Severino were both waiver pickups. Former GM Dan Duquette snapped up Nunez in May 2018, and Severino was acquired near the end of spring training. Means, who has been in the Orioles’ organization since 2014, was a long shot to make the club this year.

There have some other nice performances, too. Dwight Smith Jr., currently on the seve-day concussion injury list, has 11 home runs and 41 RBIs. He was acquired for international signing bonus money in March.

Whether any or all of those bargains will be around if and when the club improves is unknown.

Manager Brandon Hyde, who coached with the Chicago Cubs the previous five years, watched excellence first-hand, and now he’s watching some poor performances, even when the Orioles win.

On Tuesday, the Orioles had a 12-5 lead over the Texas Rangers entering the ninth inning, but after six runs were scored, only an alert play by Severino on a ball that eluded him after a strikeout saved a 12-11 win.

After that, the Orioles lost three straight one-run games.

“We’ve been in playing in a lot of close games all year long,” Hyde said. “I love that about our guys. I think we compete. I think we’re competitive.”

The Orioles are 6-9 in one-run games, but they haven’t been competitive in games decided by five or more runs. They’re 3-17, and haven’t won a relative laugher since April 23 when they beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-1.

That was the last series won by the Orioles. They’ve gone 12 series in a row without a win since then, and haven’t won a series on the road since April 1-3. They haven’t even won consecutive games in more than a month, May 4-6. They’ll try to end each of those streaks on Sunday.

With the draft over, Elias is working on signing those players, and the international signing period begins July 2. He’s said he expects to announce some signings then.

His biggest challenge of 2019 may come when he tries to further build up his minor league inventory ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Elias doesn’t have many players who have significant market value.

The Orioles’ roster has continued to evolve. In recent weeks, he’s promoted outfielders DJ Stewart, who’s on the 10-day injured list, Anthony Santander and catcher Chance Sisco.

Santander made perhaps the best defensive play of the Orioles’ season when he robbed Houston’s Yuli Gurriel of a three-run home run on Saturday.

Sisco and Stewart are expected to receive extended trials. Infielder Ryan Mountcastle, outfielder Austin Hays and left-handed starter Keegan Akin could be among those who get a look later in the summer. Elias has to decide which of the players he inherited can help the team in 2020 and beyond.

He was reminded of that this weekend on his visit to Minute Maid Park, where some of the players he drafted were playing against his new team.

“I know that’s going to be the case here, too,” Elias said. “I just want the guys here on the team now to keep doing what they’re doing, keep grinding, playing hard. You see how hard these guys play. They’re literally running into walls and hurting themselves. They’re doing the most they can to make the most of their opportunity. I think that’s smart because they’ve got a real shot to establish themselves here and be here a while.”

Hyde continues to insist that it’s a learning experience when the team loses a one-run game.

“We have a hard time getting over the hump and winning close games,” he said. “I think down the road when we continue to develop and continue through this process that we’re going through … I think we’ll be better for it in the long run. … We’re still early on in this process of starting something special.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Fareastern89

    June 9, 2019 at 9:51 am

    It has been hard to watch at times, but — as you point out, Rich — this team, with a number of castoffs, has a better record than last year’s club, with all of its established veterans. I’d much rather be where we are now, especially since Elias clearly does have a vision of where the O’s are going, something that was not always evident under the previous regime. A question for you, Rich — how does the atmosphere around this club compare to last year around this time?

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 9, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      The atmosphere around the club is totally different this year, few veterans waiting to be traded, Fareastern. Lots of younger eager players.

  2. ButchBird59

    June 9, 2019 at 10:32 am

    The online site for Aberdeen (the short season A ball club) has a countdown clock for opening night.
    https://www.milb.com/aberdeen
    I suspect that might be an unofficial goal for signing the draft picks.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Austin Hays in Norfolk. Harbor Park’s centerfield is probably tougher than Camden Yards. If he can lock in that position it bodes well for the future.

    I hope keeping Mancini in Baltimore becomes a priority if it is not already. Yes, I know, memories of Chris Davis are still fresh but, I was only partially joking when mentioned my impending retirement. I’ll be 65 in five years. Trey Mancini will be 32. That’s a reasonable (hopefully overly conservative) goal for Elias and Co. to put a contender on the field.

    • BirdsCaps

      June 9, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      That’s correct, they usually trickle in during the first 1-2 wks of the Aberdeen season. Also, if the team is still playing poor baseball in 5 yrs, the Elias experiment will be deemed a dud.

  3. Baltimore Castaway

    June 9, 2019 at 11:25 am

    The 2019 Orioles are far easier to watch than the 2018 Baltimore Orioles Beer League group of careless and undisciplined oafs..

    This teams plays harder, tries harder and displays far more heart than last year’s collection of players (I won’t ever call them a team…). THEY were unwatchable each night…

    Shame on Old man Peter, Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter for bringing this disgrace of a team to us..

    Elias and Company are showing us glimpses of a brighter future. For this, I am grateful.

    • Orial

      June 9, 2019 at 11:43 am

      Agree to a degree. Duquette and Buck did give us baseball’s winningest team from 2012-2016. Gotta take the good with the bad.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        June 9, 2019 at 2:47 pm

        Not arguing about their first several years together–my reference is to last year. 2018 saw horrible, careless, and embarrassing performances from Jones, Schoop, Davis, Joseph, Gausman, and several others.

        None of these players (obviously excluding Davis) are missed..the young players on this team are putting -forth much better performances and effort. Greatly appreciated.

        Interesting also to see that Gausman is still pitching like he doesn’t have a care in the world—what a loser an ingrate he is..

        • VICTORTEE

          June 10, 2019 at 9:52 am

          How were Jones, Scoop, and Gausman “horrible, careless and embarrassing”? None of them played very well last year but none of them failed to try hard or showed they did not care. And most fans miss Adam Jones. You are a BIG exception on Jones.

          YOU are the loser and ingrate.

        • NormOs

          June 10, 2019 at 12:15 pm

          Adam Jones brought nothing but CLASS to this team every season including 2018. As for the rest, the O’s got taken by Dumpster Dan because they wouldn’t let him out of his contract to go to Toronto as Prez. So the O’s got almost NOTHING IN RETURN for 6 proven Major League players. Example: Brach, O’Day, and Britton……would you like to compare the present BP with those guys? I didn’t think so.

    • Bhoffman1

      June 9, 2019 at 5:47 pm

      Gausman pitched well last year for the Braves and has had shoulder issues this year. Why is he a loser ingrate. That’s rather harsh. He pitched better then Bundy for us last year and still has a lot of upside potential

    • Camden Brooks

      June 9, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      Castaway, did you criticize Dan and Buck when their teams were making the playoffs or winning the division? I didn’t think so. Last year’s team was widely considered a contender for a wild card spot…too many players failed to live up to their normal/expected level of performance.

      • Jbigle1

        June 9, 2019 at 9:55 pm

        I don’t think we were widely considered as a contender for a WC slot at all. Vegas and Fangraphs had our projected win total right around 75.

    • VICTORTEE

      June 10, 2019 at 9:48 am

      All scrubs try hard. And if they are trying so hard why do they make so many sloppy defensive plays? Are they just stupid?

    • Bmoreravens3

      June 11, 2019 at 11:38 am

      You have to include Machado despite his good stats. He was not clutch and I’m sorry if you’re part of a team that puts up that poor of a record you shouldn’t make $300 mil. Jones at least tried and he could’ve molded these current group of youngsters that make endless mistakes in the field

  4. Bhoffman1

    June 9, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    With Chris Davis becoming a 20 million a year platoon player and Mountcastle coming here sometime this summer to clog first base even more how much longer do you think they will hold on to CD before inevitably releasing him and eating the big contract

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 9, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      That decision will have to be made by Mike Elias and Orioles ownership, Bruce.

    • Bhoffman1

      June 9, 2019 at 5:48 pm

      I realize that Rich was just asking for your opinion as you are close to the team and must hear some rumblings.

      • Rich Dubroff

        June 9, 2019 at 6:07 pm

        Under this administration, there are no rumblings. While we thought that Adley Rutschman was going to be the first draft pick, we didn’t know any sooner than anyone else did. It’s a huge decision, but anything I say would just be a guess.

    • Bhoffman1

      June 9, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      That’s good that Elias runs a tight ship. He will make this team and organization a winner. I’m sure if that.

    • Camden Brooks

      June 9, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      Unless he has a remarkable turn around, ala Nunez, I wouldn’t be stunned if Chris is cut loose late in the summer. Makes me sad, but probably a necessary move for the betterment of the club.

    • Bhoffman1

      June 9, 2019 at 9:46 pm

      You may be sad Camden but 70 million will ease Chrises pain

  5. CalsPals

    June 9, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Tough not being able to score any runs on Miley…..

  6. Bumble bee

    June 9, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    I miss buck,

    • Borg

      June 10, 2019 at 6:03 am

      Why? His last season and ahalf here were disasters. Showalter’s track record is that he can take teams that are underperforming and for a few years get them much more competitive. But no rings and early exits from playoffs to some degree show his limitations. I thought he had a horrible way of managing the bullpen, treating Norfolk as an extension and shuttling players back and forth so much they never got a chance to adjust to the big leagues or even a specific role. Let’s not forget that Showalter’s arrival coincided with the emergence of Tillman, Machado, Schoop, and Davis (yes, Davis-look at his early numbers). When those players either slacked off or were waiting for a trade elsewhere he seemed to let them do whatever they wanted. I still think a large part of last year’s disaster was allowing Machado to dictate that he was a shortstop and letting him drive that narrative. I like the change and think Hyde could be a pretty good manager if they get him the right tools, though he too can do corporation-speak with the best of them and spin that black is white and up is down.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        June 10, 2019 at 8:38 am

        Agree with you totally Borg.

        Showalter is a nice-enough man, but there is zero chance that he would be able to humble himself and change his mindset and embrace the Orioles’ new approach to analytics. Zero chance. He showed that he was unwilling to work with and respect his GM during his time here.

        People who “Miss Buck” I’m sure are well intentioned, but they fail to grasp what it takes to successfully rebuild a franchise that was ruined by Old Man Peter and his big salary-collecting sycophants.

        This organization needed to be blown-up. Onward.

        • VICTORTEE

          June 10, 2019 at 9:56 am

          BS on Buck. Buck was excellent with the bullpen. And people around baseball think Buck is/was one of the best managers in recent years.

        • VICTORTEE

          June 10, 2019 at 10:00 am

          Why are so few of the top veteran managers of recent years managing today? Because they (like Buck) do not want to be low paid puppets for the new analytics oriented GM’s.
          These include Buck, Mike Sciosa, Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker and after this year Bruce Bochy. Do you really think that none of them are better than any of the guys managing today? Like Dave Martinez with the Gnats for example?

    • CalsPals

      June 10, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Too difficult dealing with millennials, if your old school they don’t mesh, don’t really have any issues w/Hyde, too agreeable at times, I’m sure there are times someone needed their butt chewed, not sure he could do it, just my opinion, I’m old, I miss Buck as well…go O’s…

    • Bmoreravens3

      June 11, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      We will always wonder how we managed to play so poor in 2018 with what we had and who we had. Maybe Buck was losing it or had health issues? Who knows. Let’s be clear here we might be in our 22nd consecutive losing season right now if it weren’t for Buck. It doesn’t get much better than the rebuild from 2012-2016 and would be hard to beat that even now. The thing that held us back was our inability to get a #1 Starting pitcher (whether that was through the draft, free agency or trade deadline) or inability to develop starting pitchers.

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