BALTIMORE—Orioles general manager Mike Elias believes that his team has improved from when he took over last November. However, he thinks the team has a lot to work on.
“We’ve got a lot of areas to get better in. I think that’s no secret, but overall [when] we sit back and look at what happened around the organization this year, it was a very positive year,” Elias said.
“A lot accomplished across the organization. When we came in here, the big league team [had] the worst record in the league last year. The farm system was ranked in the 20s, the low 20s, depending on where you were reading. We had no real international scouting function, a minimalist analytics group. All of that’s changed.”
Hyde brought in Sig Mejdal, with whom he worked in Houston, as assistant general manager to spearhead the analytics department, and Koby Perez to head international scouting.
“We’ve got our program going international,” Elias said. “We’re signing players, we’re competing for players out there. We’re building towards a bigger analytics staff. The farm system’s taken a huge jump this year. Some of that was the draft with the number one pick.
“Most of it was what happened with players already in the system, the player development improvements that we made, the changes … the step forward we continue to take. Here at the big-league level, we’re still losing games, way more than we want to. This is not fun. It’s not easy to crawl out of. Almost all the players that were on the team last year got better this year. I think this team has played its butt off all year.”
Entering Sunday’s game, the Orioles had the second worst record in baseball, 50-105.
Elias isn’t guaranteeing a major improvement in the team’s won/loss record.
“I think we’re going to be in the strategic mode of what I said in the beginning this year, improving the overall talent level in the organization,” Elias said.
“That’s going to be priority number one. What comes after that is secondary. I hope that we keep kind of improving in a linear way, but that’s not always the case with these, but that’s my hope.”
Elias said he is happy with the work of first-year manager Brandon Hyde.
“He did great,” Elias said. “This group played hard for him all year. Like I said, we had so many players get better this year. I think a lot of that is the work of the coaching staff, but also a big part of his job this year is communicating on a nightly basis, daily basis with the fan base, what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
“I love his attitude. I like the way he’s got the staff working and the players working. We’ve just got to keep getting more talent in here, get more talented in the minor leagues, in the major leagues in our personnel. This is a long process. We know where we’re starting from. We know the division that we’re in. This is not easy, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Elias didn’t guarantee that all eight of Hyde’s coaches would return for 2020.
“I’m not going to get into a status check on people in the organization,” Elias said. “There is still a season ongoing and it’s a delicate time of year for a number of reasons on that level. But, obviously, we are moving through the organization with the best, the quickest timing that we possibly can in all of these areas.”
Elias did say that beleaguered first baseman Chris Davis, who has three years left on his seven-year, $161 million contract, would be with the team in spring training.
“I have talked to him recently,” Elias said. “I’ve talked to him through the year, talked to his representation. We’re going to try different things. It’s a really frustrating situation. It’s one of the many things that we stepped into and have inherited and are working on. But he’s got a lot left on his contract, that’s the reality, and as I’ve said, I don’t take that lightly. So, we’re going to keep working with him.”
It will be a busy winter for Elias, whose moves were limited last offseason because of his late arrival.
“We’re going to have to prepare for the Rule 5 draft, so there’s going to be several of our players in the minor leagues that will need to be added to the 40-man, which is going to require us to take some players off, so we’ll make those decisions.
“Our front office is meeting about it and talking about it already and then we’re going to try to get incrementally better as we have as guys become available to us. We just want to improve the roster, but certainly the Rule 5 adds will present some immediate decisions.”
Elias has said that he’d like to make trades, but his only major one was his July deal of right-hander Andrew Cashner to the Boston Red Sox for two young Latin American prospects.
“We’ll be listening,” Elias said. “There are players and there have been players, and there will continue to be players that interest other teams that we have under control.
“The Cashner trade was a different story because we were going to lose him to free agency. But if it doesn’t make sense for us, if if doesn’t make the tide of talent in the organization rise, I won’t do it.”