Orioles' Mike Elias talks about Alex Cobb, openers, ownership and coaches - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Mike Elias talks about Alex Cobb, openers, ownership and coaches

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

In Mike Elias’ final scheduled press briefing of the 2019 season, the Orioles’ general manager covered a variety of topics. One of the areas that didn’t get much attention were his comments on starter Alex Cobb.

“I think he’s going to be in spring training, have a normal spring training, and we’ll roll him out there and get a full season out of him,” Elias said Sunday.

In May, Elias dropped the news that Cobb would have season-ending hip surgery. Cobb has also had what Elias called “a very minor knee procedure that from everything that our medical staff has been told went smoothly and is not something that’s probably going to present a lot of complications.”

Cobb, who’ll turn 32 on October 7, signed a four-year, $57 million contract in March 2018, and is 5-17 with a 5.36 ERA since then.

“He should feel a lot better than he did this year,” Elias said. “We will have the issue of him not having pitched much at all this year, and then going out next year, and how is be built up? How is his arm? The hip and knee issues should be totally behind him. I can’t wait to see him in spring training. We’re going to need him.”

A healthy Cobb would mean the Orioles would have three dependable starters for 2020 — Cobb, Dylan Bundy and John Means. (Bundy won his seventh game Tuesday night, limiting the Toronto Blue Jays to two runs in seven innings in an 11-4 win paced by Trey Mancini’s five hits and home runs by DJ Stewart and Dwight Smith Jr.)

Cobb was supposed to start Opening Day, but a groin injury prevented him from doing so. He had another trip to the 10-day injured list after he started the home opener. Cobb never pitched after April 26, finishing with three losses in three starts and a 10.95 ERA,

Andrew Cashner made the Opening Day start and went on to pitch well enough to create a market for himself.

The Orioles traded Cashner to the Boston Red Sox for two Dominican Summer League players. Even though Cobb has $29 million left on his contract, a good first half in 2020 could make him a conversation piece for teams in the playoff hunt.


Perhaps the best-case scenario is that Cobb does well and some of the Orioles’ younger pitchers — Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Zac Lowther, become candidates to replace him if he’s moved.

On openers: The Orioles employed the opener strategy a few times this season. Nate Karns, who began the season with the team, started the second game of the season. He pitched only three more times because of injuries, and was released on August 7.

“I really leave that to Brandon on a nightly basis,” Elias said of using the opener.

One of the best pitching performances of the season came last Friday night when Richard Bleier was used as the opener and Aaron Brooks followed.

Brooks has mixed in  excellent performances with some frightful ones, but in his most recent outing, he allowed just one run on one hit in seven innings.

That was Brooks’ longest outing in more than four years, and the longest relief appearance by an Oriole since July 13, 1995 when Arthur Rhodes relieved Mike Mussina.

“The opener thing, it only makes sense to me in certain circumstances,” Elias said.

“If there’s a bunch of left-handed hitters at the top of somebody’s lineup, it just depends on the personnel and the team. I don’t think it’s going  to be a wide organizational strategy like, we’re going  to use openers come hell or high water. We’ll just, on a nightly basis if it makes sense, if the bullpen is not rested a certain way, that’s kind of how he did it this year and I agree with that.”

Brooks was picked up on waivers from Oakland just before the All-Star break and had a rough beginning, but has won four of his last six appearances.

The Orioles will have openings for starters next season, and Brooks’ late-season run gives him a chance to begin 2020 in the rotation.

Latitude with ownership: Elias was hired by John and Louis Angelos and said he’s been given the latitude to do his job.

“It’s been terrific,” Elias said. “I wouldn’t have come here [and] taken this job if I didn’t think there was going to be a good rapport and good relationship with the ownership group. And they’ve recognized the need for big changes and sweeping changes, and they’re allowing us to do it, and they’re supporting [us] throughout that. That’s really important. This is not an easy situation we’re in.

“We all need one another’s support and understanding that this is going to be a rocky climb, but it will be worth it.”

Elias has made over the Orioles’ front-office and minor league staff, dismissing a number of longtime employees with institutional knowledge, and it’s clear that he hasn’t had pushback on those moves.

On the coaching staff:  Elias hinted that there could be changes in the coaching staff, but spoke highly of their work.

“I think they did well,” Elias said. “Like I said, across the board, we had a lot of players taking a step forward. I think we did a good job this year with positioning and the shifts. When you look at the objective numbers on that, we’re actually one of the top couple of teams in the league, and there was a lot of positives with the development that happened with the players.”

Elias wasn’t hired until mid-November, and manager Brandon Hyde wasn’t until December 14.

“They have been a real good group,” Elias said. “They were thrown together late. A lot of these guys were hired in November, December, January, and it’s a difficult circumstance coming into the American League East with a team that’s a lot of waiver-wire-type guys. And I think they did very well with the circumstance.”

Hyde’s coaches are Arnie Beyeler (first base/outfield), Doug Brocail (pitching), Howie Clark (assistant hitting), Tim Cossins (catching/major league field coordinator, Jose Flores (third base/infield), Jose Hernandez (major league coach), Don Long (hitting) and John Wasdin (bullpen).

It wouldn’t be a surprise if there were changes since Hyde cobbled together a staff late in the hiring season.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. CalsPals

    September 25, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Polite way of saying Hyde took what was available…Cobb’s record & stats are on par with most of the bullpen now…go O’s…

  2. Orial

    September 25, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Most significant is his”freedom” involving John,Louis Angelos AND Peter’s name not being in the equation. A Cobb,Bundy,Means staff has some bite to it. Flores as an IF/3rd base coach I can see being expendable.

  3. Baltimore Castaway

    September 25, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Looking like the Orioles will have the second pick in the 2020 Amateur Draft. A pretty good position to be in. It is way too early yet, but there doesn’t seem to be a transcendent #1 Talent out there in 2020 like there was w Rutschman. There does appear to be a lot of high upside College Pitching in the 2020 Draft.

    Another year ahead of excellent drafting, another year of getting established in the International Market, another year of developing the talent already in the system.. Onward.

    • Camden Brooks

      September 25, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      You’ll have to wait until the 2020 college and HS seasons end before we get a real consensus on the top few picks. Even AR wasn’t a given #1 at this time last year.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        September 25, 2019 at 8:36 pm

        agree totally.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      September 25, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      The true number 1 for next year is Emerson Hancock. Top of the rotation starter with 98 – 99 mph fastball with movement. All good secondary pitches as well. Spencer Torkelson 1st baseman and Austin Martin 3rd baseman are predicted to go 2 and 3. Just what the Orioles don’t need another 1st baseman. Anyways, I like your optimistic view, a lot like mine. If they should stay the course on the rebuild, they could certainly be world series champions in 3 plus years!!!

      • Baltimore Castaway

        September 25, 2019 at 8:58 pm

        As we all know so well, much can and will happen between now and early June 2020.

        Remember the MLB Draft in 2010 when the Orioles had the 3rd pick behind the Nationals and the Pirates?

        Harper went first to the Nationals. The Pirates took Jameson Taillon second. The Orioles very much wanted Taillon to fall to third so that they could take him. As things happened a guy named Machado fell to the Orioles with the third pick….

        That draft would have been very different if everyone knew then what they know now….

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          September 26, 2019 at 7:43 pm

          Yeah, that was nearly ten years ago. Draft has gotten a lot more information and analytics on players than then. Trust me Emerson Hancock is the real deal! I’ve seen him pitch, next true ace of a staff!

          • Baltimore Castaway

            September 26, 2019 at 7:50 pm

            of course you have you modern day Shaman…..yada yada yada….you had Mike Trout as the first pick too, I’m sure….Bullshit….

  4. NormOs

    September 25, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Referring to “Elias on openers”, wouldn’t a team need the semblance of a bullpen to pull that off? Since the O’s have nowhere near a MLB bullpen how do they propose to use an opener? I guess they could go with Hunter Harvey, from there it becomes a crapshoot. They could bring more guys up from their two basic farm clubs, that would be the “waiver wire” and the infamous “Rule 5”. Have at it, Elias!

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 25, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Norm, Mike was responding to a question about openers. He didn’t volunteer that this was a strategy they’d be using or that he’d be in favor of.

    • CalsPals

      September 25, 2019 at 11:39 am

      He does in certain instances, his quote, that is an endorsement…go O’s…

    • Camden Brooks

      September 25, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Circumstances such as we don’t have decent starters. I wouldn’t call that an endorsement.

    • CalsPals

      September 25, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      I didn’t say it, he did…go O’s…

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 25, 2019 at 9:43 am

    “Three dependable starters” ‘eh?

    I liked the Cobb signing when it was made … I have my doubts about it now. Hip injuries seem to never really go away.

    John Means? Who knows .. hopefully he’s the real deal and can at least compete as a bottom of the rotation type of guy.

    And Dylan Bundy? Everybody seems to want to trade this kid. I dunno if it’s just me, but does he seem to have finally have figured out how to pitch without the high 90’s heater over this past month or two? I know he gave up another tater last night .. something he does way too much … but he’s looked good recently.

    I for one, am hoping that if the young guys aren’t ready, that Mr. Elias is not averse to going out and signing some rentals to help this staff next year. I don’t want another year like this has been.

    • Camden Brooks

      September 25, 2019 at 8:42 pm

      Your ceiling of a “bottom of the rotation“ guy seems pretty low for a someone with a 3.54 ERA on a terrible defensive team, that also plays in a hitters’ ball park. Everything else I agree with.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        September 25, 2019 at 9:32 pm

        I did qualify that with an “at least” …

        Hey … he’s already 26 years old, and up to this point, has really never distinguished himself as a big time prospect. This season is a relatively small sample size. Of course I’d love all our pitchers to be the next coming of Jim Palmer, but I’ll take a wait and see approach to this guy. I just hope he’ll be around for a while. If he works out to be a 4 or 5 rotatation guy, I’d consider that a win.

  6. willmiranda

    September 25, 2019 at 9:50 am

    First, disappointed that there’s nothing about last night’s big win in Toronto.
    Second, glad to read that Cobb’s hip issues are “totally behind him.”

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 25, 2019 at 10:05 am

      Will, I don’t travel to every road series. I will be in Boston for the final three games of the season.

      • willmiranda

        September 25, 2019 at 10:41 am

        I understand, Rich. I just thought that sometimes you had reports of games by other people
        when you couldn’t make it and wanted you to know that I appreciate the game coverage. I also
        wanted to make a comment on the team’s good performance. Not a complaint or criticism.

    • whiterose

      September 25, 2019 at 11:29 am

      “big win?” no such thing with this season.

  7. Orange Blood

    September 25, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Hey, I’m not looking for miracles, I just want an organization that isn’t operating in the Stone Age..

  8. Hallbe62

    September 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

    I respectfully disagree with Mr. Elias on the coaching staff. Unacceptable amount of mental errors, out of positioning, lineup construction, errors that fly in the face of “fundamentals”, base running miscues, missing the cutoff man, etc.etc.etc.

    We can do better at the big league level than what we currently roll out everyday.

    • CalsPals

      September 25, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Baseball IQ-.000…go O’s…

      • Orial

        September 25, 2019 at 2:37 pm

        Totally agree. Though the defense has been a little better(Alberto of late,Hays) they’re still idiots on the basepaths.

    • Camden Brooks

      September 25, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      Mental mistakes have been horrible this year. Trying to make more out of a situation than given.

  9. whiterose

    September 25, 2019 at 11:34 am

    You had my hopes up mentioning ownership in the headline.
    But I was expecting comments on future ownership, the lease, and length of his contract. Will Baltimore even have a team ? Nothing else really matters.

  10. Bancells Moustache

    September 25, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Wait, we are still referring to Dylan Bundy as a “dependable” starter?

  11. whiterose

    September 26, 2019 at 1:03 am

    why cant we respond to responses?

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