Elias addresses evaluating players in a short season; Orioles' long-term goals; New rules - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Elias addresses evaluating players in a short season; Orioles’ long-term goals; New rules

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Mike Elias is used to making evaluations over a 162-game season. This year, he needs to make decisions based on 60 games.

“I hadn’t really thought about that until recently,” the Orioles’ executive vice president/general manager said in a Zoom call on Monday.

“It’s going to be a very small sample for these players. In terms of evaluating our talent based on what happens this year, we’re going to be probably more reliant on objective criteria that are not statistical samples that could be misleading in this short of a time.

“You look at a guy’s stuff, what kind of shape they’re in, how they’re playing defense, how hard they’re hitting the ball, all that. It is very possible that somebody has a misleading stat line over 60 games that they wouldn’t have over 162.

“It’s just one of the many challenges of this season. There are so many; it’s hard to think of them all, and that’s just one of them. I imagine we’re going to have to make some personnel decisions at the end of the year like we do every year, and we’re only working with a third of the info that we’re accustomed to.”

Can the Orioles exceed expectations? Online oddsmakers haven’t adjusted their expectations for the Orioles in 2020.

Early preseason predictions forecast that they could have the worst record in baseball, and that hasn’t changed with the new format. Elias said he’s looking forward to the challenge of the 60-game season.

“It’s going to be kind of fun,” he said. “I think it’s going to be interesting. I think it’s going to fly by. I think playing the National League East a lot is going to be interesting.”

Twenty of the Orioles’ 60 games are going to be against the NL East, and they’ll play 40 against the four other AL East teams.


“I didn’t think our strength of schedule, being an American League East team could be any tougher, but it actually did. We do have the toughest strength of schedule this year.

“It’s not going to be an easy road, but I do think it does make things a little less predictable. The fact that the pitchers may not be totally built up at the beginning of the year, and you get some extra roster spots and some more pitching changes, maybe that helps us, maybe that doesn’t.

“I think it creates a little uncertainty, and I think our goal is to be an unpredictable young team that’s scary to play in these circumstances and we mix things up.”

The Orioles won’t have their only star, Trey Mancini, in 2020. Mancini, who is recovering from March colon cancer surgery, was placed on the 60-day injured list. .

“We are without our best player from last year,” Elias said. “That’s tough. It’s a big blow. We’re going to miss him, but we’re going to have a bunch of young guys playing out there with their careers on the line, and they play hard. It’s going to be unpredictable and interesting.”

How unpredictable could it get?

“If we get in the season, and we’re surprising people, and we’re playing well, and our record is good, I think it will be a lot of fun,” Elias said. “We still have a lot of work to do in this organization to set it up consistently, healthfully for the future.

“That was going to be a multi-year effort when it started, and it’s still going to be a multi-year effort. We’re making progress there in spite of the curveball that this year has thrown at us, so we’re keeping that in our sights, but if we have a chance to make the playoffs this year, we’re going to be happy about it, and we’re going to look at it very seriously if that’s the position we’re in.”

New rules: Teams get to carry 30 players for the first two weeks of the season, then 28 for the following two weeks before cutting down to 26 for the rest of the season.

Major League Baseball had planned to cap the number of pitchers on a 26-man roster at 13. On Monday, they announced there would be no limit.

“They’re just trying to put a little less stress on the pitchers early in the season because spring training is going to be so short,” Elias said. “I think that will help everyone, and particularly us when we’ve got not a lot of established pitchers cemented on our roster. That should be helpful.”

Clubs will get to have a three-man taxi squad that travels with the team. One of those three players must be a catcher. They’re permitted to work out with the team before the game, but can’t be in uniform or sit in the dugout for the game.

Once the schedule is announced, the Orioles are permitted to schedule three exhibition games.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 30, 2020 at 9:46 am

    One of the 3 players on the traveling Taxi Squad must be a catcher. If that isn’t the baseball gods calling for Rutschman, then what is it?

    Please Mr. Elias, throw the fans a bone! If this kid is half of what you say he is, he’ll handle it.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 30, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Ken, it will not be Rutschman. The Orioles don’t want to start his clock this early.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        June 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm

        Thank God we have Mike Elias running this team and not someone that thinks this is the NFL and playing guys straight out of school. Let all the young guys earn their stripes like anywhere else in life. They’ll come to appreciate their careers by learning in the minors and working their way up the ladder. Rutschman has played a total of 37 games in the minors with the Orioles for crying out loud and hit a measly .254 BA. When he’s banging on the door to the Major Leagues is when he will get called up. Don’t rush the poor kid like they did with Wieters.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          June 30, 2020 at 5:18 pm

          Yeah .. if they just hadn’t rushed Matt Wieters along, he may have been working on the 10th or 11th year of a stellar major league career by now! Oh wait a minute …

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            June 30, 2020 at 5:37 pm

            You know brr you just don’t get it and you never will!!! They said the same thing about Wieters and he never lived up to the hype!!! Fact you can’t grasp!!! And just like you want to rush Rutschman – IT AIN’T HAPPENING!!! SO EAT IT PAL!!! LOL

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            June 30, 2020 at 5:49 pm

            OK Mr. Scout, I’ll never get it. I’ll eat it.

    • ClayDal

      June 30, 2020 at 10:42 am

      Would the player on the taxi squad have to be on the roster? Since they would have to leave before the game, they wouldn’t be on the active roster. So in that case Rutschman could travel with the team if he is on the 60 man roster ( not the 40). Of course we wouldn’t get to see him play, just work out.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 30, 2020 at 11:17 am

      John, the reason for the taxi squad is to
      make sure a team doesn’t play short handed because of injury and that there are ready replacements on hand. Technically, a taxi squad player doesn’t have to be on the 40-man, so theoretically it could be a young player, but that’s not what will happen.

      • WorldlyView

        June 30, 2020 at 4:50 pm

        Is anyone else out there old enough to remember the origin of the term ‘taxi squad’?

    • ClayDal

      June 30, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Thanks Rich, clears that up. I guess the purpose of the taxi squad is to avoid having an injury replacement fly to the visiting road city, possibly contaminating the bubble. So in addition to a third catcher (required), the Orioles will probably bring along 2 extra pitchers. Which makes it more likely that the active roster will contain at least 2 of the following-Valaika, Velázquez, and Stevie Wilkerson. Since they can all play the infield and outfield. Thought after last year we had seen the last of Stevie in the outfield. Well wait until next year

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      Agree, there we go again, the dreaded “clock” word…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 30, 2020 at 5:46 pm

      Yes, Professor Cohen, I know the taxi squad originated when the Cleveland Browns put them their extra players on the payroll of a taxi company. They didn’t drive.

  2. willmiranda

    June 30, 2020 at 11:25 am

    For entertainment value, you can’t beat an “unpredictable young team.” But I wonder whether
    Elias&Co. have Bill Veeck’s imagination and sense of humor. Or is a baseball team like a box
    of chocolates?

  3. ClayDal

    June 30, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    There seems to be disappointment over Rutschman not being added to the roster just yet. A couple thoughts. Chance Sisco is only 2 years removed from being the Orioles top prospect. He is down to his final option. The Orioles need to evaluate him this year to see if there is any chance he can be a major league catcher or maybe needs a new position. There’s a bigger sense of urgency with Sisco than with Rutschman. Then there is Severino. While he isn’t exactly Johnny Bench, he is serviceable and at worst he might be a trade chip down the road. Also look at the 26 pitchers on the camp roster. No Jim Palmers. Not even a Chris Tillman. Probably best to have a veteran like Severino catch these guys then to burden Rutschman with them. Remember Rutschman is only one year removed from college and hasn’t played above A level. The goal this year is just to survive and live to play another day. If they can get the 60 games in without any stoppages or serious injuries, it will be a success.

  4. CalsPals

    June 30, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Boog, #1 pick in 2021…watcha thinking…I’d probably pick a RB or LB? Go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      FYI, Johnny Bench made his MLB debut at 19…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      June 30, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Johnny Bench was drafted in 1965. He played 98 games in AAA before being recalled. So he wasn’t making the jump over 3 levels. And he had been playing regularly at AAA, as opposed to a Rutschman who hasn’t played since March

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 3:47 pm

      Still made his debut at 19…go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      June 30, 2020 at 3:58 pm

      So what if he was 19? Still had played at AAA. Plus he’s a Hall of Famer. Al Kaline came up at 18. He’s in the Hall of Fame. Makes little sense to skip 3 levels for an abbreviated season with no fans. That could be shut down at any time. Rutschman isn’t playing in the majors this year. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, that’s the way it is.

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      Ok Mike…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      He wasn’t a HOFer when he came up, batted around .167, point is they let him & look what happened…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        June 30, 2020 at 6:01 pm

        Different time today then your best comparison from the way back machine in 1965. Today you only have a guy for 6 years with 3 yrs being arbitration. I’d rather have Rutschman up for 6 years batting . 325 with 35 hr and 125 rbi’s for all 6 years before leaving for the yanks, dodgers or bosox at 32 years old while you would be satisfied with him batting .167 for 3 – 4 years then batting 325 with 35 hr and 125 rbi’s for his 5th year before the Orioles trade him and hoping the return can match. Then going to the yanks, dodgers or bosox at 26 years old with his prime years ahead of him. I can’t explain this any simpler for you two then that. And knowing you two, you both still won’t get it!!! Lol

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 30, 2020 at 5:13 pm

      CP….when you’re picking #1 or 2, I believe you always have to take a shot at your franchise QB. Mark my words, the Skins are going to regret on pass on Tua Tagliavoloplmetropolis by taking the LB from Ohio.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      June 30, 2020 at 5:42 pm

      Yeah, you probably would select a RB!!! No, with the number 1 pick, you’d pick a pk!!! Thank God you ain’t running this team either.

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 5:49 pm

      Sorry Boog, you hear something…lmao…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      ROY, MVP, WS champ, had to start somewhere, it did, he was 19, comes down to the most basic part of athletics, play your best, you get beat, we live with it, this Astroball philosophy sucks, tanking is pathetic, maybe #1 likes it, many of us don’t, someone said earlier the names left off the list were more interesting than those on it, you resort to name calling, like always…your opinion matters & no one else’s does, sounds like your a bigger part of the issue in this country than just the O’s…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        June 30, 2020 at 7:28 pm

        Number 1 doesn’t like where the Orioles are currently but I’m not ready to throw all their potential draft picks to the wolves until they’re ready. And there was no name calling, you stated which sucks and what you feel is pathetic with your derogatory comments, not me. I just shut down your Johnny Bench statement and you don’t like it. But facts are facts, pal.

  5. OriolesNumber1Fan

    June 30, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Yeah, it’s the sound of school’s out for summer and history lesson is over. 1 bonus question for summer school – How long do you think the small market Reds would be able to keep Johnny Bench today with him batting .197, .163 and .259 for his first 3 years before leaving for the yanks, dodgers or bosox 3 years later? Answer: His best years 1969 to 1980 would almost all be with the yanks!!!

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 6:55 pm

      Not sure what history book you’re referencing…too easy…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        June 30, 2020 at 7:21 pm

        History book of Johnny Bench!!! Get a clue, you brought him up!!! I shoot your 1965 reference down and you don’t like it. Don’t cry…

    • CalsPals

      June 30, 2020 at 7:05 pm

      How about 19 yr old Ivan Rodriguez, MVP, WS champ, HOF…recent enough for you…FYI, picked Bench & Pusge because they were young, HOF CATCHER’s…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        June 30, 2020 at 7:39 pm

        Again, 3, 8, 10, 16 and 12 home runs first 5 years then the yanks come calling at 24 years old. Smart move, keep trying.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          June 30, 2020 at 8:58 pm

          You’re amazing! Tell us more Mr Baseball.

  6. cedar

    June 30, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Can the three players on the taxi squad move to the bullpen area during game time? It seems like it could be a great opportunity for some younger farmhands to spend time watching and learning from coaches and veterans.

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