More from Elias at the Winter Meetings - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

More from Elias at the Winter Meetings

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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The Orioles haven’t signed or traded for a starting pitcher. Over the last two offseasons, they’ve added Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson, and in January traded for Cole Irvin.

While Lyles and Gibson are elsewhere, Irvin is still with the team, though he had an erratic 2023.

Irvin doesn’t seem to be front of mind by the Orioles in looking at veterans who can augment the starting rotation. Manager Brandon Hyde said at the Winter Meetings that he expects John Means, who has thrown only 31 2/3 innings since the end of 2021, to be a full-go at spring training.

A healthy Means could replace Gibson as the Orioles decide what to do with Tyler Wells. Another strong season from Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Grayson Rodriguez would be a massive help to the Orioles as they try to repeat their 2023 success in 2024.

“We don’t want all rookies going through their growing pains at the same time,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said at last week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.

“Having those vets last year, having Irvin and Gibson be there, afforded us the ability to send Grayson back down and work out his adjustments. Kyle Bradish didn’t get sent down, but he was a much different pitcher at the end of the year than he was at the start, and I think you see the ability that those guys helped provide was very important.”

Elias on fans’ interest: Elias was asked about fan interest in the Orioles.

“When I went to go work for the Astros in 2012, I moved to Houston and the Astros were really bad at that point in time, there were Texas Rangers hats everywhere,” Elias said.

“You didn’t see Astros stuff. When I came to Baltimore in 2018, the Orioles were really bad, but there were Orioles hats everywhere … Even when the team is bad, it’s a civic centerpiece. It’s like we’re missing something when the team’s bad. I’m really optimistic. I think our attendance will grow and grow watching this group of guys.”

The Orioles drew 1,936,798 fans in 2023, an increase of 568,431 from 2022, and their largest season attendance since 2017. They were 21st in baseball.

“I really hope that radiates out to downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor and all that, a lot of encouraging signs this year,” Elias said.

In 2024, the Orioles will begin their weeknight games at 6:35, hoping that can increase crowds from Monday-Thursday.

“There were a lot of good flashes,” Elias said. “It’s not like it’s fully blown yet. There were nights where that wasn’t the case, but we had some big weekends where it was just amazing.”

Playoff format: After the Orioles, Braves and Dodgers, who had the three best records in baseball, lost their Division Series, there was talk about changing the playoff format.

The Orioles, Braves, Dodgers and Houston Astros, who won their Division Series, each had five days off between the end of the regular season and the beginning of their postseason, leading some to think that teams lost momentum during the layoff.

“I don’t have a big opinion about it,” Elias said. “I was very thrilled that we won the division and got the bye.

“I haven’t seen a scientific study on that. I don’t have a big opinion on it. I know that there’s a lot of baseball people and players that think it could be less than what it is right now without really harming things. It’s not something I’ve spent much time thinking about.”

Elias did say that the playoff loss didn’t enable him to savor the Orioles’ accomplishments in 2023.

“I wasn’t able to enjoy it for too long,” he said. “The playoffs was a gut punch. We were very busy right away with those three weeks of October that we had dormant preparing for the offseason. We got right back to work. After you have a playoff ouster like that, you’re eager to get back to work.

‘You don’t want to reflect too much. We had a tremendous regular season, one of the best regular seasons in the last 30 years [of] Orioles baseball. It’s right up there.  We had a lot of individual successes. It was a big step forward for the franchise. We’d like to celebrate. We turned our attention to 2024 pretty quickly.”

Call for questions: In the coming days, I’ll be answering Orioles questions. Please email yours to: [email protected].

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