New Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias will no doubt hit the ground running. He’ll be introduced to the Baltimore media at the Warehouse on Monday.
Elias for now inherits several staff members already in place and some scouts likely already have contracts in place for the 2019 season. Other staff likely does as well. There is nothing wrong with this and no one coming in would change everything. There will no doubt be some members in the front office that Elias knows and maybe has worked with before and/or has respect for their work. He’ll seek their input. Others may get the chance to show him what they can do during the next 12 months.
A good question asked by a reader yesterday was: Can Elias be ready in time for the Winter Meetings, which start Dec. 10 in Las Vegas?
This should not be an issue for him, as he’s certainly got a handle on the players already available in the game from his time in Houston. He’s no doubt up to speed on some top draft prospects for June 2019. Anything he needs to get up to speed on specifically about the Orioles can happen fast and he’ll certainly get all the help he needs from those that have been running the show until he got here, led by director of player development Brian Graham.
If you remember, when Buck Showalter took over as manager, one of his first comments was that he fully understood not everything with the Orioles was bad and there were already some good people in place. The same applies now.
Even though the Orioles certainly didn’t seem to use analytics to a great extent, it’s not like some of the concepts that are going to become more prevalent are going to be completely foreign to anyone who wears orange and black.
But it’s nice to now know who is in charge and we’ll hear Monday for the first time about the vision Elias has to rebuild the Orioles. He’s trying to be a part of a second organization that was at the bottom and moved to the top. Coming from Houston and with a background in scouting, he’s already impressed many Orioles fans. That is obvious by comments here over the last few days.
I think one of the best things Elias can do in his early days is to unify the staff and make sure everyone is pulling on the same end of the rope. That didn’t always seem to be the case the last year or two as the Orioles hit rock bottom. The not always smooth relationship between Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette in my opinion eventually was a big problem. For five years, that duo led the club that won the most games in the American League. We should never forget they helped turn around a 14-year loser. They took the club to the top of the AL East in 2014. But they couldn’t sustain it, and in the end, it was not good. And that brings us to today.
Being able to hire his own manager should be huge for Elias and huge for harmony between the front office and dugout. This will always be important, maybe never moreso than the next season or two, when this club may lose a lot of games.
So it’s time for the rebuild to really begin. What should be among the first things on the plate for Elias?
In the first, Elias said this about the Astros scouting staff: “A lot gets made of what we do analytically, and rightfully so, because we put a lot of work into that, but we also have a very skilled scouting staff. We have a lot of baseball guys. My department, amateur scouting, is a 20-man staff with a wealth of experience. We have former big-leaguers, we have guys who had minor-league careers, we have guys who just had college careers. They all played the game at some level.
“It’s something we put a lot of value on. These are smart guys who have also played baseball. Playing is by no means a prerequisite to scouting, but having a playing career can help speed up the learning curve. We like guys who have spent a lot of time in a minor-league dugout - a minor-league environment - and know the reality of professional baseball.”
In the second article, Elias said this about scouting pitchers: “It has definitely evolved, but it is still, and I believe it always will be, most reliant on the opinions of the scouts who have seen the players in person, and know the players personally. Our scouts still spend much of their time getting a good seat behind home plate and evaluating the pitcher’s stuff, command, and delivery. They look for future improvement in those areas. Another big part of what they do is learn about the player off the field, through conversations with coaches and acquaintances, and getting to know the player himself.
“The thing that changed is the amount of information outside of the scouting report we receive. That extends from the player’s performance stats - that’s if he’s a college kid - to video analysis of his delivery. Every team does that, although every team does it a little differently.”