While new Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias gets more acquainted with the players on the 40-man roster and throughout the minor league system, he offered his approval of the trades that predecessor Dan Duquette orchestrated to begin the teardown.
“Those were the right moves,’’ Elias said at his introduction held Monday morning inside the home clubhouse at Camden Yards.
“The team had left a period of competitiveness. That was clear by the trade deadline. A lot of players were on expiring contracts. It was clear that it was time to bring in new, younger talent in the organization and those were key opportunities to do that and I’m glad those moves happened.
“We’re going to build off of that work.”
Elias is prepared to routinely field questions seeking comparisons to the Astros rebuild, though he wasn’t in charge of it.
“One thing that we will find that is similar is there are players, a lot of players, on this team right now and in this organization that are going to be a part of the next playoff team here in Baltimore,” he said. “They’re here now. And so on top of acquiring new talent, we’re going to do our best to improve and develop the talent that was already here.
“I think when you look back at our first year in Houston and look at some of the players who were on the roster and were already in the organization, it’s a pretty impressive group of names, so I’m looking forward to seeing who that’s going to be here.”
A 40-minute introduction allows for a variety of takes. What really struck me again is the sense that the remnants of dysfunction, which unfortunately have attached themselves like barnacles to the franchise’s reputation, continue to be chiseled away.
There is absolutely no way that Elias can implement his plan, which he stresses is proven and will work in Baltimore, without support up and down the organization. Everybody on the same page.
Bringing in people from the outside that he hand picks is one way to do it. His top assistant and manager will be on board, of course. Scouts on the amateur, professional and international sides will be on board. And he’s been assured that he will work without interference.
Find your lane and stay in it.
“We’re going to do this as quickly as we can,” he said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to move things in the right direction. We’re not going to be perfect with our decision-making. Nobody is. But we’re going to do everything possible to move this along as quickly as possible and add talent in this organization in every direction until the wins pile up.
“It’s important for everyone in the organization to understand what all is going to go into that process and all be pulling on the same rope to do that. It sounds clichéd, but it takes some work and management to get everyone to understand exactly what we’re doing.
“It’s a matter of communication, and not just with coaches and scouts, but also with players. There’s a lot of players here that are going to be very important parts of our future. They have a really good opportunity now to get a lot of playing time, to get a lot of experience at the major league level, and we’re going to be watching what they do and helping them along as they adjust to the major leagues.”
Duquette was the first to talk about a renewed commitment to the international market and Elias has been handed the baton. Hires will be made in scouting, for example. Calvin Maduro is a lonely figure on the staff.
And this takes me back to Monday’s quote from Elias, who said that going after international talent is “very important” and explained why.
“In this day and age in baseball you need to tap into every available avenue for acquiring talent,” he said. “There are so many stars coming out of the international market, particularly in Latin America, that it is essential to attack that market smartly and correctly.
“I can tell you we will be making additions to our international operation over the near term, but I think part of the Angelos family’s attraction to me in this job is I was a sitting international scouting director, so I have current knowledge of the players that are out there, I have strong relationships with all of the agents in that market and I can hit the ground running. And it’s a matter of picking up the phone at this point to get us going.
“We will be attacking that market in better ways as soon as possible.”
There could be a lull during the Thanksgiving holiday. Elias headed back to Houston and rejoined his wife and daughter. The warehouse will go dark for a brief spell. But the work will resume, including the anticipated announcement that former Astros sabermetrics analyst Sig Mejdal is coming to Baltimore.
Other hires are pending, with deep divots in scouting that need to be filled and a manager’s office that sits empty.
Elias didn’t exactly narrow the speculated field after saying that candidates might include “people who are currently on major league staffs, former managers that perhaps aren’t on a major league staff right now and also people in front offices, recently retired players.”
Past experience is beneficial but not a prerequisite. Leadership and people skills count heavily. A background in player development and comfort with, as Elias called it, “a modern front office,” also could provide an edge.