Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias explained last night how Chris Holt’s duties will change following his promotion to a director of pitching position. And how Holt will coexist with pitching coach Doug Brocail, who returns to the major league staff next season.
Elias broke it down while appearing on the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.
“This is a structure we’re seeing more and more across the league and it’s just part of the changing landscape of the sport where the major leagues and the minor leagues are not two separate islands and there’s development going on across both levels. And particularly for a team in our situation with a lot of young players coming, not a lot of veteran free agents right now,” Elias said.
“There’s a lot of development going on in the major leagues that we care about, and to have that program be overseen by one person and make sure there’s continuity we think is going to be helpful, and there’s a lot of other teams that have done this in recent years and they’re doing it this winter.”
Holt served this year, his first in the organization, as minor league pitching coordinator, but his reach now extends to the highest level.
“This will enable him to spend a little bit more time with the major league team, kind of officially have a hand in what’s going on with the players in the major leagues,” Elias said. “But with Doug Brocail being a very experienced major league pitching coach, very experienced major league pitcher, still maintaining his day-to-day oversight and being able to tap into Chris’ technological expertise and his knowledge of these guys in the minor leagues, because a lot of these guys coming up are going to be coming from the minors this year.”
It only works with Brocail and Holt being on the same page with no concerns about interference. With no treading on toes.
“They worked together in Houston, they worked together this year,” Elias said. “I think Doug, in a lot of ways, has been a mentor for Chris. Chris is from a little more of a minor league background, a little bit more affluent in some of the tech that we had been using in the very recent years in Houston after Doug had left and gone to the Rangers. So I think it’s a really good pairing and it’s the type of structure that, if we found the right person we might implement on the hitting side, too, but this only works if you really feel like you have the right guy and the right people in place.”
Elias heads out to Arizona on Monday for the General Managers Meetings, where he’ll gauge trade interest in his players and possible returns. No one is off the table, though some are more likely to be pushed than others.
“We have to treat it that way,” Elias said. “Even teams that aren’t in our situation are always listening. They’re not going to hang up the phone if somebody calls and expresses interest in your players. Some guys are more available than others, but we definitely need to bring in talent from all angles possible, and if there are players on this team - and there are - that other teams feel like can help them and we feel that whatever’s coming back is going to elevate the tide of talent in the organization, we’re going to have to think about it.
“It’s fair to say that we’re listening, but that’s not something that’s unique to us. It’s something we all do as part of our job, and there are a lot of teams that are very creative and are constantly listening on their guys even when it’s not common sense to do so, if that tells you anything.”
As I passed along last night, Elias recognized Trey Mancini’s importance to the organization without labeling the outfielder/first baseman as untouchable.
I’d go with unlikely to be traded.
“I hope that he’s here,” Elias said. “We love having him. We expect him to stay here. I think that he’s perfect for what we’re trying to do - the type of player, the type of person that we want. He’s great for this town. But as I said, we have to listen if people come our way with ideas.”
There are seven players eligible for arbitration and the possibility that the club will non-tender one or more of them.
“We don’t even know what these prices are right now,” Elias said.
“Without getting into the boring subject of how arbitration works, we don’t know exactly what these guys are going to be commanding next year, so you have to factor in different scenarios and that can affect other guys in the arb class, or whether we end up trading one of these players might enable us to possibly keep another. So there’s been no specific determination on any of them.”
Talk about the young pitching in the organization led to the question of whether Triple-A Norfolk’s Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer are the likeliest prospects to make their major league debuts next summer.
“I hope so,” Elias said. “Particularly with Akin, he’s now had a full year in Triple-A, a really successful year, especially when you look at the offensive numbers that were going on in Triple-A across baseball and everyone hitting home runs. He really was a young guy, 24 years old in Norfolk, pitched well. He’s still walking a few more people than we like. We’ll see how that goes in the early part of the year. But I think it’s safe to say we’re hoping he’ll be in Baltimore next year. And I’m sure he’ll take his lumps at the major league level, but we’re prepared for that.
“Dean Kremer, who came over in the (Manny) Machado trade last summer, a guy that we feel has the potential to be a rotation piece. Missed April with an oblique injury that he suffered right at the beginning of spring training, but had a nice year. Got through Double-A, got a taste of Triple-A, settled down a little bit after a couple outings and then had a really good fall league. ... He still has yet to lay out a full body of work in Triple-A or to graduate the level, so to speak, but he’s certainly getting on the radar screen and he’s somebody that, along with Akin, we have to decide whether to add him to the 40-man roster this winter.
“They’re both prime candidates to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.”
I couldn’t let Elias leave the building without asking him again about Chris Davis. The offseason plan and whether there’s anything assured beyond his arrival in camp.
“I just saw him the other day. He and his wife (Jill) made a wonderful donation to the University of Maryland Medical Center,” Elias said, drawing applause from the crowd of season ticket holders.
“He’s working. Without going into details, we’ve got a lot of things that he’s working on this winter. I don’t necessarily expect for that to get him back to the best seasons he’s ever had in his career, but we do think he can be better than what he has been the last two or three years.
“It’s a very frustrating situation for him, for the coaches, for everybody involved, but the reality is we have him under contract and it’s a significant contract, a significant commitment that the organization’s made to him. From my standpoint we don’t look at that lightly and we’re going to do everything in our power to get the most out of him that we can. He’s a big part of the team, a big part of the team’s history, a big part of the community, as he just demonstrated. And that’s kind of where we’re at with it.”