Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias did a lot of talking at the recent Winter Meetings in San Diego. And not just to agents and other front office execs. He did a lot of talking to the media during the four days there.
Here are a few of his quotes we read here at MASNSports.com and my take on them.
Elias on the rebuilding and the trades of Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Villar: “There’s going to be a couple years where we take steps back to take steps forward, where we say goodbye to guys like Bundy and Villar who have helped the team and would help the team in the short term, but we bring in young players who are going to be here longer.
“We possibly redeploy that playing time and that money toward other players and we make moves and ultimately improve the outlook for our future. But it’s not a process that people go into lightly, and that’s why you don’t see teams that like to rebuild. Because it’s not fun for the fans, it’s not fun for the front office, it’s not fun for ownership. But that’s where we were at, and this is the path out of it and we’re going to do it as best we can and as quickly as we can.”
My take: This can’t be rushed, obviously. Some fans expressed an opinion that the Orioles need to make some moves for 2020 that will sell tickets and excite fans. But what moves would they be? I don’t think you can ask Elias to overhaul the baseball operations in the organization, hire coaches, oversee the draft and international signings and all the rebuilding and, oh by the way, try to generate some buzz for next year. The fans will be excited when the team wins again. If there were legit shortcuts, the club would take them. There are not any. The trades of Bundy and Villar sort of hammered home just where this team is right now. And that’s in a place where, for now, a lot of losses are coming for the foreseeable future.
Elias on the current state of the rotation: “There are guys with obvious inside tracks. (Alex) Cobb is healthy, so that’s good. (John) Means, certainly. Even somebody like (Asher) Wojciechowski that wouldn’t necessarily be going into spring training as a frontrunner for a rotation spot, he’s kind of earned a right of first refusal with how he pitched for us. Then a lot of the guys who are in Triple-A, some of whom were outrighted off the roster, are candidates.
“In addition to that group, we’re still going to be looking and hoping for three or four more external additions, either minor league free agents who are not on the roster in spring training or possibly guys that we commit major league contracts to.”
My take: It would be nice if the club could get a vet or two who is dependable and can eat some innings while the Orioles wait on prospects. But fans could get excited about seeing pitching prospects get their chances. This year we could see Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Bruce Zimmermann, and maybe more. The young arms will have a lot to say about how fast the rebuilding goes.
Elias on catcher Adley Rutschman, who he said we could see in spring training at major league camp: “We would love to get him over to the major league side. He’s a catcher, which is always useful, and I think it’s great exposure for him to start seeing the major league side of spring training and really learn the whole organization.
“I think I’ll hold back on that (invite) until we make those decisions, but I’m pretty confident saying fans that come to spring training, especially the early part of spring training, will get a good look at him.”
My take: So there is something exciting: Rutschman at spring training. But it’s highly unlikely he has any chance to play in the majors in 2020, and that is fine. While the Orioles look at some of the catchers we saw last year, Rutschman will play his first full season on the farm. We’ll see how far he gets and how the O’s handle his progress. Where should he start the 2020 season? Delmarva? Frederick?