UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - It seems for most teams in baseball, acquiring pitching is a never-ending process. The same applies to the Orioles.
Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias talked pitching and other topics today during the second day of the Birdland Caravan. The last stop today for players and club officials was at a packed Calvert Brewing Company here. It’s just a few miles from Prince George’s Stadium, home of the club’s Double-A Bowie affiliate. And many Baysox staffers and fans were in attendance today.
Even with O’s pitchers and catchers reporting on Tuesday to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., Elias still could sign a pitcher to a major league contract.
“Yeah, I think there is still a chance of that,” Elias told a group of reporters. “We are talking major league contracts and minor league contracts with pitchers on the market right now. Whether a major league contract comes together, I can’t tell right now. But we’re certainly open to offering those and have offered those.
“If I’m handicapping if we’re going to sign someone to a major league contract, it’s probably one more right now. But we may not even do one more. We just might not come to an agreement.”
Elias said “it’s much more uncertain” when asked to compare the club’s major league-ready pitching depth now compared to where it was a year ago.
“We’re going to have a lot of competition in camp,” he said. “We may be adding more players, either prior to the beginning of camp or shortly thereafter. There will be a lot of bodies and a lot of competition. Some will have the inside edge over others, just because of what they’ve done recently or done in their career.
“But past a healthy (John) Means and a healthy (Alex) Cobb, nothing is really set it stone. Even teams that were in the playoffs last year, some of them only have like three established starters. We are not alone in that. It just shows it’s hard to find starting pitching. We know we have some uncertainly and it’s still an area we could use some depth.”
Elias was asked again about the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
“Look, it’s been unfortunate to watch from my standpoint. It’s been a disturbing series of events,” Elias said. “And I know Sig Mejdal (vice president and assistant general manager for analytics) feels the same way. It’s been tough for anyone in the sport to watch. I think the plus side is the actions that the league has taken and the light that has been shined on this issue will serve to make for a better product and clean up the game in that sense.
“But, you know, for us personally, we stand by the incredible work that was done with the Houston Astros in terms of player development, the draft, the international pipeline. All of the achievements and advances that we made as a group over there. Those are the areas that are going to be the most important for a team like the Orioles that is rebuilding right now. And that type of expertise is why we’re here.
“So it’s been tough to watch unfold, but we’re really focused on the work we’re doing here. We’ve got a lot of young players in the system and we’re adding more. We’re giving them a first-class player development experience and the future is looking up here.”
Elias remains confident that neither he nor anyone with the Orioles that previously worked in Houston will be implicated in any way.
“I’m confident that the group that is here, that came from Houston, will not be connected to or implicated in the sign-stealing situation in Houston,” he said.
The second day of the Birdland Caravan for the Orioles also included stops in Annapolis, Bowie, Ellicott City, and Fort Meade. Trey Mancini, Hanser Alberto, Ryan McKenna and O’s Hall of Famer Mike Bordick joined Elias.
“To really interact with some of our most passionate fans - I mean it’s the middle of winter and spring training is about to start and we’re excited - and to see everyone in orange and black, the grass-roots Orioles fans, means a lot to me,” said Elias.
This is from the Twitter account of Bowie general manager Brian Shallcross.