Mike Elias has been asked the question before, and it came again yesterday.
Does the Orioles executive vice president and general manager relate to fan frustration over the team’s performance? He knows some fans are very patient during the rebuilding, but others get very frustrated and upset by poor play at the big league level while the minor league clubs are mostly winning.
Is that something he thinks about and is concerned about?
When asked yesterday during a Zoom interview with O’s reporters, here is what Elias said in a long and expansive answer, quoted in full here:
“I think about it all the time,” he said. “I will be a broken record, but this is not an easy thing to go through. It’s not something that you want to get into. We were brought in here and this organization was refreshed and rebooted with a lot of new people because we were starting in a very tough spot. We had a 115-loss season in 2018 and we were not participating in some fundamental areas of investment the rest of the league had. We are in a ridiculously competitive division and we had a lot of work to do to set the organization up for success.
“We’ve put a lot of that work in. I think our infrastructure - internationally, front office-wise, player development-wise - is in a way better spot. The level of talent up and down in the organization is in a way better spot. You’ve seen that with results and analysts’ perspectives in the minor leagues. But you are also seeing some young first- and second- and third-year big leaguers on this team really blossom into stars as well.
“So, we’re moving forward. I wish that there was a quicker and surer and easier option than this for the Baltimore Orioles to get back to the playoffs, especially in our division. But I know that there isn’t. I’m going to continue to do what is right and necessary and disciplined to get us there.
“It’s not going to go perfectly. I’m going to make some bad decisions. We’re going to have some bad luck. We’re gonna to have some good luck and some good decisions. We want our approach to be sound so that over time, with all these decisions we make and all the things that happen, we come out ahead. And we’re moving along there.
“I don’t know of any other way to approach this and have it work than to build the talent up from the bottom of the organization all the way to the top, to set up our scouting, player acquisition, player development infrastructures to feed this team honestly, the way the team we are playing tonight (Cleveland) does.
“They, year in and year out, sustain a very competitive roster with often a very low payroll, and sometimes a high payroll, depending on their cycle. And they’ve got a great international program and a great player development program. And they’ve got very vibrant infrastructure up and down the organization, lot of harmony up and down the organization. This takes time in baseball. I’m very focused on doing it. I don’t think that anyone else could approach this in a different way that is viable, realistic and would be successful.
“I watch the games every night and feel the same frustrations that the fans do. But I want them to know that this will ultimately bring us to a very good spot. And a spot that we will put ourselves in a position to be like the Indians.”
I’ve stated many times, we don’t know if the Orioles’ rebuilding efforts will work. But what choice did the organization have after losing 223 games over a two-year period. The 2018 team - with a roster that included Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Mark Trumbo, Cedric Mullins, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb, Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach, Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens - lost 115 games.
What choice did they have?
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is trying to stay upbeat and keep his players that way, but the latest losing streak has reached seven games in a row and 18 straight on the road. Before last night’s game, Hyde talked about dealing with the losing.
You just try to think big picture as much as you possibly can, even though sometimes in the moment it’s hard to go through,” he said. “But yeah, I give our coaches a lot of credit for helping me, too. I am very fortunate to be around just a great coaching staff that is extremely hard-working, incredibly positive, very supportive. We talk a lot and we support each other and we commiserate together a lot of times in my office after and before games.
“I have a great relationship with the coaches and that is very, very helpful. And the front office is very, very supportive. They are very aware and understand what we are going through, too. You know this is not going to be easy. We knew this would take a while, and it’s going to take a while.”
The club will try to salvage the series finale at Cleveland this afternoon when right-hander Jorge López (2-7, 5.64 ERA) faces righty Eli Morgan (0-1, 20.25 ERA).