Knee-Jerk Reactions: O’s Set to Hire Mike Elias

According to multiple reports, the Orioles are set to hire former Houston Astros Assistant GM Mike Elias to be not just the GM, but the top decision-maker of the organization.

It would be great for it to be made official, of course…

As our friend John Darcey, fantasy writer over at our football site, RSR, reminds us though…

So yeah, let’s go with that.

Assuming this thing really goes down, ESR staff react to the news here…

Derek Arnold

If you’d told O’s fans six months ago that they’d have to endure the worst season in franchise history but that we’d be rewarded with the number one overall pick AND a part of the Houston Astros’ top brass, I think many of us would have taken that deal.

If you’re starting a rebuild, who better to have on board than someone who was with the Astros from 2012, when they lost 107 games, through a World Series Championship in 2017 and another ALCS appearance this year.

Elias, a graduate of Fairfax’s Thomas Jefferson High School and Yale, is extremely well-regarded in baseball circles. If he really does have carte blanche to overhaul The Warehouse, Orioles fans have every reason to be excited. Of course, that will remain to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine him taking the job if he had any reservations that the Angelos brothers (or Brady Anderson) would be looking over his shoulder constantly.

The cherry on top? He is bringing Sig Mejdal with him. Who is he? Oh, just a former NASA engineer who had a huge hand in the St. Louis Cardinals’ late-aughts success before becoming Houston’s Director of Decision Sciences in 2012.

It’ll be painful for a few more years, sure. But it was darkest before the dawn in Baltimore, and the sun is rising, damn bright, and damn orange.

Phil Backert

The Orioles had a lot of boxes to check when hiring Dan Duquette’s replacement. The organization needed a person who had a history of scouting including internationally along with player development and someone with experience in a successful organization.

Elias checks all of those, and if the rumor is true that he will bring in one of the top analytics experts in the sport in Sig Mejdal, than this is an absolute home run.

There will still be a lot of growing pains, but it appears the organization is set up to start building a winner again.

Matt Pyne

I absolutely love the hire of Mike Elias as the new head of the Orioles organization. This guy has a proven scouting résumé to accompany some major draft success. He’s partly responsible for bringing in both Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. He also helped to completely turn around the Houston franchise.

The Orioles will need that expertise if they hope to compete in a stacked AL East, where, aside from the big spenders of the division, the Blue Jays and Rays have excellent farm systems.

The Orioles seem to have a clear path moving forward, which is something we Orioles fans will need to take some time getting used to.

Jonathan French

The Baltimore Orioles finally broke the silence of their offseason with a bold hire. I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting them to hire a top executive to head baseball operations that is younger than I am, but they followed the trend of successful front offices and landed one of the up and coming names with Mike Elias. Given that he grew up in Northern Virginia, I’m guessing he was an Orioles fan in his youth so I would hope he has a personal motivation to want to improve the team beyond just the fact he wants to take full advantage of the opportunity to rebuild a MLB franchise with such a storied history.

Elias’ scouting background is well known, and it would likely further cement the Orioles taking Bobby Witt Jr. at the top of the 2019 MLB Draft given his pedigree. The topic of course then turns to who Elias would hire and who he would retain in the Warehouse. It’s already been reported by ESPN’s Keith Law that former NASA engineer turned MLB analytic guru Sig Medjal will be joining Elias in Baltimore and will help build the Orioles into an analytical powerhouse. Dan Duquette always wanted to do more with analytics but Buck Showalter and other Orioles executives weren’t on the same page. Now with Showalter gone and John and Lou Angelos stepping into their father’s role, it would seem it is time for a new day in Baltimore.

The question remains though – will loyal and controversial Angelos lieutenants like Brian Graham and especially Brady Anderson remain in the organization or will Elias decide and be able to remove them from power and potentially out of the organization completely? Gary Rajsich, who has been the best scouting director in the Angelos era of ownership, also may be replaced in spite of his success. As for manager, someone with an analytical mindset will certainly be hired which will be a breath of fresh air from Showalter, who would infamously bat Adam Jones high in the order against left-handed pitching in spite of his reverse splits. Those fans who visit Fangraphs daily (such as myself) will no longer be venting on Twitter and Facebook – or at least they’ll hopefully be doing it less.

Hiring Mike Elias as the top executive for baseball operations is just the first phase of the Orioles offseason and the rebuild, but with all that he brings, it certainly is an exciting and hopeful start after a season that Orioles fans will always want to forget.

Paul Valle

With the hiring of Mike Elias, Orioles fans should be jumping up and down like it’s Christmas morning. Elias, 36 and a Yale graduate, has experience in scouting, analytics, and drafting, and helped build successful franchises in St. Louis and Houston before taking the biggest promotion of his career with Baltimore.

He is just what the Orioles need: a young, savvy baseball mind with no ties to the organization that will help bring a once proud franchise back to prominence. This also means he will likely hire a manager with no previous ties to Baltimore (sorry, Mike Bordick), and should bring along former NASA engineer Sig Mejdal, who was with him in both St. Louis and Houston. Both of these men will give the Orioles a huge boost in the analytics department, an area that was severely lacking (to say the least) during prior regimes.

The impact on the international market may be unquantifiable. The Orioles have never been big players in the international arena, often times trading away their slot money for middling minor leaguers. That was never more evident than last month when the Orioles missed out on top prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa, Jr., and Sandy Gaston despite having more international bonus slot money than any other team in baseball. Those days should be rapidly disappearing in the rearview after this hire.

Perhaps most important to Orioles fans is that, from all reports, Elias should have complete autonomy within the organization. That means he’ll be the top guy with no interference from ownership. If that is indeed the case, the light at the end of the tunnel could be bigger and brighter than any of us could have imagined back at the trade deadline. The experience is there.

Now we just have to wait for it to come to fruition in Baltimore.

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