On Monday, the Orioles introduced new Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias in a sort of awkward press conference thing with John & Lou Angelos. Scott from Bird’s Eye View described the setting as featuring “IKEA furniture,” which seems like the perfect choice of words.
After the introduction, Elias did an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. I’ll try to pick out some of the more interesting answers he gave here.
Question: “Pitching development…how do you plan to fix it?” (Very direct. I like it.)
Answer: “developing pitching is the toughest thing to do; we’ve had a lot of success recently in Houston, and without giving away our approach on the internet, I will say that I hope I learned enough to bring some of those lessons here.”
Two-Bit Analysis: There are a million things about Mike Elias about which O’s fans should be excited. I’d say that a completely revamped and novel approach to developing pitching prospects tops the list. Houston made Justin Verlander immediately better after acquiring him. Justin Verlander! As finished a product as you’d think could exist, benefited quickly and measurably from Houston’s teachings. They resurrected Charlie Morton‘s career as well. There are other examples. Dylan Bundy is smiling somewhere (/looks at calendar – probably in a tree stand).
Question: “I know you didn’t mention the length of the contract, can you confirm if there is a specific length to the contract and that it is for a long enough period of time to see a real change happen from bottom up?”
Answer: “I hope to be here for a very long time. This is a great opportunity for me. I love the city and have a lot of family in the area; it’s a perfect place to build a baseball organization. My wife and I are planning to buy a house, as soon as we can, and that’s the closest I’ll come to answering your question!”
Two-Bit Analysis: It’s interesting that we haven’t heard the length of the contract reported. No biggie, just…interesting.
Question: “What are your thoughts on next year’s draft and are there any prospects we should be aware of going into it? I keep hearing Bobby Witt, Jr. as the potential #1 overall pick.”
Answer: “I think it will be a good crop this year and I can tell you, we will do very well with this pick. I’m familiar with the candidates already from my time in Houston, but I’m looking forward to focusing on them more closely this winter and this spring with the Orioles’ scouts. We are going to keep an open mind, look at several candidates for the pick, and gather as much information as possible about them up until the buzzer rings. I will say that the final decision won’t be made until right before the pick, because that’s just how it’s done!”
Two-Bit Analysis: Nice to hear that nothing has been decided yet. O’s fans all assume it’ll be Bobby Witt Jr., of course, but we really don’t know. For a much more detailed look at how the draft-day process might go, I refer you to this Sports Illustrated article from 2014 on the Astros’ rebuild. Every O’s fan should have read this by now, but if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
Question: “would you rather fight a hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?”
Answer: “I am thinking in terms of fighting a T-Rex versus a hundred raptors, and am more scared of the raptors, so I’ll go with the horse-sized duck.”
Two-Bit Analysis: Mike was asked about Chris Davis in the presser, and had this to say:
“To me, this lineup and this team is at its best with a productive Chris Davis, a dangerous Chris Davis in the middle of the lineup, so I want to see that happen. He had a frustrating campaign this year. I think the chances are good of him bouncing back and improving upon that and I’m going to get involved in the work going into his offseason work, his preparation and any new ideas or information that we can provide to him to help him out, we will do our best to do that. So that’s my hope.”
That was the politic presser answer. I think his reply to the question about the hundred duck-sized horses or the horse-sized duck gives more insight into his true frame of mind here. Chris Davis’ contract, of course, is the horse-sized duck, or T. Rex, in the room. Given the choice of being saddled with a bunch of pretty bad contracts, or one TERRIBLE one, Mike Elias is more comfortable taking on the one terrible one.
Lucky for him!
Question: If you could draft one Orioles Hall of Famer as an 18 year old prospect (Palmer, Cal, Eddie, Brooks, or Frank) to build a team around, who would you pick, and why?
Answer: As a scouting director, I’d happily put my name on any of those picks! But I have to say, I am always biased towards infielders!
Two-Bit Analysis: Hey, you know who is an infielder? Bobby Witt Jr.! So we’re back to that being the number one pick, despite the earlier attempts at diversion.
That was fun. Mike said he had some appointments and signed off after about 45 minutes. Hopefully the appointments were with Sig Mejdal (to hammer out contract details) and Brady Anderson (to assign him to his new permanent office in Sarasota).
Next up, a new manager!