Results tagged ‘ Mike Elias ’

Baltimore Orioles: World Series vindicates old school baseball

The Baltimore Orioles hired GM Mike Elias from the Houston Astros, who of course just lost the World Series to the Washington Nationals. However Orioles fans should be encouraged given that Elias brought a lot of people over from Houston, and appears to be setting up the Orioles’ culture in the same manner.

However there’s also a cautionary tale in this. Part of what Elias is all about is bringing analytics to the Orioles. But Houston showed last night that it can’t all be about analytics. You still have to have a feel for the game itself, which is played by human beings.

With Houston leading 2-1 in the seventh inning, manager A.J. Hinch lifted started Zach Greinke, who’s pitch count was in the 80’s. That seemed odd to me given that Greinke had only just given up his second hit of the game. He seemed to be in a zone.

Hinch probably should have gone to Gerrit Cole, however instead opted to use reliever Will Harris – who allowed the base runner to steal second, and then surrendered a homer to Howie Kendrick. That gave Washington a 3-2 lead, which they never relinquished, winning their first World Series.

Why leave a Cy Young candidate in the bullpen? Furthermore, with first base open, why pitch to Kendrick? The hitter behind Kendrick was Astrubal Cabrera, who’s a switch hitter. Whether or not that was the most favorable matchup or not, with one out if you can set up a ground ball double-play you can get out of the inning. Why do these things? Then it hit me: computer analytics.

I’m not suggesting that analytics have no place in baseball. Because I don’t feel that way. And for the record, I don’t think that A.J. Hinch should lose his job for this. But allowing a computer program to decide the best course of action based on probability of success might well work in a lot of situations. But again, we’re talking about human beings here. Things don’t always work out the way the computer says they will.

As egregious as pulling Greinke and not going to Cole was, the act of leaving first base open to pitch to Kendrick is the worst decision in my view. You have an avenue by which you can get out of the inning. Use it.

So the hope is that Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde watches that and that it helps to reiterate the fact that you have to keep your feel for the game. Because if you don’t, you might find yourself allowing the computer to think you out of a game. Unfortunately for A.J. Cole, it happened to him at the worst possible time.

Baltimore Orioles looking to end FanFest?

The news came out yesterday that the Baltimore Orioles we’re considering putting an end to their annual FanFest celebration. It’s usually held towards the end of January at the Baltimore Convention Center, and by my account it’s always been a beloved event by fans. Last year the Orioles said that approximately 8K people came through the turnstiles. There have been years where there’ve been more, and years where there’ve been less.

I think this is a very bad idea. I tell people all the time that FanFest is all of the excitement and amenities of an actual Orioles’ game, without the game. It’s always been a great event for families and kids, and I fail to see the logic in ending it.

Word is that GM Mike Elias and the Front Office is considering another way to engage fans during the off season. So I would reserve rendering final judgement on this until the formally announce that FanFest is officially ending, and then announce what replaces it. However in general, I think that playing with fan outreach events like this is playing with fire.

FanFest is a very old event. It dates back a long way, and it’s something that’s very traditional in Baltimore. Lots of other teams do similar events as well. So ending it would be cutting deep in terms of what’s important to this fanbase. But time will tell what happens. I seriously doubt that they’ll just end it and have nothing to replace it.

Baltimore Orioles trade for triple-A pitcher Tom Eshelman

The Baltimore Orioles completed a trade this morning a the triple-A level. They sent international bonus slot money to Philadelphia in exchange for pitcher Tom Eshelman. The Norfolk Tides may be in some need of additional pitching if and when guys start getting promoted to the big leagues.

Over five years in the minors at various levels, Eshelman has a win percentage of .576 and a 3.06 ERA. I suppose my question is whether or not this is a fore shock of sorts for other moves. I might be wrong (and Lord knows I have been before), however Eshelman doesn’t seem to be a candidate to come to the big leagues anytime soon. It seems like more of a move for depth at the minor league level.

Eshelman was actually drafted by the Houston Astros organization, of which GM Mike Elias was also a member as the Asst. GM. So the Front Office is familiar with Eshelman and what he brings to the table. I’m not sure this is a move that will impact the Orioles directly anytime soon, but nevertheless Tom Eshelman is now a member of the Orioles organization.

Baltimore Orioles: Draft day

Today is the biggest day for the Baltimore Orioles’ future in some time. The Orioles of course will have the top pick in the draft, which is this evening. The only other time that happened was 1989, and the O’s selected pitcher Ben McDonald. Whomever GM Mike Elias drafts with that top pick this evening will play a major role in the franchise’s future moving forward.

However the difference between this year and 1989 is the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a consensus top draft pick. McDonald was always going to be the number one pick in 1989 – it was just a matter of who was going to get the top pick to select him. There is talent in this year’s draft, it’s just a matter of whom the Orioles wish to stake their future. No pressure there, for whomever that pick ends up being.

A name that’s been thrown around a lot in the past few weeks is Oregon State catcher Adley Rutchsman. Many scouts are deeming him the top pick, however he’s not the only guy on the Orioles’ radar. High School (Texas) shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is also a potential draft choice, as is Georgia High School shortstop/CFer C.J. Abrams.

Whomever the selection is (and for all I know it may be someone other than who I mentioned above), both he and the Orioles’ brass will be heavily scrutinized. However again keep in mind that there’s no apparent slam dunk player who’s understood to be the top selection this year. It could be anyone. It’ll certainly be interesting to see in which direction the Orioles go.

Baltimore Orioles: I don’t know who’s on third

Baltimore Orioles’ GM Mike Elias said that roster construction was going to be slow-going when he signed on and took the job. So Orioles fans shouldn’t be concerned that things are moving at a snail’s pace. However Orioles’ FanFest is in fact coming at the end of the month; it would be nice for a few things to be in place by then.

Let’s start here; who’s the starting third baseman? In the past this was never an issue, as the Orioles had a guy named Machado. But this year we’re going to see a new starting third baseman – or perhaps a platoon of them.

If there’s an incumbent, it’s probably Renato Nunez. However I’m not sure even he can get that distinction. He was taken by the Orioles off of waivers last year, as was Rio Ruiz, Nunez’s apparent competition for the role. Of the two, Nunez is probably the better one. The Orioles could let these two duke it out in spring training, or even look outside the organization.

There’s also another option, which I’ve suggested before. We talk a lot about Chris Davis and his offensive struggles. Davis has played third base in his career, including during his stint with the Orioles. He’s a solid first baseman, and a decent third baseman. Would the Orioles consider making Davis the full-time third baseman this year if no better option were out there?

The other hidden benefit of that arrangement is that it would open up competition for more younger players in the outfield. The Orioles could simply move Trey Mancini to his normal position at first base. The question is whether or not the Orioles would want to do that or need to. Time will tell.

End of the day, I think there needs to be more of a plan in place for that position than “we might look at several people.” Once the regular season starts, that is. The hot corner is a very important position, which is something that Orioles fans have probably taken for granted at times in the recent past.

Baltimore Orioles: All’s still quiet on the home front

Everything’s still quiet for the Baltimore Orioles. GM Mike Elias is taking some time with his family during the holidays, however it’s doubtful he’s totally unconnected. This is somewhat of an interesting time because you’re coming out of a major holiday (Christmas), and going into another major holiday (New Years).

The entire league is slow this time of year. Heck, the entire world seems to slow down. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But nevertheless, there’s not much news going on with the Orioles and the baseball world. Which means there’s not much more to write in today’s column!

Baltimore Orioles: Mike Elias making progress in manager search

The big elephant in the room for the Baltimore Orioles at this year’s Winter Meetings is the lack of a manager. GM Mike Elias admitted as much in saying that it’s always good to have your manager involved in the meetings. But that isn’t possible this year. Keep in mind that the organization is starting from the bottom.

The names are out there, and recently the name of former Washington manager Manny Acta was added to the list. A lot of folks will remember what he did with Washington and hope the Orioles take a pass. However I would urge fans to keep an open mind. One way or the other, a household name manager isn’t walking through the door.

Lots of sports figures have failed at coaching, only to go somewhere else and hit it big. Look no further than Bill Belichek in the NFL. However that aside I wouldn’t expect a hiring at the Winter Meetings this week. What happens after that however could be another story.

I wouldn’t expect the Orioles to make many waves at the meetings this week until Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. However this year it’s not the worst thing in the world that they’re going to participate. In the past it didn’t make much sense because they were trying to win now. That’s not the case now. So if they can get some talent that can possibly see the field right now, that isn’t a bad thing.

Baltimore Orioles: What’s the focus at the Winter Meetings?

Baltimore Orioles’ GM Mike Elias (and his team) will be heading to Las Vegas in the next few days. That of course is where the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings will take place. Elias will of course be representing a team as a General Manager for the first time. He’ll also be one of the youngest attendees.

Odds are there’ll be no trade rumors or anything along those lines involving the Orioles this time around. I would expect them to once again be active in the Rule 5 draft, but don’t expect any big ticket items coming back to Baltimore. So what exactly is Elias expected to do there?

Unfortunately he’s still growing into the job. So it might be an opportunity for him to just pay attention to what’s going on around him more so than anything else. I know that Orioles’ fans might not want to hear that given that most fans want their team front and center of what’s going on. But this will be a learning experience for Elias, and the fact is that the team still doesn’t have a manager.

On that front, it might be a decent place to continue the search. Maybe even hold an interview or two for all I know. The entire baseball world will be in Vegas – and if not actual candidates, odds are their agents will be there. Ideally I suspect that they would have liked to have a manager in place by now. But the search goes on.

Having said that, if any proposed rule changes are discussed, I would hope that Elias speaks up for whatever the good of the organization would be depending upon the issue. And the fact is that there are a million things which could at some point be tweaked. Replay, slide rules, etc. You never know. Again, I wouldn’t expect too much out of the Orioles in the way of big news at the 2018 Winter Meetings. However needless to say, their new GM will certainly be there representing them as a force moving towards the 2019 season.

Baltimore Orioles: No manager before the Winter Meetings

The Baltimore Orioles and GM Mike Elias are going through the process of finding a new manager. This much we know. But at this point it doesn’t appear that they’re going to have anyone in place before next week’s Winter Meetings. That could change, but at this point that’s what appears to be the case.

I said two weeks ago that it would behoove the Orioles to have a manager by then. I do stand by that statement, but in reality it’s also more important overall to get the right person. I suspect that it should be obvious where the organization is going, and odds are that won’t hamper the organization at the meetings.

I wouldn’t expect Elias to do much wheeling and dealing, because while the Orioles have said that they could be active in free agency, it won’t be big name free agents. Possibly role players who could help lead the younger guys along.

Baltimore Orioles: Managerial search

According to MLB Network’s Peter Gammons and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Baltimore Orioles are starting to narrow their list of names regarding their managerial search. Or perhaps form their list is more the term I should use. One way or the other, GM Mike Elias has been busy.

The Orioles apparently have interest in bench coaches Chip Hale (Washington), Brandon Hyde (Chicago Cubs), Pedro Grifol (a coach in Kansas City), and AZ Director of Player Development Mike Bell. The Orioles are mum on any of these names – the search goes on. Hale is the only one of that aforementioned group who’s commented. At the Nationals’ Winter Fest he said that he hadn’t been contacted by the Orioles, but would be interested in managing anywhere.

Speaking for myself, I’d be apt to look at a bench coach or perhaps a base coach more than anyone else. I recognize that someone like Mike Bell is probably attractive in the new wave of thinking given that he’s in player development. But keep in mind that a manager still has to know X’s & O’s more than anything else.

Player development is something that the organization needs, and I suspect they are and will be focusing on it. I just think that whomever patrols the dugout should have a coaching background. Nevertheless, the search goes on. At the very least there are names attached to the search at this point.

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