On Friday afternoon, the Orioles finally made official what had been reported since late Tuesday night. They’ve found their next head of baseball operations, announcing the hire of Mike Elias, most recently an Astros assistant GM, to be the next Executive Vice President and General Manager.
The team will introduce Elias in an 11am Monday morning news conference alongside of John and Louis Angelos. The conference will be carried on MASN and 105.7, as well as the various Orioles social media channels.
In the press release announcing the hire, the Orioles once again reiterated what they said when they first said they were moving on from Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter:
Elias will oversee all baseball operations for the club and have full autonomy to build his staff and make decisions on all baseball matters that he believes will make the Orioles successful on the field, entertaining to the fans, and impactful in the community.
It is sad that they have to assure everyone of this repeatedly; it’s not hard to see it as an acknowledgement that this was NOT previously the case in the Duquette regime. However, it’s a plus that the ownership level apparently now recognizes that was bad and they’ve brought in a talented young (just 35!) executive to finish tearing down the mess and start rebuilding something new and better.
Before being hired by the Orioles, Elias had been with the Astros since the 2012 season, carrying titles of special assistant, director of amateur scouting, and eventually assistant general manager, scouting and player development, which had him in charge of player development, minor league operations, and the draft. In this time, the Astros built themselves from a perennial 100+ loss team to the 2017 World Series title.
Even before that, Elias was involved with the Cardinals earlier in his career, including two seasons as that team’s manager of amateur scouting. When current Astros GM jumped from St. Louis to Houston, he brought Elias with him. Now the learner will hope to become the master.
It’s exciting to have someone with that kind of pedigree coming in to take charge of the moribund franchise. The Orioles did not hire a retread. They did not dig up a 20th century fossil of a GM. They found what they hope is the next successful top baseball executive - someone whose resume makes that seem like a reasonable hope.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who was the first to report on the news of the hire, added to his scoop that Elias is going to become the highest-paid first-year GM in MLB history. They needed to offer both autonomy and money to get someone of Elias’s caliber, and they did. Let’s hope this is not the last time that the Orioles open up the wallet to attract front office talent and build an infrastructure that’s not immediately apparent to fans but is necessary to succeeding in MLB today.
There are still plenty of questions facing the Orioles. Who will be the next manager? Who will be on the coaching staff? Can they do a better job drafting and developing players? How many of Duquette’s acquisitions will be dubbed keepers and how many will be deemed worthless? Who’s left to get traded? What happens with Chris Davis? What happens to Brady Anderson? When might the team be good again?
The answers are still to be determined, but they have at least hired the guy who will start to answer them.