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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where it’s Mike Elias’ three-year Orioles anniversary

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The Orioles general manager was hired on this date in 2018. It’s been an adventure so far.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

MLB is handing out its major awards all this week, beginning yesterday with the announcement of the Rookie of the Year winners. We already knew from last week’s unveiling of the finalists that the Orioles’ Ryan Mountcastle wouldn’t be winning, or finishing in the top three, of the AL ROY vote. Last night we found out exactly where he landed in the final vote: sixth place, garnering a pair of second-place votes and four for third place. Though he had his vocal proponents in Birdland, Mountcastle didn’t garner a first-place vote on any of the 30 ballots from BBWAA members, and the Rays’ Randy Arozarena won in a landslide.

On the awards docket for tonight and tomorrow are the Manager of the Year and Cy Young votes, so you won’t see an Oriole anywhere of those lists. You might on Thursday, when the Most Valuable Player awards are announced, and we’ll find out if and where Cedric Mullins landed in the AL’s top ten.

In the meantime, today is a notable anniversary in Orioles history. It was on this date three years ago that the O’s officially hired Mike Elias away from the Houston Astros to serve as the club’s executive vice president and general manager. The Orioles, coming off a brutal 115-loss season that cost previous GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter their jobs, faced a long, arduous path back to contention, and Elias — who had helped guide the Astros back to relevance — had the pedigree to undertake the task. From the beginning, Elias didn’t mince words, acknowledging that the rebuilding process was going to be long and difficult but would hopefully pay major dividends in the end.

Three years in, Camden Chatters, how would you assess Elias’ performance so far? For me, it’s hard not to be optimistic about what he’s accomplished. He’s led a complete turnaround of the minor league system, which lagged near the worst in MLB when Elias took over and has since become the best in baseball. The prospect pipeline has been replenished in a major way. And Elias has made the Orioles relevant in the international market again, a facet that the club had completely ignored previously, one of the major reasons for their 2017-18 collapse.

On the down side, I don’t love that the major league team is as awful as it’s ever been, losing 110 games in Elias’ third year on the job. I understand that winning games “is not strategically relevant right now,” as Elias has said, but is it really necessary for the product to be this bad? Even knowing the Orioles weren’t going to be big spenders, surely they could have found a way to add some low-cost talent to make the team marginally more respectable, which wouldn’t have damaged their overall rebuilding effort.

Overall, I’m impressed with Elias’ process, and progress, so far. It really feels like better days are coming. Waiting for them to get here, though, has been a slog. As Elias warned it would.

Links

The Orioles’ protections from the Rule 5 draft are due this week. Which prospects will they add to their roster? - Baltimore Sun
Jon Meoli offers his best guess as to which players the Orioles will protect from the Rule 5 draft. I think I would classify Kyle Bradish as a lock instead of a near sure-thing, but otherwise I agree with his assessments.

One player that is looking for a bounceback 2022 season - Steve Melewski
I still can’t get over that someone in the media listed Anthony Santander on their Most Valuable Oriole ballot in 2021. It probably wasn’t Melewski, who writes here about Santander's lost season and whether he can bounce back.

Orioles promote Fuller and hire Borgschulte as hitting coaches - School of Roch
The Orioles just hired a pair of 31-year-old hitting coaches, and I’ve never felt older in my life. It was bad enough when the players were younger than me.

No one wins in a baseball labor dispute - BaltimoreBaseball.com
It seems inevitable that MLB is headed toward a lockout Dec. 1, which is going to be a total bummer for baseball fans. And dangerous for the sport if it’s not resolved by spring training.

Orioles birthdays

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy birthday to a guy who hasn’t yet played for the Orioles but hopefully will be a mainstay soon. Grayson Rodriguez, the top pitching prospect in baseball, turns 22 today.

Three former Orioles were born on this day, including 2007-08 right-hander Fernando Cabrera (40) and the late Buster Narum (b. 1940, d. 2004), who pitched seven games for the 1963 Birds.

Today also would have been the 46th birthday of longtime MLB infielder Julio Lugo, who played for the Orioles in 2010, but he tragically passed away yesterday. Condolences to the Lugo family.