The Baltimore Orioles may be a little late to the party, but it looks like they got their man. Nearly six weeks after they dismissed general manager Dan Duquette, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Orioles will name Mike Elias, assistant GM for the Houston Astros, as their team’s new GM.
Orioles have a big job for Elias
Elias has been with the Astros since the beginning of their transformation. He worked with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow when they both were with the St. Louis Cardinals, and when Luhnow went to the Astros at the end of 2011, he took Elias with him. Elias worked as a scout for the Cardinals, then became the Astros’ scouting director. In 2016, Elias was promoted to assistant GM, and he oversaw the team’s entire player development and minor league systems.
Elias will need to marshal all his skills in his new position with the Orioles. He’ll be heading up a team that lost a shocking 115 games this past season. Their farm system has been consistently ranked in the lower third of all teams, and they’re notorious for their disinterest in signing international prospects.Plus, their analytics department is one of the smaller in baseball. The team needs a full rebuild, both on the field and behind the scenes. But considering Elias’ experience with the Astros, he looks like the perfect guy for the job.
Elias is the latest in a series of Astros departures
Elias is the latest Astros employee to leave the organization this offseason. Mike Fast, director of research and development, left the team at the end of October when his contract expired, and told the team he wouldn’t seek a renewal. Fast had been with the Astros for seven seasons. Sig Mejdal, who was in charge of the Astros’ analytics team, also let his contract expire in October. Mejdal followed GM Jeff Luhnow from the Cardinals to the Astros in 2012, and essentially built the team’s analytics department from the ground up. Ryan Hallahan, known as the Astros’ senior technical architect, also reportedly left the organization.
Fast, Mejdal, and Hallahan were among the first people to staff what would become known as one of the most successful and forward thinking analytics departments in baseball. They also helped build the Astros’ homemade internal database Ground Control, which keeps track of every single piece of information they need to make baseball decisions, like player info, contract details, injury details, stats, and more. Their impact on the team, especially in the early days of the rebuild, is enormous.
It’s not unusual for a successful team to have their staff raided by teams looking to upgrade. But losing four people who were so instrumental in setting the Astros up for success has to be a blow. And on top of that, Fast and Mejdal didn’t leave for other jobs. They let their contracts with the Astros expire and took new jobs after a few weeks. (Mejdal is reportedly joining Elias in the Orioles front office.)
The Astros aren’t in trouble — far from it. They have a strong, talented team on the field, managed to success by A.J. Hinch. But with so many executives jumping ship, things may not be as rosy as they appear.
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