At some point in your Baltimore Orioles fandom, you have cursed Peter Angelos for his baseball decisions. Thankfully, his sons spearheaded the search for a new front office. This delegation by the Angelos patriarch is a welcomed sign for life long Orioles fans that have awaited a true vision from their favorite club. A short-term game plan will win you games but a long-term vision will win championships and that is what Mike Elias will bring to Baltimore as the new GM and Executive of Baseball Operations. To really appreciate why this move has so many implications for the future, you have to understand the path Angelos paved to arrive at this point.
It is important to remember that the team Angelos was awarded in 1993 was a winning baseball team and a damn good one. Some notable players included: Brady Anderson, Cal Ripken Jr., Rafael Palmeiro, and Mike Mussina. However,the inherited success was short lived because 1997 marked the last winning season for the next 15 years. Now, I don’t want to make the case that you must spend to win (i.e Astros and Royals) but rather what that spending can signify– a clear vision…of spending your way to the World Series. For example, in ’97they were 2nd in payroll only to top that list in ‘98 (https://bit.ly/2Te5Azt). Despite the high spending; without a clear vision the O’s began their 15-year downfall. The 2002 season signified the end of baseball’s Tony Stark but it also began the era of Angelos’s real team. Not only did Cal retire but also the Orioles were without many of those big name veterans that helped them to the ’97 AL East title.
After such a long draught the tides have seemingly changed for Angelos and his Orioles. It started in 2008 when they sent Erik Bedard toSeattle for Adam Jones and co. – easily their best trade since landing Frank Robinson. This created a domino effect of wise decisions leading to the addition of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette. Now, its 2012. Orange shirts are flying off the shelves and fans are coming out of the woodwork to see theOrioles in contention once again. Watching them claw their way back to relevance was almost worth all those losing seasons. Showalter sparked the runback to October so much so that the name “The Fighting Showalters” became a staple of the Baseball Tonight crew. Subsequently, they went on to make the playoffs 3 of the next 5 seasons – one of which was their 2014 run to the ALCS by sweeping the Detroit Tigers a series prior. 2016 was the last successful season with Showalter and Duquette at the helm before the franchise record 115losses cost them their jobs.
I can’t say I wasn’t concerned about the release of these two men because I certainly was. That is, until news of Mike Elias hit the wire. Here is a (Virginia) man with a well-known vision. As assistant GM with the Houston Astros his formula of strong drafts, analytical scouting & development, and international signings proved to be instrumental in 2017 when the franchise won their first World Series title. This magical formula produced players like: Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and George Springer among many others. Though, this begs the question: Does the Angelos family share the vision? By all accounts, they do. This summer, ownership announced plans for increased bonus pool spending which they haven’t done much of in the past. Coincidentally, this is one of Elias’s strengths. Additionally, in 2017 Houston was 17th in payroll, according to sportrac (https://bit.ly/2FpzONr); so even if Orioles ownership decides to reign in the spending, Elias has proven he can still get the job done.
Get excited, Baltimore!