Though all remains quiet in the B&O Warehouse, unconfirmed reports that the Orioles are soon to name Houston Astros assistant general manager Mike Elias their new director of baseball operations is already giving the team some street cred.
The 35-year-old executive has been responsible for the series of amateur drafts that helped transform the Houston Astros from a three-time 100-loss team into a World Series champion. He’s the kind of guy who just might drag the Orioles’ scouting and player development departments kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Orioles Hall of Fame second baseman Rich Dauer certainly thinks so. He coached first base for the Astros during their world championship season and knows Elias well.
“Mike’s got the scouting, he’s got the analytics, he’s got the temperament, and he’s only 35,’’ Dauer said, “so he’s got the energy.”
If he gets the job, he’ll need it. The Orioles are coming off the worst season in the history of the franchise in Baltimore and have already embarked on a near-total rebuild.
His name was already prominent among the possible candidates to replace Dan Duquette, but he moved to the top of the list when a USA Today tweet late Tuesday night all but announced that he had gotten the job.
That made it the first exciting day for Orioles fans in quite some time. The talk shows were buzzing. The focus was finally on the future instead of the dismal season past.
There has been no confirmation from the Orioles or any indication at all who will be hired or when it will be announced, though managing partners John and Louis Angelos were believed to be targeting Thursday as the likely decision day for a hire that will determine the direction of the franchise for years to come.
Dauer was among the members of the 1983 Orioles world title team that got together Wednesday night for a 35th anniversary gala at the Renaissance Hotel Inner Harbor. So was left-hander Scott McGregor, who was eager to know whether the Elias reports were accurate. But no update would be forthcoming late Wednesday night.
“We don’t know if it’s true or not,’’ McGregor said. “That’s the only thing I’ve heard. After that, it was crickets.”
It’s unusual for a significant story to leak so early in the day and go unconfirmed or denied through an entire news cycle, but the Angelos brothers have gone about this important process deliberately and are entitled to make the announcement on their own timetable.
It’s possible they’re just waiting until after the owners meetings that conclude on Thursday in Atlanta.
Dauer has good reason to hope the Oriole select Elias. He’s hoping that their prior association with the Astros leads to some role for him in the Orioles organization. He once interviewed for the managerial vacancy that was filled by Lee Mazzilli in 2003, but said he’s willing to play just about any role to work again in Baltimore.
“I would love to come back in some way, shape or form,’’ he said. “I’ve always wanted to get back to Baltimore. It’s where I grew up, became a [major league player], had my kids … Now, I’m retired, but I’m tired of pulling weeds. I’m tired of mowing lawns and I want to do something, and there would be no better place to be than Baltimore.”