Orioles

Quick Links

Jeter hurt, Young stars as Tigers win ALCS opener

201210140007004706697-p2.jpeg

Jeter hurt, Young stars as Tigers win ALCS opener

NEW YORK (AP) Delmon Young doubled home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning after New York's Raul Ibanez hit another stunning game-tying home run during a four-run rally in the ninth, and the Detroit Tigers outlasted the Yankees 6-4 Saturday night in an AL championship series opener in which Derek Jeter was helped off the field with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

Jeter rolled over his knee when he dove in an attempt to glove Jhonny Peralta's grounder up the middle in the 12th. Unable to move, he flipped the ball toward the mound. His leg was dangling as he was assisted to the dugout by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donahue.

Detroit was coasting to a 4-0 win before the Yankees rocked Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth.

Three batters after Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-run homer off Valverde to cut the Yankees' deficit in half, Ibanez connected for his second tying drive of this postseason, a two-run shot to right-center.

Ibanez started his powerful week pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez against Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson in the ninth inning on Wednesday to send Game 3 of the division series to extra innings. He won it with a homer in the 12th inning.

The 40-year-old Ibanez also homered twice after entering as a pinch hitter on Sept. 22 in a 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland. With New York fighting for the AL East title, he hit a tying pinch homer against Boston in the ninth on Oct. 2 and then singled in the winning run in the 12th.

Russell Martin singled leading off the ninth on Saturday and advanced on defensive indifference. Suzuki followed with the first postseason homer of his career after Jeter struck out. Robinson Cano also struck out and Mark Teixeira walked ahead of Ibanez's shot.

Valverde blew a save in Game 4 of the division series against Oakland and has allowed seven runs in 2 1-3 innings this postsesaon.

The Tigers opened a 4-0 lead against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte and Derek Lowe.

Prince Fielder singled in a run after Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked in the sixth, and Young followed with another run-scoring single to make it 2-0.

Young then homered in the eighth, and rookie Avisail Garcia had an RBI single three batters later off Boone Logan to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

Jhonny Peralta made two difficult plays to deny the Yankees with the bases loaded in each of the first two innings against starter Doug Fister.

Peralta made a diving, backhand stop in the hole of Rodriguez's grounder in the first, then made a nice play an inning later on Robinson Cano's liner that caromed off the inside of Fister's right wrist, a play that ended another bases-jammed threat.

Fister worked out of big trouble in the sixth, too. With runners on second and third, the right-hander struck out Rodriguez, and then fanned Curtis Granderson and Martin on breaking pitches after the Yankees loaded the bases.

In Game 2 on Sunday, Anibal Sanchez gets the start for Detroit. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for New York in the first outing of his big league career on three day's rest.

Rodriguez was back in the New York lineup, batting sixth, after being benched for the deciding game of the division series against Baltimore on Friday. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the plate with two outs in the first. Jeter, Teixeira and Ibanez all reached on walks by Fister.

The 37-year-old third baseman hadn't hit as low as sixth since Joe Torre batted him eighth in the fourth and final game of the 2006 AL division series against the Tigers, according to STATS LLC.

Both teams were coming off difficult division series that went five games. The Tigers beat the Yankees in 2006 and again last year, both times in the division series.

Fister got the win in Game 5 last year. He got off to a wild start in this one, walking three in an inning for just the second time in his career, according to STATS LLC.

With two outs, A-Rod hit a sharp groundball that Peralta dived to his right to snare. From his knees he threw to second base to just get Ibanez sliding in.

In the second, the Yankees used three two-out singles to load the bases, including Jeter's 200th postseason hit.

Cano, who was 2 for 22 in the division series, lined a ball off Fister's pitching arm. It went on a hop to a charging Peralta, whose throw barely beat Cano to first base. Cano slammed his helmet to the ground.

Pettitte, making his 44th postseason start, breezed through five innings. He gave up four singles, including one to Triple Crown winner Cabrera in the first.

But in the sixth, Austin Jackson led off with a soft line drive to the opposite field that went over first base and got caught up in a cutout in the stands about halfway down the right field line. Jackson raced to third for a triple. After an out, Cabrera was intentionally walked, and Fielder singled in the first run. Young followed with another hit.

Teixeira reached on second baseman Omar Infante's error to start the bottom half, and Ibanez doubled, but Fister struck out the side.

Quick Links

The Orioles mishandled their search for a new general manager and still ended up with a home run hire

orioles_fans_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles mishandled their search for a new general manager and still ended up with a home run hire

The Baltimore Orioles let a lame duck general manager engineer the most important trade deadline in recent franchise history, showed interest in some of the most uninspired executive candidates on the market, attended the GM Meetings without yet having a new GM, and somehow still managed to land the best possible candidate on the market. After spending months, if not years, digging deeper and deeper into a self-imposed hole, they figured out a way to come out smelling like roses.

It’s finally official. The Orioles have hired Mike Elias to as Executive Vice President and General Manager, and he’ll be given full autonomy to oversee all baseball operations. It’s a perfect fit.

For the first time in what feels like years, the Orioles are making a decision that’s been universally lauded.

Elias leaves the Houston Astros having played a key role in their long rebuilding process, a task that at the time seemed similarly daunting to the one in front of him in Baltimore. His experience with a “trust the process”-style rebuild is one of the reasons he is such a perfect hire for a team that lost well over 100 games and holds the top overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft.

Elias is young (35), intelligent (graduated from Yale), experienced (former scout with model organization St. Louis Cardinals and assistant GM for the 2017 World Series-champion Astros), and has a scouting background (oversaw player development and all minor league teams for Houston). If popular narratives are to be believed, Elias’ youth would imply that he is hungry to prove himself in his first GM job, and that he is analytically-inclined, as most young front office executives are in 2018.

That last point is crucial, as the struggles of the Orioles in 2018 have largely been attributed to a consistent lack of interest in modern analytics, research and development, and player development. The Astros have also been quite active in the international markets, and area the Orioles have famously avoided for much of their history, and the hire of Elias could mean the franchise is interested in joining the rest of baseball in mining talent from Latin America.

It’s also interesting to note the Astros’ nearly unprecedented success with starting pitchers, especially as it compares to the Orioles’ equally unprecedented lack of success in the same area. The Orioles, once proud employers of some of the best pitchers in baseball, haven’t properly drafted and developed a homegrown pitcher in decades. Chris Tillman and Erik Bedard have ranged from serviceable to impressive for short stints, but Mike Mussina (in the ‘90s!) is the last true ace to come through the Orioles system.

The Astros, on the other hand, have established themselves as the industry standard for pitching development in recent years, both with young draftees and with acquiring “retreads” from other teams, tweaking something about their repertoire, and enjoying the results.

It helps that the Astros play in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball, but if Elias can bring to Baltimore any improvements for how to handle pitching staffs, that alone would make him worth the investment.

One point to emphasize from the official announcement is the public assurance that Elias will have full decision-making power in his role. Orioles ownership has a tough reputation around the league for being meddlesome and hamstringing their GM’s from operating as best they can.

If the announcement is to be believed (and frankly, it’s hard to imagine a rising star like Elias committing to the organization if he didn’t believe it himself), then this marks a sea change from how Peter Angelos has operated in prior seasons. His sons appear much more interested in letting the baseball people handle baseball things, and that’s cause for optimism for O’s fans.

They could have gone with the “tried and true.” They could have gone with the old-school. They could have gone with a baseball lifer. They could have gone with Ned Colletti.

No shots at Colletti, who by all accounts is a good administrative mind and a good man. But much like Buck Showalter is a terrific manager who was no longer the right fit in Baltimore, a GM of Colletti’s ilk is not what the Orioles franchise needs right now. 

Bringing in Elias, no matter the long and winding road that brought the Orioles to that decision, signals a changing of the guard in Baltimore. It signals a complete revamping of the way the front office operates. Everything from the process by which decisions are made, to how young talent is evaluated, to how modern analytics are applied to everything the franchise touches, is going to change under Elias. And, more likely than not, change for the better.

Make no mistake. This is a home run hire, and yes, pun very much intended. There’s finally cause for celebration in Birdland.

Quick Links

Who is Mike Elias?

usatsi_11324196.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Who is Mike Elias?

Where to begin after a team loses 115 games? That’s the main question settling into Mike Elias’ future when he takes over the Baltimore Orioles' beached ship.

Multiple reports have pegged Elias as the Orioles new general manager. He’s yet another front office member of the Houston Astros to be plucked by an outside organization for a larger role. He’s young, comes from an analytics-fueled front office and walks into a job where there only seems to be one direction to go following last season. 

Elias also has local ties. The 36-year-old is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. He went to Yale where he worked four seasons as a left-handed pitcher. Elias jumped into scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals directly after graduation.

Similar to Nationals manager Mike Rizzo, Elias moved up from a scouting baseline to a prominent decision-maker in the front office. Elias was ported from St. Louis to Houston when the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow to become general manager in 2011. The duo, and rest of the front office took over a team that was about to embark on three consecutive seasons with 100 losses or more. The organization became notable around the league for its fervent reworking of approach and willingness to absorb losses to vault to the top of the annual draft.

In 2012, the Astros selected Carlos Correa No. 1 overall. Elias, then a special assistant to the general manager, has received a large amount of the credit for taking a shortstop who became Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. Nine of the Astros’ 14 selections that year made it to the major leagues. Not all with the Astros. Not all with a large degree of success. But, they made it.

Houston selected burgeoning All-Star Alex Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. 

However, the Astros’ high-end draft history wasn’t perfect with Luhnow and Elias in place. They selected Stanford starter Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Just 27, he is out of baseball after never making it past Triple A. The Astros took Brady Aiken with the top overall pick in 2014. He never signed. 

Yet, the organization continued to turn. Bregman developed into a star. Jose Altuve won the MVP award, Lance McCullers, also part of the 2012 class, became an All-Star. Four years after Luhnow arrived to reverse the organization’s course, the Astros had a winning season and reached the postseason. Two years later they won the World Series.

Hiring Elias signals the Orioles, long viewed as one of the stodgier organizations in baseball, are shifting to the modern era. Baltimore was known more for its reticence to embrace analytics as opposed to its use of the information. The move may also calm the ongoing rotation of the front office bosses. Elias will be the organization’s fourth general manager since the Nationals started playing baseball again in the District in 2005. 

Among Elias’ initial tasks is finding a new manager. The Orioles fired Buck Showalter after 8 ½ seasons. Three of them led to the postseason. But, the mess of last season forced a change.

They also need to hit in the draft. The Orioles hold the 2019 top overall pick.

Elias will try to conjure a way to resuscitate the Orioles while fighting the expansive cash flow of the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox within the division. 

He’s been part of turnarounds before. This one would fully be in his hands.