With their loss to the AL East rival Rays (TB 7, BAL 1), the Baltimore Orioles were officially and unceremoniously eliminated from postseason contention Friday night. The O's are on pace for 110 losses, which would be better than last year's 115 losses, but still terrible overall. They'll be the first team with 100 losses in back-to-back seasons since the 2011-13 Astros.
Of course, the Orioles were not expected to contend this year, or anything close to it. They are early in their rebuild and hey, there are some positives to take from this season. Trey Mancini is having a breakout year, Renato Nunez and Anthony Santander look like players, John Means emerged as a rotation piece, and they selected catcher Adley Rutschman with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
There are also negatives. Chris Davis remains the game's biggest albatross, Dylan Bundy still hasn't taken a step forward, trade chip Mychal Givens has struggled, and Richie Martin didn't capitalize on his Rule 5 Draft opportunity. Also, preseason top prospect Yusniel Diaz got hurt and has mostly underwhelmed this season. .
- 2019 Orioles: 261 homers allowed (and counting)
- 2016 Reds: 258
- 2017 Reds: 248
- 2017 Orioles: 242
- 2017 White Sox: 242
The Orioles have already set a single-season record for home runs allowed and they still have 33 games to play. Three-hundred home runs allowed is possible, if not likely.
Rookie GM Mike Elias, who was part of the front office with those 2011-13 Astros teams, started the process of overhauling his front office staff even before the Orioles were officially eliminated from postseason contention. The team let 11 scouts and front office personnel go Friday.
According to sources, here are the 11 Orioles scouts/officials who lost their jobs today: Scouts Dean Albany, Dan Durst, Adrian Dorsey, Dave Engle, John Gillette, Jim Howard, Dave Machemer, Mark Ralston, Nathan Showalter, Frankie Thon and baseball operations director Tripp Norton— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) August 23, 2019
"We are trying to make changes to the ways the organization conducts business in a lot of ways, to adapt to the competitive environment we're in," Elias told reporters, including MLB.com's Joe Trezza. "Sometimes to make changes, you have to make changes. It's difficult. It's the worst part of my job. But these are really good men who've made really good contributions to this organization, and we'll help them land on their feet."
Elias noted the personnel was let go in August rather than after the season so scouts could get a head start on the job search. Also, Elias said the Orioles are not downsizing their scouting department. They are "going to be adding head count" and have "a lot of new blood come in and bolster our staff."
The Orioles hired Elias away from Houston this past offseason and the new GM cutting staff and bringing in his own people is in no way uncommon. It's a harsh and unfortunate part of the business, but that's how it goes. And, frankly, the Orioles have been so bad the last two years that some personnel changes were in order.
Baltimore is not a few new scouts away from contention, however. Not even close. There are few long-term keepers on their MLB roster and Baseball America recently ranked their farm system ninth-best in baseball. That's good, but far from elite. There is still a lot of building to be done. Consider the rest of the AL East too:
- Blue Jays: Their elite prospect core arrived in Toronto this year (Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., etc.).
- Rays: Contending this year with a good core (Blake Snell, Austin Meadows, etc.) and the game's best farm system.
- Red Sox: Defending champs have many key players (Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, etc.) under control long-term.
- Yankees: Powerhouse team with core players under control long-term (Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, etc.)
Daunting, to say the least. The Orioles are several years away from contention -- the best-case scenario is what, fighting for a wild-card spot in 2021? -- and whenever they are ready to compete for a postseason spot, they'll likely have to do it in a division with two or three (or four!) other contending teams. The division is poised to be a fight for years to come.
The O's missing the postseason is in no way surprising. The fact it happened on Aug. 23 -- not to mention that dubious home run record -- is a reminder of just how far away this team is from contention. The front office turnover is standard operation procedure under a new GM, and whomever Elias brings in, there's a lot of work to be done to get the Orioles back into relevance.