Even if the Baltimore Orioles were to win the rest of their remaining games this season, they would still have the most losses in baseball since the start of 2018. Between that reality and their hiring last November of a new general manager, Mike Elias, it's no surprise that the Orioles are making sweeping personnel changes. Predictably, not everyone is happy about those changes -- or, at least, how they're being handled.
Over the weekend, Dan Connolly of The Athletic published an article with insight from B.J. Surhoff, who was recently informed he would no longer be serving as an Orioles consultant. Surhoff did not hold back when it came to discussing the things he disliked about Elias' management style:
"Am I pissed? Yeah. I'm unhappy about what happened," Surhoff said. "Do I have sour grapes toward the organization? Well, I don't like the way things are being handled. I just don't like how they're treating people. I want that to be known. It's not that I've got sour grapes just because they've decided not to bring me back."
One of the things that irks Surhoff is that he never felt there was any evaluation process in place, and therefore, "No time was spent trying to find out whether I really helped or not and whether I brought anything to the table or not," Surhoff said. "I didn't feel like I was evaluated on anything. It was indicated to me they were going to make changes, do things differently, and I got the impression that they didn't think that I was capable of doing those things."
Surhoff's issues with Elias are multi-pronged. Foremost, he feels Elias didn't grant him (or others who have been fired) a chance to get on board with the new vision -- specifically as it pertains to analytics and technology. Surhoff was also disappointed that his interaction with Elias was limited to two occasions, once being when he was informed of his dismissal. Ouch.
On the one hand, you can understand why Elias would want to install his own people and distance himself from the past. (Or, as Elias recently said, "We're not just doing the same thing with the same people that have been done here before.) The Orioles have been regarded as lagging behind everyone else when it comes to data and technology for years. Clearly the on-the-field results no longer made that a tenable situation, hence Elias being hired originally.
On the other hand, losing a lot isn't a valid excuse for treating people poorly.
It's hard to overlook that Elias comes from the Houston Astros, who have a spotty track record as it pertains to managing human beings. Baseball is a business, and Elias has but one goal, which is to win games -- there are no bonuses to be had for making friends. Still, there's something off-putting about the whole enterprise. A general manager doesn't have to be a jerk to succeed. Moreover, belittling or otherwise big-leaguing people because they lack perceived value says more about the person doing the firing than it does the people being dismissed.
Maybe this is all a case of sour grapes, and Surhoff is overstating things -- the Orioles have retained a number of Dan Duquette era staffers elsewhere in the organization, as Connelly notes in the piece. But it's something to monitor heading forward, as the Orioles continue their turnover.