Elias Takes Helm Of Astros' New-Look Scouting Department
HOUSTON—While general manager Jeff Luhnow brought Mike Elias to the Astros as a Mike-of-all-trades, he was really grooming him for a particular role: scouting director.
Elias got to work at the August scouting directors meetings in New York, taking over after the Astros didn't renew Bobby Heck's contract. He earned the title four months before his 30th birthday after a fast rise through the Cardinals and Astros systems.
He began as an area scout in 2007, and after moving all the way up to Luhnow's assistant in the Cardinals scouting department, he joined the Astros as a special assistant soon after Luhnow took over as GM at the Winter Meetings.
"When I brought Mike in in January, I knew he was a valuable asset," said Luhnow, adding that Elias also helped the organization at the trade deadline as well as on the amateur side. "I wasn't sure what his role was going to be going forward until really about the last week or so. After talking with him and thinking about it, it made most sense for him to be 100 percent in the area that we believe is most critical for our success going forward, and that is the pipeline."
The work started quickly. It had to, in the almost year-round world of amateur scouting. In the brief lull of the late summer between summer showcases and the fall schedule, it was time to figure out the staff, and changes will continue.
Elias kept national crosschecker David Post on board but was preparing for changes up and down the hierarchy of the department.
"We sat down as a group and just laid the entire amateur scouting department out there," Elias said. "We looked at the map, looked at our budgets, what we wanted to do, how we wanted to set things up. We made some decisions to basically restructure the department along the lines of making it more efficient, having elite personnel in the right spots and we'll probably end up adding some talent too from around the industry."
Luhnow has made Houston one of the more interesting places for scouts to work because of the heft of data analysis being done to complement—and in some cases, influence—their work. Elias doesn't pretend to be a statistical analyst but does look forward to working with director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and his group.
"My role is certainly not doing any of the statistical analysis," Elias said. "It's more helping him interpret it and helping him tweak the way he structures things with the insights of a scout who's been out in the field and sort of gets the real world reality and the logistics of what happens.
Luhnow will still take an active role in the department. He was hired by new owner Jim Crane in part for that reason, not just to delegate. But that will be in the big picture, and as Luhnow gets another year removed from active scouting, that will be in the hands of Elias and a new-look staff.
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