MacPhail on 2010, the offseason and Buck


I’ve got a full story up later on about president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail’s thoughts on last winter and looking ahead to this offseason. Here are a few of the topics touched on..

On getting a true power bat….
“Easy to say, not so easy to do,” said MacPhail, who gambled on free agent Garrett Atkins, only to release him for poor performance in early July. 

“That [bat] is going to be our chief goal in the offseason. Wherever that position is, that’s something we need to try to augment because I think it would have a beneficial effect up and down the lineup for some of our existing guys.”

Asked if he would take on another risky proposition like Atkins -who was signed to a one-year, $4 million deal including a club option for ’11 despite declining power numbers – MacPhail said it will depend on the market.

“Our preference always is the more established guy,” he said.  “Sometimes you have to deal with what the market makes available to you. You have to take a gamble when that looks like your best option. Hopefully there will be options available that are less risk than that one was.”

On priority two being a starter and more bullpen help..

“We will never turn down pitching. We made it no secret that pitching most likely is going to have to come up through our system because it is fragile and expensive through free agency and through trades,” MacPhail said. “So, that’s something we continue to focus on in terms of our player procurement and development areas from amateurs on up. The pitching.

“It doesn’t really matter, even if you think you are in pretty good shape [pitching-wise]…things happen. Guys get hurt. You can never have enough pitching even if you think you are in pretty good shape. A couple of years ago everybody thought Boston had one too many starters.  It just never turns out that way. Ever.”

On the Orioles turnaround being harder than he envisioned…
“It is. Because Tampa hadn’t really asserted itself yet. They were on the cusp. They were in the mid-90 loss category so it was a team you could take advantage of in your own division. But that does not exist anymore, unfortunately. 

It’s no surprise to me that our good month of August was essentially playing away from our division. But it is what it is, we are just going to have to find a way -not unlike these other teams have done too – to play better in this division.”

On if he’s impressed by what Showalter has done so far…
“How could you not be,” said MacPhail, who dismissed the notion that Showalter has more say than former skipper Dave Trembley.

“The manager always has a lot to say about the composition of his roster. I think in Buck’s case he is going to be more involved only because it’s an area of interest. In Dave’s case it was more ‘give me the players and I’ll go.’ But we certainly asked his input as well.

“Buck takes more active interest than most managers do. For example, he’s already been to Aberdeen, he’s already been to Bowie, he’s got the list of the Triple-a and Double-a clubs and he kind of knows who was starting where. All this information is available, or those opportunities were available to the mangers that preceded him, but he takes advantage of it, because I think he enjoys it. That’s just more information which is fine with us. We don’t have any interest in saddling with him with a player he doesn’t want. That’s not productive for anybody.”

on if Buck’s personality and attention to detail has been as advertised…
“I think so. We had a pretty good idea what we needed and why we needed it. Who fit the bill,” MacPhail said. “[Showalter] is who he is. That’s not going to change. He’s over 50. And I thought then, and I obviously think now, he’s been a really good fit for us. He’s really what this franchise needed.”

This year’s acquisitions..
“We had a mixed bag,” MacPhail said of this year’s five veteran additions, which included reliever Will Ohman, closer Michael Gonzalez, infielders Atkins and Miguel Tejada and starter Kevin Millwood, who was acquired in last winter’s trade with Texas. Ohman and Tejada were dealt at the Trade Deadline while Millwood -who will be one of the Orioles’ seven free agents —  is unlikely to return.

“One of the issues this franchise has had and continues to have is a lack of depth to absorb the inevitable departures that you are going to have over the course of the year due to injury,” said MacPhail.  “We need to do better at being able to plug people in there and not take such a hit.”

on his role in selecting Showalter’s coaching staff…
“As I’ve said before, the front office really just has veto power,” MacPhail said. “I don’t think we really ought to be dictating who the coaches are, I just don’t think that’s the way it should work. We can voice our opinion and in the end we have the right to veto. But that coaching staff is got to be something the manager’s comfortable with. He’s got to parcel out the responsibilities.

In the end we don’t want to put our spies down there, we just want people that he feels comfortable with can instruct and teach our kids and do the things that need to get done over the course of spring and summer.” 

on the season as a whole…
“Well it certainly was a lost start to the year. We just played miserably out of the gate,” MacPhail said of the O’s 2-16 start, the second-worst mark in franchise history.  “We weren’t healthy and we weren’t playing well. It took a little for our bullpen to get to the point where it was effective and our production with runners in scoring position was just abysmal. And it was just a horrific start. It was important to us as a franchise to leave a better taste in the mouths of our fans. We need to finish better than we started.”

MacPhail also said that organization isn’t necessarily out of the trading away prospects phase and each trade will be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis.”

“Do those [possible trades] stand the scrutiny in the context of the here and now, where you think you are and what do you think you have?,” he said.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out just on a philosophical basis, if you thought it was a good trade for you, I think you would make it. Particularly if you think you are getting something that you don’t have in your system. If it took young players to get it, you would do it. But it has to stand the scrutiny of making sense for you. And it has to stand the scrutiny of where you think you are as a franchise and why it would make sense.”

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