MacPhail and Showalter on the Orioles’ future

I wrote a story up today on president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail’s contract expiring, and the uncertain state of the organization going forward. You can read the full story here.

To be clear, MacPhail has no comment on his future beyond 2011, although he admitted over the weekend he knows he’s going to have to address it soon. Even when principal owner Peter Angelos told the Baltimore Sun this spring that MacPhail “isn’t going anywhere,” MacPhail did not echo a similar endorsement and remains quiet on the subject as the season winds down.

More and more I have a hard time seeing MacPhail returning as president of baseball operations next season. Again, that’s completely speculation on my part and there could be a scenario where he returns in a different role. But, I’d be very surprised if the front office is intact next spring.

Look, it’s never fun to publicly speculate when you are discussing people’s futures, but it goes without saying that there needs to be some changes in the Orioles’ organization if they are going to turn this thing around.

Here are a few snippets from the story, as the state of the Orioles’ front office, and how it relates to MacPhail and Orioles manager Buck Showalter is a topic that will only gain more steam as the season winds down…

MACPHAIL

[on his future]

“We will have to see how events unfold. Eventually I know I’m going to have to talk about it. Just not now.”

[on his relationship with Showalter]

“I don’t think there are any issues in that regard,” said MacPhail, who was hired by Angelos on June 20, 2007.  “I’m not sure we are the odd tandem that people make us out to be. We have different personalities, but we really don’t see what transpires on the field very differently at all. Honestly, I can’t think of a single occasion, there might be one or two, where I would do things dramatically different or he would do things dramatically different from me. By and large, that’s really not an issue.”

[on Showalter’s relationship with Angelos]

“Let me answer that this way: Show me the general manager that prohibits his owner from talking to someone in this organization. Why would you do that? Every manager talks to the owner. I think it’s an important thing. It would be like Buck telling me that I can’t talk to Bobby Dickerson about infielders or talk to [hitting coach Jim] Presley about our hitters… it’s goofy.”

[on the season]

“It’s disappointing in two respects. The first is the amount of players we’ve had hurt and for the duration.

But the second thing, which is more unique to us, is our guys have a hard time sustaining a level of performance. Some of our guys, I should say. They show you something for two months, and then they will fall way off that. And you will see a flash again. It’s hard to evaluate, really, what’s real and what isn’t.”

[on looking back, if he wished he had added another few arms this winter]

“See, there’s the rub. Our situation is not one born out of preference, it’s born out of reality in that most of [starting pitching] has to come internally or through trades.  It’s hard to lure starting pitching through free agency, that avenue –that’s not unique to us – but it’s a difficult avenue for us, an unlikely avenue of real help. So it has to come from those other two processes.

And as it relates to trades there ain’t that many people giving it up.  So, that puts a real emphasis on your farm system, trying to develop from within.And the last two months last year, it looked like we made meaningful progress in that regard. But for whatever reason they’ve taken a step back this year.”

[Any reason why all the young arms have either taken a step back, gotten injured or both?]

“It would just be speculation. Nobody knows for certain.”

[on how to turn this thing around]

“Pitching is going to have to get better. It’s just that simple. Offensively we have gone from a below-average to about an average team. Our runs per game is the second-most improved in the American League, third in the majors last time I looked at it. And I have no reason to think that’s changed  dramatically.

That’s what we have to get back to that. It’s just that simple. You don’t have to look any further than that. Just to get a quality start. Like [Friday], you are down 4-0 after four hitters. The air gets out of the balloon. It’s human nature.”

SHOWALTER

[on if  his knowledge of the organization has increased this past year]

Yes.  I have every bit of knowledge about the organization and the players and what’s coming, what may not be timing-wise, it helps you make better decisions. I, basically this off season, I didn’t really know a lot of the players they were talking about, players from our organization, but I feel like I’m a lot more knowledgeable about it now.

There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been exposed to that I wasn’t aware of. I guarantee you there’s some people here that no one’s talking about that are going to be players. But there’s a lot more to it than that. The bottom line in just about all these jobs is evaluating people and players and talent in about that order.

A lot of things have to fall right, I don’t care what your payroll is. But we’re not going to be able to do this without everybody pulling, whether it be the farm system, scouting. We got to have it all in place.”

[on his relationship with Angelos,who Showalter estimates he speaks to about once a month]

“There’s nothing more unattractive to me than someone who has an ear and abuses it. I’m not going to do that. We’ve got some good people here and I listen. I’m just not going to, not yet.

I’m the manager of the baseball team. That’s what they hired me to come in and do. I’m going to manage as hard as I can, we’ve had some good things happen and some challenging things happen. Some of it has been self-inflicted. And when the year is over, we will see how everything sorts out.”

[on his relationship with MacPhail]

“He’s been great to work with.  Andy’s my boss and he’s a good one. [Being a general manager] is a very demanding job. Look at the hours and time Andy puts in. They are all tougher jobs than you may think they are on the surface, until you walk a mile in a man’s shoes. So, I have a lot of respect for everybody’s job whether it be a scouting director, GM or farm director.

Look, Mr. Angelos owns our team. It’s what he decides, and he’s been very supportive and receptive of any ideas. But I haven’t really presented a lot of concrete ones, yet.”

[on if he still likes managing]

“I always get a, sometimes there’s a little more time in between them, but I always get a moment or something happens that reminds you of why you like it. Mostly a player getting something, [seeing it] through a players eyes’ or a players..you see anybody kind of that you might have helped a little or impacted by something you said or something you didn’t do. When you get that trust repaid, you have a little uncommon moment.

It’s so easy to throw guys under the bus. That’s the easy thing, the tough thing is to stay the course.  I know what it looks like when it’s right. You got to be on both sides of the mountain to appreciate the climb, you know? But you haven’t heard me talk about injuries and this and that, whatever. It just happens.”

7 Comments

Posts like this are why I am always happy to see a “Britt’s Bird Watch” post in my Reader. Great reporting and interviewing. Hard to read from the comments but, if I were a betting man, I would guess that MacPhail is gone in early Oct.

Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated! –Britt

Have you heard any rumor about Andy becoming Commissioner of Baseball in the “near” future???

Yes, I’ve heard that rumor. I’ve also heard that Selig isn’t going anywhere.

I’m not convinced that the Oriole problems having anything to do with MacPhail or Showalter. I think it takes time to build from within…but I also think you need to put baseball on an even playing field like football. It’s unfair for teams like the NY to spend so much money to keep them in contention. When do we take away the power of men with money and make an even playing field for any team in baseball. Aren’t you tired of it? I sure am.

i agree with all that you posted, Nancy but the player’s union is running baseball and they’ll never go for a salary cap.

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