The Orioles future and front office
Since I’ve been getting bombarded with questions (and rightfully so) regarding the state of the Orioles’ moving forward, I thought I’d weigh in on what looks to be a very, very interesting winter.
And that starts with the front office stuff. As you know by now, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is expected to not renew his contract and step down at the end of the year. An announcement could come at any time, but my money’s on after the season concludes on Wednesday, with manager Buck Showalter hinting today at a Thursday announcement. The preference, for the media of course, would for a press conference but knowing how low-key MacPhail is the consensus in the organization is that it will more likely come via a statement.
So where does that leave things? Showalter had a meeting with owner Peter Angelos today and while I’m sure it’s the first of several pow-wows in the next few days, the situation in the front office seems to be the most important issue that needs addressing. Showalter’s name has continually been floated as a potential general manager/president candidate and –although he has declined comment – the speculation is if he can’t find a suitable candidate with Angelos he could make the move upstairs.
I know Showalter still enjoys managing and the day-to-day interaction being with players and down in the dugout and at this point in time there’s still a lot of decisions to be made and three different scenarios that could go down. Two of those are far more likely than the third, which would involve Showalter completely walking away. I think it would take a complete breakdown with his relationship with Angelos for that to happen and Showalter isn’t the type to just quit. So, I’d put that under the least likely scenario.
The other two scenarios are obvious: the Orioles are either looking for a manager or they are looking for a GM/president. You can toss the Yankees’ Brian Cashman out, he’s not coming here. You can also tentatively discard John Hart, the baseball executive who is close with Showalter and is bound to be an easy name to speculate on. I’m told it’s not a likely scenario at this point. Hart has turned down a few chances to get back into baseball’s front office before, and while it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility, it’s believed it would take a pretty inviting opening to get him.
What I do think will happen is Showalter will move upstairs, leaving a managerial vacancy and perhaps changing several scouting and development jobs around him. The current coaching staff could change if there’s a manager change, another topic Showalter sort of danced around today. He has had meetings with his staff to let them know where things stand, but it’s hard to promise jobs for next season with the uncertainty up top.
The two coaching jobs everyone always wants to know about are pitching coach and hitting coach. Pitching coach Rick Adair has a contract for next year, with Seattle paying his salary this season. Adair started the season as bullpen coach, and while there’s no guarantee that he will be back in the same capacity next year –again, it depends on what happens with Showalter — there is also the school of thought that the continuous cycle of different pitching coaches needs to stop. Hitting coach Jim Presley is also on a two-year deal, and is basically in the same spot as Adair. Although, in my opinion, any guy who can keep Mark Reynolds from 200 strikeouts –which at this point looks like he will avoid — should stay on.
Willie Randolph is on a one-year deal and it’s believed he would like to stick around in the organization as well. Randolph, who shifted from bench coach to third base coach this season, could be a potential managerial candidate, but it’s not very likely at this point.
By this time next week, the Orioles should know what they are looking for and regardless of what position he is in, Showalter made it clear that the organization will be “relentless” in its quest to get better. The other contract that is up is scouting director Joe Jordan’s, and right now if I had to guess, I’d say the organization does bring him back, on a shorter one or two year deal. The consensus is Jordan wants to stay with the organization and continue what he started.