Results tagged ‘ Buck Showalter ’

Odds and Ends…

*In the wake of Andy Pettitte’s retirement announcement today, I got an email reminding me that Pettitte’s first big league manager was Orioles skipper Buck Showalter. Digging through my season archives I found this quote from last fall about the first time Showalter saw Pettitte back in instructional league with New York.

Yankees pitching coach Tony Cloninger had asked Showalter to look at the young prospect, who was in the infancy of that infamous over-the-glove staredown from the mound.
 
“Andy was a big pudgy kid in Greensboro, but [Cloninger] loved him makeup -wise,” Showalter said.

You will read and hear a lot in the next few days about Pettitte’s makeup and what kind of guy he was. In my limited dealings with Pettitte, during the postseason and doing some backing up in New York last year, he was always kind, courteous and willing to talk.
 
I remember during this year’s postseason getting an email from an MLB.com colleague asking if I could get Pettitte to talk about Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, who has tried to mimic his postseason success.

When approached in a packed clubhouse, on his way to the podium to field a throng of media questions about his upcoming postseason start, Pettitte obliged my request to pick his brain about another pitcher on the way to the stage. And he didn’t hesitate to patiently stop outside of the media interview room to finish his thoughts.

He could have just as easily blown me off or grunted a few words. Instead, he gave me more than enough quote-wise to send over to my colleague, a small act not soon forgotten.

Here’s that story about Hamels with the Pettitte quotes. I’ll have more from Showalter later. 

More on the Os new coaches..

I blogged earlier about the Orioles possibly adding to their staff. However, nothing is set in stone in that regard and what the Orioles do have in Willie Randolph (bench coach), John Russell (third base coach), Mark Connor (pitching coach), Jim Presley (hitting coach), Wayne Kirby (first base/outfield) and Rick Adair (bullpen coach) is enviable in itself.

Five of the six men have at least six seasons of Major League coaching or managerial experience, with Kirby the only newcomer in that regard. At 46, Kirby is also the youngest of the group but brings a scrappy, hard-fought mentality –stemming from eight seasons as a big league outfielder – that had always intrigued Showalter from afar.

“We thought there was a need for him in our clubhouse and on the field that we didn’t have,” Showalter said of Kirby, who has spent the last nine seasons as a Minor League coach, most recently with Texas. “In a lot of ways he’s as experienced as anybody, if not more, in what there was a need for.”

“With each hiring…it wasn’t about how many years each person had accomplished in professional baseball,” Showalter added. “It’s about the players. It’s about what their needs are going to be. It was no reflection on the previous staff. Every year and every challenge is different.”

And by all accounts, the enthusiasm surrounding next year’s challenge -and turning things around in Baltimore – was radiating from Wednesday’s conference call. Randolph, who

“Hopefully, we’ll have some fun, and the only way you have fun is winning ballgame,,” said Randolph, who agreed to terms on Tuesday afternoon and, as former manager of the Mets, brings an expertise in instruction and baseball education.

“Buck is very prepared and one of the smartest guys I know in the game. He’s going to delegate and let us do our jobs, which is all we want as coaches…The main thing is you have a guy that is professional and organized and he’s going to make sure we understand our goals and go out there and bust our butts every day.”

By most accounts, the preparation is already well underway. Four of the six were present at the organization’s mini-meetings held several weeks ago, although getting on the same page for a guy like Connor -who will be working under Showalter for the fourth time – won’t take long. Instead, the 61-year-old Connor, who most recently served as a pitching instructor in the Rangers Minor Leagues, has been studying film of the O’s young arms and has come away impressed.

“We’re going to have to build that trust [between the pitching coach and the staff] but it’s nothing that we haven’t done before,” Connor said of the work ahead for him and Adair, who will review the tapes separately before meeting together.

“It’s fun to come into this situation knowing that there is some talent there. The last place that I worked it wasn’t that way in the beginning. We were always trying to patch the tire in the beginning, guys that have been around, six year free agents…This is an organization now that is hell bent on developing young pitchers. And if you look at the organizations in the playoffs this year, with the exception of one or two, most have done that. It’s the way to go.”

“I’ve been fortunate over the last few years to see this group of young pitchers and from an opposition standout,” said Adair, who was the Mariners pitching coach last season. “The upside with the talent we have is unlimited.”

Tasked with leading that pitching staff is 24-year-old catcher Matt Wieters, who will work closely with Russell, a former Major League catcher who spent three seasons at the helm in Pittsburgh.

“The kid really wants to be a good catcher and I think that’s important,” Russell said of his early impressions of Wieters. “Looking at the numbers he obviously has a very good arm, he receives the ball well. It’s just the maturity of being able to go out there day in, day out without always having to look over your shoulder.

“I think this kid, from everything I’ve seen and heard, he’s on the right track.”

The Orioles hope they can say the same for their offense, which struggled mightily this season with runners in scoring position. While obtaining a power bat remains a priority, Showalter is confident the addition of Presley -and newly-created hitting evaluator role for predecessor Terry Crowley – is a win-win situation.

“I feel good about where we are…the approach that we are going to take from a hitting philosophy standpoint,” Showalter said. “[The] bottom line the players are going to have to embrace it and have the want-to to try to bridge the gap to where we are and where we want to be.”

Presley, who was not available on the conference call, spent the past five seasons as the hitting coach for the Marlins, presiding over the breakouts of players like Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan.  He played eight years in the Majors and worked for Showalter for three seasons as hitting coach in Arizona.

A few tidbits..

*A reminder that the Orioles have until midnight tonight to decide whether to offer arbitration to Koji Uehara and Kevin Millwood. More details are up on the site here.

Do I think the Orioles will offer Uehara arbitration? I don’t know. I know they want him back, and it would seem like a good idea, in my opinion. He is due a substantial raise for essentially half a season, so they could gamble and pass but they have money to spend and a fan base that’s tired of guys being passed over. 

*Willie Randolph is close to joining Buck Showalter’s staff, and is in discussions with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail about a contract. I’ve been asked a few times what the holdup was and from what I heard it had nothing to do with monetary factors, like the Juan Samuel situation. Showalter simply took his time going through candidates. After Don Wakamatus opted to go to Toronto, Showalter was deliberate in mulling over numerous candidates, some who knew they were in the mix and some who didn’t. In the end, assuming Randolph agrees to terms, and I think he will, it’s a pretty impressive group of two former managers (inc. John Russell) and a bullpen coach (Rick Adair) who has also served as a Major League pitching coach. Lots of experience and expertise.

*Don’t expect much of anything on the Hot Stove concerning the Orioles, or anyone in the next few days. With a short holiday week a lot of GMs will be traveling and while there could be a few minor transactions it’s unlikely anything notable involving the O’s will go down.

*Also, an interesting premise by NY Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, who deems the Orioles “lucky” to have given Buck a chance. Here’s a snippet of the story with the full column up here

“So everybody loves Buck now, and not just in Baltimore. Everybody wants to know why their teams didn’t hire Buck in the years after he left Texas. I hear guys who thought Buck was obsessive and controlling and manipulative – the short list – now asking why the Mets didn’t hire him. Terrific.

But he’d been fired three places and had to go back to ESPN, so often a shelter for fired coaches and managers and even general managers, before the Orioles were smart enough to give him a shot. Suddenly, nearly 20 years after the Yankees first gave him a shot, Buck is the hot kid all over again.

You know what owners and general managers really know about the managers they hire in the end? That they never know.” 

Some coaching thoughts..

The Mets have hired Terry Collins as their next manager and multiple reports have speculated that Collins could bring in close friend Dave Wallace to serve as pitching coach, although Dan Warthen did an admirable job this season.  The Pirates are also closing in on naming a coaching staff for new manager Clint Hurdle, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with four hires expected to be made official soon. 

So, it’s safe to say Rick Adair isn’t going off to greener pastures and will be the O’s bullpen coach for next season. Manager Buck Showalter is down to one final coaching spot, although it could be either third base or bench coach that gets filled depending on his last hire. Former Pirates skipper John Russell could serve either position and it stands to reason that he would be bench coach if Showalter promotes Bobby Dickerson –the O’s roving Minor League instructor turned interim Triple-A manager –to his big-league staff. The pair haven’t spoken formally about that, but Showalter knows Dickerson well from their days in the Yankees’ Minor Leagues.  If Dickerson isn’t named to Showalter’s staff, he will return to his role as roving instructor, assuming Gary Allenson heads back to manage Triple-A Norfolk.

It’s less clear what would happen if Showalter hires Rob Thomson –who has served as the Yankees third base and bench coach — or former Mets skipper Willie Randolph, who is fresh off a one-season stint as Brewers bench coach.

Those scenarios are still under discussion and Showalter has done a pretty good job of keeping his cards close to the vest. Thomson is well thought of in the Yankees organization and could be hard to lure away, while Randolph is a baseball lifer who would jump at the chance to join Showalter’s staff.  While some former managers would consider joining a staff only in terms of whether the situation would help them “get ahead” for another gig, Randolph has a passion for teaching and instruction and a friendship with Showalter that extends beyond baseball.

A final decision could come in the next few days, particularly now that the Mets and Pirates made headway in filling some vacancies on Sunday night.

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Juan on what happened

Juan Samuel just had a conference call with the media and the subject of why he left Baltimore for Philly obviously came up. Here’s his response, courtesy of MLB.com’s Phillies reporter Todd Zolecki. If you missed it, the full story on Samuel’s departure is up here.

“I probably had about three conversations with Buck Showalter and Andy MacPhail,” Samuel said. “They wanted to see if I wanted to come back to the [third base] role I was before I took over the club and left the team. We talked about my role. But in the end things just didn’t come out the way I wanted them to be.

And then later here the Phillies came into the picture through my agent Rex Gary and things developed quickly. It was a decision I had to do, and my heart had a lot to do with it. And I think the right decision was made.

It was very unfortunate things didn’t work out with Baltimore, but we just couldn’t finish up the contract situation with Baltimore. And to be fair with the Orioles and everybody and Buck Showalter, I told them, time is crucial here for everybody and if they’re just going to continue to drag and we’re not going to get things done we’re just going to have to go our separate ways and give the Orioles time to find somebody if I didn’t come back. So time had a lot to do with it. And Philly came into the picture and it was a very good situation.”

What about Juan?

Amid speculation that former Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel would stay in Baltimore and return to his third-base post, multiple sources confirmed on Monday night that Samuel’s future with the O’s is far from certain.

Samuel was not present at the Orioles mini-organizational meetings in Arizona that took place last week, and the sentiment is Samuel is leaning toward other options, which include joining Charlie Manuel’s staff as Phillies first-base coach. Samuel is one of several candidates being considered for the position vacated by Davey Lopes, and given his ties to the Phillies organization as a player — as well as his experience as an outfield/baserunning instructor – it makes sense.   

The Phillies have had conversations with Samuel, who is currently in the Dominican Republic, but no formal offer has been extended. A highly-respected baseball man, Samuel is a candidate to join several organizations as a coach, including the Mets, whose staff is still in a state of flux while they conduct a managerial search.

Following Brian Butterfield’s decision to stay in Toronto, Samuel was thought to be the Orioles leading candidate to return to his third base role, a position he held until manager Dave Trembley’s dismissal in June.

And while there is still a chance he ends up in Baltimore, the organization has yet to reach an agreement contractually with Samuel as they have with pitching coach Mark Connor, hitting coach Jim Presley, bullpen coach Rick Adair and first base coach Wayne Kirby.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail have both declined to comment on the coaching staff until it is complete and official. Showalter did acknowledge on Monday night that there are still some “moving parts” regarding his staff, which would be a third-base coach and a bench coach.

Source: Presley expected to sign with Os (updated)

With Tuesday’s news that longtime Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley will move to a hitting evaluator position, a Major League source said on Friday that he expects Jim Presley to soon sign a two-year deal to become manager Buck Showalter’s hitting coach in Baltimore.

Presley was also in the running to join new Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez’s staff. He served as Gonzalez’s hitting coach in Florida, but the Braves are thought to be pursuing other candidates.

Showalter would not confirm or deny that Presley was in line to be hired, but told MLB.com on Friday afternoon that Presley -who reportedly is in the mix for several organizations — is on a very short list of candidates, a list which he expects to close in on in the coming days.

A Major League player for eight seasons, Presley worked with Showalter as the hitting coach in Arizona from the D-backs’ inaugural 1998 season until 2000. He became the Marlins’ hitting coach in ’06 and was dismissed on June 23, along with Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca. A former American League All-Star, Presley was long rumored to be a candidate to join Showalter’s staff, along with Rick Down, Showalter’s hitting coach in New York and Astros Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Barnett.

The Orioles’ offense finished next-to-last among American League teams this season in runs scored, and spent the first two-thirds of the year ranked near the bottom of the Majors in batting average with runners in scoring position, RBIs and walks.

Crowley’s newly created role will involve him working closely with the Minor League side of the organization and applying the 63-year-old’s expertise in areas including scouting and the First-Year Player Draft. He has spent the past 12 seasons as the Orioles’ hitting coach and has been with the organization for two separate stints totaling 16 years. The O’s have yet to make an official announcement on Crowley’s new post, although he has also been tabbed by Showalter to give his input on his successor.

Both Showalter and Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will be present for the organizational meetings, which are slated to begin on Monday in Phoenix. And although MacPhail said it would be “pretty ambitious” to reach a final decision on staffing over the weekend, he did tell MLB.com on Wednesday that the organization will have a pretty good idea where things stand by then.  Showalter, who will meet with MacPhail back in Baltimore on Saturday, reiterated that sentiment on Friday.

When the Orioles do make an announcement, it will most likely be for Showalter’s entire staff. The four vacant managerial openings around the League has slowed that process, with former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu — a rumored favorite to serve as Showalter’s bench coach –believed to be in the running for one of those positions.

In addition to Crowley, Showalter inherited pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bench coach Jeff Datz, bullpen coach Alan Dunn, first-base coach John “T-Bone” Shelby and third-base coach Gary Allenson. Rangers special assistant Mark Connor is believed to be the leading candidate to join Showalter’s staff as pitching coach, although Kranitz -who is also in the mix to join Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi — is thought highly of by Showalter and could still be retained.

 It is possible Showalter keeps several of the coaches on staff, although it could require a change in roles. He has also made it clear that he wants to retain the old “Oriole Way,” making it plausible to give expanded roles to former players, including Minor League offensive coordinator Mike Bordick, who is expected to be at next week’s organizational meetings along with a good portion of next spring’s coaching staff.

Butterfield still in Blue Jays mix, Os staff uncertain

Some Orioles-related news from Arlington, where I’m helping out ALCS coverage…

Longtime Toronto third base coach Brian Butterfield told MLB.com earlier today that, as far as he knows, he’s still in the mix for to replace retired skipper Cito Gaston. Butterfield also expressed a desire to manage and the article also goes on to state the Blue Jays timetable could come as early as next week.

What does this mean for the Orioles? Hopefully, it will shed some clarity on the Buck Showalter’s coaching staff decisions. Butterfield is believed to be a leading candidate to join Showalter’s staff as a third base coach, but all of the openings around baseball has caused a holdup in that regard.

As I blogged on Tuesday, there’s a lot of moving parts with the coaching staff, and some of that could also depend on two teams playing now: the Rangers and Yankees.

Rangers special assistant Mark
Connor’s name has been mentioned as a candidate to become Showalter’s pitching coach, a role he
served when Buck was in Texas. Connor is currently a Minor League
consultant in the Rangers organization.

Yankees third base coach Rob
Thomson is another name to keep tabs on. Thomas figures heavily in New
York’s scouting and Spring Training and is incredibly well-liked and
respected for his work. He’s in his 21st season in the Yankees
organization, which is where he crossed paths with Showalter, and
although it’s unclear whether he would be open to leaving it’s an option
worth mentioning, particularly since all of Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s coaches’ contracts are up after this season.

Also, this is worth another mention.  Despite several news outlets reporting definitively that hitting coach Terry Crowey is returning next season, Showalter has been adamant that nothing is set in stone. A scenario where Crowley comes
back as some kind of instructor or roving role isn’t out of the
question. That’s important to note because on Thursday afternoon, the Baltimore Sun, citing several unnamed sources furthered that idea and said it has been discussed on a preliminary basis within the organization. According to that report, nothing has been finalized.

Showalter sat down with principal owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail today for a state of the union of sorts. Typically, this is just Angelos and MacPhail who have the yearly meeting, but Showalter has made it no secret that he desires an active role in all facets of the Orioles.

I’m not sure how much they discussed the coaching staff, since much of that depends on what happens with openings around MLB, but their offseason needs and payroll moving forward were both on the docket.

Roberts CT scan normal

Brian Roberts’ CT scan came back normal, which is good news, obviously. Roberts has been dealing with concussion-like symptoms and even though on Sunday he told the media it was getting better, the Orioles wanted to rule everything out.

As for the Orioles coaches, there’s no news to report on that front. Some of you have asked about manager Buck Showalter’s time table or my guesses as to who goes and who stays, and I’d prefer to not speculate in fairness to those involved. Showalter has met with each of the six-man staff and has maintained a “the sooner, the better” approach.

Also, here’s a note on MASN’s television ratings, per a release….

Despite a disappointing start to the season, the Orioles grew their television audience in Baltimore and held steady in Washington. 

Year over year, the team earned a 3.3 HH rating in Baltimore, a ten percent increase over the 3.0 HH rating in 2009.  And in Washington the team held a 0.7 HH rating, unchanged from 2009.

Ratings soared when new manager Buck Showalter took over in early August.  During the first two weeks of Showalter’s tenure, the Orioles earned a 4.7 HH rating in Baltimore (51,000 households) and frequently beat the broadcast networks’ prime-time lineups. 

Injecting new life into the Orioles, Showalter led the team to a 34-23 record in the final two months of the season.  As Roch Kubatko pointed out on his blog, had the season started August 3rd with the arrival of Showalter, the Orioles would have won the AL East.

Across MASN’s 7 state / 14 DMA television footprint, the number of homes tuning in to watch the Orioles increased six percent to 78,000 households per night from 73,500 households in 2009.

Orioles pregame notes on Arrieta, Simon and coaches

Orioles rookie Jake Arrieta will not undergo surgery on the bone spur on his right elbow, after a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum (who looked over the MRI images from LA) concluded the same thing the team doctors did. The thought is, don’t fix what’s not broken and the spur doesn’t hamper Arrieta at all right now.

Alfredo Simon’s three-game suspension was reduced to two and he will begin serving that for tonight’s game against the Rays. Having a short ‘pen also makes it likely that Chris Tillman will get Friday’s start in Baltimore, since the Orioles might need the services of long man Rick VandenHurk.

No coaching decisions will be made until after the season, with manager Buck Showalter saying he would “be shocked” if anything was decided on before the World Series. But, Showalter won’t just leave the Orioles current coaches pondering their future for the next four weeks, and will sit down with each of them individually to discuss things before the season concludes on Sunday.

Showalter has an idea of what he’s going to do, but wasn’t going to tip his hand. He did say he was impressed with the work ethic and professionalism from the O’s current staff. If you look at his track record, he doesn’t tend to just dismantle coaching staffs, so while he could want to bring in some of his own people, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retains some of the current crop of coaches.

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