Results tagged ‘ Willie Randolph ’

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.” 

Randolph talking terms with MacPhail

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is expected to finalize his coaching staff in the next day or two and it figures to be one that boasts vast experience and expertise, with at least one -and possibly two – former Major League managers.

Ex-Mets skipper Willie Randolph, a close friend and former colleague of Showalter’s, is the O’s top choice for the sixth and final position on staff, with the organization currently discussing contract terms. The move is not official and it’s still being determined whether Randolph would serve as third base coach or bench coach. 

Given his infield experience and well-known love for teaching and instruction, Randolph’s name surfaced along with Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson and Orioles instructor Bobby Dickerson on a list Showalter carefully deliberated on following Don Wakamatsu’s decision to go to Toronto.

The Baltimore Sun was the first to report on Monday night that the two sides were negotiating a possible deal that would bring Randolph -fresh off a one-year stint as the Brewers bench coach – to Baltimore.  A source close to the situation confirmed that Randolph is in contract talks with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and cited Randolph’s work with young players like Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks and emphasis on development as key in Showalter’s decision.

Reached at his home on Sunday evening, Randolph declined to discuss specifically coming to Baltimore, but made it clear he wouldn’t view a coaching job anywhere with one eye elsewhere.

“In my case you are looking for an opportunity that fits,” he said. “And you give your heart and soul to that. But it’s not like I’m doing this just to manage. I have a passion for the game, and the young players. I love what I do. It’s not about using a situation to try to get ahead.”

Showalter has declined to comment on any portion of his staff until the process is complete, as has MacPhail. Particularly with the way things unraveled in contract talks with Juan Samuel -who left for Philadelphia – it’s important to note that while Randolph is a strong possibility, it is not official.

The O’s have agreed to terms with hitting coach Jim Presley, pitching coach Mark Connor, bullpen coach Rick Adair, first base coach Wayne Kirby and former Pirates skipper John Russell, although some details regarding Russell’s position depends on Showalter’s final hire.

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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