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June 20, 2010

Showalter in on Wednesday; Wedge expected to get 2nd interview

First things first: Happy Father's Day to all.

It could be an interesting week at Camden Yards. Buck Showalter will be in Wednesday to interview for the Orioles' managerial job. According to sources, former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge is also expected to get a second interview with team officials. That isn't set yet, but it's likely to happen soon. Wedge did not meet team owner Peter Angelos as Bobby Valentine did, so an interview in Baltimore would give him an opportunity to do just that.

I would suspect that Angelos will speak with Showalter on Wednesday. Because there is a lot of skepticism that Valentine would take this job even if it were offered, I'd say Showalter and Wedge have emerged as the two front-runners. And I know Nick Markakis' recent comments about the team's offensive approach opened some eyes with some high-ranking team officials and reinforced the idea in some minds that the Orioles need a real strong personality in the manager's office.

I spoke to Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail yesterday, and he wouldn't comment on specific names in the manager process, but he did say that the organization's game plan by now should be clear.

"The first group that we’re talking to has experience, has had some success managing and they’re not affiliated with any team," MacPhail said. "That’s the first group we’re talking to. We’ll see how we are and how they feel and then we’ll determine from there."

The Orioles have not asked permission from other teams to interview anybody else, and that includes New York Mets scout Bob Melvin, who still could get an interview later in the process.

Speaking of MacPhail, he became the latest member of the organization to say he had no problem with the recent comments by Markakis.

“I thought what he said was accurate to the extent that we’re not as disciplined or as patient offensive group as one would like,” MacPhail said. “Our record is what our record is. Our productivity levels are what they are. There is no sense trying to say anything else. I think his comments are, by and large, accurate.

“The reason our record is what it is isn’t because [of] Nick Markakis. Since he’s been here for a while and he’s one of the guys we’re building around, it’s not inappropriate for him to say what he thinks on occasion. His effort on the field certainly hasn’t waned. I don’t have a problem with it.”

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 1:10 PM | | Comments (9)



Ken Rosenthal recently opined that the O's may make an in-season hire for next year, but that the hired manager would play a behind the scenes advisor-type roll and not assume the bench till the beginning of next year. What is your take on that position? Does that seem to be the way this process is heading?

Furthermore, if a manager is in fact hired, would Baltimore's approach of brining prospects up from the minors change. Meaning, if a manager in waiting is signed, then would Baltimore bring Bell, Erbe, Snyder (when healthy) up to the bigs to see if they would potentially start next year in the majors? Or would that manager go to the minors to see them play and evaluate that decision at the end of the season rather than bringing them up this year?

Jeff Z's reply: Yeah, I saw it Max. I actually think it's a pretty good idea but I don't see it happening. My guess would be that the Orioles will have a new manager in place by the start of the second half.

Jeff, AM have any reaction to Nick's comments about the direction of the team at this point, as Nick seemed to be having openly questioned that as well...

I for one am simply not that excited about Wedge. Let's see now...didn't we once hire a successful Cleveland manager only to have him flop here (yes, he had no team either). We need a complete change in culture. Showalter would work for me since Valentine laughed at the thought of being an Oriole.

At least we have the Nationals.

Relating to the previous post about the run-down play:
Casey Stengal loved to tell a story about his '62 Mets who got a batter in a rundown between 1st and Home.
At least it wasn't that bad...

What will they do about the coaching staff if they hire a new manager in season? Will the new coach be able to bring in his own coaches right away?

Jeff Z's reply: Probably not right away. I'm assuming the new manager will want to bring people in that are probably coaching elsewhere right now and you can't raid other teams coaching staffs at midseason, at least not for lateral moves.

What did MacPhail have to say about the fact that within one week both a key managerial candidate and his biggest- contract young player both made comments implying that they either don't know of a "plan" or have no confidence that it is going to turn the team around?

Valentine said this right after his 1:1 sit-downs with both MacPhail and Angelos, during which time you would assume they filled him in on the state of the franchise and their plans. One would expect sometime more along the lines of "yeah they're having a tough time in Baltimore but they have a good plan in place for getting better" from Valentine, instead we got a "yeah they have a lot of problems and are trying to think of solutions- I have no idea what they're going to do and I don't believe they're going to get better anytime soon."

And Markakis is actually PART OF this "plan" (which I only write in quotations now) and didn't indicate that he has any faith that the team is going to get better. Everyone is focusing on him calling out individual players on their day-to-day efforts, but what I found more stunning in his comments was the fact that Nick doesn't seem to have any belief that this team is going to get better. Again, you would hope he could speak to present-day struggles but also allude to these are merely growing pains in a path back to competitiveness, but I didn't hear anything like that from Nick.

SO maybe somebody could ask Andy how it reflects upon "the plan" that both a prime managerial candidate (immediately after hearing a pitch on "the plan" directly from MacPhail) and a centerpiece member of the team itself don't appear to have any knowledge of "the plan" or faith that it is going to work.

if it isn't Valentine, it needs to be Showalter. He has a documented history of taking bad teams and turning them around before he pisses off everyone and leaves. I'd be happy as hell if he could just get us to 500. But the bottom line is that McFail and Napoleon need to be upfront about their willingness or lack thereof to spend money to "buy" the bats as they have said on many occasions.


A lot of folks seems excited about Valentine, Showalter and Wedge, but aren't there reasons these guys aren't managing teams right now?

I know Valentine has made his intentions clear, but what are the odds that it's one of the other two?

Jeff Z's reply: I think Wedge and Showalter are the favorites. I've said my guess is it would be Wedge on the day Trembley was fired, but I don't feel any better or worse about it than I did then. There's a myriad of reasons why those guys are available, but they've all had success at some point.

I, like others don't "get" hiring Wedge. But I see it as the best available guy/talent on the market. That's just sad. Instead of top shelf scotch, we're continuously drinking (and being sold) Old Milwaukee. It's obviously quite depressing.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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