Facts (with some speculation) on Buck Showalter and the Orioles
There has been so much read and said about the Orioles’ managerial situation recently that it is probably hard for you to separate the facts from the speculation. We do this for a living and it’s not easy for us to sift through everything and understand exactly what’s going on.
So here’s what we have on the managerial search. It has been separated into fact and speculation. The fact is stuff I know is true and would stake my journalistic reputation on it (that and $2.50 gets you a small coffee, no cream or sugar).
The speculation part is my take on it. It is not just my opinion, however. It is what Jeff Zrebiec and I have heard from those in the know. I’d be willing to bet that when the dust settles, we are right on the speculation, too (because it is based on reporting, not guessing). But we’re not going to pass one off as the other.
Here’s what we have:
Fact: Buck Showalter is the leading candidate to become the next Orioles’ manager.
Speculation: It will almost certainly happen. Showalter, his legendary preparation and attention to detail, perfectly fits with an organization that is broken in many aspects. The only way I see it crumbling is if Showalter wants more say in certain areas than the Orioles are willing to give. Or if Showalter feels like he will never get that say and walks away on his own.
Fact: Andy MacPhail and Showalter have talked several times but no offer has been made.
Speculation: MacPhail and Showalter have talked a lot of specifics. Showalter – again, he’s the king of preparation – has a plan as to what can fix this mess and it has been shared with MacPhail and owner Peter Angelos.
Fact: Buck Showalter will not be named manager this weekend.
Speculation: We wrote in Monday’s paper that Juan Samuel will manage this team on Friday, when the Orioles come back from the all-star break. So now there’s been national speculation that Showalter will take over Saturday or Sunday. Not the case. Trust us. There are several issues that have to be worked out before an offer -- and a decision -- is made. One has to do with hiring protocol and whether the Orioles have to formally interview a minority candidate to comply with the commissioner’s directive or if Samuel’s extended tryout as interim is enough. That’s not the only thing that needs to be hashed out. There’s staffing and contract issues and delineation of responsibilities. In other words, it may be close. But it is not just dotting the Is and crossing the Ts at this point.
Fact: Showalter wants some assurances and security before accepting the job.
Speculation: What coveted managerial candidate wouldn’t? Showalter would be a fool – and he is not -- without knowing exactly what he can and can’t do and what is and isn’t expected of him. Also, there’s no way he would come here without a three- or four-year deal. This is a rebuilding effort. And Showalter understands that. His name carries cache and he has leverage, since he is currently employed by ESPN. A three-year or four-year deal would be standard for a guy like him. The last time the Orioles hired an unemployed manager with a track record was when they tabbed Mike Hargrove. He got a four-year deal.
Fact: The team has played better as of late and Samuel is 14-20 as interim manager.
Speculation: The Orioles’ recent surge, including a four-game sweep in Texas, has improved Samuel’s chances of getting this job. It certainly may have delayed an announcement involving Showalter. Still, we don’t expect Samuel to be the permanent manager. This team is not good, and eventually it’ll go into another long funk. But Samuel has been impressive in this role, showing the proper optimism and acumen. He was a wonderful choice to be interim and hopefully this run helps his chances of getting a big-league managerial job somewhere else someday. I still think that the Orioles would like to separate themselves from previous regimes, and want someone with prior big-league experience, and that hurts Samuel’s chances. Still, his performance has made it easier for the Orioles to take their time and properly evaluate him.
Fact: Andy MacPhail will take his time with this decision.
Speculation: I guess the above qualifies as opinion, unless you know MacPhail. He doesn’t rush into anything. This is a serious matter for him – with one year left on his contract, you could even call it crucial. And so he was never going to adhere to some artificial deadline like the all-star break. When he is comfortable with a decision, it will be rendered. And not until then. The only way that changes is if Angelos intervenes and demands a quick ending to the matter. That can’t be ruled out. But MacPhail has been primarily in charge of the process so far.
Fact: Ultimately, Angelos will make the call.
Speculation: To think otherwise is foolish. Angelos signs the checks. He is ultimately in charge. And he could push MacPhail into a decision if he wants to. He is the owner. Remember, he hired MacPhail without his baseball operations staff knowing. There has been speculation that Angelos is more intrigued by Showalter than, say, Eric Wedge, who was high on MacPhail’s list. I can believe that. But I don’t think this is a Ray Miller situation in 1998, when Angelos was adamant that the pitching coach should become manager. I think the hiring of the manager will be much more of a mutual decision this time around.
Hope that helps. Or maybe it’s muddied your thoughts. That’s for you to speculate.
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