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July 13, 2010

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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Posted by Dan Connolly at 3:14 PM | | Comments (28)


"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."

Angelos is Steinbrenner without the billions of disposable income

Dan, thanks for the updates and clarifications.

I'm all for Showalter coming aboard. Like you said, his name has cache and you would think that if he is going to be associated with a team that has suffered so many years of losing, he would want assurances from the management that they will do what is necessary. No sense taking this job if the only free agent they will sign is Garrett Atkins. Indeed, Showalter immediately brings credibility to this organization and if what many fans think, that no one will come here because of the losing or because of Angleos, is true, Showalter being here can change that mindset.

My only question is, if Buck is so good, why has he been with three organizations? We all know what happened in New York, but what were the reasons/problems in Texas and Phoenix?


At the end of the day we could have LaRussa as the manager and Torre as the bench coach and it wouldn't matter. The o's need to spend money on people that pitch and swing the bats, that's what will make a difference

Showalter seems like a good choice, with his experience, his traditional focus on discipline, and his preparation. It's interesting that he has a plan for turning the franchise around; I wonder how his plan aligns with and complements MacPhail's plan; if there's any conflict or any ambiguity regarding the dividing line between field manager and GM responsibilities, it will spell trouble. But if all that is clearly defiined, this could work out.

Samuel's 14-20 record is nothing to get excited about, although the 4 wins at Texas certainly are. This team is not as horrible as the record indicates. The offense has gotten back on track, the bullpen is pitching very well, and the young starters are showing a lot of promise. I think a .500 record for the second half (which would result in an overall record of 66-96) is a good goal to strive for.

MacFail is slower than Rosie O'Donnell running the bases.

Geez, and if MacFail and Co. really think this recent "surge" of winning is enough to maybe keep Samuel on as manager they need to stop doing illegal drugs.

Seriously, Samuel?


The wait is on several levels:
1. The MLB rule for hiring practices. Samuel must get a interview to satisfy the minority rule.
2. McPhail really does not want any question when he hires new manager. A stuble may be necessary first for the appearance of this need.
3. I think Showlater wants some feedback on what the team may look like after the trade deadline. So do look for more than a week, maybe two for the announcement.
4. The coaches contracts are a minor problem but need to be worked out.

I would love to know the coaches Showalter had at his last 3 stops as manager. May provide some direction on who he wants to bring in.

If Showalter is not in place by the trade deadline I think Andy still has another card up his sleeve for the off season. This simply would say to me he has grander ideas.

I still beleive, though I do not like it, that brining a big name manage is required to sign the player Andy may be going after at the trade deadline.

So All in All I think this is a Big Fishing Expedition

Getting Showalter alone will not fix very much. NOT getting Showalter, especially after all the discussion and speculation, will make deal-making for big bats and a quality veteran in the rotation next to impossible, even with mad money.

What is the dog and pony show for?
Why do the O's work sooooo slow. Trades/announcements??? Its like they want the national we really care?? really

Don't screw this up MacPhail. Slow and steady wins the race is complete bull. As Ricky Bobby said, "if you ain't first you're last." "If we wanted two wussies, we would have named them Dr. Quinn and Medicine Woman! "

Nothing will change until Angelos is gone. He is the constant in the years of failure.

I think the signing of Buck Showalter or any big name manager means the team means business. Showalter, as the article comments, has his requirements that he can tell AM he wants to be done for him to come hear. As with anything, there is no guarantee - but he holds more sway then Trembley, Samuel, Perlozzo, etc.

I like what AM has been doing - he's just been too conservative in the rate he's been doing it. I think a big name signing is an indication that if the kids are ready, we're bringing some one else in to play that spot! We need to grow players - but we don't need 9 home grown players. And as much as people rave about Tampa Bay - they were in last place for 12 straight years before they broke thru - so a mix of young players from the minors with a couple free agents is a great recipe (that's what the Tigers did - they signed IRod to begin their turn-around)

MacFail is slower than Rosie O'Donnell running the bases.

AM and Co. really think this recent "surge" of winning is enough to maybe keep Samuel on as manager they need to stop doing illegal drugs.

Seriously, Samuel?


Posted by: Ralph | July 13, 2010 5:14 PM
I did change your first part AM isn't McF !

But your right 13-20 not very good at all ! Out of the last 13 games 5-8 O's need Buck Showalter and PA needs it to am sure he would like to see WS ring on his right hand before he's leave this great earth .

Just for those who may nott know, Angelos is worth 1.5 billion as was George Steinbrenner. They have the same net worth. One simply invests in his team because he loves baseball, while the other invests in real estate because he loves money.

Personally, I am sick of ex Yankee"s coming to the Orioles to manage. Mazilli, Altobelli, Bauer, we were turned down by Girardi and now courting Showalter. Come on, how about an old Oriole like Johnson, Surhoff, Dempsey, Ripken. We are the BALTIMORE ORIOLES not the EVIL EMPIRE.

Joe (and everyone else calling for an "old Oriole" as manager: Already this year the O's have hired a setup reliever as a closer, and a third baseman to play first., just hoping they would work out in a new job. Do you really want to do the same thing with a manager?

Will Showalter have the authority to fire Crowley? Thats all I want to know!

i am not a buck showalter fan. i would very much hope that the orioles do not hire him as manager. thee is no need to have a new manager in place before the season ends. let juan finish the season. other people will be available at the end of the season to make choices.

Andy Glacier

I have become happy and satisfied in many things Oriole as of lately; and I have a few choice words for the idiots that cannot subtract (3) from (5) and get Two!!: "Go back to 4th grade".

AM is doing a great job; this is evidenced by the fact (among others) that no poster on this blog is on the list to replace him & the more important fact that the O's are playing better both as individuals and as a team.

The only advantage a Big Name manager carries is the previously mentioned possibility that it is necessary to land the 'right' free agent(s) to protect our young hitters, as well as a legitimate pitching staff 'Ace'.

If I had my money invested in the Orioles I'd have the final say on lots of stuff [Hint: "My Money"], as in not yours!

Verdict: It would take guaranteed signings of (3) high impact players for me to switch managers now - 'Manager' is not the issue here.

Forget the past, which includes the present, and embrace the future that unfolds before our wondering eyes at the speed of light!

My money says the O's finish over .500.

I sure hope they speed this up before another job (which will probably be a better situation) opens up and he no longer wants the Orioles job.

Fact: Most teams show a short-term bump in performance following a major change, so take Samuel's managerial impact for what it likely is - short-term.

Speculation: There is no reason not to expect another second half bullpen meltdown following first half overuse - this has become standard operating O's procedure. Nonetheless, could this team's record sink much lower? Thus, I wouldn't be surprised if they play close to .500 ball the rest of the way. Social scientists call this 'regression to the mean.'

The O's are 12 and 12 for their last 24 games under Samuel. They are playing harder and it is clearly seen with your own eyes.

If Samuel is allowed to continue I believe the managerial decision will become more difficult.

And rightly so.

"My money says the O's finish over .500."

animicrazy | July 14, 2010 3:05 AM

Oh yeah? How much money?

If you're saying that the O's will end this season with a winning percentage greater than .500, then that would mean that they'd have to win at least 53 more games, which means that they would have to win at least 71 percent of their remaining games.

Think so, huh?

Fact: Andy MacPhail is very controlling of his managers.

Uncle Goose, what is your point? I am not talking about hiring a postal worker to manage the O's. For example, Davey Johnson, an "old Oriole" by the way, is the last mgr. to lead the O's to the playoffs. He is not even being considered but we go after Yankee retreads. You imply that the others I mentioned could not do the job because they never managed before, did you say the same thing about Earl Weaver?

Face the facts Orioles Fans, in reality we have had interim managers since August, 2007. Dwell on it, realize it, its not that hard.

Ok, all you Showalter fans. When asked to comment on George Steinbrenner's death, he said he was grateful for the chance to manage for a class org., nice comment, but he added that he will always be a Yankee. Nice Buck, and will you wear pinstripes when you manage the O's. We need a former Oriole who will bleed Orange and Black. enough with the ex Yankee retreads.

It would be better for all concerned amongst the Baltimore Orioles, even for Buck Showalter himself, if the two defining story lines of their season's second half - the change in the manager's office that brought Showalter to Baltimore, and the stunning turnaround in the quality of the Orioles' play - did not coincide quite so precisely, tracing back to the same date of origin: Aug. 3.

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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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