MacPhail defends pace of managerial search
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail knows he has a reputation for being deliberate, and rarely does he fight that label. However, on Thursday he did vehemently dispute the assertion that his managerial search is dragging out.
It was six weeks ago when MacPhail fired Dave Trembley and replaced him on an interim basis with Juan Samuel, who is 14-20 and has guided his team to a four-game winning streak heading into Friday night’s second-half opener versus Toronto.
The Orioles have zeroed in on Buck Showalter as their next manager, with MacPhail meeting with him last week in Dallas, where the current ESPN analyst lives. It was the third extensive talk between the two sides, but they’ve yet to hammer out all the details that would allow Showalter to move into the manager’s office at Camden Yards.
“It’s not dragging,” said MacPhail, almost incredulous that the process is being questioned by fans and reporters. “Again, there is no timetable here. It’s not like the barn is on fire right now. The players are doing a nice job for Juan. I just think that kind of [talk] is just wrong.”
MacPhail again denied reports that a new manager could be in place as early as this weekend, though he wouldn’t comment further on the timing of the decision. One source familiar with MacPhail’s thinking said it’s possible that Samuel will remain at the helm of the club until the first week of August, though obviously the decision could be accelerated if the team plays poorly on the current 10-game homestand.
The Orioles president of baseball operations did acknowledge that his current focus is more on the coming trade deadline than the managerial situation because of the “finite July 31 deadline” to make nonwaiver deals. He also said there are no current interviews scheduled with other candidates, “but I don’t know if that door has been closed yet.”
MacPhail and other team officials have interviewed Showalter, Bobby Valentine, Eric Wedge and Rick Dempsey, and Showalter has emerged as the clear favorite among external candidates. The Orioles also consider Samuel a legitimate candidate, and that would satisfy commissioner Bud Selig’s directive to consider minority candidates.
“There are nice options available to us that are along the lines of what we’re looking for,” MacPhail said. “It’s about where we would expect the process to be. Those people that think the process is slow or dragging, I don’t think that’s the case here.”
Team officials feel there are several benefits to waiting a little while before naming Showalter, or anybody else for that matter, as their manager. With Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, Matt Wieters, Kevin Millwood and Michael Gonzalez all expected to return within the next 2 1/2 weeks, the Orioles could be close to full strength for the first time since early April. That would give the new manager the best chance to have an immediate impact as there is some concern that the continued losing would tarnish the potential impact of a new manager.
Also, the delay would allow Showalter, an intense planner, more time to study the organization and its players and formulate a plan on how to turn things around.
MacPhail wouldn’t comment on the reasons for the delay, but he did say that his own contract situation does not factor into the decision. MacPhail’s contract expires after the 2011 season. Meanwhile, a high-profile managerial candidate, such as Showalter, will presumably ask for a three- or four-year deal.
“I don’t really worry about my own contract to be honest with you. I’ve worked for so long without contracts. I don’t think that should influence my thinking one iota,” he said. “You just try to do the best thing you can for the franchise and let the rest of it happen. I can’t be any less concerned about that.”
Asked also about the perception that he might not want a controlling type of personality in the manager’s office – one Showalter is known to have – MacPhail said: “As I’ve often said when it comes to the manager’s job, it really is a custom fit for your time and circumstances and what your team needs. That’s not really an issue for me. You’re just trying to bring somebody in who you think it’s going to be the most effective manager you can get given the composition of the squad.”
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