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October 21, 2010

Crowley, Orioles discussing change in roles

The Orioles are currently discussing an adviser/instructor type position with Terry Crowley, an arrangement that will end his long stint as the team’s hitting coach but keep him in a prominent role in the organization.

The deal has not been finalized, according to multiple sources, and the Orioles remain open to Crowley returning for his 13th straight season as Orioles’ hitting coaching and his 17th overall.

However, the club, wanting to take advantage of Crowley’s ability to evaluate hitters, has been mostly talking to the 63-year-old about a different role, one in which he will still work with both major league and minor league hitters during spring training, but also assist in scouting and evaluating potential trade, free agent or draft targets. Either way, Crowley will still factor prominently in the instruction of hitters in the organization.

A mainstay with the franchise and popular among Orioles’ hitters for his work ethic and positive reinforcement, Crowley was the subject of much criticism during the 2010 season as the team’s offense ranked 13th of 14 American League teams in runs scored.

The club’s 613 runs in 2010 was its worst output for a full season since 1988. However, for nearly two-thirds of the season, the Orioles’ lineup was without its igniter, leadoff hitter Brian Roberts. Luke Scott, Matt Wieters and Felix Pie also had stints on the disabled list.

Crowley hasn’t returned calls this week seeking comment. Orioles manager Buck Showalter and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail also declined comment, saying only that final decisions have not been made on the 2011 coaching staff.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 3:24 PM | | Comments (30)


thumbs up

....and also without a legit power hitter hitting 4th for most of the season as well....

Thank you Buck. Best news I have heard in years. Now can we get someone that can actually help our hitters. I like Eddie Murray. Former O's HOFer, 3000 hits, 500 HRS, Cal gives him credit for teaching him how to play at the ML level. What do you think about Eddie?

There you go again Doung promoting Eddie Murray as hitting coach. Murray was fired by Cleveland as Hitting coach?

If Crowley role is re-assigned, maybe Buck notice the Orioles lack of hitting among its younger players, IE: Wieters, Pie, and Bell.

I have NO recommendations for a hitting instructor or coach. Its in your hands BUCK!

This is foolishness. The guy single-handedly is responsible for the development of Markakis, Jones, Pie, and Scott. Let's try to remember past yesterday folks.

The O's offensive issues weren't due to Crow. Everyone watchignthis club saw it turnaround the minute we started getting guys back off the DL, especially Roberts.

Murray has absolutely no pedigree. His first and only major league coaching job was hitting coach for the Indians. A gig from which he was fired after their hitting numbers declined over consecutive seasons with him as the hitting coach and the failure to progress of a number of their prospects. He's definitely not the candidate.

As much as I'd love to see Eddie back in an O's uniform, are we sure he'd be a good fit? Some of the best coaches are not the stars but rather the guys that were mediocre or average due to physical limitations but brilliant analytically in part because they had to work harder to keep their places. Earl wasn't a hall of fame player, but few would argue his managerial skill. Same with Davey Johnson. In terms of skill positions, Cal Sr. didn't break any records, but if you talk with any of the great Orioles from the past they pretty much all point to him as the person that made them great. I'm not saying we shouldn't ask Eddie back, I'm just saying we should evaluate all the options out there to make sure we have someone who can really make the hitters better.

How about BJ Surhoff? Seems like an excellent fit to me. He always knew HOW to hit, just couldnt put it all together himself. If you've ever noticed, most good instructors never were HOF type hitters.

Jeff Z's reply: I think Surhoff will have a teaching role in the organization, but my guess is that Showalter will hire someone who has experience as a hitting coach.

Whatever you want to call it, I'm in favor of it. He can relace their cleats if he wants to, as long as he's not the batting coach.

He's popular with players because of his "positive reinforcement"? What is he doing, saying nice hacks after they return to the bench having only seen two or three pitches? These are grown men getting paid millions of dollars to play a competitive game. They don't need to be coddled.

Thankyou, thank you, thank you James.
Well said. You only reinforce what I had been saying all season before Buck stepped in. These are grown men making millions to play MLB for goodness sakes. They are not being paid to be coddled....And I think Buck knows that and will get a batting instructor that will instill a listen to me or else attitude.....

Crowley seems to be good at helping players correct flaws in their swing, but his track record with the Orioles is teams that consistently rank in the lower half of the league in runs and OBP. Perhaps he teaches an aggressive approach at the plate (swing at the first good pitch you see, because it may be the best pitch you get), but that won't cut it in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, all of which stress plate discipline and making pitchers work for outs. As a roving swing doctor, he could be very helpful.

Note that Crowley was quoted in a recent "Sun' article as saying that Markakis might be too patient at the plate. What he should be saying is that Nick's teammates should be more like Nick at the plate. i doubt you'd find a Yankee coach telling a hitter with a .370 OBP that he's too patient..

Yeah i agree w/ OriAl - its not so much about hitting mechanics as hitting philosophy. To work the count or not to.

I liked the guy Dunn they had many years back. He really helped Brady Anderson.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I'm not as concerned with getting a big, big bat as i am solid hitters at both first and third. Berkman could work if Konerko isn't interested, but they still need to upgrade at third; Wigginton's subpar defense and .250 avg not working.

Jeff -- Do you see Brady Anderson possibly having a role with the Orioles next season? Not necessarily as major league hitting coach, which I doubt he would get right away, but in some capacity.

I watched him on MASN a number of times this past year and was impressed with his knowledge. He did a couple of segments with Luke Scott in the batting cage that impressed me.

Off topic, but Brady keeps in amazing shape; he really looks like he could still play (doesn't mean he can still get around on a fastball, though--LOL).

Jeff Z's reply: Yes, I think Brady will be involved. There has been plenty of talk about Brady doing some conditioning work this offseason with a lot of these guys. Whether it's in training or working with a couple of hitters, I suspect that he'll have a role.

we need some one who is up to date with todays pitching. they know how to pitch our guys. they hit better in minors so who ever they down there bring them up. Crowley is out of date.

Thank God Crowley won't be coming back as the hitting coach. A mediocre player who coached the O's to even more embarrassing levels of failure. The only thing worse than hearing Crowley was coming back would be finding out that Angelos was buying the Ravens.

While I respect Crowley, his time was long since passed. I'm not sure of any possible relationship between Buck and my suggestion, but I am curious. What about the recently-reassigned Don Baylor from Colorado as a hitting coach? There's another guy who knows how to hit and sure seems to get the most out of hitters with less than HOF skills.

Many of you are failing to realize that Crow has not necessarily left the hitting coach position at all. One thing I am thrilled with. More experienced and better qualified evaluators of Crows contribution to this team are the ones making the administrative decisions

David Ortiz called Crowley the best hitting coach he's ever had.

Jeffs article stated:

"...the Orioles remain open to Crowley returning for his 13th straight season as Orioles’ hitting coaching and his 17th overall."

He has not necessarily left the hitting coach position, and I am completely confident in the Buck's and the Orioles experience and skill as evaluators to know the true value Crow brings to that position.

Why do people refer to Crowleys statistics as a player to dictate his skill as batting coach? Makes no sense to me.

BaltimoreGeof- Murray ciached for the Dodgers also. I wouldn't want him as he can't get along with the players today.

Crowley's time has passed. Are you serious...,"The guy single-handedly is responsible for the development of Markakis, Jones, Pie, and Scott."

Markakis didn't need Crowley to teach him to hit. Scott hits some HRs but is OBP stinks and he strikes out too much. Jone is totally undisciplined at the plate. 23 walks/119 strikeouts.



Luke Scott has a career .353 OBP. In what way does that stink? Either you assume things or you don't know what you're talking about.

And you're right, Crowley didn't "teach" Markakis how to hit, because his job shouldn't be to "teach" how to hit at the ML level. If that is his job at this level, then that probably explains why this team and it's entire farm system has been so atrocious for the past 13 years.

I'm not a Crowley supporter, lets get that out of the way, but any batting coach with the best resume and track record would've had problems. It goes beyond Crowley.

Crowley is 63 years old, i doubt he wants to travel all over the place evaluating players or whatever. If they're going to fire him as hitting coach just do it and move on. The O's hitting problems will go away when they get better hitters. Clinging to people like Pie will keep them in last place.

Hall of Fame players seldom make good coaches. They have so much natural ability that its tough for them to deal with guys who have average ability.

The best hitting coaches are guys like Crowley. His career was coming off the bench, usually in important situations and hitting. He therefore seldom had an at bat he could 'take off'.

Lets also remember that some guys don't like being coached and others have their own coaches. Ripken always went to his father.

I think too many on this board put too much emphasis on who the coach is. Regardless, it's up to the player to work at getting better.

In buck we must trust...we finally get as real manager who made a real difference and I will go with whom he wants at all positions on this team...Note - Think we need to resign wiggington, tough competetor that can play many positions. I think we were way to hard as a fan base on Aubry Huff and no one can argue that he has been a main cog in SF success. So much that I would love to have him back. We all want 40 HHR, 100 RBI guys but alot of 20-25 and 90's can be just as effective.Should be our most interesting off season, spring training in decades(of losing)

I'm certainly not competent to know for sure how much responsibility Crowley bears for the lousy offense. It's not like he's been coaching teams loaded down with talent, and if it's all his fault then why aren't the same folks up in arms over Kranny? The fact is both hitting and pitching got better when Buck arrived. The pitching change was the most spectacular, but the O's hitters did become more disciplined overall, better at moving runners, stretching counts etc. Still, it is hard to ignore one youngster after another like Weiters and Reimold getting off to good starts and then losing ground at the plate, or veterans like Markakis and his disappearing power.

I'm sure the Crow still knows waaay more about hitting than any of us commenting here, and probably more than most people in baseball, but that doesn't mean he is still able to get his lessons across to younger players. Teachers can lose touch with the generations sometimes and try as they might , just cannot connect anymore.
I'm really tired of all the Crowley bashing here. The guy was a great clutch hitter in his day, has long been respected as a great hitting coach, and has been as solid an Oriole as anyone could want. If his time as a HC is past, fine, let him hang 'em up again and walk into another role with the team with some dignity and some gratitude for what he's done. This constant trashing of him, as if he bears sole blame for the Orioles poor fortunes is unworthy of a town that is supposed to have knowledgeable fans, who value the traditions of the club. I hope he's with the club till the end.

Long time coming. Crowley is a great guy, but, i think his time has past. The pitchers are a bit smarter these days and we need some young 'current' blood in that role to keep them up to date and to be more selective and agressing when the opportunities arises.
Keep 'The xcrow' around, just not in hitting coach capacity.

I want to go on record as being in favor of retaining Crowley. With no lead off hitter for most of the year, with young guys still adjusting, and most importantly no banger in the middle of the line up, you can't blame the hitting coach if Adam Jones isn't disciplined at the plate or Scott is streaky, etc.. You need 2 or 3 guys in a line up so that the pitchers don't just pitch around your go to guy like Markakis. Crowley didn't get dumber over the years, the line up sucked and the quality of the hitters wasn't very good, promising in some cases, but not proven or good! Giles, York, PA

I agree with Jarrod. BJ would be a great teacher. He always had a strong batting average and his dedication and commitment to baseball is obvious. Not to mention, raising a special needs child and being involved in that community, has undoubtedly taught him a lot of patience and understanding, which is a great quality for an instructor/coach.

Keep the Crow in the organization.
Where is Dempsey, BJ ?

Crowley should at most be at the evaluative role or assisting as envisioned, no longer as the formal hitting coach. You can't fault him entirely for offensive struggles over the past 10 years: the best hitting coach in the world couldn't get Brook Fordyce, Cesar Izturis, and Luis Matos to hit. But a good hitting coach would minimize Scott's streakiness, Jones' time of swinging at the low and away breaking ball, and do something about Markakis' power outage and Wieters' lack of progress. Jones spent a few minutes talking to Eddie Murray and improved on a problem that Terry Crowley couldn't do anything about over a 2 year stretch. Our hitters are not patient enough at the plate, have extreme inability to hit in the clutch, and get into bad habits that they can't shake. A different messenger is needed.
Fact remains, even when the team was stocked full of high priced talent in 1999 and 2000 the best Orioles' offense has been no better than the AL average.
Additionally, I am tired of folks putting the entire blame for the offense on Roberts being hurt and others being hurt here and there. Every team has injuries, including the ones currently in the playoffs. Good teams can recover and adjust, bad teams can't. Bad offenses have Cesar Izturis in there every day, and add Julio Lugo so that you may as well bat the pitcher twice. Bad coaching has players that develop and maintain BAD habits, make dumb mistakes like baserunning errors, throwing to the wrong base, colliding or nearly colliding on hundreds of pop ups, and forgetting how many outs there are.
Buck, do yourself a favor and get a new hitting coach.

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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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