More thoughts on Orioles' coaching staff
Buck Showalter has flown back to Texas after meeting with Orioles owner Peter Angelos on Friday and club president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail on Friday and Saturday.
There will be plenty of ongoing conversations heading into the club’s mini organizational meetings in Arizona, which begin in earnest Thursday after a Wednesday night dinner.
Showalter would like to have his full coaching staff assembled by then. In fact, he’d love to have them there. Not sure if that will happen, but one thing we’ve learned in dealing with Showalter so far is that he gets an idea in his head and pushes to complete it.
It has been an interesting week as far as the coaching staff is concerned. Here’s a recap of what we know and what we can surmise:
The current staff’s contracts expire today, Oct. 31. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that some couldn’t come back. The Orioles, in the past, have renewed contracts after they have expired. But the reality is it’s looking like Showalter will have an entirely new staff in 2011.
Who’s on the 2011 staff? Jim Presley is the hitting coach and Rick Adair the bullpen coach. Mark Connor, who has been with Showalter at all three stops of his big league managerial career, is all but signed, sealed and delivered to be the pitching coach. They are negotiating with him, and it is seemingly just a matter of time before Connor is on board. If Don Wakamatsu doesn’t get a managerial job -- the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly have had interest, as did the Toronto Blue Jays, who have filled that spot -- he likely will be Showalter’s bench coach.
That leaves openings at first base and third base. The Orioles have asked permission to talk to former big league outfielder Wayne Kirby, a member of the Texas Rangers' minor league staff (as is Connor) who likely would also work with the Orioles outfielders if he’s hired. One of the base coaches will also serve as infield coach, and one surely will be a Spanish speaker.
Any initial thoughts on the 2011 staff? It will be experienced and has the potential to be extremely diverse, with a Japanese-American, African-American and Latino on staff. One of the most impressive things so far is landing Adair as a bullpen coach. Adair has had two stints as a big league pitching coach and is highly respected in that role. So why would he take a bullpen job? The guess is that the opportunity to work with Connor -- unofficially the godfather of pitching coaches -- has significant appeal.
What happens to the 2010 staff? Terry Crowley will serve in a newly created position of offensive evaluator in the system. It allows the Orioles to have a new voice on the big league level and yet not lose Crowley’s ability as a teacher and evaluator. Alan Dunn, last year’s bullpen coach, has been offered a pitching instructor position within the organization. Dunn was quiet and very businesslike, but he is widely respected and would be an asset to any club. It would be great to see him stay with the Orioles in some capacity. Bench coach Jeff Datz has been rumored as a link to Eric Wedge in Seattle, and pitching coach Rick Kranitz has ties to Joe Girardi in New York. Gary Allenson could return to managing Triple-A Norfolk if he wants to. Allenson, Datz, Dunn, Kranitz and John Shelby have been in the game so long and have such strong work ethics that it would be a surprise to see any of them out of a job for long. They might not have been part of a successful run in Baltimore, but you would be hard pressed to find current Orioles who didn’t respect and like those men.
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