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October 18, 2010

Showalter, MacPhail to meet with Angelos; all coaches have been contacted

Orioles manager Buck Showalter and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will meet Thursday with team owner Peter Angelos to review the 2010 season as well as to continue discussions about the team’s offseason plans.

MacPhail and Angelos traditionally meet in October to discuss the completed season and different options to upgrade the roster. However, this is the first time in several years that the manager will be present, which further strengthens the idea that Showalter will have a major say in the team’s multitude of offseason decisions.

Asked about Showalter’s offseason role, MacPhail said late last month: “Buck will have a lot of say. I always think it’s important for a manager to be involved in the player personnel decisions. Why on earth would you want to make a move where your manager isn’t supportive of it right from the beginning? I think Buck, by virtue of his past, what he’s done, and by the nature of the force of his personality, will probably be more involved than our previous managers, and that’s fine by us.”

I don’t expect any revelations to come out of Thursday’s meeting, and I’m nearly certain that the three parties involved won’t be sharing the particulars. Angelos and MacPhail have these sitdowns a couple of times a year, though Showalter’s presence adds a little more interest to this one.

Speaking of Showalter, he has now called every member of his coaching staff to inform them of where they stand and to encourage them to pursue other opportunities if they become available. Again, that doesn’t mean that none of the coaches will return. Final decisions on that matter have not been made, and everybody is still under consideration for the Orioles’ 2011 staff. I suspect that we are still a ways away from Showalter’s staff being finalized.

However, Showalter doesn’t want to leave these guys hanging while jobs elsewhere are getting filled. There are six teams that haven’t hired a manager, so there remain a ton of quality coaches who don’t know where they’ll be come spring training.

It wouldn’t surprise me if several of the Orioles’ coaches interview elsewhere while they await word of their future in Baltimore. Bench coach Jeff Datz could reunite with his former Cleveland Indians boss, Eric Wedge, in Seattle, for one.

Either way, I still suspect next year’s Orioles’ coaching staff to be significantly different than the one Showalter inherited. I felt that way a couple of months ago, and nothing I’ve heard has changed that.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 11:48 PM | | Comments (27)


Can anybody explain the rationale for letting all the Orioles' free agents "test the market" before attempting to negotiate with them in the period when the team has exclusive rights? Of the players the team wishes to keep, what good can happen by giving them a chance to go elsewhere, or even to raise their price by being offered deals elsewhere? I hope this isn't a foolish scheme to LOWER the price for re-signing by hoping that no other team makes an offer for them.

It's my gut feeling, and it might be a great thing, that the Orioles will have a profoundly different staff than what was there before. In spite of the recent down years the coaching staff has mostly stayed remarkably intact for the most part. There's a lot of loyalty and internal politicking that might be involved there since many of the coaches have histories with the club, but Showalter might be the first in a long time with ebough leverage to change the staff completely if he feels the need to.

Is that a real possibility?

Jeff Z's reply: Yes, as I said in the blog item, I expect there to be significant changes.

Will have to wait until after the WS when all coaches are available for Showalter to choooooooose from.....

Why on earth would you want to make a move where your manager isn’t supportive of it right from the beginning?

Ummm, because you're incompetent MacPhail. That's why on Earth you would do such a thing. Yeah, I could see Trembley sitting there and saying last offseason, boy if we sign Mike Gonzalez and Garrett Atkins the sky is the limt for the Orioles. And if you believe that, I have some "Prime Real Estate" near the Chesapeake Bay. You can only see it at certain times of the day, but it has some of the most beautiful views that one could ask!


I think a new coaching staff will only add to the feeling that this is a new team with a new attitude. That's not to take anything away from the current staff, but sometimes a change is needed just for the sake of change.

Showalter's first coaching should not be Crowley or Kranitz, but the 'Strength & Conditioning' Coach.

Jeff, I don't understand MacPhail's statement at all. Does that imply Trembley WASN'T involved in the offseason moves or meetings? If not, was he invited? I mean it takes being invited to the meetings, doesn't it? Confused.

Jeff Z's reply: Trembley was involved and spoke to Andy regularly during the offseason. But Showalter has got a stronger personality and has expressed more of a willingness to be involved. Again, that's not to say that Dave wasn't. But just look at the contracts. Showalter essentially is on a three-year deal. Trembley was always year-to-year. It obviously makes sense if Showalter is going to be here for the next 3 years to have a major say in who is going to be on the roster.


Tell Angelos and MacPhail to go sign Cliff Lee. We need a "Yankee killer" on the staff and to lead the young starters. Angelos can afford it since he has been hoarding the MASN money for years.

As a side note, I loved watching all those Yankee fans going home in the top of the ninth as the best team money can buy was getting hammered.

Jeff Z's reply: As I've said many times, there will be a couple of teams willing to hand Cliff Lee essentially a blank check. Even if the O's do that and I don't think they will, they certainly won't be alone.

Buck's first line of business in that meeting should be telling Peter to write a blank check for Cliff Lee. Pitchers like him don't come on the market often. He isn't a power guy so there is no worry of his skills fading. He has a very smooth delivery so his arm shouldn't break down and best of all he scares the crap out of the Yankees. They looked defeated in the fourth inning last night. He is going to sign with the highest bidder so Peter should use all that money he has been saving the past decade and a half and get it done.

Folks, Cliff Lee is not going to sign to play in Baltimore even if he is offered 100 million more than anyone else. It just won't happen.

I concur with Tom M. I think you writers you need to make more of a point of making a story of one of the premier pitchers of a generation to become available and us being the ones to give him the blank check. Tom's point's are well said; he is smooth in his delivery , a veteran presence for our young guns, and would be a steadying force in our clubhouse. Not to mention the fact that this is on a team with tremendous upside and only a few pieces away from playoff contention. Luring Lee here will only make the O's a place that future and present free agents want to call home. As I previously pushed for Buck when others were saying no, this is the only move that gets us to the next level. Buck says we have to compete against NY and Boston, well, dammitt, give him ONE of the tools to do it with next season. Why do we have to bow out of the bidding every year when it's such a thin crop of free agents? There's not much out there? Let's get what there is!!! Why lose the first battle to the Yankees before the season has started. Even if we have to over pay, we might have to do that for a while until we contend. Wouldn't it be worth at this point Mr. Angelos??? You'd be top dog. Steinbrenner is dead. Can you imagine the love you'd garner in Baltimore if you turned the Orioles around? Are you telling me that with Michael young as teammate right now who has already told some of the present O's how great it was to play for Buck that he couldn't sell that to Cliff Lee after the season wraps with a phone call? Come on. As Tom says so efficiently I'll say a little more loudly....GET IT DONE.

That is a good question? Where is the MASN money? Was it not supposed to be used for the good of the O's?

If you're serious about getting a "True #1" Pitcher and Super-Star Player.

Someone should organize a "Pep Rally" to show we are serious about something like this. Because the Orioles should be a Team of the Fans, by the Fans, for the Fans, shall not perish from the Camden Yard Stadium!

Maybe the Baltimore Sun could arrange something?!?!

More than anything else, the Orioles need to hire a hitting coach who stresses plate discipline and the importance of OBP. Terry Crowley's aggressive approach does not work, especially in the A.L. East where the Yankees, Red Sox, and now the Rays are all teams that stress discipline and making pitchers work for outs, which results in high ranks in team OBP and runs scored. To win consistently through a 162 game season, a team needs a strong offense along with strong pitching.

Of course the Orioles need to add power to their lineup, but even power hitters do more damage with runners on base, and that's what improving everyone's OBP allows. Remember Earl Weaver's formula - a walk, a bloop, and a blast (along with pitching, defense, and three run homers.) His teams ranked high in runs as well as team ERA.

I hope Buck has looked at where Crowley's O's teams have ranked in the A.L. in runs and OBP during his tenure. Below league average almost every season.

Cliff Lee would be a great addition, but he'll go to a winner, and the O's aren't one (yet.)

Are they talking about how they're really not going to do anything to improve the team like the past 3 off-seasons

Buck built the Arizona organization from the ground up, he should be involved and I think its a good move on the O's part to take advantage of what he knows about the ins and outs. The idea of respect is a good start and I hope the players are noticing (anyone with the initials AJ especially). As for coaches, Buck has to have the benefit of the doubt and again, its respect. As for MASN money and the like...calm down, who do you think we're gonna get???? Lee?? C'mon, he wants a yearly ticket to the playoffs...don't think we're there just yet. Not a lot of quality to overpay for, I don't think McP will go on the cheap again after last off season but if its a you get what you overpay for market, its slim pickins'. So relax and drink the kool-aid :-)

The only coach I'd like to see stay is Kranitz. I would not disrupt that starting pitching.

I'd either sign Lee or drive the price into outer space for the others.

There was speculation that Lee would not want to face the AL East as much as he would have to. But with the Tampa series and the Yankee series so far makes it look like the only team that gets to Lee in the AL East wears an Oriole on its cap.

" encourage them to pursue other opportunities if they become available"

I like the sound of that. Finally maybe we get rid of the Crow. Hopefully Buck brings in a whole new, more competent, coaching crew.

Jeff -- In your estimation, who ultimately has more say in roster moves, MacPhail or Showalter.

If we just go by chain of command, then Andy does, but by all accounts, it was Angelos who wanted Showalter here, so that could go a long way in neutralizing the conventional chain of command scenario.

Best case, Buck and MacPhail would be on the same page so much that this would be a moot point, but that's not always going to be the case.

I just can't see Buck Showalter signing off on getting another Atkins in any way, shape or form. Now if Angelos says he doesn't want to spend on anyone better than that, Buck doesn't have a whole lot of say after that, but in general I'd think his presence amongst the decision-makers should largely eliminate such debacles and MacPhail indicates Showalter will have a larger part in the process. (Honestly, if Showalter is even half the manager I think he is, there will be no Garrett Atkin-type signings this offseason.)

As for Lee, give me one good reason why the Orioles shouldn't hand him a blank check and I'll give you an even better one why they should. Your reasoning (feel free to correct anywhere I'm off base) is that a since a couple other teams (oh, let's just say for the sake of argument, the Yankees and the Red Sox) also offer him blank checks, the opportunity to get the same amount from one of those teams, who have a very good chance of winding up in the playoffs next year, trumps the O's offer. Sure, the Birds have a chance to be (should be?) better in 2011, but the odds of them contending for a playoff spot are pretty remote.

So from Lee's standpoint it doesn't make any sense to sign with Baltimore: Why sign with a mediocre team when you can get as much or more for an excellent team, where one of the perks of the contract is a great opportunity, year-in and year-out, to go to the playoffs and maybe the World Series. It's a no-brainer.

And I agree with that, all of it. Then why do I still think the O's should open up the wallet wide for Lee, even if he's not available? Quite simply, because it's time the club start showing it's willing to spend top dollar to get top talent. So what if they can't get Lee this year? If they can get attention focused on Baltimore as a team prepared to go toe-to-toe with the big boys in the free agent market, they could set the stage next offseason and have a better chance at signing an Albert Pujols. There's nothing in going after Cliff Lee hard, because the worst that happens is he signs somewhere else and the best is that maybe they hit the lottery with him. Bottom line: It can't hurt to try.

Jeff Z's reply: Lot to digest there, Ken.In answering you briefly, Andy will still have the final say, but I have the feeling that if Buck really wants a guy or doesn't want a guy, Andy will certainly listen and act on his wishes to an extent. As for Cliff Lee, I know people are sick of hearing this, but in most cases, assuming the money is just about equal, players are going to go to the place where they have the best chance to pitch in the playoffs. Cliff Lee looks like he was born to pitch in the playoffs. Does he seem to be the type of guy that would sign with a team that lost 13 straight years over teams that are in the playoffs nearly every year? You don't have to answer that. And remember how ticked Lee was when a perennial contender in Philly traded him to Seattle. The guy wants to win.

Guys, there is no way Cliff Lee is coming to the Orioles. However, if you think a stud pitcher is what we need (and they never hurt), perhaps KC's Greinke could be had for the right package. I'm not sure that's the right way to go, however. Matusz and Arrieta have extremely high ceilings, while Bergeron and Guthrie can be very solid. Britton, et. al. can line up for the fifth spot in the rotation. What this team needs (no surprise here, it's what we've all been saying for a couple of years now) is a legitimate clean-up hitter, which would have a ripple effect throughout the line-up. Line up the usual suspects: San Diego is likely to explore deals for Adrian Gonzalez and Milwaukee is likely to explore deals for Prince Fielder. I would prefer either of them to Paul Konerko, given their ages, though if Konerko would come to the Orioles (a BIG if, IMHO), at least he would cost only $$$, and not prospects.


Please don't start talking about Derek Lee. Will somebody please check his numbers since the release of 'Mitchell Report'.......not quite as bad as Garrett Atkins, because Lee start off with some talent, The Os need PAUL KONERKO's OBP and average with men in scoring position. That's what the team has been missing and that's what win games.

I love reading the comments and opinions of other O's fans. I have scratched my head bald wondering for years how Crow remains with the O's when the stats don't lie. Yes, I am sure he is a great guy but the term guru, which he is sometimes affectionately called should be reserved for someone that gets results. If Buck wants to bring in a former O's player to replace Crow then I say look no further than Eddie Murray. Kranitz is the only coach that I feel deserves an opportunity to stay. I don't know much about what Datz brings but I will assume he goes to Seattle. T-Bone didn't really help AJ grow in center this season after a gold glove last year.

Hey Jeff, what impact, if any, is expected from having Showalter at the helm on free agency this year. Is he on board for recruiting, in a matter similar to when Mussina jump from the O's to the $*))#_# Yankees?

Jeff Z's reply: Buck knows some guys around the league and I'm sure he'll be more than willing to get on the horn with a sales pitch. He is also a well-respected manager so having him in the corner certainly can only help the O's cause. But I don't think there will be lines of players wanting to sign with Baltimore, just because Buck is here, if you know what I mean.

Buck know what this team needs to be more competitive. We do need a premier pitcher, but that pitcher will never be Cliff Lee. There's only one place for him if he doesn't resign with Texas, and that is in pinstripes. There are other top of the line pitchers who would fit into Baltimore's plans. We already have a great young pitching staff. Let's go get the other positions filled that this team desperately needs. The "big bat" was the most obvious need as we sat and watched them leave men in scoring position night after night. Also we need a coach who can instill in the line-up the need to be more selective in what they swing at. That's one of the big secrets of success with the Yankees and the Red Sox.


After the Orioles decided to not offer Texiera the money in 08', its hard to for me believe that at the time it wasn't the right move for the Orioles. The guy has been a work horse for the Yankees, with that said, do you think MacPhail will still be hesitant this off-season's free agency?

Jeff Z's reply: The Orioles did offer Teixeira more than $140 million which would have been almost double any contract they've ever given out, so it's hard to say they didn't offer him the money. In his meeting with Andy, Tex made it clear that he respected the Orioles' franchise, but he was interested in going to a team in position to win immediately. The Orioles never had a chance, no matter how much they offered. As for MacPhail's approach this offseason, he maintains that he'll be aggressive and they'll go after the guys they want. But I'm not the only one who thinks teams have a chance to spend some real stupid $ this year in free agent. The free agent pool is not very good at all. I've said this several times, I think the O's will have to make a trade to dramatically improve their roster.

Jeff -- I fail to see how the Orioles signing Paul Konerko (.312, 32, 111, White Sox team captain, 2010 All-Star Team) would have them spending "real stupid $"; I just don't.

Jeff Z's reply: Depends on how much and how long. Konerko is going to be 35 by Opening Day. His defense certainly isn't anything special. My opinion to get him out of Chicago, where he is beloved, the Orioles will have to completely blow him away in terms of $ and possibly years. Do you want to do that for a 35-year-old? I personally don't.

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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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