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September 27, 2011

Coming soon to a front office near you ...

With two days left in the season, there’s really just one question remaining at Camden Yards – besides whether the Boston Red Sox end up choking away their playoff berth.

What’s happening with the Orioles’ president of baseball operations position?

I can’t say for 100 percent. In fact, I believe decisions are still being hammered out, so consider this an educated guess based on talking to a lot of people – some who know more than they are telling me and some who think they know more than they do. Understand that before we move on.

My belief is that Andy MacPhail will announce he is stepping down shortly after the season ends (his contract ends Oct. 31). My money is on an announcement Thursday. It could come later, but I can’t see it dragging out much beyond early next week.

My belief is that the leading candidate to replace MacPhail is current Orioles manager Buck Showalter. My sense is that it could be his job if he wants it. I’m not sure he’s totally sold on leaving the dugout at this point, but if he is convinced he can make more of an impact in the front office, he’ll take his bad knees and turned ankle and hobble upstairs.

Neither Showalter nor MacPhail is talking about any of this, both politely declining to comment. But I will say there is one thing of which I am absolutely sure: Showalter will not attempt to do both jobs, nor would owner Peter Angelos allow that to happen. That just wouldn’t work in baseball.

Regardless of what happens, expect Showalter to have major input here – he’ll either pick his replacement as manager or he’ll work with Angelos to find a club president who he feels is on the same page. I’d also be surprised if MacPhail doesn’t have some input, too. He, Showalter and Angelos have a mutual respect, and I believe MacPhail truly wants to see this organization succeed.

There’s no secret that Angelos and Showalter meet on a fairly regular basis, more than the owner has ever met with one of his managers. And I think they’ll work together to decide where Showalter can be of most use.

I also believe that decision will come hand-in-hand with MacPhail’s announcement, so that the baseball world knows whether the Orioles are shopping for a manager or a team president/general manager.

I don’t have any names for you – actually, I have some thoughts, but that REALLY would be speculation – but history tells us that Angelos likes to hire veteran baseball men with experience when he goes after a top front office type. He’s hired, to name a few, Pat Gillick, Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie, Jim Duquette and MacPhail.

So I don’t see that trend changing if Showalter remains in the dugout. I don’t see the Orioles hiring some whiz kid to take over the front office. I don’t see anyone under, say, 45 getting that job. And I’d assume it would be someone that Showalter knows and/or respects and someone with a scouting, player-evaluation background.

I think the safe money is on Showalter, but it could end up being the field. So I wouldn’t take it to Vegas just yet.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (53)


No GM should get hired in here unless he knows how to fix the Os scouting and player development (and I use that term loosely) system, and is given the latitude to make the necessary changes. Buck has seen what gets delivered to Baltimore, and it ain't that pretty at all. Simply put, the kids that get up here are not prepared. The trend of not producing major-league caliber players has go to be reversed.

"I don’t see the Orioles hiring some whiz kid to take over the front office. I don’t see anyone under, say, 45 getting that job. And I’d assume it would be someone that Showalter knows and/or respects and someone with a scouting, player-evaluation background."

We're screwed.

Isn't that the same exact profile used to hire the last half-dozen GMs? And what's the result been?

Why should this time be any different?

This team keeps operating like it's 1983, and it's not. The game passed by the folks in the Warehouse a long time ago.

We're gonna keep promoting players who can't take a walk, keep signing expensive free-agent relievers, and keep bunting and using a hit-and-run in the American League.

We're screwed.

Dan, I think you are dead wrong, particularly about a "whiz kid".

That type of FO hire would give Buck all the power he needs to get things his way. It might also lead to a long overdue house cleaning. At least we can hope anyway.

Why isn't Mcphail getting more heat for the last 4 years of failure?
Any rumors on replacing scouting director? We need an overhaul.

C'mon Paul Deposesta. Daddy needs a new GM

Good information, and it will be interesting to see what finally comes of this. I think that point about Angelos hiring seasoned baseball men to run the front office has some merit. Maybe therein lies the problem. He refuses to give way to younger minds, who think differently than the guys who have been around. Going with the old timers hasn't worked since Gillick, thats 4 GM generations ago. Maybe he should look at some younger guys. It did wonders for the Red Sox to hire Epstien.

Buck has made some decisions this season that had me scratching my head, primarily his insistence on keeping Vlad as the cleanup hitter all season, and also letting Kranitz go as PC. However he has also avoided the routine late season collapse that was becoming SOP for the O's. For two straight years they have played very well down the final stretch, even if they haven't done so well during the bulk of the season, and that's more than any other field manager has accomplished in a decade or so.
His faith in Andino, which I certainly didn't share, has been justified, and in general the O's seem to make fewer mental mistakes than they used to.
So, in general I'd like Buck to remain where he is. I don't see how the players having to get used to yet another field manager (and likely another whole new coaching staff as well) is really going to help matters.
What they need is some more talent, not a new guy to make out the lineups.

My vote-- Buck to VP Operations/GM and Willie Randolph becomes Manager


I would think the O's would want some continuity in the dugout. A new manager with a new style could take some time getting use to. Players have adjusted to Showalter and I feel that a change now would be counterproductive. A new manager would have to re-evaluate the players to fit his system.

The Orioles need to let go of the scouting team - top to bottom!

Is there any chance in hell that Ozzie Guillen is in the dugout and Buck is in the office?

I don’t see the Orioles hiring some whiz kid to take over the front office. Besides, is their a whiz kid out there? I don't think so! As a side note ask the Red Sox fans about their whiz kid, I am willing to bet a few fazools that their opinion wouldn't be positive especially given their pitching situation.

Now onto Showalter and the possibility of him becoming the GM. It’s not a hot idea and I will leave it at that. As for John Hart, yes I realize that he wasn’t mentioned in this article but I am going to talk about him anyway, so there! John Hart has been speculated here and there for the past few months and the problem that I have is that no one has stated who’s going to pay for his buyout clause from the Rangers. He’s still under contract until 2013. Now another fellow told me John Hart stated on MLB TV that he has a walk away clause and he can get a job anytime. The problem with that is I didn’t hear that myself and second if it were that simple, I am surprised that John doesn’t have a job right now instead of being an analyst on MLB TV. He was successful as GM for the Indians and Rangers, but more so with the Indians. If the Orioles do hire Hart, which could be the case, because I haven’t seen him on TV for awhile, so maybe something is up. The Orioles should hire him a side kick, someone with a dissenting opinion even if that person is doing it for the sake of dissenting, it would be a good idea. I say this because I really didn’t like any of the free agent signings for 2011 (Gregg, Duchsherer, and Accardo) come to mind. We need to do a little bit better in 2012 if we have any hope of making the quantum leap of getting the wild card. 70 wins to at least 90 is a huge jump and that is what the Orioles will need to do in order to do it.

If Buck moves to GM, do you see Willie Randolph taking over as manager?
I think Russell would be a more likely in-hopuse candidate.

The Orioles have to get someone with player development / scouting credibility. That's their weakest spot. And why not a young guy? The Red Sox haven't suffered for it...

I'm not sure where Buck would do the least damage.

In the dugout, where he could continue to give at bats to bad hitters and let good ones rot on the bench. Or in the front office, where he'd overpay for bad hitters and let Boston and New York have the good ones.

I'm not sure where Buck would do the least damage.

In the dugout, where he could continue to give at bats to bad hitters and let good ones rot on the bench. Or in the front office, where he'd overpay for bad hitters and let Boston and New York have the good ones.

Andy's off scouting any and all 35+ year old hitters to sign next year ... wherever he ends up.

Thanks for the inside info Dan. I have just one question, and please feel free to give the biggest serving of speculation you can muster, because I won't hold you to it.

Will Showalter or anyone else who is Pres/Gm have full Organizational control of personnel from players although up to upper management? Will the deadweight within the org chart (Stockstills) remain?


Any chance at all that Matt Klentak would get a shot at replacing Andy? I know he's not the sexy choice or popular choice with the fans, but he has the pedigree of modern SUCCESSFUL GM's. He's young, Ivy League educated, shot up baseball op's chart at a very young age and played the game in college. I also have seen him get more of a role this year, he handled the Hardy negotiations and apparently was deeply involved with Bundy negotiations. My thought is that premier candidates will not want this job and Klentak is atleast as good as any retread option like MInaya or Ricciardi or Byrnes, plus he's familiar with how to work with Angelos.

No disrespect to Buck, I just think he's a blast from the past sort of GM. THe ol' scout type that's becoming a dinosaur. Why not just let Buck do what we KNOW he's good at? Managing from the dugout. All his hiring would do is create 2 question marks. We wouldn't know if he's a good GM, and we'd a question mark at manager. Keep Buck where he is and all we have to do is focus on GM.


I really like Matt and think he has a great future. But I think the consensus is he's not ready for that move yet.

Dan, obviously a good GM is important and we haven't had one in ages. But a good skipper is huge too. One puts the talent on the field, but one extracts the talent from the players present.

Ozzie Guillen didn't do much with a talented team this season. Kirk Gibson has arguably done a ton with moderate talent.

So my question is, where would Buck have the most impact? Would it be easier to find a good GM or a Buck-level manager? I don't think it's as cut and dried as it used to be.

I hope that Buck has too much integrity and respect for the game to be another yes man like Macphail was...if he in fact gets the job.

This could be a turning point in the life of this dreadful franchise or it could be another dead end. Assuming Buck gets the job, the proof will come during the off season, at which point the Orioles will either begin to make serious moves to improve the talent at all levels of the organization...or Buck will be unable to get Angelos make the significant capital investments necessary to make the team and organization competitive. We all know what they are. I would hope that his conversations with Angelos have convinced the old b*****d
that owning a professional sports team is more than just an ego trip, and that the goal is to win.

Bill on da Shore is right, we're screwed. We don't play AL East ball, and the game is going to keep passing us by if we don't do what EVERY team that's turned it around the last decade has done, with few exceptions. Rays, Jays (sort of turned it around, atleast competitive), Rangers, Rockies ALL young GM's. Even the Royals who have completely overturned their player development system and are now poised for a explosion have relatively young GM.

KLENTAK FOR GM!!!! Or offer David Forst with the A's $5 million a year, which we all know Angelos would never do.

Will this action include the movement of Connolly to a more remote location such as Glyndon, MD. That maybe far enough to allow fore an individual with some level of knowledge and intelligence to perform adequately for the Baltimore Sun Readers/Fans.

So Buck might or might not be the GM. He might or might not be the manager. He'll have input in the next hire, but so will MacPhail. An announcement could come Thursday or it might not.
OK, thanks for the update.
As for experienced GMs that Angelos has hired, ever hear of Frank Wren and Mike Flanagan? Not experienced GMs.


Yep, you got the two or the one actually. After Wren, Angelos hasn't hired a GM without experience since. Remember, Flanagan was hired as the second head of a tw-headed GM. He then was moved up three years later. So, see that trend?

Bob- Willie Randolph!?!? Go take the Amtrak up to New York, find a Mets fan and ask him what kind of manager Randolph was. He was a total, utter disaster. Think Ray Miller.

Cal Ripken will figure into this picture. He and Buck, one in the front office, the other on the field.

I think a Showalter GM/Randolph manager combo would be a horror show and a fitting end to Angelos' reign as owner...

Dan C,

Any thoughts or rumblings about Chuck LaMar becoming the next Oriole GM?

Havent heard that name, but he does fit the profile.

Any idea what happens to Matt Klentak (Andy MacPhail's number 2) if MacPhail leaves?

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Buck Showalter is going to ride those 2 months of 2010 as long as he can...

Come on, Dan, Flanagan counts as 2nd inexperienced GM. He was on equal footing with Jim Beattie and then handed the reigns, with Duquette his assistant. Hadn't worked in any other front office. That does, indeed, count.

You can't call that equal footing, Joe. I was there for all three years. He was clearly No. 2, learning from Beattie. Beattie was the contact man for everyone but the owner during those three years. And when the owner felt Mike was ready, he got that title.

A General Manager of a Major League team has to do the following things:

1) Negotiate contracts with agents who are professional negotiators.
2) Allocate a finite number of resources between a number of important departments (payroll, scouting, player development, just to name a few.)
3) Hire the correct people to run those departments.

Buck Showalter doesn't have experience in any of these areas (for that matter, neither does Cal Ripken), and this is only the tip of the iceberg. It's not just a matter of signing the right players and knowing baseball. It's an executive position and it requires someone with at least some background in that area. Quite frankly, a successful CEO from another field would be a better choice than a major league manager.

I don't think so! As a side note ask the Red Sox fans about their whiz kid, I am willing to bet a few fazools that their opinion wouldn't be positive especially given their pitching situation.

Posted by: "Lefty" Rosenthal

I'm sure the Red Sox fans are extremely pissed off about the two world series wins their team has under Epstien.

Dan -

About the GM position, I've been saying this for awhile:
I don't think Andy MacPhail is going anywhere. I think he will retain his role as President, but will hire a GM to work under him. He did the same thing in Chicago when he hired Jim Landry (in '99?).

How do you feel about that scenario? Or are you almost positive AM will step down? It just seems to me that if Angelos was serious about hiring a GM (or President or whatever Title), he would of let MacPhail go a few months ago.

I know PA and AM has a mutual respect "thing", but business is business. Besides, since when was Angelos ever afraid to burn a few bridges over friendship (or mutual respect)? Most of us who pay attention know how he can be.

Also, if a new GM is hired, do you think the Orioles should get with the times and use sabermetrics as a tool when making a decision to aquire players? Being that we're always talking about Tampa Bay as the model franchise, it looks to me like sabermetrics should've been a foregone conclusion from the get-go. If you look around, and I'm sure you've noticed, all the successfull teams use sabermetrics rather extensively.

Thanks for the updates.

Maybe eric decosta has some baseball info seeing as how he plucks some good young talent for the ravens hahahaha couldnt make it any worse then it already is (btw i love eric decosta for the ravens thats just a little joke for the o's). But in all seriousness, i believe the whole front office and scouting department need an overhaul. I have no problem witht he coaching staff because what are they suppose to do with the terrible pitching we have? its not the batters they generally, not always, score runs. i always see matusz pitching 6-10 losses on the scoreboard which tells me he is getting run support but not holding leads. clear the front office, make new hires and open the dang checkbook please

How loud are the John Hart rumblings coming from the front office?

I'm with you Dan, Showalter gets the GM Job but my guess would be that we go back to a 2-headed GM with Buck having an Administrative Assistant. I still think Buck has thoughts on both the Front-Office and Dugout and with an Administrative Assistant perhaps he could pull it off with his experience with the expansion team. If he doesn't who knows who the manager will be.

Does it really matter who's GM when we sign less than half of our draft picks (because we eliminated 2 minor league teams) & sign them late so they lose the full year. Then refuse to sign International players, have major league scouts recommending the likes of Gregg, Vlad, Gonzales etc. Continue to draft banjo hitters like Hudson & Angle etc etc. We need way more than a new GM

Most organizations reward minor leaguers who demonstrate star power and exceptional talent with either a spot on the 40-man or a call-up late in the year. I am fully aware there are multiple exceptions.

The Orioles give DRAFT PICKS spots on the 40-man because they get bullied by agents every draft. Also, at the end of this year they call up minor league lifers who demonstrate consistency instead of skill. No offense whatsoever to Matt Angle, Ryan Adams and the like but they do not in any way profile as big league contributors. Any organization save for the Pirates really would have no place for them on their expanded roster. In Baltimore they're not only up, they play. It's as obvious a sign that the organization doesn't prepare even its most talented players as any could be. Honestly, MacPhail and Angelos are to blame, but this is Joe Jordan's fault. Actions speak louder than any words I can type and the team has developed no difference makers at all while drafting guys like Hobgood and Rowell who will never see a big-league clubhouse. MacPhail being gone will not in any way change this unfortunate pattern. I'd actually prefer him to stay for consistency's sake as any replacement is not a guarantee to be better, and for Joe Jordan and his 'development' staff to get the boot. By results, it's exactly what he's earned. Earning things....what a novel idea

Right Dan, and it was Flanagan's first GM job.

I read a lot of the comments and I can understand the disappointment. However, this team has some talent and young talent! If the pitching can improve this team can be very competitive. I live in Michigan where the Tigers lost 119 games one year and were in the World Series a few years later. Anything can happen!

Don't know what Buck or any new guy would do overnight. Andy MacPhail was experienced and had little luck in 4 years. No one seems to know how the Orioles organization is flawed and how to improve it.
I haven't heard anyone say THIS is what has to change. They act pretty much like other teams but don't get the results of other teams. Why? A mystery. Lots of teams have talent that doesn't develop. That is why the Yanks, Phils and Bosox buy free agents - to fill gaps in player development. How did the Brewers and D'Backs do so well this year. Was it a fluke? They were bad in 2010.

Knowing Angelos and his tight wallet, he will probably hire one of his sons to run the team.

I don't like Buck being the G.M. I love him in the dug-out, and agree with the comment that a Buck level manager is harder to find than a a Buck level G.M.

Really really, don't want to see Buck as the G.M. Love him in the dug-out.

Too bad about Matt Klentak. Maybe he C-GM's with Buck...maybe that'll work...nah.

Why does every move that McPhail makes have to be such a BIG SECRET? He has never done anything newsworthy. Why is everything always so "hush-hush" with him. Epstein & Cashman have no problem talking about what their plans are, and their moves are usually block buster caliber.

Two words...Mike Flanagan.

Enough said on who the GM of the Orioles will be or won't be. He could be Jesus, and sure enough he'll be beaten down by Angelos.

Buck is a .500 manager over his career. yet after DT he seems like the second coming of casey Stengle. The Oriole way ain't coming back. Tampa brings up Matt Moore after consecutive 200K seasons and a whip under 1. when he has proven they are ready. We bring up Matuz, zach, jake, tilman etc. and let them get shelled before they are ready. We need to go out and sign proven pitching. nothing else will help. the offense is fine.

Dan made a comment that apparently no one noticed or, at least, no follow-up comments.

"I think Russell would be a more likely in-hopuse candidate."

Not jumping for joy.

Maybe Angelos will actually pay the new GM, not like he did with Flanagan (RIP)
BTW-Bader-Stop lying

O's should re-hire Pat Gillick; they should never have let him walk...the guy is a winner at every stop he makes...Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle, Phillies, etc...

Bob with his Buck to GM and Willie Randolph to manage is a very viable solution. I like that one.

After a taste of this for a year and a half I am convinced that Buck would turn the player evaluation and development group upside down.

I’d have to say Showalter is the safe money bet at this time. We need him in the dugout more than in the warehouse, so I’m kinda hoping he doesn’t get the job. At the same time I have every confidence he’d be a great choice. Then that leaves yet another opening at the manager’s spot and we’ve all grown really sick of that. We’d have to bring in someone with experience winning and a great deal of patience. I still have to put in a plug for DAVEY JOHNSON!!!!
My first choice is to keep MacPhail. He’s about the most qualified person, who would take the job, you’re likely to find. He’s done some good things with this club in spite of the many bad things.
It’s either Epstien or Cashman that is on the last year of their contract. I doubt either one of them is going anywhere, but Angelos had better me making a few phone calls!!! Did I mention the blank check that should follow those phone calls?!
There’s also a fella by the name of Chuck LaMar. I’d really like to hear from him about the job. He’s been with several organizations and left each one of them a winner! I dare to say he may be more qualified than Showalter for the job. FYI-Lamar is 55 years old or so. He was in charge of minor league operations for Pittsburg from 89-90. Once those players hit the bigs Pittsburg went to the postseason in 91 and 92. LaMar went to Atlanta doing player development and scouting in 91, just before the Braves began that crazy run of 16 years of 1st place finishes. Most famously LaMar was the first GM for Tampa. He was fired before the team started winning, but he did lay the groundwork for a contender. Since then he has been with the Phillies minor league system and just look at how good they are!
LaMar resigned unexpectedly from the Phillies a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if there was a reason, such as health or family matters. Put him with Showalter, who helped turn Arizona into a contender (not to mention Texas and New York) and I think we’ve got the best “rebuilding,” combo in baseball.
If nothing else we need to call this guy to get on top of our minor leagues. Joe Jordan has had enough time and gotten nowhere.
Has anyone from the Sun heard of this guy or know anything about him? As you can tell I think he needs to come one over.

Oh man an other year. An other year of losing. An other year of dissapointment, to Baltimore and it's fan's. It is time for a change. Buck Showalter will be the next GM of the Baltimore Orioles? If so none of us know how well he'll do. But rest a sure. He will get this team rolling. I think with the move's they made at the trade deadline, it's clear there will be no Prince or Albert in Baltimore. Not like they would sign here any way.

To get the best possioble players for this team will have to come with trades. Lets be honest here. Who in there right mind would wanna come here in the first place. The only reason someone would wanna come here is because there from here? Oh wait we tried that and he went to the Yankees. I think his name was Mark something. Come here for the food? Sure as long as like Shell fish. This team needs a total rebuild and I mean Total REBUILD!!!! Scouting fire them all! They haven't found nothing since 1990. This team needs Jesus Christ Him Self to take this team under his wing. And even then they would still finish 4th. To blame Peter isn't gonna work. As much as i hate the guy. He wants to win.

So. Whats next. Well first off I would say Brian Roberts you can walk. It was good knowing you but see ya. Your health is too far riskey for us. And you are not needed any more. Second Nick Markakis...I dont know what you need to do. But you need to go back to being Nick. Where is that .300 average screw the Home Runs. Be are average guy get on base. LF thats a tough one. Do we have the LF we need? Do we have the guy whocan hit .289 30 90 for LF? CF Adam Jones. It pains me to say this but I think you need to be traded. Get in return what you can Baltimore. Our Infield well?? Chris Davis as I see it is our 3rd basemen J.J Hardy is our shortstop 2nd basemen ????? Thats a whole that needs to be filed asap!!!! Firstbase Mark Reynolds???? Good fit showed Promise and will grow there.. Gold Glove Probably not. Soild Field dont pus it. Keep him for his Power. Yea he Stirkes out more then a blind kid at the Maryland School of the blind so what. 37hrs I'll take that.

Time to make some Pitching moves. Erik Bedard,CJ Wilson?? Get it done boys. Cause I know I wount be at the Yard till you start winning..

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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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