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October 19, 2011

Highly respected LaCava takes turn in interview room

For the second straight day, the Orioles conducted a lengthy interview with a well-respected front office official in hopes of replacing president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who stepped down this month.

On Wednesday, it was Toronto Blue Jays assistant general manager and director of player personnel Tony LaCava. It came on the heels of Tuesday's marathon meeting with Arizona Diamondbacks senior vice president of scouting and player development Jerry Dipoto.

Dipoto, who also is expected to interview with the Los Angeles Angels for their vacant GM job, is considered the favorite for the Orioles' post, but LaCava is also highly regarded. The Orioles originally planned to interview at least four candidates, but their request to talk to Florida Marlins assistant GM Dan Jennings is expected to be denied.

Most others who have been bandied about as candidates — including Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GMs De Jon Watson and Logan White and New York Mets special assistant J.P. Ricciardi — had not been contacted by the Orioles as of Wednesday, according to industry sources.

That leaves Dipoto and LaCava, although one industry source said it would be surprising if it were only those two to interview.

LaCava, 50, is a longtime scout and baseball lifer who has been considered a potential GM for years, having been rumored, in the past, to be joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals, among others.

He has instead remained in Toronto for nearly a decade, creating a reputation for having a keen eye for talent at the big league level and in the international and amateur ranks.

A Pittsburgh native, LaCava spent 10 years as a scout in the Angels' system and also worked for the Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos and Cleveland Indians before joining the Blue Jays nine years ago.

Along with the assistant GM title, he is considered the director of player personnel. But within the game, he receives the most credit for the Blue Jays' strong international program, which has helped the organization create one of the top farm systems in baseball.

It's an area where the Orioles feel he could help improve them.

A former minor league infielder, LaCava also stands out among many peers because he embraces advanced statistical analysis and has used those metrics to formulate opinions on players. Yet he also has 20-plus years of scouting to draw from — a combination somewhat rare in today's game, in which scouting and statistical analysis often comprise separate camps.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 9:27 PM | | Comments (1)


O's fans should feel good that two of the top candidates lined up to be (1) and (1A) interviewed.That shows the preception around baseball of where this club is at is a lot sunnier then most of us here in Baltimore believe it is.

I'd say the difference in these two guys will come down to which guy that Buck and Angelos feel at ease with the quickest. Buck's not sitting around waiting for this hire, he's already been to Florida to check out prospects and to have dinner with Brian Roberts, and he's dispatched Stocksdale to Japan.

When it comes to a long injuried player with a big money contract, sometimes you've got to look the guy in the eye and see if the fire's still burning. Or, maybe he's gotten comfortable on the DL and is content to sit out the rest of his career.
But, either way Buck knows that he really needs a leadoff hitter, a face to face with Brian had to be an early off season move.

If Brian can't get healthy there has to be a solid leadoff option. Andino did a solid job filling in as an infielder. He's just not the kind of leadoff hitter Brian is.

Japan is the quickest place to find ML and high minor league ready talent in the international market, unless Buck and Angelos can arrange to have the Cuban National team defect to Sarasota. It's interesting to me that Stockdale is over in Japan before the new GM is hired. That shows a sense of urgency that many of us thought McPhail lacked.

Buck has had time to take a long look at this club and many of the players in the upper minors. I think this off season he has a real sense of what he needs going forward and I'd look for the O's to be a much more aggressive in building their roster this winter.

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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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