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October 12, 2011

Who would want the Orioles' GM job?

A month or so ago, when the conjecture really began that Andy MacPhail may be gone as president of baseball operations, I heard two common questions.

1. Who will take his place?
2. Who would want that job?

We’re going to hear a lot of speculation about No. 1 in the next few weeks. Orioles manager Buck Showalter and owner Peter Angelos are meeting today, and they’ll be narrowing down their respective candidate lists and deciding who will be sitting in on the interviews.

I printed a list of names days ago, and I assume several – such as Toronto’s Tony LaCava and the New York Mets’ J.P. Ricciardi – will get calls and will come interview. The Orioles will have to ask permission to talk to candidates who are currently with other teams, and that hasn’t happened yet. But it will soon.

The Orioles’ committee will probably conduct three to five interviews. The club would love to have somebody in place by around the end of the World Series.

OK, now let’s go to question No. 2. Who would want this job?

Answer: A whole lot of people. In fact, most people who aspire to be a general manager would want this job.

Why?

Because there are only 30 big league general manager positions available in this world. And most are spoken for.

Yes, this post has its own set of challenges/issues: The Orioles have lost 14 consecutive seasons, have a thin farm system, little international presence and are buried in the American League East. And throw in the fact that the manager and the owner are strong-willed men and it may not look to be the most desirable landing spot.

But as one potential candidate told me this week, if a GM job is open, that means there are some issues there regardless. Someone just got fired or left.

So don’t think the Orioles couldn’t get a big name here (within reason). Or a hot rising assistant. The truth is anyone who wants to be a GM is either confident enough or crazy enough to think he or she can succeed anywhere. No matter the obstacles.

There may be one or two who are biding their time waiting for that plum job. But most understand the reality of the situation.

I always go back to a conversation I had in 2002 with then-Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, who probably could have sat out for a year after being fired from Cleveland when the 1999 Indians didn’t advance far enough in the playoffs.

He knew the Orioles were on a downward trajectory, but he took the job anyway. So, in the middle of his tenure, I asked him why he took it when surely he would have been a candidate for other jobs in the near future. He looked me in the eye and said: “I want to manage, and there are only 30 chances. And, in my case, now only 29.”

I think we’ll see some of that as this search progresses. There are only 30 GM jobs. Only a handful will be available this offseason. And the Orioles are one of them – and, contrary to popular belief, that makes it a coveted job.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (28)
        

Comments

Why would it matter ?

Anyone but Ricciardi.

Why do we insist on taking all the Jays rejects?

Any old slap-d executive who doesnt mind not having any authority & being the fall guy for Buck/Angelos


The Angelos legacy is a dysfunctional organization and a culture of losing. It stems from his arrogant, ignorant declaration that baseball "isn't rocket science" and his belief that his ability to make money by suing for asbestos victims demonstrates his ability to run a baseball franchise. The Orioles are a mess. Anyone who is optimistic about their chances next year hasn't been paying attention.

Any old slap-d exec who doesnt mind not having any authority & being Buck/Angelos' fall guy

Why not Ripken ? B/c he has stones & wont let Angelos control him...dont give me the experience thing, Flanny didnt have any

Orioles fans know how the people hanging around on Wall Street feel. When those at the top are criminally irresponsible, the need to do something about them nags at you. To call Peter Angelos strong willed is a misnomer. He is a monster and the people should hang around outside his office until he gets the point and sells the team.

Sadly, I see the O's picking an old school GM by the tone of Jim Landry. Oh yea, he'll spend the money the fans want to see spent, it'll just be on crappy contracts.

Who the O's need to sign is a more analytical minded GM, I'm thinking someone like Tony LaCava. LaCava is known as one of the best talent evaluators in the game, very likeable, has a lot of connections, and isn't "Too Young" at 48 years old. Plus, he doesn't use the "trust your scouts ONLY" approach, would would make me estatic.

Hiring Tony LaCava would be like going from Aubrey Huff to Albert Pujols. It would be that good of a hire.

Unfortunately, I don't see the Orioles philosophy changing to those "new fangled stats" approach, and would rather stick with being the dinosaurs that they are. Now, I don't know how Showalter feels about this, but seeing how things are ran today, I don't think much will change for the better.

The new hire, whoever it will be, will pretty much tell you what direction the O's will be heading in the future. I predict more of the same.

GAZOO FROM THE FLINTSTONES WOULDN'T EVEN TAKE THIS GM JOB.

BUT IN ALL HONESTY I WOULD LIKE TO SEE CAL RIPKIN TAKE THE JOB, I THINK HE COULD MAKE A CHANGE.

I believe they must hire the GM from a winning organisation tampa bay, yankees, texas, phillie, boston or atlanta. If he is an older exec. than I think we inject some youth as well into scouting and player developement. Since we are starting out in such a hole I believe only a strong international attempt can help us since you only get so many draft picks. BUT OUR new GM will have to find the vtalent and strong authority to deal with our player developement problems. We do have 6 or 8 young players who could shoot through the minors the big secret is to make sure they are ready when they get here. IF NOT FIELDER WE need a big bat type at 3B and leave Reynolds at 1B. wITH ADAMS, ANDINO, MICLAT,AND HOES, I think we have talent to cover 2B if Roberts goes down. To fill the BP I would sign 6 or 8 power armed minor league FA to compete but most definitely seek two new starters and let the best of our young arms to compete for the remainder or wait at norfolk.

I think it would be amazing if we landed Byrnes AND Levine. They are both from the area and they both love the Orioles. They are both good friends and they both are well respected. Byrnes has a little more experience so his title could be VP while Levine could be GM or something of that nature. You told me in a previous post a few days ago that you didn't think Levine would get hired. Do you still believe he doesn't have a chance even though he has been included in a short list of candidates? Thanks Dan

Dan C,
Do you think the Orioles will even interview Chuck LaMar or Mike Arbuckle? All the GM’s that I have read about are 2nd tier at best. As for Gm’s wanting the job are plentiful, the ones that can develop a plan and successfully execute it are few especially having to work with Angelos.
PS If Buster Olney reads these blogs, hey fella, just worry about Theo Epstein and what the Cubbies are doing! As for me, I think the cubbies are getting a bill of goods with Epstein. I can’t wait to see what he does with Carolos Marmol; he makes Kevin Gregg look like a Hall of Famer! Oh one other thing, I don’t think there’s too many good ol boys looking for a job these days, you know the kind that Angelos seems to like. The only one that I know about is Ed Wade. If the O’s hire him away from the Astros, I won’t be happy!

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I have been given no indication they will.

Adding another reason to your list about why someone would want the O's position: because they can only go up. If you take a position as GM of a successful team and they win, people say, "Oh, but they were good anyway." And if the team starts to lose after you start your job, people blame you for ruining the team.

OTOH, if you take a position as GM of a last-place team that has lost 14 successive seasons, then if the team continues to do badly, people will often say, "Well, they were bad to begin with." Or, they might say, "Well, it's obviously the owner's fault since several GMs couldn't get a winning team on the field." But if the team starts doing well, then you go down in history as one of the best GMs of all time, and you can write your ticket after that. "Oh, yeah, Tony Lavaca is the GM that took the last place O's to the World Series in only 3 years. And that was after 14 successive losing seasons." Frankly, considering the last 14 years, a new GM would be considered a genius if the O's can simply break .500 in the next 3 years.

I think any one would take the job if it is offered. The job has little to lose. Even well respected GM's have failed such as McPhail. If you somehow can pull this team out of the dumps then you look like a genius.

Let Ozzie Newsome interview. I hear that his resume is outstanding.

Bring in Former Orioles pitcher, Steve Stone, to be the new GM. Steve's baseball knowledge is vast, and he's not afraid to speak his mind, even when it gets him in trouble. As a former CY award winning pitcher / 25 game winner, his analysis of pitchers could really benefit the Orioles. I think he and Buck could work wonders on the Orioles system.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Cal Ripken in this mix.

While it is true that there are only 30 GM jobs in the game, there are indeed some potentially strong GM's with OPTIONS, and I'd say that the Orioles would typically be a second or third option.

It's one thing if Syd Thrift or Frank Wren leaves. It's another if a Pat Gillick or a MacPhail leaves. (Gillick's departure -- in the manner that it was -- is still a scar on this organization. And while MacPhail purportedly left for personal reasons, let's face it: there were plenty of things about this job that made leaving for those reasons that much easier.) That MacPhail essentially failed in returning us to respectability may raise warning flags to several prospective GM's.

Sure, some may see it as a challenge, but I'd say it's becoming a less appealing challenge with each year. Ten years ago, the Orioles could point to their historic reputation as a rather storied franchise in the throes of some temporary difficulty; now we are merely a perennially losing one.

Make no mistake: there are plenty of things to love about Angelos and Showalter. Their extremely strong wills are part of what make them great. Truly. But those strong wills are also what give them a reputation for being difficult if not impossible to work with. And that's the key moving forward: can the new GM work with an autocrat above him (Angelos) and an autocrat below (Show)?

My thinking is that this new GM will have to be nearly as strong-willed as the other two honchos in the organization, with a lawyer's ability in diplomacy and some negotiation. So while the new GM's toolbox must include an adeptness in scouting, player development and statistical analysis, etc., it must also possess the right interpersonal skills.

So moving forward, I think it's less about who would take this job (someone with seemingly appropriate qualifications will), but who's got what it takes to really DO the job, do it well and do it long-term. Who's got the mettle? And it's precisely in this regard that the list of TRULY potential candidates starts looking woefully short.

Well, Dan, it's been real. While I love your and the others' coverage, I'm not paying to view these pages.

Keep up the good work and thanks for the reports.

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Thanks for your readership.

If we sign Ricciardi I will never watch this team ever again. Pretty bold statement after watching and putting up with the past 13 years of disgusting and pathetic baseball.

Tony LaCava - I think he would be an excellent General Manager. Whether or not the Orioles have the foresight to hire someone of his caliber is another question. Frankly I was surprised when they hired Buck as manager - but I am glad they did and so maybe they will surprise us again.

LaCava. Please. Please. Please.

Showalter will get his man. Why the consideration for Ripken? A good player for sure, but what did the team do during his long tenure, and when was he a leader? We are not talking about one of the Robinsons...

How about John Hart from MLB Network,who worked for the Orioles earlier.The man difinitlny knows the game inside and out.

I'll tell you my suggestion shortly...soon as I find that dart board and my blindfold....

O's fan for life, here. I want the job. I'll work for free for the first year. I'm a sabermetrics guy, and I also know a good athlete when i see one(having been an athlete for many years). I have over 17 years of retail managment, am good with people and know how to get great results from oridinary workers. I also believe that working under-budget can lead to greater creativity when it comes to getting the desired results. This team is not that far away. A couple of creative trades and acquisitions might be all that is needed(for better pitching, obviously). Also, I have only respect and admiriation for both Buck Showalter and Peter Angelos, and while confident, I also possess the humility and flexibility needed by whoever will be working with those 2. When do I start?

I'll take the job. Sure, I have no previous experience, never even played ball beyond high school. But, hey, "Could I do worse?" That's my salespitch. I'll work for a fraction of what they'd have to pay someone who would know what he's doing and fail anyway. Me? I'll fail on the cheap. PA might like that. And the fans would be ecstatic to have a regular-Joe life-long Os fan in the warehouse for a year. Can't imagine I'd get a contarct extension unless Roy Hobbs becomes real and that guy from Damn Yankees , and Shoeless Joe comes back to life and all sign with me. Still, we'd need a pitcher, wouldn't we? Can Jim Bouton still throw a knuckleball?

I was riding with a cab driver in Dundalk the other day. He seemed to know as much as anyone officially running the club. But, I doubt that he would take the GM position. He has a secure job, now. Anyway, I think his name was Lenny.

As long as Angelos owns this franchise we will be where we always are, and will always be what everybody thinks we are--a laughing stock. Any owner worth his weight in salt,and who really wants to win does not let one of the most prolific hitters of all time(Palmiero) and one of the best pitchers of his era(Mussina) get away .Then there`s Pat Gillick!! Enough said.

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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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