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October 6, 2009

Orioles: Let the offseason begin

Okay, I know the Orioles offseason began yesterday, but I was on a plane back from Providence and I was so happy that it wasn't struck by lightning and nobody smashed my fingers in a luggage bin that I took the rest of the day off.

Also, it just won't feel like the offseason until the AL Central race is decided later tonight.

So, where do we go from here. The Orioles already have made their managerial decision, so all that's left for October are a possible coaching change or two. There has been some speculation that Dave Jauss will be replaced as the bench coach, but I doubt anything will happen until Andy MacPhail gets back from vacation next week.

I'm sure there are some people here who think that Juan Samuel should be on the chopping block, too, but I don't see him leaving unless he's offered something better elsewhere. He could, however, end up moving onto the bench beside manager Dave Trembley and being replaced at third base by a new face on the coaching staff. Just a hunch.

The Orioles had some interesting adventures on the bases which put Samuel in a negative spotlight this year, but my sense is that he's well-respected inside the organization because he's a no-nonsense guy who isn't afraid to tell it like it is in the clubhouse or during a coaches meeting.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 3:40 PM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Just baseball


I thought MacPhail was on vacation all season. BWHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

I'm concerned that we are going to feel the same way next year at this time about the O's like we do this year. We need a booming homerun hitting first baseman, the same with third base (Mora and Wiggington are not the answer at third), and a veteren solid no. 1 starting pitcher. And that is just a start.

Pete's reply: Can't argue with any of that.


If I remember correctly, Tom Trebelhorn was a fairly unpopular third-base coach for a couple years before he was moved to the bench under Perlozzo.

I don't think it would be a demotion if the same happened to Samuel. Especially since the only complaints people have about him is his ability at third base (along with his attitude from that one time this season, but that was over questions of how he coached third).

Bring Harold Baines in to manage the bench

So can we add BJ Surhoff to the staff?

Pete's reply: Don't know if BJ wants back in yet. Still has school-age kids.

They can round up those guys that stole the #8 and send them to Chicago to hijack the Baines statue. Bring that here as the bench coach. What the h@ll does a bench coach do anyway? Let the players get stock their own boxes of sunflower seeds and double bubble.

Bob F , If your comments are even the least bit serious ,you are one very stupid fellow.

I think the guys who did the base running blunders should just have microchips implanted. I know he seemed to do a good job with the starters but is Kranick in danger because of the bullpen implosion? I think Samuel is ok, but I also wonder about some of the outfield positioning sometimes and thats Shelby. Steve Henderson was fired with better success than The Crow. Would there be a revolution if he was "demoted"?

Pete's reply: I don't think it will be a big shuffle, though after a season like that, you could probably find fault with everyone if you try hard enough.

Lefty (Dave Jauss) - Yep, totally serious ;) ;)

I am sorry, but I don't feel like Juan has done anything to deserve to still be a coach on this team. I like T-Bone as a person, but I am not sold on his work. Looking at the Marlins and how they are going to fire their Manager, who is a genius to win with their team, as they lost their LF, RF, Ace and Closer, yet they were in the race for a post season birth till Mid-September, yet we are rewarding guys that had more talent to work with and have produced a lot less results, is mind boggling.

Pete, is their an issue with Jauss? I've only heard great things about him so was just curious.

I know people keep saying they want BJ, as a coach, but didn't he say last year that he wants to spend time with his family?

Pete's reply: Yes, BJ has said that over the past couple of years. I think he likes just coming in for spring training, but might be a coach or manager in the future. I don't know what the sitaution is with Jauss, but I've heard whispers that he might not be retained.

Third base coach is an over rated position. Name me two outstanding third base coaches. You send the fast runners and hold the slow ones. And the dumb ones like Melvin Mora and Felix Pie run like Tee Ballers....they keep running until they are out or until they score.

Since free agency does not seem to have the answer to our biggest needs, lets go where free agency takes us, instead of fighting it. Sign Bay and then trade Reimold, JJ, Jake and Andino to the Padres for Heath Bell, Kyle Blanks and Kevin Kouzmanoff, two of whom are arb eligible for a team needing to shed some payroll.

Pads need to move contracts. I would prefer A Gonzalez so start there but if deal cant be made, take talks withs Pads this way. Kouz, good fielder at third, plenty of power but lousy on base percentage, Blanks stuck behind AGon, the huge rookie 1B with crazy power numbers in limited action in '09, and the saves leader in the NL last year, Bell, would fill a couple holes for us without touching our top pitching.

Pads need a backup infielder who can play SS. Might try to give them Turner instead of Andino. But this trade gives them salary controlled players, clears up their logjams at 1B, OF and 3B. For us we get power at first, power at third, a closer and replace the biggest piece we gave up by spending money on Bay. It leaves us needing a setup man and a backup SS. We would need to check out the injuries to Kouz's back and Blanks' foot.

WHatcha think?

Pete's reply: That's a radical plan. I'll give you credit for thinking outside the box, but I doubt the O's will do anything that bold and complex.

We need Billy Ripken.
After another horrible year with Trembley we can promote Billy to mannager

Hard to not feel pessimistic after the deflating end of the season, and expect the same cycle again.

Orioles Playbook:
1) Offseason: Pick up some middling free agents to inadequately plug critical holes in the lineup and bullpen, but miss out on the big ticket players that could have filled the team's offensive and pitching needs for years to come. Make a low offer on the big names to give the appearance of trying while retaining the right to complain about the challenges of competing with the Yankees and BoSox.

2) Spring Training: Talk up the potential of the young players and prospects heading into spring training. Play down immediate expectations but actively promote the perception that we are right on the verge of competing in order to drive ticket sales.

3) All-Star Break 2010: Trade away all-star talent and team leadership for prospects that are years away from the majors, provoking suspicion among long-suffering fans about the true "rebuilding" timeline.

3) Second Half 2010: Keep the "get out of jail free" card of replacing the manager until the last possible second, so as to keep the heat off of ownership and front office management.

4) Year-End 2010: Hail the season's numerous moral victories and bemoan the injuries, player moves, etc. that kept us from a .500 season.

5) Repeat

Hi Slugger,

For diversity purposes, Wiggenton and Huff are also dumb baserunners.

Isn't there a kind of pecking order among coaches? I think next to the bench and pitching coaches, the next most important guy is the 3B man, who is typically seen as managers-in-waiting. I think it's more likely to see someone breaking in at 1B and maybe moving John Shelby over? Not sure if I'm accurate with this though.

I'm sorry. The impact move is going to be changing the bench coach? For real?

Pete, I really don't see what value Terry Crowley brings. I don't want to hear about Matt Wieters surge because he is supposed to be a superstar. The lack of discipline we continously show at the plate is appaling. Those guys all go up there hacking and until we show show these guys how to hit, they will never get it right.

There were countless situations this season where we didn't cash in runners. Adam Jones tailed off big time. He's a talented player, but needs to be developed. I could go on and on, but Crowley has no business on this team.


I'm worried. The season just ended and half your readers are already in withdrawal...

Well now that the Hamburglar is back I doubt his sidekick Windmill man is going anywhere.
Does it really matter anyway?

At least the dynamic duo will provide more material for comic relief during those August and September days when there is no escaping reality for Oriole fans.


Bring in Mike Borrdick as bench coach.

Crowley MUST GO.

I'm not sure how the fans are supposed to judge coaches anyway. The third base coach is the most visible especially when he has a poor sense of who is running, who is throwing, what the situation is, and how a play is developing in real time.

I'm sure Juan Samuel is a good baseball man, but does that mean he's a good coach? The same goes for Terry Crowley, Dave Jauss, Harold Baines, BJ Surhoff, Mike Bordick, Bill Ripken, or any other name one might throw out as coming or going as coach.

Since Dave Trembley has been retained as manager, that decision should be 80% his. Andy MacPhail, who should have had 80% of the managerial decision but what really happens in The Warehouse is a big, dark secret, should have 15% of the coaching decision.

As a fan, I'd like MacPhail to do some serious evaluating of the entire minor league system. I'm sure there are those who deserve being promoted and those needing to be replaced. This is a vital component if the Orioles are genuine in wanting to win eventually because progress by players in the minor league system seems spotty.

There are more things the Orioles must do but this should keep them busy in October.

As for the coaches, Samuel should not be accountable for stupid baserunners. He should be accountable for his signals. Crowley has a history of success with hitters, so he gets a pass with me. Not every goon with a bat can learn discipline even when the coach teaches it. If Crowley's work habits as a coach has become a question mark, that's different ... but how are we, the fans, supposed to know that?


~~progress by players in the minor league system seems spotty.~~

Pleasae expand on this comment as it seems like dozens of rookies advanced to the major leagues this year mostly successfully. It further seemed as if the rookies had better fundamentals than the vets. A couple of prospects havent advanced as wished like Rowell, but that is to be expected I would think. The blue chippers have advanced and some of the red chips like Bergesen have shined too. Too early to write off Hernandez or Birken but they were rated as 5th starter kind of guys at best anyway so they still have time to find that niche in this or another system.

I would be interested in reading why you think that development isnt happening in our minors.

What about Bob? I know he is here and his fingers are itching to hit the keyboard now. Come on you can do it. Just hit the post buton Bob!

Some interesting comments here. I wanted the entire manager'coaching staff replaced because thei team needs to quit making excuses for losing and start expecting to win. Trembely was retained and I agree that he should have the largest say about who his coaches are.

The larger issue is the players Trembley and the coaches are given to work with. This team needs a cleanup hitter (1st or 3b), a solid (not middling but solid) starting pitcher and a closer-a good closer (Ueherra?). There are no viable 1st base/3b #4 hitters available in the FA class-none. In the past the O's would sign someone like Hank Blalock who HAD some serious power and #4 capability but doesn't anymore. This year they need to trade for someone like Fielder and he won't come cheap. The Os also have to look at including one of their outfielders in a trade to fill one of those needs and the guy who would give you the best chance of landing a Feilder or top Halliday would be Markakis but frankly it's be worth it. Reimhold, Pie and Jones would make a better than average outfield and with a Fielder hitting in the middle of the lineup and a pitcher like Halliday anchoring the rotation the Os could actually compete and even possibly win a playoff spot next year.

"no-nonsense" ... "tell it like it is" ???

While those can be good qualities, and ones Trembley could take a lesson on, holding the players accountable and whatnot, I think a better way to describe Juan is "brash". Look it up. It fits him perfectly. On any given play he's too easily susceptible of being audacious to a fault or stubbornly conservative. He does not belong on the third base line coaching players on getting home. It seems that he too often forgets who is running the basepaths. If it was 15-20 years earlier, I'm sure he'd be comfortable deciding whether or not to push himself around the basepaths, but he just doesn't know what to do with other players. I'm sure there is someone else out there who is capable of not getting caught up in the moment and that could actually earn the players' trust. He's also probably ruffled some feathers after exonerating his duties and putting the blame on players that he said don't belong in the majors. I wouldn't mind him being on the bench, (literally benched), as long as he's out of the way of base runners. It's probably good that Gary Allenson's coaching at Triple-A, but if he's seen as a possible replacement for Trembley, it might be good to bring him up. Thoughts??

Pete's reply: I doubt MacPhail considers the minor league managers to be in a line of succession.

get angelos out and bring in cal as either owner or manager.

Two part question, is Hideki Matsui going to retire and/or NY not going to bring him back? Chances the O's pick him up? I know it's one of those bringing an old guy in for a lot of money but...

I find it interesting that 3B Beltre is frequently mentioned as a free agent pickup to replace Mora. Mora's offensive stats were comparable this year and his defense was better. I would rather give Mora another year as he will likely come cheaper and I know he wants to play here.

Frequent mentions of the O's need a power right handed hitter. Reimold and Jones both hold that potential if healthy. No reason I see to waste money when we may already have two guys who can hit 30 homers or more. Put Reimold at 1B and Pie in left. And please teach Pie how to run the bases better. He should be a threat to steal bases.

Any free agent money should go to starting pitching. I'm not sold on Tillman or Bergeson, though they have potential. Guthrie is a question mark. Matusz looks like he'll be awsome, but he is still a big ? as well. It's a joke to say Bedard is an option as a starter. I would sign him as a bullpen option. He could be a great closer but I would be afraid to pitch him two days in a row for fear of injury.

I know he will be retained but I would eject Crowley and replace him with Don Baylor if available.

I know he will be retained but I would eject Crowley and replace him with Don Baylor if available.

I like the Surhoff idea if he is willing to come back to the O's. Samuel needs to be replaced at 3rd. Too many base running blunders. I could have made better decisions based on what I saw on TV than he did.
But more than that, Surhoff would bring something this team has lacked through the last decade, Passion. He was all guts like Paul Oneil was for the Yankees for several years. Tejada had that type of energy for 1 year but losing drained him. Roberts, Markakis, and even the coaches seem very professional but that isn't always good. It needs to be fun. The Yankees added Nick Swisher to their team and he is a guy who looks like he has fun. We need some different personalities that can change the culture in the clubhouse. Adam Jones is a guy who has started something with the bubble gum and the pies in the face but we need that guy who just can't stand losing and isn't afraid to tell you when you screw up.
I remember after the Tigers hired Jim Leyland after a dreadful couple of seasons, they had won 2 games in an early April series and came out flat on the last day of a homestand. They played like they were satisfied and didn't care about the 3rd game. Leyland went off on them and told them, that may have been the way things went before his arrival but they were not ever going to show up flat like that again. He set the tone and they rode it all the way to the World Series. Somebody needs to be brought in to fill that role. Player or coach. It is usually a guy that overacheived while he played like Surhoff. He wasn't the most talented guy but he left everything on the field. Each out, heck each strike he took personal and you could tell it meant something to him. As a Little League manager I love the kid like that because he is always the one who gets the big hit when you need it. Andy go get Surhoff.

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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