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November 2, 2010

Orioles: Kranitz out, Samuel back in

The Orioles coaching staff continues to come into focus. Rick Kranitz has been named the new organizational pitching instructor for the Houston Astros, making room -- apparently -- for Mark Connor to become the new O's pitching coach. And, in a somewhat surprising development, The Sun is reporting that Juan Samuel will return to the third base/infield coach job he left to become the interim manager in June.

If you want my take on the Kranitz situation, I've got a new column up on the web site right here, or you can wait for tomorrow's print edition and enjoy the comforting sensation of holding a piece of organic material in your hands while you read. Either way works for me.

Since I don't weigh in on Samuel, I'll do so here. I think he was doing the organization a favor by holding down the fort while the club worked out the details and timing of Buck Showalter's arrival, and I think his heart was in the right place when he chose not to stay on the coaching staff for the final two months of the season. But he is well-liked inside the O's organization and he is quite respected around the major leagues.

There are a lot of people who think he'll get another chance to manage, hopefully under better circumstances than the first time.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 6:45 PM | | Comments (37)
Categories: Just baseball


I can't believe I am going to be the first poster. Anyway, Peter I am glad you're back to writing about baseball.

The Orioles cannot be seriously considering bringing back Juan Samuel! I would bring back Dave Trembley before Samuel.

Also, I disagree with this statement in your article: Showalter didn't wave some magic wand and Kranitz didn't suddenly pull a bunch of effective starters out of a hat. I remember when Brian Matusz was under duress in one of his first games under Showalter. I think it was against the White Sox. I don't remember all the details all I know is Showalter willed Matusz to get through 6 full innings and the O's went on to win the game. Kranitz never did that for Trembley or Samuel. I never felt Kranitz developed anyone during his tenure as pitching coach.

Lastly, any thoughts on Davey Lopes coming to coach for us again. I swear MacPhail likes to do things that test the patience of the remaining diehard fans that are left. There is no way I would bring back Juan Samuel. If they were going to do this. They should have made Jeff Datz interim manager and kept Samuel as the third base coach that's my take

As one who never thought Dave Trembley should have continued as manager heading into 2010, I am not going to debate who should have been the interim manager for the manager who shouldn't have been there in the first place. (There. I used Trembley and first place in the same sentence. Do I get a triple word score or something?)

As for coaches in general, it is too hard for the casual fan to make an assessment in most cases. Did Kranitz become a genius only because Showalter came in, or was he a genius who was allowed to be a genius because of Showalter? Yeah, I know I use the word genius in a rather cavalier manner but that is sort of the point. If we can't evaluate if it was genius, we can't evaluate when it was turned on or off, and especially why.

As for Juan Samuel, I will say this ... what he did was a classy move to the max. Although there was a sense of business as usual with him in there as the interim, I wouldn't expect a whole lot else. Plainly, I wouldn't evaluate him as a manager for future consideration based on his 50-plus games. I would consider his action of putting the team first as being an attribute I would want if I were looking for a manager.

I am perfectly happy with Samuel returning and hope him taking one to the gut won't hurt his future chances at the big job.

Gotta say. I didn't see that one coming.

Jeez, look at all the people trying to get Chumbley, er, Trembley...not!

I like Samuel and I know they wanted a Spanish speaking coach, so why not Samuel?
I don't know what happened to turn the team around for the last two months. I don't know if it was Showalter or the stability of having a manager, any manager signed to multi-year contract, or if Kranitz was finally able to "make them feel comfortable."
My gut says it has more to do with the stability than anything. Plus the knowledge that Buck has been successful in the past, unlike the unproven (Samuel) or whatever you want to call Trembley.
Buck just seems to give the team more confidence in itself. And while a lot of what managers do is important and tangible, some of it is definitely in the intangible category of just breeding confidence, focus, and chemistry.

But Pete Schmuck, there is no way that Kranitz was a major factor in the turnaround. He even admitted that he didn't do anything different, which means to me that he didn't do anything except "make them feel comfortable" pitching poorly...
We were near the bottom of every major pitching category even with the turnaround. Don't give me that "maybe it was Kranitz" stuff.

Mr. Schmuck,
I just read your side blurb there for the first time I believe. Reading any good history or biographies at the moment?

Peter's reply: Thanks for asking. I'm reading the David Halberstam history of the Korean War right now, which I got on the bargain rack at Barnes. It's going slow, but I'm interested because my dad was a career Marine during WWII and Korea (though I believe he was in Japan during the Korean conflict)....I'm also trying to get through Dickens' Bleak House, but it's killing me.

Peter -- Bringing Samuel back is okay, as he's a good baseball coach, even though the "gotta have a Spanish-speaking coach" is really stupid in my estimation, particularly considering how few Latinos are on the Orioles' roster.

Still, I hope they hire Wayne Kirby to coach first, because he's supposed to be very good at teaching baserunning/basestealing skills, something for which neither Samuel or John Shelby seem to have any aptitude.

Kranitz was a factor in getting the pitching staff to perform better in the second half of the year, of that I have no doubt he does deserve some of the credit, given the praise he's received from the likes of Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen, however the question is how much of a factor.

It seems that once Showalter rode into town and laid down his "Buck's way or the highway" edict, everyone buckled down and played harder (pun semi-intended). That was big. And I also wondered if it affected the coaching staff at all.

It's a shame that the youngsters are going to lose Kranny (here's hoping he has a successful career in Houston), as they seemed to be bonding well with him, yet having Mark Connor stepping into that role should ease the transition (having Rick Adair as the bullpen coach will be the equivalent of having a second quality pitching coach on the club). Yes, Connor's Buck's longtime friend, but I guarantee he's not bringing him aboard just for that reason. Buck Showalter is all about winning, and he would have lobbied hard for Connor if he wasn't confident that his pal could take the staff to the next level...and if Buck has that sort of confidence in him, who are we to question?! We should just sit back and enjoy the winning!

"We were near the bottom of every major pitching category even with the turnaround. Don't give me that 'maybe it was Kranitz' stuff." - G2

"The proof was in the pitching stats. The club had a league-worst 5.18 ERA when Buck Showalter managed his first game as an Oriole on Aug. 3. The staff ERA was just 3.54 the rest of the way, and the starting rotation was even better than that (3.16)." - Peter Schmuck

I can only surmise G2 meant the turnaround did little to the end-of-year statistics because I don't need to calculate 13 other AL teams' ERA starting August 3 to know the stats mentioned in the article aren't near any bottom.

And maybe, just maybe, Kranitz was preaching the right stuff all along but the poor and uncertain use by the vacationing former manager sabotaged any success.

I will also say putting that many young pitchers into broad-shouldered roles they were ill-prepared for was a recipe for disaster, too. It was nice to see positive results develop in some of them when the burden of that weight could have scarred the naive mind (not to mention what injuries could have surfaced).

The entire Kranitz v. Connor debate that may surface may be futile from the start. Maybe both are good. In the end, the important acquisitions of this offseason will be the players. Then, the targets of praise and criticism can be aimed at the penthouse level of the warehouse. Those at the dirt level need more than dirt.

As a young player, when you're playing for a manager that has had no success in the majors, and then for an interim guy that has the job for the first time, it's hard to beleive that you're doing the right thing if you're not having much success.

So in walks Buck with his long resume and a three year contract and he tells you to trust your stuff, trust your coach, throw strikes and I'll trust you. And then he goes out and demostrates it by letting you work your way through some tough situations. Your confidence will grow.

Young players need confidence to succeed because baseball is a game of failure. Learning to shake off a walk, a hit, a run scored, or a homerun, are all skills these guys have to learn on the big stage for the first time.

Buck didn't have a magic potion, he just brought buckets full of self confidence to a team that was starved for it. He just kept it simple, work hard, prepare, and then compete. Then he went out and managed games like he was trying to win the 7th game of the World Series instead of like he was trying to protect guys from failure.

Young pitchers are smart enough to know when they are bein protected because their manager doesn't have the confidence in them that they can get a tough out. If your manager doesn't beleive in you, it's hard to beleive in yourself.

Buck's going to bring a veteran staff to spring training that's seen it all before. I like the fact that Crowley and Samuel have both been brought back.

Crow is great at taking a hitter and breaking things down to basics and rebuilding, or building, a major league swing. Having him available to work in the minors with guys like Waring, Bell, possibly Riemold could be a real asset. those guys all have talent, but flaws they need to work out to climb the ladder.

Samuel is a no nonsense baseball man that managed in an impossible situation. Buck had to hear a lot from the players of their respect of Juan when he took over. Buck's a smart enough guy to want a good baseball man on his staff and has enough of a reputation in the game to get the guys he goes after.

Buck's going to make the O's a factor in the Hot Stove League, this is suddenly a franchise that people are looking at as an up and comer. The Giants proved that this league is now about young pitching and the O's have a boat load of it.

Quick Comments,

1.)Good Riddance to Kranitz. I do wish him luck with his new job.

2.)Andy Mac should have done a better job communicating that Kranitz was not going to be retained. Since MacPhail was the one who brought him to the O's in the first place.

3.) I have no idea what anyone sees in Juan Samuel. He was a talanted, but flakey 2nd Baseman for the Phillies. They traded him because they got fed up with him swinging at garbage. He couldn't lay off the low and away slider.

4.) Folks complained all last year about the lack of running game with the O's.
Why no one else has commented on bringing back Davey Lopes as our 1st base coach besides me is "Mind Boggling"!

5.) I would have no problem if the Orioles retained Gary Allenson as 3rd base coach. He did his job and that's all I ask

"Terry Crowley is lucky he's in ****ing baseball"

In Buck We Trust (so far!)

MountainFan--Your analysis of Buck's affect on the pitching staff is excellent.

Peter.....I need some guidance.
The more I read the Orioles Insider, the more disappointed and frustrated I become. I have no idea why there's a rumor going around that Juan Samuel is making his comeback. No one seems to want to answer my question over there as to what inspired this. To me it makes no sense. Then I see that the Orioles went out and got Wayne Kirby and he might be a good addition, but I doubt he's Davey Lopes. Bill Conlin a well respected writer quoted this in an article today about Davey Lopes.

The work Lopes did with Jayson Werth turned a perceived platoon outfielder with raw base running and outfielding skills into a five-tool-level star who is going to hit the mother lode as an elite free agent

Now why couldn't we have given Lopes a jingle is beyond me? Also, I don't see anywhere in Bill Conlin's article that he would like to see the return of Juan Samuel to the Phillies. In fact if I googled Juan Samuel I wouldn't see any other team in the league clamoring for the comeback of Juan Samuel except for the Orioles. I read further on the Insider and they clearly state the Orioles are not going to even try and sign Werth, Lee or Crawford. I mean that's nice that we seem to want to keep Izzy and players like Izzy happy. Why doesn’t the Orioles organization want to keep the fans happy? More importantly the few that remain!

The Squirrel,

Thanks for telling us what you'd be happy with and what you have no problem with?

I'm assuming you must be a minority owner of the team. Otherwise, I'm not sure why you think anyone would care when you're satisfied about any of the moves the team makes.

Thanks for your thumbs up or down though. Very meaningful.


I'm not much of a football fan at all. My biggest annual pigskin ritual is watching the full day of games with my extended family and friends on Thanksgiving. Apparently, Bud Selig wants to ruin that for me by expanding the MLB playoffs and pushing the World Series back to Turkey Day.

ok, i'll start the Eric Bedard's bound to come up

Erik Bedard - Why?

Jon Garland - Why not?

Or How about

Scott Erickson

Mike Mussina

David Wells

Rocky Coppinger

Rocky still could be in his prime according to the powers that be in Orioles Land... I mean "WHY NOT"

Wait till someone signs Bedard and then offer Jones and Tillman and Mickolio in a trade for him.......

If that doesn't get the deal done then throw in Josh Bell and Steve Johnson....

You gotta be smart about these 5 for 1 deals...

Forget Brattard, he couldn't pitch 7 innings when healthy!

Forget Brattard, he couldn't pitch 7 innings when healthy!

Posted by: Anonymous

Probable the same person who said Jhonny Peralta ate himself into oblivion.

You know Ronnie Belliard is a darn good player and he isn't exactly known for being svelte.

Yet I would take him, because he's a good ball player!

Since it is a slow day at work, in sports, and at The Sun, I will respond to The Squirrel. Please note, however, I have no horse in the coaching stakes. As I have said before, it is difficult to evaluate someone as a coach from focal point of a fan.

In my previous profession, I was teacher/coach in a sport for over 20 years. I had literally dozens of students/protégés who accomplished goals I never came within sniffing distance as a player. As far as trades are concerned, for every team who lets go of a player for whatever reason, there has to be a team who wanted that player for whatever reason. (And reason could be reasons.)

While hear and read ad nauseum So-and-so wouldn't come to the Orioles because [fill in the blank], the same can be said about coaches. Davey Lopes is a former manager so coaching first base for the Orioles is not going to be a first choice as a career move for him. Besides, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.

There is an interesting comparison as players between Davey Lopes and Juan Samuel. They were more similar than they were different.

Both played 16 years in the majors. Lopes played 1,812 games for four different teams whereas Samuel played 1,720 games for seven different teams. Both played six different positions. Both played 14 years as a second baseman. Lopes holds a slight fielding advantage at that position -- .977 to .973.

Lopes has the advantage in batting average (.263 to .259) and on-base percentage (.349 to .315). Samuel led in extra base hits (287 to 232 in doubles, 102 to 50 in triples, and 161 to 155 in home runs). That enabled Samuel to have the slugging advantage (.420 to .388).

Their OPS was almost a draw after 16 years each (.737 and .735). Samuel also led in RBIs (703 to 614) whereas Lopes led in stolen bases (557 to 396).

Perhaps the most fascinating thing is how each is listed in the other's similarity scores of comparative statistics -- kind of like a passer rating in football in that it takes as comprehensive of a look at someone's stats as it can and tries to set an all-knowing value to it.

Samuel is listed fifth on Lopes's list behind Tommy Harper, Eric Young, Jim Fregosi and Delino DeShields as being slightly more similar.

Lopes is listed seventh on Samuel's list behind Don Money, Phil Garner, Lloyd Moseby, Shawon Dunston, Damion Easley, and Andy Van Slyke as being slightly more similar.

Now I have to get back to work, slow day or not, or I will have to get my creaky bones back out into my former profession.

I'm not sure how much difference coaches make at the MLB level as presumably, these players should have a grasp of the fundamentals etc. On the other hand, how many times did the Orioles make baserunning and fielding blunders last year so maybe a new guy can help. I still think a lot of that had to do with Trembley who didn't practice what he preached by failing to hold these guys accountable. I don't think Buck will let things slide as much.
As far as the annual speculation of who goes where etc-why not kick the tires on a guy like Peralta? He has to be a better option than Lugo as in IF and while I am not saying he's an overall upgrade over Itzuris, he is certainly a better hitter.
Bedard is never going to put in an injury-free season so why waste our time?
Personally, I'd like to see thet O's put on a full court free to sign Carl Crawford, especially since the Yanks apparently are focusing mainly on Cliff Lee.
I know the name Adam Laroche keeps popping up but is he going to be another Atkins? He does have decent numbers year after year but why does he move around so much? I'm guessing guys like him will stay on the market awhile so no need to jump in there. He might be worth taking a chance on for modest $$$. I'd like to see Adam Dunn instead but if we get Crawford, I'm not sure how much $$$ MacPhail has to work with.

Ok, MR know it all, weight IS the reason the Indians moved Peralta to 3B. His range is knee to knee!

Ok, MR know it all, weight IS the reason the Indians moved Peralta to 3B. His range is knee to knee!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 4, 2010 12:36 PM

I have watched him a couple of times and I have never observed that.
How do you deduce this? I am curious.

Also, if you listen to others he wouldn't even be able to see his knees. Since he spends more time at the buffet table then on the field. Which I think is ridiculous! But that is what some folks around here claim.

I would give him a shot! Since he is a free agent now according to MASN

Orioles reliever Frank Mata was removed from the 40-man roster, cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk, the team announced.

Boy if you thought Peralta couldn't field, this fellow Mata, could neither pitch nor field. How was he on the roster in the first place? Oh wait he was a former Twin and MacPhail mistook him for Frank Viola like he did with Pedro Viola =P! They got a two for one deal.

Truly unreadable post.....

Non informative, not funny, ridiculous trade idea's,

In other words...... the same as last off season....and the one before that.... and....

For the record people..... The ONLY thing that needs to happen is that Buck gets FULL control over player personnel.

That's it....

If AM has ANYTHING to do with the players, the team will not compete......period and end.

AM needs to stick to continuing to improve the spring facility. That's his thing. That's what he's good at.

We can hope.....

What's unreadable Wayne?

What's not funny and totally ridiculous?

Also, same as what?

Ol Wanger is like Glenn Beck...say the s.o.s. fairy tale over and over and over until some reality based news station else starts wondering why he's talking about it so much. Then he talks about how someone else is talking about it late, he was first, and that it's true fact even though he made it up.

Keep pounding that drum, Wayne Beck.

hey, back of wayne.

wayne's the only one that realizes that Buck totally revamped the Orioles when he came on board. Every single player that Buck brought to the club is 1000% better than those who were here before Buck arrived.

Brian Matusz was terrible, hardly a MLB player. Buck realized this immediately and released Brian. Buck then signed Bryan Matuszz who had an incredible second half.

Jake was a bad pitcher, so Buck brought in Jakee.

Adam Jones was over rated, so Buck got rid of him and brought in Adam Jonees.

Every single player addition by Buck was Incredible. Buck reloaded the entire 40 man roaster with actual talent.

Just give wayne the credit he deserves. He's the only fan here that understands that all the player Buck added were All-Stars after purging the roaster from Andy's disaster.

Ugh... So terrible....

paulie, you and your alias's must come up with something new.

You're never accurate, you comebacks are never funny and even when you try under a different name, it's just ..... well, bad.

I keep hoping the above will cease to be true. But ugh.... you're like smitty on steroids.

You have the entire off season to work on it my man. Start pumping the iron. You're officially in training....

You can do it.

In another article you said, "Even though he's a Steeler, Polamalu is a pretty smart guy..."

My take: Cheap shot, you Schmuck. A few more concussions and collateral brain damage, and maybe then Troy would be dumb enough to play for the Ravens.

Posted by: wayne | November 5, 2010 10:16 PM


For the record I only tried steroids like 42 times and only to recover after an injury and because I thought they were B12 and because my Mom brought them online and then my roommate slipped some in my Capn Crunch and I'm very sorry if anyone thinks less of me and I'm never going to do them again unless it helps me to land a huge contract.


If you replace the word "steroids" with the phrase "sniffed glue", I would believe you

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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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