Orioles: Left at the altar
Let's stipulate right from the start that I wasn't in any meetings involving Toronto Blue Jays executive Tony LaCava and the ownership component of the search committee trying to find a replacement for Andy MacPhail. So, I don't know if LaCava (below) was just saying nice things about the Orioles after he turned down the job because that's the classy thing to do, or if the Orioles handled his recruitment just fine and simply lost out because he really decided he was already in the best situation.
What we do know is that it's November 2 and Orioles owner Peter Angelos has had a pretty good idea for the past two or three months that he was going to need a new head of baseball operations. What we also know is that the Orioles are the only team that will arrive at the opening of the free agent market tomorrow without someone in that role. Whether you believe that anything was going to happen in the first two weeks of free agency either way -- and I don't -- that still represents a lapse in corporate management that could make other good candidates shy away from the Orioles.
Somehow, the Angels -- who were in the AL West race until the last week -- were ready to announce the hiring or former Arizona Diamondbacks assistant GM Jerry Dipoto the minute the World Series ended.
Somehow, the Chicago Cubs were able to pry one of the most respected young GMs in the business away from the Red Sox earlier this month, and somehow the Red Sox already had their GM-in-waiting ready to take Theo Epstein's place.
Dipoto was the first guy to interview with the Orioles, but there was no indication he was their first choice, so this is not really about who they chose. Just how.
LaCava looked like the perfect candidate, with his solid scouting and player development credentials. He interviewed last week and came back on Monday for a sit-down with Peter Angelos. Some mixed signals came out of that meeting, but the Orioles offered him the job and LaCava said they did everything right during the interview process.
I don't doubt that LaCava is in a great situation in Toronto and it would have been hard to decide to leave, but I can't help thinking that something happened during that discussion with Angelos that left LaCava wondering just how much authority he would actually have to remake the players development department.
It's common knowledge at the Warehouse that there are people in the player development system who can step out of the chain of command and talk directly to the owner, which can only create organizational confusion. So, I believe it's fair to wonder if the future makeup of the player development executive staff became an issue during the final meeting between LaCava and Angelos.
It's also fair to wonder if LaCava might be here right now if the Orioles had been quicker on the trigger and offered him the job after the first interview. He indicated otherwise, but the O's gave the Blue Jays a lot of time to sweet talk him back to Toronto...and they did just that.
Who knows if the Orioles were outflanked or simply unable to convince LaCava to move to Baltimore, but this little episode did nothing to change the public perception that they unable to compete -- on a management and ownership level -- with the other 29 teams in the major leagues.
Associated Press photo