Hope you had a great July 4th.
Incidentally, it was also Peter Angelos’ 89th birthday.
Just thought you should know.
This seems like it’s a good time to bring up the elephant in the Tap Room.
It’s been my belief for years that Angelos and Orioles manager Buck Showalter basically had an understanding that Showalter could be the club’s field manager for as long as he wanted.
Since Showalter has said repeatedly in the past year that he wants to keep managing this club, my belief has been that Showalter isn’t a lame-duck manager with an expiring contract, but instead one who just hasn’t officially signed a new extension for 2019 and beyond.
It makes plenty of sense since executive vice president Dan Duquette also has an expiring contract and the Orioles don’t typically punt executives mid-season. Angelos has always preferred to let contracts run out instead of administering a firing.
An announced extension in-season for Showalter would, in a sense, be a smack to Duquette. Therefore, I never envisioned that Showalter’s contract would officially be addressed until the current one expires. I figured no drama would occur, though, unless Showalter, at 62, decided he had had enough.
(For the record, I’ve never bought the “Showalter-to-the-front-office rumors. He is a smart man and could handle various tasks, but his skill set is specifically built for managing.)
There are a few developments, however, that are making me think that maybe Showalter isn’t as safe as I originally thought.
One, Angelos isn’t as involved in daily decisions anymore. His sons have burgeoning power, so any tacit agreement between Showalter and the Angelos family patriarch may not be as staunch as previously believed.
Two, vice president Brady Anderson’s influence has risen exponentially, to the point that I firmly believe he is the safest among all Orioles’ non-playing personnel during this disaster of a campaign. And though Anderson and Showalter seem to have a good working relationship – seemingly better, anyway, than the one between Showalter and Duquette – Anderson can be hard to read.
If he’s making the calls, maybe he wants his own guy, maybe someone younger or, frankly, someone a little more pliable than the established Showalter.
Then there’s the trend that when things go south, a new voice and direction are needed. Showalter is in his ninth season at the helm of this club, second longest tenure in franchise history and longest tenure of Showalter’s career.
It’s been a successful marriage, but maybe it is time to part ways.
The flip side, though, is Showalter is the second winningest Orioles skipper (behind only Hall of Famer Earl Weaver) and he deserves major credit for turning this franchise around. He is 24th all-time on the sport’s managerial wins list and is fourth among active managers (behind Bruce Bochy, Mike Scioscia and Terry Francona). Showalter has more career wins now than Weaver (in three more seasons, however).
The point is the Orioles could get a different skipper in 2019, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll get a better one than Showalter.
That’s not always the deciding factor, though. And, because this season has been so thoroughly terrible, Showalter is being criticized by fans more than I’ve ever heard in the past.
So that brings me to this potentially explosive question directly after Independence Day.
Tap-In Question: Do you want Buck Showalter managing the 2019 Orioles?