Despite uncertainty, Orioles' Showalter soldiers on - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Despite uncertainty, Orioles’ Showalter soldiers on

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BALTIMORE—Tiny crowds, seemingly meaningless games. That shouldn’t be acceptable to the Orioles, Buck Showalter says.

The Orioles’ manager doesn’t know if he’ll return in 2019. That decision has yet to be made, but Showalter, who has been playing to a clubhouse that’s nearly entirely new, wants his players  to realize that things may not be as dire as it appears.

“The path between the good and the bad isn’t nearly as wide as some people might think,” Showalter said before Tuesday’s record-setting 108th loss, 6-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays.

He looks back at his managing career and remembers that in 1998, the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks lost 97 games. A year and later they won 100 and the National League West.

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Less than two years ago, the Orioles were in American League wild-card playoff game, and last year in early September, the Orioles were in playoff conversation.

They lost 19 of their final 23 games in 2017. Instead of trying to rebuild, the decision was made, which Showalter supported, to try to reload and squeeze another year out of the group of veterans.

That strategy failed miserably, and the Orioles are faced with a rebuild and what appears to be a long climb back to contention.

With just 11 games remaining, there’s little mystery left on the field. The Orioles will have the worst record in franchise history, and there may be little difference between losing 115 and 117 games.

The drama will begin when the season ends. Who will make decisions on Showalter and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette?  When will those decisions be made?

In 2011, the last time the Orioles changed their top baseball decision-maker, Andy MacPhail chose not to renew his contract as the team’s president of baseball pperations, a decision that was not unexpected but not made public until shortly after the season ended.

Showalter had just completed his first full season as Orioles manager, and while there was some talk that he might replace MacPhail in the front office, that never happened.

Many candidates were considered, and it wasn’t until Nov. 8 that Duquette, who had been out of baseball for nearly a decade, was named. Duquette has never conducted a managerial search in his seven years with the Orioles.

Shortly after Duquette came to the Orioles, Brady Anderson was named vice president of baseball operations, and in his time with the Orioles, he’s had a varied portfolio.

He’s trained players in the offseason in his Southern California house and was actively involved in the Orioles’ pursuit of free-agent pitchers Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb, and the retention of Chris Tillman.

Anderson could move into the role of top decision-maker, especially since John and Louis Angelos, sons of managing partner Peter Angelos, have taken a more active role in running the team.

Showalter was hired by MacPhail in August 2010 after a deliberate search. The Orioles haven’t looked for a new manager in an offseason since after the 2003 season, when Lee Mazzilli replaced Mike Hargove.

That year, managerial candidates met with Orioles general managers Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, and afterward were questioned by the media. Among those interviewed were former Orioles Rich Dauer, Rick Dempsey and Eddie Murray as well as Terry Francona, who was hired by the Boston Red Sox.

Sam Perlozzo, a longtime Orioles coach, was also interviewed and though he wasn’t hired, ended up replacing Mazzilli in August 2005.

Angelos watched tapes of the media sessions to help him in the decision-making process.

Last fall, the New York Yankees made their managerial candidates available to the media on conference calls.

Such a transparent process would be welcomed, if the Orioles do change managers, but it’s not expected to be repeated.

Showalter appears eager to continue as Orioles manager, and he’s trying to use any way he can to motivate his team. He talks about the small crowds and games that don’t have any effect on the postseason.

“I want them to realize this is not what you want,” Showalter said. “Let’s do everything  possible not to have this going into September.”

When he arrived, the Orioles were in the midst of years of irrelevant September games and smallish crowds. The team quickly turned around, and now it’s turned again, this time for the worse.

These days, Showalter plays his team tapes of home playoff games with large crowds making lots of noise to inspire them.

“This is what can be. It’s up to us,” he tells them.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. deqalt

    September 19, 2018 at 7:36 am

    You did a poll asking who should be Buck’s replacement and let’s be honest there was no one on that list who inspired anyone. Joe Girardi was mentioned which was particularly surprising seeing he had a reputation and was fired because of his inability to work with young players. A year ago Buck was a great baseball man. People talked about him being our next GM. Now all the sudden he’s not fit to be in the organization. He’s been managing a largely flawed for years and made it work. It caught up to him and everyone this season. He has been managing a team with no extension. Hard to get players to buy in when they don’t even know if you will return. Let him help with the rebuild and see where this team goes. He has a history of successful rebuilds.

    • VICTORTEE

      September 19, 2018 at 9:21 am

      I agree. In Buck I still trust.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Deqalt, had anyone ever heard of Buck Showalter when he first began managing the Yankees? Unless he’s replaced by a big-name manager or well-known, ex-player, no one will be inspired, in all likelihood, by anyone who’s named Orioles manager.

  2. Orial

    September 19, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Girardi would never come to a rebuild. End of that subject. I wouldn’t mind Buck back BUT He will have to adapt to the use of analytics and get on the same playing field as the GM. Don’t want Buck to be a pariah on his own island as the game passes him by.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 10:26 am

      Orial, Showalter does use analytics. He just doesn’t talk about it much publicly. He’s fluent in it, but trusts his own judgement.

      As for Girardi, if Showalter is replaced, the Orioles are likelier to pick a manager with less experience and not spend huge money on one Girardi’s price tag would be higher than most.

      • Bob Horner

        September 19, 2018 at 2:36 pm

        Buck is fluent in analytics??? That’s ridiculous. He doesn’t brace them, either. I’ve seen you also write that. He accepts them to a degree. It’s clear in every interview I’ve watched. I’m not saying he despises them, but he has so much to learn about them judging by what he says. “Here’s something that analytics don’t show.” Um, yeah Buck, they actually do. If you want a shred of credibility here after replacing Connelly, you really need to stop with all the fawning. It’s hard to read

        • Bob Horner

          September 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm

          “embrace”

          • Rich Dubroff

            September 19, 2018 at 7:30 pm

            Bob, yes Showalter often says that here’s something that analytics don’t show, but he reads them carefully, and often quotes WAR and the Fielding Bible.

          • Bob Horner

            September 19, 2018 at 7:47 pm

            Those 2 examples don’t make him astute, Rich. Dear God.

          • Rich Dubroff

            September 19, 2018 at 8:00 pm

            Bob, Buck Showalter doesn’t publicly spout off analytical theories. Most managers don’t, but I know that he reads reports from the analytics department carefully. I appreciate your thoughts and hope you’ll keep reading and commenting–even when we disagree.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 19, 2018 at 8:11 am

    How many days ’til pitchers and catchers?

  4. TxBirdFan

    September 19, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Buck is an old school manager playing in a league that has changed on him. With our lack of starters I’ve been waiting for him to adapt to using multiple relievers or at use a receiver as an opener, but that’s not old school. Other teams are experimenting and finding success. It’s time to look for someone younger and creative to skipper the team.

    • VICTORTEE

      September 19, 2018 at 9:20 am

      How did replacing old school Dusty Baker and replacing him with “young and creative” Davey Martinez work out for the Gnats?

    • deqalt

      September 19, 2018 at 9:53 am

      First, you have to have the relievers to do it. Orioles lacked major depth. Hard to be creative with a team that’s one dimensional.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Tx, he used the opener on Monday night, and may have to do it in more games. I don’t know how he can be creative with a team with little talent.

    • Ekim

      September 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Rich… There you finally said it, what I’ve been saying here from before you took over… “a team with little talent”. It’s a bunch of cast offs/rejects pretending to be Major Leaguers with little hope of ever achieving it. Why he would want to stay is the bigger question (oh yeah… the money!).

      • Rich Dubroff

        September 19, 2018 at 7:31 pm

        Ekim, I think he enjoys managing. No, he doesn’t enjoy losing, but he likes the challenge, and no, he wouldn’t do it for free.

    • TxBirdFan

      September 19, 2018 at 11:23 am

      You need to be creative because you don’t have the talent, not the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked Buck and he’s been great for Baltimore, but I just think his time in the dugout has simply passed.

      And by the way, the Cardinals fired Metheny because ownership declared St Louis wasn’t a .500 team or town. Wouldn’t you love to hear that from Angelos! How’d that workout???? – the Cards have and have a great shot at making the playoffs!

      • Rich Dubroff

        September 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm

        Tx, I don’t think teams without talent can be creative. You can’t hide the lack of talent the Orioles have. I’m not sure any manager with this team could do any better.

  5. GSISDANNO

    September 19, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Buck Showalter is not of the Orioles’ problems. This team has made too many bad personnel moves. Midseason pickups like De Aza, Parra, Miley, Hellickson have drained the Orioles farm system with nothing in return. I think the Orioles started their slide after 2014 when the team let Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis leave. Then they tried to replace them with guys like Travis Snider and Seth Smith and Colby Rasmus.
    Buck Showalter is better than any manager out there and the Orioles need him back.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Danno, I think you made a lot of excellent points. However, Miley was acquired for Ariel Miranda, who didn’t work out well for Seattle. De Aza was picked up for Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chavas, neither of whom played for bad White Sox teams. Hellickson was acquired for Hyun-Soo Kim and Garrett Cleavinger, who struggled in the minors.

      The Parra trade was a disaster and only came about because they didn’t sign Markakis and tried foolishly to replace him with Snider, as you suggest.

      Keep on commenting, Danno. Always look forward to hearing from you.

  6. DevoTion

    September 19, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I have not watched an O’s game in a couple months. For many reasons mostly because they are horrible, and partly because they suck. I am a big fan of Buck and I think Duquette has done a very good job in his time here. It’s hard for me to say especially since before those 2 came the team was a wreck, it but I think it’s time for them both to go. I just hope they can find a manager that is sustainable for more than a season or 2, they need to figure out the front office situation and stick with it as well,

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Even though you’re not watching the games, Devo, I hope you won’t be a stranger around here.

      • DevoTion

        September 19, 2018 at 11:20 am

        I won’t. I used to go by a different name, then I started having trouble with the app, but now I’m back

  7. SpinMaster

    September 19, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    Dan: If we keep Buck, would he be open to changing out some of his coaching staff? I want Bobby Dickerson in this organization teaching infield skills that seem to be lacking in our system. I also, Wayne Kirby to keep coaching the outfielders as long as we give him real outfielders. Our pitching coach should probably find a job elsewhere so that our pitchers have a different voice in their ears. Our hitting coach needs to go as well so that we can teach our young hitters how to work counts, not swing at the first pitch, lay down bunts, hit behind runners, hit to the opposite field, etc.

    • Ekim

      September 19, 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Spin… been on getting rid of McDowell since mid season a year ago. After he screwed up Atlanta’s pitchers he arrives here and does exactly the same thing here. BTW: have you noticed where Atlanta is now in the standings? Coolbaugh is and has been a “ one trick pony” for far too long… same ole, same ole. Be gone with ye!

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Spin, Dan has been gone for a few months. I think if he stays, there would be changes on his coaching staff.

  8. PCampanaris

    September 19, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Keep Showalter. He is not the problem. If it’s ok with Buck, make Buck the GM and let him find, a new manager.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Interesting take, PC.

  9. willmiranda

    September 19, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Whenever I feel sorry for myself as an Orioles fan, I remind myself that I’m also a Cleveland Browns fan. How would you like Hue Jackson as manager? 🙂 Seriously, I just have to think Buck needs a sabbatical. He’s just been through too much of the same. He”s solid enough as a person to push on and not quit, but I think a good break could revitalize him. As for the Angelos boys and Anderson, they’re too shadowy to give me confidence. DD seems to make sense, but too many deals are duct tape solutions. Maybe we need MacGyver.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      Hoping you finally get a win soon, will.

  10. deqalt

    September 19, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    The real question how do we get Cal Ripken back with the organization. I feel like Brady Anderson is blocking him from ever coming. He isn’t gonna manage and is not going to work for Brady. I think getting him in the fold starts the healing process!!!

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      deqalt, I think you want to pay very careful attention to this space tomorrow morning.

  11. rondd5

    September 19, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    …sports…like life…is not fair…buck is a real good mgr…I have never met the man…but from the glimpses of him I’ve seen.. he’s a even better person..all that said his time here may be done…this is a career baseball man, who always respected the game…I wish him the best.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 19, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      The next few weeks are going to fascinating, DD. I can’t wait to see what they bring. The offseason may be more interesting than the last few weeks of the season.

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