Would the Orioles consider Gary Kendall as manager? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Would the Orioles consider Gary Kendall as manager?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The first task for the Orioles’ new head of baseball operations will be to find a replacement for Buck Showalter. The odds are that the new manager will come from outside the organization.

In the last 50 years, ever since Earl Weaver became manager, 10 of the 14 Oriole skippers have come from within the organization or had Oriole ties.

Only Phil Regan (1995), Mike Hargrove (2000-03), Lee Mazzilli (2004-05) and Showalter (2010-18) were outsiders.

Showalter made a reported $3.5 million this past season. With a rebuilding team, it would seem unlikely that the Orioles would spend heavily on a manager with an accomplished resume: Dusty Baker, John Farrell, Joe Girardi or Mike Matheny.

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Dan Duquette’s replacement will have a list of names. In fact during interviews of potential replacements, the names of possible Showalter successors should come up.

In discussing possible Showalter replacements with major league sources before Duquette was replaced, many names were mentioned. Two had Oriole ties.

Mike Bordick has confirmed publicly what he’s said privately, that he would be interested in being considered for the manager’s job.

Bordick has never managed and turned down an opportunity to be one of Showalter’s coaches. Instead, he has been focused on broadcasting. He splits the MASN analyst’s duties with Jim Palmer. When not on TV, he serves as the team’s minor league special assignment instructor.

He spent six seasons with the Orioles, seamlessly succeeding Cal Ripken Jr. at shortstop. In 2002,  his last season with the Orioles, Bordick set a major league record with 110 errorless games for a terrible team, one that finished with 32 losses in its last 36 games.

Being able to excel defensively on a horrible team should help Bordick understand the challenges of managing the Orioles.

Bordick, who’s 53, could be an excellent teacher. He’s low-key and his first-hand observations of the team would put him ahead of many candidates.

Another name mentioned was Gary Kendall, who’s been a manager in the Orioles’ system since 2004, the last eight at Bowie. Kendall’s Baysox won the Eastern League championship in 2015.

Kendall, a Baltimore native, coached baseball at the Community College of Baltimore and Towson, pitched batting practice for the Orioles and has scouted for the team.

Thirty-three of the 56 players who played for the 2018 Orioles played for Kendall at Bowie, including those on minor league rehab assignments, so he’s familiar with nearly all the players.

Kendall also spends a few days at the outset of spring training at major league camp, getting to know some of the players he didn’t have with the Baysox.

His Baysox teams are praised by major league sources for their preparation and for always playing hard.

Kendall, who’s 55, would seem to have a disadvantage — he never played professionally. One of Kendall’s predecessors at Bowie, Dave Trembley, also didn’t play professionally.

In July, the St. Louis Cardinals elevated Mike Shildt to replace Matheny on an interim basis. Shildt didn’t play professionally, but he led the Cardinals to a 41-28 record and was given the full-time job when the Cardinals contended for a playoff berth.

Atlanta’s Brian Snitker also didn’t play major league ball and has had outstanding success with the Braves, who were just eliminated in the National League Division Series by the Dodgers. Snitker has a long history with the Atlanta organization, much like Kendall has with the Orioles.

It’s impressive that Kendall has managed in the minors during the terms of four different Oriole general managers. His institutional knowledge could be key.

Kendall is also low-key and wouldn’t be starstruck in the majors. He would emphasize the fundamentals.

The new head of baseball operations will have a list of potential managers who are more widely known than Kendall.

With the success of Aaron Boone, Alex Cora and Gabe Kapler, all former players with more experience in television than managing, a name like Mark DeRosa or David Ross—or even Bordick — is a plausible choice.

However, fans probably aren’t going to be excited by the idea of a first-time manager. Even a bigger name probably won’t thrill the fans. They’re looking for improvement on all levels after a 115-loss season.

Hiring Kendall might be the longest of long shots, but with his organizational experience and knowledge of the players, perhaps he could be considered as a coach on the new manager’s staff.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. boss61

    October 9, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Interesting analysis, Rich. Kendall would seemc qualified and his knowledge of the personnel is a plus. However, I believe that both the GM (whatever its called) and manager will be outside-the-organization dark horses. The manager may have history with the GM, which probably would be a bigger plus. We’ve seen what happens when Dan and Buck didn’t see eye to eye.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 7:35 am

      Mark, I think your analysis has an excellent chance to be correct.

  2. Orial

    October 9, 2018 at 8:34 am

    First of all Rich I apologize for referring to you as Dan yesterday. Senior moment. Kendall,though not exciting,fits perfectly into the mold that they need. I am a Bordick admirer(a few fans will shun him because of his bland TV rhetoric)and see his intelligent demeanor perfect for the times. Those two could keep the choice in house but my gut says the new GM will look elsewhere. Just hope it’s all completed sooner than later.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 8:55 am

      Orial, I agree with your gut, but Kendall makes a lot of sense to people around baseball, and to me as well.

  3. DevoTion

    October 9, 2018 at 10:34 am

    I like the idea of Kendal, but like the other comments I think the O’s will hire from outside. if he has been praised by other clubs and beenwith the organization for this long maybe there is a reason he is not coaching in the big leagues. I feel like we need someone with an entirely different philosophy. I am not a big fan of the analytics style, but it may be a the type of change that could turn things around.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Devo, I think the new manager will come from outside the organization.

      Few managers these days are like Snitker or Shildt, from within the organization, and that’s why a hire like Kendall is probably unlikely.

  4. bigdaddydk

    October 9, 2018 at 10:46 am

    On one hand, Kendall wouldn’t be a bad choice based on his familiarity with the players. On the other hand, how many of the current players are we counting on to make the rebuild successful? I see the next manager as the poor soul who does the heavy lifting during the rebuild, only to be replaced because he had three straight losing seasons right before the breakthrough. OK, maybe three seasons is optimistic — yes, it’s very optimistic — but my thought still remains. What is the roster going to look like two years from now?

    I’m not sold on going after a big name either. That can happen when the team is ready to compete again, assuming someone hasn’t stepped in and shown himself to be a previously unknown genius. I agree with boss61 that the GM and manager need to be on the same page, and the GM needs ownership to let him do what he’s paid to do.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Interesting thought as always, bigdaddy.

  5. PA Bird Lover

    October 9, 2018 at 11:39 am

    I believe the main ingredients for team success comes directly from players. First pitching, second fielding, third hitting. A good GM leads the search and assembles players. Any manager worth his salt can make out a lineup card. I think a really good manager has motivation in his voice. Perhaps giving Kendall a chance would be smart in as much as he knows our kids. But, if I were GM I’d first talk to these kids and get their feeling for Kendall. Otherwise Bordy I think would be good.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      The managerial search will be interesting, PA.

  6. deqalt

    October 9, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Orioles need to play catch up in so many areas and one of the biggest is analytics. This organization is way behind most teams. Zach Britton admitted the lack of information on a nightly basis. Therefore they need a coach who embraces this fully

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      I’m sure the next manager will be fluent in analytics, deqalt.

      • deqalt

        October 9, 2018 at 3:57 pm

        I guess my point was no on Kendall because of the lack of analytics

        • Jbigle1

          October 9, 2018 at 5:31 pm

          I don’t know if the manager needs to be an analytics buff he just needs to be open to using them. You can explain analytics to a 12 year old and they’ll understand the point. There’s a limit on how far you need to go on using that data though. I think we saw this year that Kapler probably went to the extreme in philly and that’s not going to be a successful approach over a long season. I like bordick. I think he’d be a good guy to watch over a rebuild. Odds are he’ll get canned before we turn this thing around but he at least has an even keeled demeanor and knowledge of the game and our system. As far as in house candidates go I feel like he’s the best available. it’s certainly not an attractive job. I enjoy watching DeRosa on MLB network, looks like he has a lot of personality and gets a long well with guys but I don’t know if he’s a guy you want starting a rebuild.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Bigle, you make some interesting points.

  7. cedar

    October 9, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    I agree with everyone that someone versed in analytics is the direction the O’s need in a manager. Do we know that Kendall and Bordick are not part of the analytic crowd?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      Managers need to accept and understand how to use analytical information, Cedar. I think having an open mind is key.

  8. Chuck

    October 9, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I think this is much like any business leadership hiring process: In order to stay successful, strong organizations promote from within; struggling organizations go outside for new ideas, heightened goals, objectivity, and no baggage. Kendall’s not the guy, even if he is a sentimental favorite.

    Regarding Bordick, I’d really like to know the reasons he wouldn’t coach but he wants to manage. You mention Alex Cora as a guy with a broadcasting pedigree, but if I’m not mistaken he was the bench coach for the defending world champs. And, if you go back through the years, you can find a lot of guys (all the way back to Jerry Coleman in San Diego) who crashed and burned after going from the booth to the field.

    Familiarity is a tempting siren, but you shouldn’t use it as a hiring criterion.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      Interesting thoughts, Chuck. You are exactly right about Cora. He was with ESPN from 2013-16 and with Houston last year.

      Thanks for bringing back the memory of Jerry Coleman. Larry Dierker had some success as manager with the Astros after years in broadcasting.

      Managers can come from anywhere. I’d guess that the Orioles will go outside.

  9. BirdsCaps

    October 9, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    I was also thinking about Kendall as a replacement for Buck. With Kendall you would be getting an exceedingly low key guy. Also, having observed his time in Aberdeen, he’s one of the nicest people in the business. His time in Bowie would mean that he would provide stability to the young players, which would likely be a plus. On the other hand, he has been a part of the organization, during their years of failure to develop talent (especially pitching). He could be a fill in for a few years (e.g. Trembly or Perlozzo), or he could make a good bench/3rd base coach. The bottom line is Kendall would provide a player friendly option, but he might be too easy going and fail to motivate a young team.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      It sounds as if you’ve been scouting
      Kendall for some time, BirdsCaps.

      • BirdsCaps

        October 10, 2018 at 12:51 am

        I’ve been an ironbirds season ticket holder and he managed quite a few years there.

  10. JmB

    October 10, 2018 at 10:00 am

    How about a hybrid situation: bringing in a guy from outside the organization to manage and have Kendall as one of his coaches since he knows the players and organization so well; Kendall can then get valuable experience at the major league level in a no pressure situation.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 9:15 am

      JmB, I think that’s a possibility because Kendall knows the organization so well.

  11. trevise-en

    October 10, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    All of this just being speculation, since a op-head hasn’t been interviewed, let alone, hired yet. I believe that one outsider that should be seriously considered, if he isn’t the choice for the recently ‘Scioscia’ vacated position in Anaheim, is Eric Chavez. He would check a lot of the boxes that need to be checked, in order to be of serious consideration for a manager’s position.

  12. GSISDANNO

    October 10, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Gary Kendall may not have played in the majors but he has plenty of credibility. Gary is as good of a choice as anyone the Orioles can hire.

  13. willmiranda

    October 11, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I would want to know one thing from both Bordick and Kendall since they are both familiar with many on the roster. Can you win with these guys? I would want a candid assessment of the players. I suspect the answer is “No,” which is why their familiarity with the players is unimportant and why an outsider, without attachments to present personnel, will be targeted.

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