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.
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.