Baseball would be better if Buck Showalter returns to the dugout - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Baseball would be better if Buck Showalter returns to the dugout

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

It’s been just over a year since Buck Showalter’s eight-plus-year tenure as Orioles’ manager ended. Since then, the Orioles have undergone a makeover, and Showalter, the 24th-winningest manager in baseball history, has been out of the game.

This year, Showalter spent most of the year in his Dallas home. In the second half of the season, he did studio commentary and a few games for the New York Yankees YES network.

While there’s no doubt that Showalter is a superior baseball observer, he’s a better manager. And although he often proclaimed during his Orioles years that Baltimore was his final stop, he would love the challenge of managing a fifth major league team.

ESPN’s Buster Onley has reported that Manny Machado has implored the San Diego Padres to at least consider him as their new manager.

Machado, who signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres before the 2019 season, flourished under Showalter in Baltimore. But under manager Andy Green, who was dismissed by San Diego late in the season, Machado hit just .256, the lowest in any of his eight seasons. He also had 32 homers and 85 RBIs.

In San Diego, Machado was back at third base, his position for most of his Orioles career, and where Showalter thinks he fits best.

The Padres have some exciting young players in 20-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and right-handed pitcher Chris Paddack, both of whom are likely to receive National League Rookie of the Year votes.

San Diego’s farm system is ranked among the best in baseball, and that would make the Padres’ job a plum.

However, a report on Tuesday night in the San Diego Union-Tribune said that Showalter was not being considered by the Padres.

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Showalter also would work well with the New York Mets, who last week fired Mickey Callaway, who also pitched for Showalter with Texas in 2003 and 2004.

Showalter’s first managerial job was with the New York Yankees from 1992-1995, and he is respected by the New York media.

But Showalter’s vast experience might be trumped by some recent experience. His principal competition for the Mets’ job could be Joe Girardi, who managed the Yankees from 2008-2017.

Girardi has provided incisive television commentary this season. His work on Fox Sports during the Houston-Tampa Bay series has been exemplary.

It could turn out that the best landing place for Showalter is one that isn’t open at the moment.

The Philadelphia Phillies have undertaken an extraordinarily long examination of Gabe Kapler’s two seasons as manager and might not make a decision on his future until later this week.

There have been whispers linking Showalter to a possible opening in Philadelphia, and many reasons to believe it would be a good fit.

Showalter has been an admirer of Phillies team president Andy MacPhail, who hired him to manage the Orioles in July 2010.

Although general manager Matt Klentak hired Kapler, Showalter liked his work under MacPhail with the Orioles.

The Phillies also have several former Oriole employees — Dean Albany, Ned Rice and Ben Werthan in their front office, all of whom have a relationship with Showalter.

Showalter has a long association with Phillies infield coach Bobby Dickerson, who coached third base for the Orioles. He also worked with bench coach Rob Thomson in the Yankees’ minor league system.

Before Showalter hired Scott Coolbaugh to be the Orioles’ hitting coach, he attempted to convince longtime Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to come out of retirement and work in Baltimore. This year, Manuel served as Philadelphia’s hitting coach in the season’s final weeks.

Showalter would play well with the rabid fan base in Philadelphia, which hasn’t warmed up to Kapler. He’d also hold his own with the aggressive media.

Besides the openings in New York and San Diego, there are also vacancies with the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

Showalter hasn’t been mentioned for any of those jobs. Joe Maddon, who was dismissed by the Cubs at the end of the season, is the heavy favorite to take over the Angels.

Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is said to be the leading candidate in Kansas City, although that vacancy might not be filled until a sale of the Royals is official.

At 63, Showalter still has a lot to give, and he’d love to manage a team that could play in the World Series, the biggest void in his career.

He also represents something that is generally missing in baseball, the big personality manager.

In recent years, Dusty Baker, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland and Joe Torre — managers with big personalities, significant accomplishments and who were media savvy — have departed.

Most of their replacements have been less quotable and haven’t become fan favorites.

Maddon and Detroit’s Ron Gardenhire are two of the few remaining personalities among managers. Some of the newer managers are certainly media friendly, including Showalter’s capable successor with the Orioles, Brandon Hyde.

Showalter’s possible return to managing would be good news. He improved each of the four teams he’s managed, and he always seemed to know what to say and how to handle himself, even during the Orioles’ 115-loss season.

Most of all, baseball would be better with Buck Showalter in it.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    October 9, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Couldn’t agree more…go Buck…go O’s…

  2. NormOs

    October 9, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I agree, Buck should be managing again. Baseball needs him as well as Joe Girardi and Dusty Baker.

  3. deqalt

    October 9, 2019 at 8:31 am

    100% agree great manager. He was terrific to the fans of Baltimore. Outside of Joe Maddon the best available.

  4. Biff Pocoroba

    October 9, 2019 at 8:35 am

    So i guess we should ignore again how he hates today’s analytical approach, which certainly should be included in any story about him. It’s a reason, besides a personality that eventually grates on everyone except media that worships at his feet, that owners are leery of hiring him. Right or wrong. It’s a fact. He wears out his welcome and his old-school approach is a major issue. It’s OK to say that, too, Dubroff.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2019 at 8:51 am

      Always great to hear from you, Biff. You make some interesting points.

    • Raymo

      October 9, 2019 at 11:01 am

      I truly appreciate what Buck accomplished in Baltimore, but Biff’s points are more than interesting. They’re also accurate and relevant.

      • Phil770

        October 9, 2019 at 8:11 pm

        Apparently Girardi and Madden have the same impact as Buck. The nature of the beast. Buck made some big mistakes that he couldn’t regain his credibility. McPhail is old school too, maybe Buck learned some lessons and will get a chance.

    • Shamus

      October 9, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      Buff is 100% spot on…

    • Shamus

      October 9, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      I meant Biff

    • CalsPals

      October 9, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      His old school approach is much appreciated, today’s athletes all need coddled, he wasn’t a coddler…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      October 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm

      Right on

    • jtab

      October 9, 2019 at 10:00 pm

      This isn’t exactly true. His end with the Yankees was walked back by Steinbrenner almost immediately. The Rangers and Diamondbacks I can’t speak to, but the idea that he lost the team in Baltimore in 2016 is hard to believe when you remember how close this team was to a wild card at the end of August 2017. I think they just went clean sweep here last year.

      As for the analytics thing, he either overanalyzes everything or underanalyzes it — can’t be both. The fact is he was an early adopter to advanced stats back in the day and hasn’t dismissed them so much as he’s indicated that they can be *a* tool, not the tool in decision making. Which makes a lot of sense. As for why the cupboard was bare in Baltimore as far as analytics goes isn’t that on Duquette and Angelos? A truly old school GM and a penny-pinching owner. It seems to me like there was a rush to cast blame after everything fell apart and some people buy Duquettes side and some buy Bucks. I’ll believe the history that says Buck was someone who wouldn’t say no to a possible strategic advantage or more info if it was put in front of him. IF.

  5. Birdman

    October 9, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Just wondering, if Buck thinks Machado fits best at third, why did he give in to Manny’s demand to move to short?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2019 at 9:12 am

      The Orioles needed a shortstop with J.J. Hardy’s departure, and he thought Manny would be motivated to have a great season at short to show that he could play there. It turned out that Machado had a great first half offensively, but it’s obvious that he’s a better third baseman with the Padres, Birdman.

      • Lookouts400

        October 9, 2019 at 10:49 am

        Plus, the Pads have Tatis to play short, doubt if Manny plays short instead of the youngin’. In Baltimore, Manny’s move to SS left a gaping hole at third. Renny Nunez played the second most games at 3B for the 2018 Orioles, 59, Beckham played 40, Jace Peterson, 35. To say there was a defensive drop-off is like saying the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground.
        Unfortunately, Buck’s rep was forever damaged by Ubaldo Jimenez and Edwin Encarnacion.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    October 9, 2019 at 9:32 am

    I just don’t see it. Showalter is of a dying breed, the superstar manager. The guys upstairs firmly control the game now. Front offices don’t want the Billy Martin/Earl Weaver types that they can’t order around. They want guys who will do what the laptop tells them to do.

    • jtab

      October 9, 2019 at 9:52 pm

      That assumes that every team and every top executive feels that way. It’s a narrative, sure, but is it really true? The Phillies, for one, went that way with Kapler and his in-game decision making has left a lot to be desired. Maybe the time has come to try an alternative.

  7. DevoTion

    October 9, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Although, I like Buck and his time with the O’s was great for the most part. I don’t think he will be managing again. Like others have said, he’s too old school for today’s game. I’d like to see him on the bench somewhere again, but I don’t see it happening. Plus, I used to like him on Baseball Tonight, he’s great on TV in a role like that

  8. willmiranda

    October 9, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for the feature on Buck, Rich, but I think the real story is how many managerial vacancies there are. I remember Fred Hutchinson saying, “I always kept my bags packed,” but this is still remarkable instability. And from your comments I get the sense that either nobody really knows what they want in a manager or everybody has a different idea. I think the media –technology and personalities– have swallowed up the game and spit it out as entertainment (the E comes first in ESPN) not entirely focused on athletic performance. Actually managing the game is less important than fitting into a scenario for broadcast or social media. Hiring managers has become like finding candidates for Dancing with the Stars.

  9. jimcarter

    October 9, 2019 at 10:30 am

    The influx of former Orioles employees has certainly done nothing positive for the Phillies. For the last two seasons, they have underachieved. Adding yet another former Oriole is not going to turn things around. I’ll be shocked if Showalter ever manages another major league team. He’s not the same guy that served the Yankees or Diamondbacks. Today’s version is an old softy who worries that he’s going to disrespect his veterans (see Chris Davis in Buck’s lineups too many times). Additionally; he would pick “favorites” who would also see far more time on the field than they should. In hindsight; none of those guys ever achieved any lasting success and most are out of baseball now. As far as analytics go, Buck is a stranger. Yes; I think the whole analytics things has gone too far, but that’s the state of the game, whether you like it or not. With the exception of Maddon, I don’t see many teams gravitating toward the 60+ group for managerial hires. Look at the teams from this year’s playoffs. With the exception of Atlanta, every team is managed by someone under 60. In fact; the majority are in their 40s. Buck’s time has passed.

  10. Orial

    October 9, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Rich interesting that you mentioned Girardi’s work on the telecasts. Heard him gloating over the modern day use of analytics in today’s baseball. Hmmm sounds like him auditioning for managerial openings. Seriously though–there lies Buck’s problem-his seeming reluctance to adapt to it. Philly seems a likely spot. They seem “gut driven” instead of “analytically” driven. Rich you’ve done well keeping us talking. Good work.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Orial, I think Buck is more open to analytics than you might think, and I know that he studied them with the Orioles. He was an early proponent of using the infield shift.

      The previous management did not think analytics were a priority, and that put them behind other teams.

      I appreciate your kind words, Orial.

  11. PA Bird Lover

    October 9, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Great column on a great manager, Rich. Weaver and Buck were my two favorites. However, In my opinion, I’d be surprised to see Buck back in another dugout. My thought is he now is a Grandpa and is enjoying his time with the Grandchild(2).

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 9, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you, PA. I can tell you how much Buck loves being a grandfather, but he also enjoys the challenge of managing.

  12. Othosos

    October 9, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I had forgotten how many times I pointed out that Earl Weaver is given a lot of credit for advancing early theories pertaining to the analytical approach to baseball. Bill James is often quoted as saying that Earl and his 3×5 cards were the beginning of it all. Comparing hombre to Buck never feels right to me. Never mind Earl went to World Series as a manager, he was a completely different manager.

  13. OriolesNumber1Fan

    October 9, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    There’s only one spot that I would love for Buck to manage and that’s the Orioles! Never wanted them to let him go. I believe he would have loved to go through the rebuild but since he and I didn’t have a vote we all know what happened. But if the Phillies come calling, I think he would definitely go there for one last shot at a World Series because of the familiarity with the front office and his relationship with Andy MacPhail. He would definitely turn that team around. He’s the smartest baseball man walking and any team would benefit from him in their dugout. And I’m sick and tired of hearing about Buck and him not adhering to the analytics. Couldn’t be more BS! Spend 5 minutes with him and he’ll tell you there’s a place for it in baseball. And finally, the BS with Albaldo over Britton is certainly BS! Everyone knows you don’t waste using your closer on the road in a tie game. If Albaldo just did his job or better yet, if Duquette didn’t have him on their roster to begin with. Wasting a draft pick for that slug is beyond me. Never gave Buck a decent staff! Trading away cy young Jake Arrieta for a rental 5 starter at best. Where’s the analytics in that??? But anyway, that’s my guess, the Phillies, if they’re smart.

  14. Camden Brooks

    October 9, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Easy for some to criticize Buck now, but here’s my question…why weren’t you talking all this smack when the O’s won the division by 12 games, or making the playoffs as a wild card team. Not gonna lie, I get a bit tired of all the 20-20 hindsight managers and GM’s on here who always seem to know more than anyone associated with the Orioles.

    • CalsPals

      October 10, 2019 at 7:39 am

      Totally agree…go Buck…go O’s…

  15. Bhoffman1

    October 9, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Sorry baseball would be better if Buck stayed in retirement. He had his run , made his money and never won a World Series. I hold him partly responsible for this teams decline.

    • ClayDal

      October 10, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      So what part of the teams decline is Buck responsible for? J J Hardy getting old? Adam Jones losing range in CF? Ownership not having a presence in Latin America? Manny getting too expensive? Chris Davis collapsing after signing a 161 million dollar contract? Trumbo, Wieters, and O’Day getting hurt? The riots of 2015? Buck was hardly perfect ( Ubaldo 2016 Toronto ) but he brought credibility to the franchise after 14 losing seasons. It was time to move on from him and Dan, but they deserve credit for the 3 playoff runs from 2012-16

  16. Mlretiree

    October 10, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Showalter would have been a better manager with the analytics that are now in place with the Orioles. I was happy to see him go as I couldn’t stand his seat of the pants decisions which were so often wrong. Now I see he had far less information to work with than other opposition managers. Too bad! Good man, good manager!

  17. Ekim

    October 10, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Showalter had his “day(s)” but they’re gone. Let the thought die with some good memories”

  18. jimcarter

    October 24, 2019 at 11:30 am

    The campaign by the Baltimore media to promote Showalter isn’t working out thus far. It seems most teams are gravitating toward younger managers and/or ones who didn’t have 2 consecutive last place division finishes. The Mets are pretty dysfunctional, they appear to be Buck’s only (very slim) hope to see a ML dugout again.

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