Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Facing important decisions, O's moving slowly

I've had a couple of people ask me what I think the Orioles will do this offseason, and I honestly have no idea. They could go big and sign a few free agents, they could add a couple of pitchers and a hitter or two, or maybe they will target a few low-priced, underappreciated players and hope they outperform expectations. But, really, the first step to the O's making any of those decisions is figuring out who the guy calling the shots is going to be, and there still seems to be some confusion over whether Andy MacPhail is going to return or if Buck Showalter will leave the dugout to take a front office position.

Like the rest of us, Peter Schmuck continues to wait:
Until there is a detemination on both fronts, it's hard to do more than speculate about the eventual composition and hierarchy in the Warehouse. MacPhail had given every indication that he would not remain after his contract expires at the end of this month, but the fact that he and the club have not made a quick announcement clearly indicates that Angelos wants him to stay connected to the club in some capacity. If he does, then it seems more likely that Showalter will remain in the dugout.
I like MacPhail and Showalter, but I'm not quite sure if I want either of them as the team's general manager (or president of baseball operations, or whatever). In MacPhail's case, I think he's done a decent job in his O's tenure, but I don't think he's taken enough chances. He's made a few solid trades, but there have also been some signings (Michael Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, and Vladimir Guerrero to name a few) that didn't make much sense and didn't have much of a chance of working out.

This decision is extremely important, mostly because the O's are faced with the difficult task of finding out exactly why so many of their top minor league players keep failing at the major league level. Matt Wieters and Zach Britton may have turned the corner, but what about Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman, Josh Bell, and Nolan Reimold? And those are just some names from the last few years; there have been dozens of talented players to come through the O's farm system who haven't gotten the job done. Is it a scouting thing? A coaching thing? It's probably a combination of both, but whatever the issue is, the O's need to eventually sort it out.

If the O's are ever going to be competitive again in the AL East, they'll need lots of contributions from their farm system, particularly their top prospects. Someone from outside the organization may view the team's problems differently than MacPhail or Showalter, but he'd also have to deal with Peter Angelos. And that's certainly no easy task.

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