Friday, November 4, 2011

Angelos, O's have turned GM search into three-ring circus

The Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997. That's a span of 14 seasons, and in that time frame, many of the things the O's have done on the field have been rather embarrassing. Name just about anything awful on the field and the O's have accomplished it. That includes terrible overall play -- poor hitting, pitching, and fielding -- gut-wrenching losses, ill-conceived signings, ridiculous coaching moves, bad draft picks, and terrible decision-making all around. So it's not really surprising that the O's haven't won more games for a while, and they haven't exactly set themselves up well to succeed in the near future.

Still, even though the O's are far behind the rest of the AL East -- and a majority of MLB teams as well, for that matter -- they've had a few bright spots here and there. More recently, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis were supposed to form a solid outfield duo. Matt Wieters was supposed to be the next Joe Mauer, maybe even better. And youngsters Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton were supposed to help turn around a horrendous pitching staff. I guess there's some time left for one of two of those things to happen, and I'm obviously leaving plenty of things out, but the point is this: With all of the losses, failed draft picks, and underperforming players, the most embarrassing and frustrating situation with the O's may be the absurd search for a general manager that's taking place right now.

This is what has happened so far:

- Jerry Dipoto, who may have been the O's top choice, took his name out of consideration when he accepted the same role with the Angels. There's no question that's a much better job, and it's hard to blame him for making that decision.

- Tony LaCava, assistant GM for the Blue Jays, also took his name out of consideration for the O's job after a second interview (with Peter Angelos involved in the talks). Instead of taking a job with another team, LaCava decided to return to Toronto as assistant GM. As reported by Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (via a few sources), LaCava wanted to get rid of some of Angelos's front office minions, but that just wasn't going to happen. Knobler added:
Specifically, those sources said, LaCava wanted to clear out some long-term front-office people whose jobs have been protected by Angelos. Angelos refused to do that, even though he was willing to pay LaCava a competitive salary and to bring in other front-office people that LaCava wanted to hire (including Mike Berger, currently the director of pro scouting with the Diamondbacks).
So much for fans hoping that Angelos would make an intelligent hire and get out of the way. Unfortunately, there's more.

- Even though he was one of the first interviews the team made, Dodgers assistant GM DeJon Watson removed his name from consideration yesterday. Apparently Watson was not thought of as a favorite to get the job, so he moved on. If you're scoring at home, that's three candidates to take their names out of the running, and that's not counting the number of potential candidates who refused to be interviewed in the first place.

- After being denied permission to interview Twins vice president Mike Radcliff, the O's found out that Red Sox vice president Allard Baird had denied the O's request to interview for the position.

So, as of right now, here are the candidates who have yet to remove their names from consideration:

Dan Duquette, former Red Sox and Expos GM
Scott Proefrock, Phillies assistant GM
John Stockstill, O's player development director

Those three have all been interviewed, and the fourth name currently involved is Yankees vice president Damon Oppenheimer, who may also be interviewing soon.

When the interview process started, the O's had several interesting names on their wish list. Now, though, after being rejected by many of those names, the O's appear to be scraping the bottom of the barrel. That's not meant as an insult to the names involved, but when so many other promising candidates have turned the O's down, it's easy to wonder why exactly anyone would take such a flawed job.

I don't think anyone was expecting the O's GM search to go smoothly, except maybe Angelos. But what is he thinking? Many fans have complained about Angelos's meddling ways for years now, but this is the most obvious example of him getting in the way that I can remember. Maybe I'm forgetting some of his interfering from a few years ago, perhaps with wanting to sign overpriced veterans or refusing to consider others, but now his stubbornness appears to be ruining any chance the O's had at hiring a legitimate, up-and-coming GM. The O's organization has so many holes, and they desperately need a GM who's going to come in, clean house if necessary, and start to run things the right way -- whatever that happens to be. But with Angelos around, that just doesn't seem possible. The O's seem to be headed nowhere quickly, and they need direction and front office leadership. And, as many fans know, a good GM is, um, kind of important.

When asked why no one seems to want the O's GM job, Keith Law may have said it best: "The next GM is set up to fail." But, hey, as long as Angelos's guys are all taken care of and comfortable, who cares about watching a terrible team for the foreseeable future?

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