MacPhail’s ‘one voice’ is a welcome sound

August 01, 2007 | Drew Forrester

Someone better check me for a fever.

Earlier this week, I offered a prediction that the Orioles are going to be playoff contenders in 2008 (with the right off-season moves this winter).  Now, I’m becoming a believer in Andy MacPhail.

101.2 degrees?  Really?  I felt flushed.

I’m NOT a believer in MacPhail because he took a pass on Mark Teixeira yesterday.  I think that was wrong and I think the club missed out on precisely the type of “franchise player” they need to improve both on and off the field.  So, you’re asking, how can I be a believer in MacPhail after he failed to bring in Teixeira?  (see, I really am getting nice in my old age…the “old Drew” would have called him “MacPhailure”).

I’m a believer in MacPhail because I think it’s very evident he IS the only voice of the club right now.  I’m sure that probably doesn’t bode well for the future of Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette, but those two will land on their feet somewhere else, I assure you.  Baseball’s tight-knit executive family always finds a home for their own and those two will stay in the game.

When I listened in on the MacPhail press conference today, I didn’t hear any “spin”.  Maybe that’s because O’s Communications Director Greg Bader wasn’t texting Andy the answers to the questions posed by the media…they actually trust MacPhail enough to let him answer his own questions.  Today, question after question, MacPhail took time to reasonably explain himself and get the answer out there loud and clear.

I specifically asked him about the Teixeira talks with Texas and he simply said, “the fans would have been disappointed with what we had to give up to get him.”

Rumors circulating around town – and I got this one from a fairly reliable every-day-at-the-ballpark media type – are that the Rangers initial proposal to the O’s was Teixeira for Bedard, Markakis and Loewen.  That’s what the O’s are saying, anyway.

Let me say this – and let me say it without specifically calling anyone an out-and-out fibber.  I don’t believe it.  I don’t think there’s a GM in baseball who would call an experienced guy like Andy MacPhail and say, “we’ll give you Mark Teixeira for Erik Bedard, Nick Markakis and Adam Loewen.  What do you think, Mac?”

I don’t know why the Orioles didn’t get Teixeira.  The Braves certainly didn’t give up their own version of Bedard-Markakis-Loewen.  They gave up four unproven players, although one of them has had a decent half-a-season so far in the big leagues (Salty) and the others are highly rated by minor league scouts everywhere.  But the facts are the facts:  Atlanta gave up FAR less than the O’s reportedly would have had to give up.

So, I don’t believe them when they say Texas wanted too much.  I think they probably are trying to protect themselves from the disappointed fans in Baltimore, who just saw the hometown legend go in the Hall of Fame Sunday and now look around and say to themselves, “when we will EVER make that trip to Cooperstown again?”.  So, I think they’re clouding over the real reasons (whatever they are) they didn’t want Teixeira.

But here’s the thing.  I’m not really sure I care that I don’t believe them.

You know why?

Because I think Andy MacPhail just might be in charge over there at the Warehouse.  And if he’s in charge – and he truly is the ONE voice running the club – I can accept the fact that perhaps MacPhail just didn’t think Teixeira was the right fit at this point in the club’s building process.  He can’t say that publicly, of course, because “Tex” might be the right fit in the winter of ’08 when he’s a free agent.

But it’s been so long since “the baseball people made baseball decisions” that I can’t begin to tell you how good it sounds, to me anyway, to hear the team’s GM talk as if he’s making the calls and willing to take the heat for them.  I like that.  If MacPhail didn’t want Teixeira, no matter what the fans want(ed), that’s his role as the head-honcho to make the decision to pass on him.  He’ll be judged on that decision, of course, in ’08, ’09 and beyond, but the “one voice” we’re hearing is much better than hearing different things from different people in the warehouse – which has been standing operating procedure over there for a long, long time.

This much is absolutely true:  If it comes to pass that MacPhail is allowed to do his job by himself, he has a MUCH better chance at success than if the owner decides to make it a “power triangle” of baseball experts, all of which have different opinions, different philosophies and, ultimately, different levels of experience on how to get the job done the right way.

Now, if only MacPhail could convince the franchise that the fans really DO matter – and that BALTIMORE should be on the road jerseys – and that the players and front office executives should be allowed to talk one-on-one with all members of the media (like the Ravens allow for) – and that Elrod’s number should be retired – and that Cal’s “2632” should be permanently painted into the warehouse wall – and that the Manager and the players should have to spend at least 45 days of the off-season in Baltimore helping to promote the next (upcoming) season – and that publishing fictitious attendance numbers only causes snickering and raised eyebrows……

Well, if he could do all of that – and produce a winner.  That would confirm that he does, indeed, have one strong voice.