After weeks of speculation, the Orioles have finally hired Buck Showalter as their next manager.
Currently on pace to finish with the worst record in franchise history, the Orioles (31-70) will hedge their bets on Showalter—and his .514 career winning percentage (882-833)—to steer a sunken ship for the remainder of 2010 in hopes of making improvements in the offseason.
“My job with ESPN allowed me to follow this organization closely over the last several years, and although the current record may seem to indicate otherwise, I see enormous potential with this club,” Showalter said in a statement released by the Orioles. “I look forward to the challenge of competing in the American League East. Baltimore is a tremendous baseball town with passion and pride in its club and my family and I look forward to making it our new home.”
Showalter will reportedly take over the club next Tuesday, Aug. 3 when the Orioles begin a seven-game homestand against the Los Angeles Angels. Reports indicate he has agreed to manage the club for the rest of the season and will receive a three-year contract through 2013.
“Buck Showalter’s proven track record makes him the right choice for manager of the Orioles and we are thrilled to add a two-time Manager of the Year to our organization,” president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in a press release. “We believe Buck’s extensive experience and expertise will be a major benefit to us as we look towards a more successful future.”
The current ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst takes control from interim manager Juan Samuel, who has managed the Orioles since Dave Trembley was fired on June 4 after an abysmal 15-39 start. Samuel has guided the Orioles to a 16-31 record since taking over on a temporary basis.
Samuel will resume his original duties as third base coach when Showalter takes the reins next week. Current third base coach Gary Allenson will return to manage Triple-A Norfolk. All other coaches will remain on the staff through the end of the season.
The 54-year-old Showalter brings 11 years of prior managerial experience, guiding the Yankees (1992-1995), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000), and most recently, the Texas Rangers (2002-2006). He was named American League Manager of the Year in 1994 and 2004.
Showalter managed the Yankees through the 1995 season, paving the way for their first World Series victory in 18 years in 1996. He also led the Diamondbacks in the infancy of the franchise before being dismissed in 2000, a year before Arizona won its first World Series under new manager Bob Brenly.
“[Showalter] is probably one of the best managers I played for,” former Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Greg Colbrunn recently told WNST.net. “What he did with the organization and all of them, he built it from scratch. I still don’t think he gets enough credit for being there and building the franchise up for the 2001 World Series that we won. He did an excellent job.”
In addition to his reputation for leaving franchises in better shape than they were when arriving, Showalter is a respected in-game strategist with high expectations of his players.
“As far as game managing, he was probably the best game manager I’ve been around, building an organization from ground up,” said Colbrunn, who also played for Bobby Cox in Atlanta and Tom Kelly in Minnesota during his 13-year career. “I think his track record probably is as good as anyone’s out there.”
Showalter becomes the 10th manager of the Baltimore Orioles since Peter Angelos became majority owner in 1993. Despite his reputation for turning around struggling franchises, transforming the major league-worst Orioles into a winner easily becomes the biggest challenge of his managerial career.
He will be introduced as Orioles manager on Monday afternoon, an off day for the club.