Passing to Buck: Orioles turn to Showalter in their latest miracle-worker effort

July 29, 2010 | Drew Forrester

I hope Buck Showalter knows what he’s getting into.

I’m sure he THINKS he knows what he’s getting into by taking the managerial job in Baltimore.

But, then again, Lee Mazzilli thought he knew.  And so did Sam Perlozzo.  And Dave Trembley.

Turns out, they didn’t know.

Now, it goes without saying that Buck Showalter is far more accomplished – FAR MORE – than any of those three guys…or all three put together, frankly.

But coming to Baltimore and taking the Orioles job and expecting to turn this thing around anytime soon would require the efforts of a miracle worker.

There’s a rumor floating around that Andy MacPhail offered the job to Jesus – twice – and both times the big man just laughed and said, “Are you nuts?  I can’t even pull that off.  And I’ve done some pretty impressive things in my day.”

Showalter is scheduled to start his Orioles stint on Tuesday at Camden Yards.  By Thursday, he’ll probably wonder why he took the job.  The following Friday when his first check goes into direct deposit, he’ll remember why.

The behind-the-scenes story that will eventually become the focal point of this hiring will revolve around control and who calls the shots and who sits in the background and pretends they’re OK with the other guy calling the shots.

Will Showalter run this team and mandate that his fingerprints be all over the roster, as many believe he demanded as part of the negotiation?

Or will MacPhail continue to pull the strings and keep Showalter at arm’s length?

Most people who KNOW Showalter are privately saying Buck wouldn’t have signed off on the deal had he not felt comfortable with the amount of control he would retain as the manager.

Then again, most people felt the same way about Andy MacPhail when he took the job.  MacPhail himself said, “if I can’t have complete control, I won’t be here.”  Three years later, there are rumors flaming throughout cyberspace that Showalter was the choice of Peter Angelos.  MacPhail wanted Eric Wedge.  Believe it if you wish — I, frankly, NEVER know what to believe when it comes to the Orioles, so I don’t know which side of the fence I’m on with that one.  But if it’s true and MacPhail preferred Wedge over Showalter, there goes the “it’s your team to run” theory out the window.

Showalter has no idea what he’s getting into here.

This isn’t the Yankees, where you win 65 games a year just because your road uniforms read “NEW YORK” across the front.

This is the Orioles.  And we have about 4 players who can play.  And maybe two pitchers.  And a couple of other live arms that need some tutoring. Of the 25 guys on the roster right now, I can think of six I’d take on MY team.

I hope Showalter comes in, stomps his feet and demands better players from Angelos and MacPhail.  I hope he’s a prick to deal with in the Warehouse and I hope he threatens to fight people if the roster isn’t improved and quality free agents aren’t pursued.

If Buck comes in and does what every other manager has done in recent times — take the shabby roster and do the best you can with it until you finish 40 games under .500 and you get the boot — then we’ll be right back on this managerial carousel sometime around June of 2013.

The Orioles need better players.  That’s not a news flash to anyone.

And even though I think Showalter can help them get better – marginally so, but still, better – in the last two months of this season, Buck’s real taste of life in Baltimore will come this winter when the club dips its toe in the free-agent market and pulls off a Garrett Atkins signing or two.  If that happens – AGAIN – and the roster isn’t improved in the off-season, Buck can bring in LeBron, D.Wade and Bosh and the O’s still aren’t winning any games.

I realize Jesus turned down the job, but Buck might want to keep him updated on what’s going on here.

I have a feeling Showalter is going to need all the help he can get over the next three-plus years.