Saturday thoughts on O’s woes and the Ripken/Angelos story

April 17, 2010 | Drew Forrester

It’s almost time for the F-word.

Another week of losing and it’s inevitable, I suppose.

The Orioles fell to 1-10 last night with a 4-2 loss to the Oakland A’s.  Shut down by the great Dallas Braden.

The results will show that the O’s don’t have enough good players to compete.

But that’s not going to save the manager, Dave Trembley, if this stumble continues.

Hence, the “F-word”.

If this thing doesn’t turn around quickly – as in, during this road trip – Trembley is probably going to be fired.  I don’t really think it’s fair, but I understand it.

You can’t fire the players.

I fired a coach once in mid-season.  I didn’t have a choice.  There were 3-4 players I should have fired instead, but I couldn’t.  So Dave MacWilliams wound up paying the price for their lack of heart and effort.

Dave Trembley might not be a great manager, but his impact on the game is FAR less than that of his players.  And from my vantage point through 11 games, some of them are bordering on throw-in-the-towel-status.  And it’s not even May yet.

I don’t know the magic number for when you have to fire the manager to try and rescue some level of potential for the season.  With the Yankees and Red Sox dominating the schedule over the next 21 days, it’s entirely reasonable to think the O’s could get off to some kind of unthinkable start like 5-20 — or worse.

Don’t dismiss this notion either.  Maybe they DON’T fire Trembley for one good reason:  They can’t find anyone else to take the job.  And please don’t say “anyone can do a better job than Trembley”.  That might not be true.

I’m not advocating the manager be fired, by the way.  I’m simply saying it’s bound to happen in the next two weeks if the team can’t right itself from this early season debacle.

And now there’s news from Ken Rosenthal and Fox Sports that Cal Ripken went to Peter Angelos and suggested he join the O’s staff and Angelos said “no”.

Fair enough…Angelos owns the team, he can hire (and fire, as we’ve seen) anyone he wants.

But before everyone gets up in arms over this, shouldn’t we all know what kind of job Ripken wanted with the club?

I’m not going to bellyache about this too much until I know the answer to that question.

Would it be good for the club to have Cal Ripken, Jr. attached to their organization?  Without question.

But what job did Ripken want?

They already have a general manager.  His name is Andy MacPhail.

Did Ripken want a hand or a say in player acquisition/player development?  Did he – for lack of a better term – want to be Andy’s assistant?

If so, maybe Peter felt that wasn’t fair to Andy.

Until we know precisely what job Ripken was trying to create for himself, it’s hard to make an assessment on this whole situation.

Maybe Peter doesn’t want Cal close to the whole thing right now because he’s thinking about selling the franchise to him down the road.  If that’s the case, perhaps Angelos doesn’t want Cal hovering around on a daily basis learning the ins and outs of the team’s financial situation.  Think about it.  If you owned a successful restaurant, would you want to bring in a potential buyer to serve as the manager of the place a year before you were going to sell it to him?  That wouldn’t make for good bargaining power, would it?  Of course not.

Maybe, just maybe, Peter doesn’t want Cal too close to the situation right now because Junior might learn the secret-of-all-secrets about the Orioles organization.  They’re MUCH more concerned about making money than winning.  If Cal took a gig and said next October, “you know, we really should make a run at Cliff Lee”, what would his reaction be when the doors were shut and he was told, “Cal…we can’t invest that kind of money in a player.  It affects our ability to make a $40 million profit every year.”  How would he react to that kind of “full disclosure”?

There’s also a theory floating around that Angelos doesn’t want Ripken involved because he wouldn’t want the O’s Hall of Famer to “get the credit” when the team returns to prominence.

In fairness, that’s a very Angelosian theory.

And it could very well be true.

I can close my eyes right now and hear him say, “You know, we’re close to competing again and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let Cal come in here at the very end and look like he’s the white knight.  I’m the one who has suffered through this 13 years, getting beat up by the press and that two-bit radio station.  And I’m the one who brought in Andy to get this fixed.  And Cal’s not going to come in here at the 11th hour and get the credit that Andy and I deserve.”

It’s entirely reasonable to think that’s part of the equation.

But until I know what position Ripken was lobbying for, it’s tough to lash out.

For all we know, Cal might have gone to Peter and said, “Let me manage the team”.

And Peter would have said, rightfully, “You know, Cal, that’s Andy’s department, not mine.  I can’t do that for you.”

So let’s do the right thing and table our frustration with Angelos until we know the whole story about Cal’s request for a job.

By the way, just as an aside.  Does anyone else find it odd that Ripken asked the O’s for a job?  As in…it’s usually the other way around.  Doesn’t the employer usually seek out the employee?

Anyway, we might not ever find out what position Ripken wanted.  For all we know, the whole story might not even be true.  But if it IS true — until we learn what he wanted to do with the club, specifically, it’s not worth barking about.