It’s simple, really…MacPhail can’t whiff on his 2nd managerial hire

June 06, 2010 | Drew Forrester

Let’s do what we always do here and call it like it is.

Dave Trembley – as a manager for the Baltimore Orioles – was a complete whiff.

In his nearly 3-year tenure as the team’s skipper, including two full seasons as the sole man in charge, the O’s weren’t very good and Trembley wasn’t much better.

I’ll spare everyone the talk and rhetoric about how Trembley didn’t have much to work with (he didn’t), or how the O’s were supposed to give him some good players (they didn’t) or how a handful of the young players who were advertised as “ready for the bigs” have struggled.

We all know this much:  The Orioles can’t get out of last place in the American League East because their players aren’t good enough.

But in his time year, Trembley wasn’t good enough, either.

Some of that is his fault, of course.

And some of it is the fault of the guy who hired him…and that would be Andy MacPhail.

With Juan Samuel serving as the organization’s interim manager, we’re all assuming MacPhail is busy plotting the team’s new full-time managerial hire.

I don’t know who they’re going to hire but I do know this.  MacPhail better not screw this one up, too.

He picked Trembley.  And that was a bad choice.

This organization simply can’t afford another bad choice.

I find it EXTREMELY interesting that Andy MacPhail has never once talked with Rick Dempsey about the (now) two managerial openings he’s had during his tenure as the team’s General Manager.

I’m not advocating Dempsey for the job, but I’m also smart enough to know his history with the organization and willingness to bleed orange and black should at least get him an interview and some reasonably sincere consideration.

In reality, this, right now, would have been the perfect occasion to give Dempsey a uniform and appoint him the team’s interim skipper.  In all fairness, with no disrespect intended to Samuel, what’s Juan Samuel done to deserve this opportunity?  Answer:  nothing.

Dempsey, of course, is nothing short of a hero in Baltimore and has been ever since he was the World Series MVP in 1983.  And for as long as anyone can remember, he’s been campaigning, privately and publicly, for his chance to run the ballclub.

I’ve never really championed Rick Dempsey’s cause, but I must at least admit he’s worth considering.

MacPhail — according to Dempsey on a recent MASN broadcast — hasn’t ever approached the Dipper about the job.

I smell something odd about that.

Maybe, just maybe, the Birds don’t want Dempsey knowing all the war room secrets…

The secrets about not wanting to spend money on players to compete.  The secrets about keeping the payroll in check in order to maximize profits. The secrets about wanting the manager to just keep quiet and fill out the lineup card while “the powers that be” assemble the playing roster.

MacPhail is faced with a unique situation in Manager-Search-Number-Two.

By now, any unemployed former-manager who follows Major League Baseball knows the deal with the Orioles.  Their roster is sub-par.  Their offense is worse than that. And even if Brian Roberts, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold all return in July, this is a team that won’t threaten .500.

The names you hear as possible candidates…guys like Phil Garner and Bob Melvin and Buck Showalter and Bobby Valentine…they’re not going to sign up for this gig unless they have some reasonable assurance from MacPhail that he’s going to spend money on players and actually TRY to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays.

I think any of those four would like the job and the salary that goes with it, but I also think they’d be reluctant to sign up for a tour with the American League’s version of the Detroit Lions.

A guy looking for his first big chance, though, will take whatever they give him and vow to “make it work”.

But it won’t work.

It won’t work like this, eschewing quality, proven veteran players with a high price tag and substituting career journeymen who play for meal money and another year of service towards their pension.

A younger manager, that guy looking for his chance – Dave Trembley, for instance – won’t question the off-season signings or lack thereof.  He’ll proclaim any signing as a positive one and will point out how that player “makes us better”.

Sounds like a model employee to me.

Sounds like Juan Samuel to me.

For the Orioles sake more than anything else, I hope they consider guys like B.J. Surhoff (my personal choice of any ex-Oriole), Rick Dempsey, and, even, Billy Ripken.

All three of those guys have flaws, the biggest of which is no formal major league managerial experience.  But the Orioles desperately need to find someone who is embarrassed at the organization’s downward spiral and will work 24/7 to try and turn it around.

I honestly believe Dave Trembley bled a little orange and black.  I really do.

And there are some things about Trembley that I’d like to see the new manager possess.

More than anything else, I want the Orioles to find someone that loves the franchise and can’t stand the thought of seeing this 16-41 start implode into something ungodly like a 50-win campaign in 2010.

I don’t know much about Bobby Valentine or Buck Showalter or even Phil Garner, but I know they never played for the Orioles and I doubt very seriously that they’re disgusted with the way the organization has fallen apart over the last decade.

Bob Melvin, of course, played for the Orioles.  And while it was only three seasons worth, Melvin does, at least, have some connection to the club that others do not.

Surhoff and Dempsey should both be considered.

But I don’t know if either of them are willing to just nod approvingly and say “whatever you think Andy” when it comes time to putting the roster together in the off-season.

Dempsey, I’m sure, would not be satisfied with the likes of Tejada, Atkins and Gonzalez (as examples) next winter.  Dempsey has seen the Orioles get their brains beat in enough by the Yankees and Red Sox to know you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken manure.

He might know TOO much, unfortunately, but Dempsey knows the truth:  If you want to compete in the American League, you have to do it with quality, not smoke and mirrors.

Surhoff’s no-nonsense, prideful approach as a player would hopefully bleed over into his managerial style.  He was always labeled a cerebral player, which blends in nicely with dugout work.  And he has stayed here since his playing days ended, watching the collapse from a unique point-of-view.  He was part of the team’s last successful run.  I’m sure he’d like to be part of their return to respectability.

I doubt Surhoff gets any formal consideration from MacPhail and I’m almost certain Dempsey won’t get a sniff.

I assume MacPhail’s search will include the likes of Willie Randolph, Phil Garner and Bob Melvin.  It wouldn’t shock me to hear Davey Johnson’s name get churned through the rumor mill and I’d consider that a “good” hiring by the Orioles if they can pull it off.

The issue MacPhail will face by hiring any veteran manager is obvious:  A veteran manager with a track record will pressure the club to sign veteran players with track records.  A guy like Garner or Valentine or Johnson will take one look at the likes of Montanez, Moore, Pie and Atkins and say, in no uncertain terms, “you don’t expect me to win games with those scrubs, do you?”  A veteran manager will demand an improved player roster from MacPhail.

To date, nearly three years into his run with the O’s, MacPhail hasn’t delivered an improved player roster to ANYONE…not to the manager, the team, the owner or the fans.

A rookie manager might accept a scaled-down payroll and a team built-to-win-in-three-years and we all know what happens in that scenario. Year number three rolls around and you get canned.  Just ask…Dave Trembley.

A veteran manager would see through that scam the same way you see through those folks who bug you for money in Harborplace.  They ask you for $1.00 to get a cup of coffee, then head off to their BMW at sunset wobbling from side to side due to all the coins and cash in their pockets.

A veteran manager – even an unemployed one – will want to do things his way and one of those “things” will be winning games.

Honestly, that’s not exactly the Orioles number one priority these days.  Making money and promoting their TV network is number one on their to-do-list.  “The importance of winning” comes along in paragraph 2 or 3 of the team’s operations manual.

One thing is definite:  the next manager better come in, get the job done, and leave a winner someday down the road.  Trembley left with his tail between his legs, having experienced the results of a franchise that is clearly not dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to compete in the American League East.

Trembley left a loser, not a winner, but only some of that was his fault.

It’s now up to Andy MacPhail to make sure his next managerial hire doesn’t experience the same fate.

He has quite the sell job to do.

And that, frankly, is his fault too.