There’s lots of chatter among the 1,534 people in Baltimore who still REALLY care about the Orioles and it mainly centers on whether or not giving Buck Showalter “additional power” is good for the long term health of the franchise.
I’ll intervene here and provide some clarity on the subject.
Answer: YES, IT’S A GOOD THING TO HAVE SHOWALTER MORE INVOLVED.
One of the issues, evidently, is this notion that the manager shouldn’t “have a say” in player personnel matters. There are folks who believe giving Showalter the opportunity to impart his wisdom and wishes is somehow going to block the Orioles from succeeding in the post-Andy MacPhail era.
The team hasn’t succeeded with guys like Frank Wren, Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie, Mike Flanagan, Jim Duquette and MacPhail calling the shots. We all know there were reasons why…but facts are facts. None of those men steered the Orioles to greatness.
I say let Showalter play a role in the decision making. Hell, last spring he all but begged MacPhail to part company with Felix Pie prior to the team coming north, but MacPhail insisted they gave the “5-tool talent” one more crack at making an impact with the orange and black.
Who was right on that player personnel decision? Right. Buck was.
Detractors will note that a manager of a major league team can’t possibly watch the minor league action and stay in touch with both camps. Agreed. Showalter isn’t going to do it all himself. He’ll have help. It might be Tony LaCava, it might be Scott Proefrock…point is, another pair of baseball eyes will be in place to work in tandem with Buck on the on-field product. Showalter isn’t chopped liver when it comes to helping put rosters together. He was part of the team that helped build the Yankees of the mid 1990’s and the Diamondbacks (from scratch, remember) in the early part of the last decade.
He forgot more about baseball than anyone with a desk at The Warehouse knows about baseball, that’s for sure.
Is it somewhat unconventional to have the manager actively involved in the off-season daily happenings of the front office? Sure. Frankly, most managers just want to call the in-game stuff from April until September. They’d rather NOT be in the kitchen preparing the food over the winter.
But that doesn’t mean Showalter’s increased authority with the Orioles is a bad thing.
I’m a dummy from Glen Burnie and I know what the Orioles need: BETTER. PLAYERS.
I didn’t say “JUST SPEND MORE MONEY” either, although it’s very safe to say that any formula for improvement in baseball MUST include spending significant money on players if you’re a bad team trying to get good.
I don’t know much, but I know this: If you’re a bad team spending $65 million on players — you’re not going to become a good team spending $65 million on players.
I’m not saying the Orioles have to spend $150 million to get better. But spending $65 or $75 million (or even the $85 million they spent this year) isn’t going to get the job done in the AL East…not when you were a bad team to start with.
Now let’s be fair for a second — if Showalter has more authority on a day-to-day basis but the owner won’t allow him to spend freely on BETTER PLAYERS then Buck won’t be able to produce any off-season magic in Baltimore. That’s a fact. This is a case where size DOES matter — as in, size of the checkbook Buck carries around.
But getting BETTER PLAYERS is the key to the Orioles becoming more competitive. And that means signing them, trading for them, drafting them and grooming them in the minor leagues.
Who better than Showalter to help bring in BETTER PLAYERS?
He is, after all, the guy saddled with the task of managing those 25 guys for 162 games. Shouldn’t he have a say or two on who those 25 players are next season?
I think so.
And I don’t see it as that much of a hinderance to the man who comes in as the team’s replacement for Andy MacPhail, for the cards are on the table in front of him from the first time he interviews for the position.
Buck Showalter is going to be involved in player personnel decisions in Baltimore. If that’s NOT something a guy like LaCava or Proefrock or anyone else considered for the GM position can deal with or handle, I would suggest they don’t apply for the GM position.
Most people who follow the Orioles will use the Showalter-as-de-facto-GM situation to beat up the club for “not doing it right”.
I’m not in that camp.
Buck Showalter knows baseball.
He knows baseball players.
Let him run around this winter and try to convince good players to come to Baltimore and help him rebuild the team.
Ask yourself this, based on what you’ve seen over the last four years:
Hindsight being what it is, would you rather have Showalter chasing players or would you rather have Andy MacPhail re-hiring Dave Trembley, signing Garrett Atkins, force-feeding Felix Pie on the manager, handing Justin Duchscherer’s bad arm a free $700,000 and giving Kevin Gregg the closer’s role over a cup of hot tea with his agent?
Welcome aboard, Buck. Go get ‘em.