October 5 has arrived and the Orioles, not surprisingly, are still plodding along without any formal announcement on the structure of their front office heading into the 2011-2012 off-season.
I know how it goes at the Warehouse.
Turtles move faster.
But there’s something going on over there — or, perhaps NOTHING at all going on over there.
It depends on whom or what you believe. And what your gut tells you.
Here’s what I think.
First, let me reiterate what I said all the way back in early July. It was then that I contended that Andy MacPhail wouldn’t return in 2012. I suspected that Buck Showalter, frustrated at a number of things within the organization that have impeded the team’s progress both at the major league and minor league levels, would move into some sort of upper management position for 2012 and beyond. I figured Buck would either try to double-dip and manage the club while being the team’s GM or perhaps he’d hand the managerial duties over to Willie Randolph. Either way, I figured it was a near certainty that MacPhail wouldn’t return in 2012 and that Buck would INCREASE, not decrease, his duties somehow.
I kept asking the question: Why would MacPhail come back? What’s in it for him?
Other than a salary, why would Andy MacPhail return to the everyday grind of working for the Orioles?
He knows now, having seen it in hi-def for 55 months or so, that the team can’t win in the American League East. They’re not BUILT to win in the American League East. They’re not willing to operate in a manner necessary to compete in the American League East. Surely Andy knows that, as he’s been one of the reasons why those limitations have been so obvious over the last 4+ seasons.
So why would he come back?
My answer: He isn’t coming back.
Two weeks ago, I went on the air and offered another possible scenario, coming from a source directly associated with Showalter and the club who assured me that it might be Buck who wasn’t so sure he wanted to return in 2012.
“Some things will have to change for Buck to come back,” the source told me. “He’ll need certain assurances that his voice will be more respected. He’s been disappointed in some of the promises that were made to him and were never followed through on.”
I talked about that on the air two weeks ago…that Showalter might not be a slam-dunk to return in 2012.
Today, I’m still hearing that.
“Buck wants to see this through, but he needs 100% assurance that when he’s told something’s going to happen that it winds up happening that way.”
There have been some reports this week from several local journalists who cover the team — and to be fair, they aren’t really REPORTS per-se, it’s more like “simple speculation” – that perhaps Andy MacPhail might actually return for the 2012 season.
I’d be surprised if Andy returned. I ask again: Why on earth WOULD he?
I’ve heard the Orioles would be interested in talking with former team exec Scott Proefrock (currently with the Phillies) about assuming MacPhail’s position and that Andy would serve as a consultant until the season started next April and he was able to turn Proefrock loose on his own. Proefrock worked briefly under MacPhail in Baltimore and the two have respect for one another that could make that sort of transition-process go smoothly.
All of this, though, needs Buck’s approval.
I don’t know what to make of it all, because in typical Orioles fashion, the season has been over for one week now and not a word has been uttered by the club about the future of the organization.
The Red Sox were eliminated last Wednesday night and by Friday they were looking for a new manager.
But we’re used to it here in Baltimore…the feet dragging, the pedestrian pace, the maddening, methodical decision making process that always takes much longer than it should.
The key player in this remains Showalter.
MacPhail, naturally, could create quite an interesting scenario if he simply decided to return for at least one more year and Buck would continue in his role as the field manager and nothing more.
I don’t think that’s what Buck wants.
In fact, I’m quite certain it’s not what he wants.
And I don’t REALLY think it’s what MacPhail wants.
He knows the truth.
He tried to change the culture in Baltimore since June of 2007 and it didn’t work.
Why press on now, knowing what he knows?
Buck, meanwhile, wants the opportunity to fix the club.
As usual, though, confusion reigns supreme.