I know its only been two weeks. But, as the games go by, this Orioles team has looked like a different breed of ballplayers.
Of course, you can overlook Luke French’s mastery of the lineup, last night.
It happens, right?
Let’s also be honest: regardless of who manages or who plays the corner infield positions, NO VERSION of the Baltimore Orioles can be expected to win 10 of 15 games over the course of an entire baseball season.
From a winning perspective, they’ve been playing over their heads. And, I’m okay with that. God knows for the first 105 games of the season, they played at a level well below their ankles.
If nothing else, Buck Showalter’s presence has proven this team is capable of playing at a level better than Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel could demand.
In a twisted way, part of that blame is on THEM. Yet, part of it is not. Big league ballplayers are paid handsomely for their overall efforts and proposed production. Through the first 2/3 of the season, these players failed the organization, and themselves.
But, lets put that in the rear view mirror.
We’re sitting here on August 18th and the team is 5 games over .500 under Showalter’s watch. And, that’s all that really matters when it comes to the new skipper’s leverage during the upcoming off-season.
We’ve all formulated a likely scenario for Buck’s first winter, in Baltimore, right?
Some of us believe he will really inspire the front office to make distinct, articulable moves in the direction of improving the Major League product. Of course, this is something Andy MacPhail has failed to do over the last few years.
Yet, some of us also believe that when the “pedal hits the medal”, Buck will ultimately be shown Andy’s blueprint for a SUCCESSFUL season, at Camden Yards. We suspect that plan doesn’t really include WINS or HIGH CALIBER TALENT, right?
However, it does seem that most of us believe Buck Showalter will not agree with the “MacPhail Mathematical Methods Of Orioles Baseball.” He’s in for a shock, right?
There is just one problem with this proposed falling of the dominos …..
Andy MacPhail probably didn’t think Buck would have this type of impact. In his wildest dreams, he really didn’t think the team might actually start winning games, right?
And, there lies the potential problem …..
If the Orioles maintain a winning record over the final 42 games, Buck Showalter carries a much bigger stick into the off-season. His presence and philosophies must be honored. If Andy (and ultimately Peter Angelos) resists him, this entire hiring of the ORIOLES SAVIOR could blow up in their faces.
Imagine the braintrust convenes for their November and December direction, when Buck proposes scenarios involving names like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzales and other big name producers.
We’ve imagined he’ll be rebuffed, right?
Andy will try to explain “small-ball” to him …. or he’ll reveal a side that Buck did not expect to see, regardless of the warnings. That’s our suspicion, anyway.
Although, such a situation could occur, Buck’s clout might be able to rival these deeply entrenched practices.
Think about it …..
Buck Showalter can stride into November with the distinction of steering this team in the right direction. And, the resounding proof could be found in the win/loss column. It has been a long time since such a situation happened.
And, if it does, the Orioles manager could be afforded an instant OUT CLAUSE from his marriage to MacPhail/Angelos, without harming his reputation.
If Andy doesn’t live up to promises or assurances, especially as it regards the spending of money on talent, Buck could walk away with even higher stock than when he arrived.
When is the last time that happened with a departing Orioles manager?
Imagine the Orioles do what they always do and Buck gets frustrated …..
He could walk into Andy’s office on a December morning and say “this isn’t going to work for me” …..
Thus, he could resign and issue a blanketing statement that basically says “I want to thank Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail for the opportunity to manage such a storied franchise. Unfortunately, our philosophies and ideals regarding the construction of a successful franchise are not in harmony. I wish the Orioles success, 2011.”
If that happens, who loses?
In one corner, you’ve got Andy MacPhail and his red sweater. And, in the other corner, you’ve got Buck Showalter, who just managed the worst team in baseball to a winning record over the final 57 games.
Buck wins that one.
His reputation would be intact and another team would gladly hand him its reigns.
Meanwhile, Andy MacPhail would be exposed as a fraud. His reputation would certainly take a hit …. in and out of Baltimore.
This Orioles team has 42 games remaining – and it’s a very tough September schedule. But, if Buck Showalter finds a way to finish just ONE GAME over .500, he’ll carry more swagger than Rex Ryan in the Jets media room.
Stay tuned, this could get good …..