The Tillman Saga: MacPhail wins the tug-of-war…apparently

July 25, 2009 | Drew Forrester

The adopted O’s slogan — “we’re not going to win anyway” — has been changed after last night’s *hint* from Andy MacPhail that the club is not promoting Chris Tillman to pitch against Kansas City this week at OPACY.

It’s now gone from “we’re not going to win anyway” to, simply, “we’re not even TRYING to win…”

I’m sure Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff and Adam Jones are overjoyed to hear that news.  

Before I give MacPhail and the club a red-ass, here’s the skinny on what went down yesterday.  My O’s source tells me the club wasn’t overly concerned with Tillman’s last start against Norfolk (Thursday) when he walked 4 batters in 3.2 innings. “Everything still pointed to him being called up for KC…what else could he prove to them in Norfolk?  He wasn’t terrible against Gwinnett (Thursday).”

So why the hold up now?  After weeks of whispers that Tillman’s debut would be pegged for the KC series, why the change in plans?

Two words:  Rich. Hill.

“They want to make sure they’re doing right by Rich and themselves,” my O’s source contends.  “Rich doesn’t have any options left so they’d have to cut him — and whether he gets picked up or not, who knows?  Right now, they want to take one more look at him and that will probably come on Tuesday.”

To add more fuel to the fire, Manager Dave Trembley has already seen enough of Hill but Andy MacPhail, evidently, has not. “Dave wants Tillman up, no doubt about it,” the O’s associate says.  “He’s made it clear that their starting rotation as it stands right now is not to his liking.  But he’s not winning this one.  Andy’s going to decide the rotation, not Dave.”

So there’s the lowdow — in a nutshell.  The club had all-but-signed-off on Tillman’s promotion and the Kansas City series made absolute perfect sense (and still does).  Lord knows the club will need to do SOMETHING – ANYTHING – to inspire folks to buy tickets for the last two months of the season and with Ravens training camp starting on Monday, baseball season in Baltimroe essentially ends with Sunday’s game at Boston.  A Tillman start against the Royals would definitely draw some folks to the ballpark this week and, with last place KC in town, it gives their prized prospect a chance to get off on a good note.

That, of course, makes WAY too much sense.  It makes way too much sense to me and I’m a dummy.  It makes perfect sense to Dave Trembley since he’s the manager of the team and everytime they lose a game, he inches closer and closer to the unemployment line.

Personally – even though my source now says Tillman is NOT coming up on Tuesday – I still think the O’s will start him on Tuesday.  Call me a fool…but maybe MacPhail is trying to trade Hill over the weekend?  I know, I know, you’re belly-laughing right now.  You’re thinking, “there’s no way in hell any smart GM in the league is taking Rich Hill…come on Drew, that’s absurd.”  

Really?  No one is trading for Rich Hill?  Really?  *Ahem* — the O’s did.

So maybe MacPhail is calling around and telling folks, “He’s not as bad as he looks…we just have to move him because we’re promoting a member of The Cavalry this week.”  Maybe MacPhail’s trying to get some team to take a flyer on him, the way we did.  I don’t know…that’s the only reasonable thing I can think of as it relates to stringing Tillman along and telling folks “we’re going to give Hill one more look…”

 I’ll stick with that — I think Tillman starts on Tuesday.  For the record, I’ve made a chinese lunch bet with my orange feathered bird-in-the-three.  He says the decision is final, Trembley’s been informed, and Hill is starting on Tuesday.  He also says Trembley’s about as thrilled as he would be if Freddie Bynum was re-signed and inserted as the starting shortstop.

I won’t believe it until I see it.

Why on earth would they trot that guy back out there on Tuesday night?


To prove to EVERYONE that winning isn’t important this year?  

We know that, trust me.

We knew that in the off-season when they didn’t sign any decent pitchers and cut their opening day starter’s salary by $120,000 three weeks before opening day.

I assumed, though, by now, they might see how much of a mistake it was to almost openly wave the flag of “we’re not really TRYING to win…”

If they send Rich Hill out there on Tuesday, that just proves to me (again) that Andy MacPhail is not concerned with winning or losing.

And if that’s the case (and some of you are evidently OK with that…), I ask once again:  “Why go to the games?”

Why pay $15.00 for a seat, $10-$15 to park, $8.00 for a beer, $6.00 for a hot dog, $8.00 for another beer — and so on…just to see them sorta-try en route to a 5-3 loss?  

Why would you do that?  Just because it’s a beautiful summer night and you love the smell of fresh grass?  If that’s your reasoning, pack a sandwich and a six pack, grab your radio, and sit out at the Loch Raven Resevoir and listen to the game at a fraction of the cost.

And these folks at OPACY wonder why no one goes to the games anymore.

They’re busy chastising WNST and pointing the finger at US…the leaders of the negativity coalition.  

Your #1 pitching prospect is mowing people down in the minor leagues for the second straight year and your starting rotation features at least one guy completely ill-equipped to win at the major league level and you’d rather harness the kid at Norfolk and trot the underachiever back out there ONE MORE TIME just to make sure you’re not getting rid of someone who might suddenly turn it around and become Sandy Koufax?


The person most affected by this news isn’t Chris Tillman.  

It’s Dave Trembley.

He’s the guy who has to write the line-up card on Tuesday night and jot those four letters:  H I L L — in the spot that reads: Starting pitcher___________________________.

He wants to write: T I L L M A N

Trembley actually wants to win games.  That’s a foreign-concept at OPACY these days, but Trembley WOULD rather win than lose.  And on Tuesday, he’d rather try to win with Chris Tillman than Rich Hill.  Most likely, he’d have a better chance with Tillman than Hill.

But the General Manager won’t let him.

Maybe MacPhail should manage the team. 

Then, perhaps, winning WOULD be important. 

Right now, it’s quite evident winning doesn’t matter.  And in that case, I have no idea why you’d go out there this week when the team returns home.