They are the best of teams, they are the worst of teams. Indeed, like the beginning of Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities”, you could say that the 2009 season for the Orioles has been a tale of two teams. At times, seemingly unflappable, and good to the last out, other times, disinterested, and unable to muster a competitive fire. A team with good speed overall, that simply can’t seem to run the bases. And a team cashing in on unlikely success from players like Brad Bergeson and Nolan Reimold, yet being let down by the likes of Jeremy Guthrie and Melvin Mora. There’s a duality to this team that’s both interesting and exasperating.
As a team on the come, we expected some bumps in the road. Of course there will be fundamental let downs when the club is largely learning at the Major League level. What’s unexpected though, and likewise unacceptable, is the fact that most of the fundamental let downs that this team has endured, can be laid at the feet of the players not likely to be here for the long haul, and the guys who should know better.
A quick look at the standings, and you’ll see that the team is right where we’ve come to expect them to be, at the bottom of the AL East. But with only 8 games separating them from the Yankees and the wildcard, it’s easy to remember a handful of games that the team seemingly gave away.
As bad as things have been all around at times, taking away a simple few fundamental let downs nestles them right into the thick of things. And at times they’ve shown that they can be special, even if yet still incomplete.
So now the question becomes whether these issues are fixable, and how much of the responsibility should be laid at the feet of Dave Trembley. In a season where everyone’s futures are seemingly being evaluated, Trembley is likely no different. In fact, I’d bet that most, inside the warehouse and out would be willing to concede that when the O’s are ready to compete, Trembley won’t be in the driver’s seat.
If that is the case, then it becomes a matter of timing really. If MacPhail is already resigned to having to part company with Trembley at some point, then maybe the only question becomes a matter of when. Since firing a manager is usually a good way to shake up the clubhouse, it would make some sense at least, to save that bullet for a time when it’s effect would be more productive.
Maybe in that same regard, parting company with Trembley could signal that MacPhail believes this team is ready to compete, at which time the onus could shift to him as well. For now, Trembley seems like little more than a scapegoat in waiting.
Replacing Trembley would be another matter altogether. For those on board with the firing; who would you like to see in his stead? Who do you think it will be?
My first instinct led me to look at the Cubs of course. MacPhail has a pattern since coming here of going to guys that he’s familiar with. I noticed that Don Baylor was one of the Cubs’ managers during the MacPhail era, and he’s obviously got Orioles’ ties as well. That’d be my first guess, or maybe an olive branch to Davey Johnson. For now, Baylor is the hitting coach for the Rockies, who just changed managers, which could leave his future in Colorado uncertain beyond this season anyway. While we’re raiding the Rockies, I also noticed that they have a 3rd base coach that O’s fans will recognize. Rich Dauer for Juan Samuel would probably be pretty well received here too.