Well, we’re six games into the Buck Showalter era and this Orioles team looks like a cast of players we haven’t witnessed in a very long time.
Adam Jones is hustling.
Felix Pie suddenly has a clue.
Matt Wieters is working the count.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when a LEADER is in charge, huh?
I’m certainly not suggesting the Orioles will maintain a winning record over the final two months of the season. As much as we love this recent streak of intensity and success, better talent eventually wins out.
The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays are better teams. End of story.
But, the Orioles are playing better baseball and they’re showing signs of the up and coming team many insiders and fans forecasted, back in February.
Perhaps, the missing link was the manager. Maybe, this team simply lacked the presence of a true leader in the dugout. After all, this nightmare has existed since Davey Johnson was shown the door, right?
Believe me, I’m not laying 13 years of losing baseball at the feet on anyone, specifically. It’s been a collaborative effort of dysfunction and disappointing production, on and off the field. Many hands have been part of making this storied mess – and it includes all facets of the organization.
Ownership certainly absorbs most of the criticism from fans and media sources. And, rightfully so. From meddlesome efforts by a primary owner who must’ve thought winning with a baseball team is akin to winning cases in the courtroom, to hiring “YES” men instead of the “RIGHT” men, Peter Angelos holds the origin of the Orioles downfall in his hands.
From hiring the Syd Thrift’s and Jim Beattie’s of the baseball world, to ignoring international scouting, overruling draft selections and slashing payroll for players, Mr. Angelos shoulders the significant culpability in the embarrassing fall of this organization.
He knows it. It’s the reason he avoids press conferences and environments where questions can be rightfully asked of him.
But, as I’ve said, Mr. Angelos doesn’t own the entire debacle.
In fact, his current custodian deserves some tangible blame, too. Of course, I’m referring to the President of Baseball Operations, Andy MacPhail.
To his credit, MacPhail strengthened the foundation of the organization with a couple trades during his first off-season. He has been applauded and recognized for those moves.
However, he has also procrastinated and taken a conservative approach to decisions that impacted the team with IMMEDIATE ramifications. To say he has been less than aggressive or proactive in pursuit of crucial fixes is just a sugarcoating of the truth.
I’ll be blunt about it …. Andy MacPhail is primarily liable for this DISASTER OF 2010. Heck, we can say he is also responsible for 2008 and 2009, too.
His hiring of Buck Showalter looks like a bonafide win. However, in being justifiably cautious, we’re just a week into this marriage. Buck hasn’t even slipped on his grey uniform, yet. And, his first off-season with the club awaits him in just a couple months.
We’ll know more about the legitimacy of the Showalter era, in April, 2011.
But, one reality is evident …..
This Orioles team, constructed as a youthful project, sorely needed credentialed, veteran leadership. This cast of inexperienced, immature and impressionable players needed guidance from a strong-willed personality, who demands respect through his reputation and qualifications, alone.
And, they needed a guy who would kick ’em in the ass if the situation called for it.
Andy MacPhail missed the entire picture when he initially tried to pin the tail on this donkey.
He hired Dave Trembley, and retained him for nearly three years. He entrusted the youth of the Orioles to a manager who couldn’t WIN the loyalty of his own players, let alone any games.
It’s not Trembley’s fault. He probably managed to the best of his abilities. And, he likely has no regrets.
That said, this team was entrusted to a manager who wasn’t capable of leading a diverse, young group of players, at the Major League level. And, the result was a 187-283 record; a .398 winning percentage.
The translation or spirit of this message is THIS SHOULD’VE NEVER HAPPENED. The Orioles were staked to the guidance of a manager who would ultimately fail. Dave Trembley was not going to succeed. What track record or past achievements led Andy MacPhail to reasonably assume his choice of Dave Trembley was the best fit for the organization?
I would love to know his answer.
As much as we would like to blame the past three seasons on incapable or illegitimate players, it’s just not true. Well, it’s not primarily true. While this roster is not built to contend in the AL East, they were certainly capable of playing better and winning more games. Buck Showlater has proven this reality in just a week’s time.
Can Buck truly engineer change and a winning philosophy? We shall see. He’ll need support from above and better player options to do it.
But, one thing is certain …..
The last three seasons are Andy MacPhail’s fault …. period.