We all know that Baltimore Orioles’ president Andy MacPhail is known for being methodical and calculating in his rebuilding process, but at some point he has to start making decisions and signal to fans that the team understands that they can’t take forever to rebuild the franchise.
In case MacPhail hasn’t noticed, it has been 13 years since the Orioles were last a legitimate contender in the AL East and a beautiful ballpark that once was filled nightly with legions of fans is now filled on a regular basis with lots of empty seats.
Even with such a long string of losing seasons, the Orioles still have a solid national fan base that remains loyal and committed to the team. However, with every disappointing season and decision that seems to prolong the mediocrity it becomes harder for fans to believe that there is anything other than an oncoming train at the end of the tunnel.
It has been more than six weeks since MacPhail fired beleaguered manager Dave Trembley and inserted Juan Samuel as the interim skipper. With a 14-21 record and two winning streaks of four games, Samuel has at least brought some respectability back after an embarrassing start to the 2010 season. However, this is a team that needs a new direction and someone from the outside to come in and provide a spark.
MacPhail has made it clear that he is in no rush to bring in a new manager and has indicated that he is pleased with how the players have responded to Samuel. Check out this quote from Orioles Insider in an article in which MacPhail refutes those who say the process is dragging.
“Again, there is no timetable here. It’s not like the barn is on fire right now. The players are doing a nice job for Juan. I just think that kind of [talk] is just wrong.”
Excuse me Andy, but while the barn may not be on fire, as the man in charge you shouldn’t need reminding that the roof to the barn has caved in, all the animals are gone and the house and fields have been burning for years.
You would think that better than anyone, MacPhail would recognize that hiring a new manager isn’t about 2010 and how the team is playing today. Hiring a new manager is about starting preparations for the 2011 season.
MacPhail himself said before the start of this season that the rebuilding mode was over and the team (and I would think also the front office) would be judged on how they performed on the field. Well, given that the team is 31 games under .500 and 28 games out of first in the division, Trembley shouldn’t be the only one receiving a pink slip.
The word is that Buck Showalter will likely be the next manager of the Orioles. If that is indeed true, then MacPhail needs to stop messing around and get Showalter in place so he can start evaluating the team and setting the tone for 2011.
The Orioles have been notorious in recent years for hovering around .500 until early August and then tanking the final two months of the season.
If Showalter comes in as the manager here in the next couple weeks, hopefully he will light a fire under the Orioles as every player should feel like they are auditioning for a job on the 2011 roster.
Unfortunately, when it comes to bringing in a manager, MacPhail seems to be thinking about today, instead of tomorrow. I’m glad the team has played a little better for Samuel, but it isn’t really like they could play worse than they did the first two months of the season.
If the Orioles are ever really going to get back to being a contender, MacPhail has to start acting like a team president that is thoughtful in making decisions, but not paralyzed by those decisions. He sets the tone and needs to start displaying confidence, instead of a seeming unwillingness to pull the trigger.
The 2010 season is over for the Orioles. It is time to start preparing for 2011 and the first step toward that is hiring a manager.