Orioles Offseason Notes
The Orioles have found themselves in the news around MLB for a few very different reasons so far this offseason. First and obviously foremost, let’s concentrate on the good. Last night, catcher, Matt Wieters and outfielder, Nick Markakis both captured their first Gold Gloves, awarded for overall defensive excellence. Both were well deserved and each player prides themselves on their defensive abilities. Defense AND offense are both large parts of the game. Each of these guys, Markakis and Wieters, play well on both sides of the ball. Wieters is getting better each year defensively, while his game-calling has improved at the major league level. Markakis is a pitcher’s safety net in right field. He has speed, concentration, and is always among the league leaders in assists. Wieters was the first Orioles catcher to win the Gold Glove award. Now the Orioles can say they have had at least one player at each position to capture that award. As a franchise, the Birds have 61 total Gold Gloves, which is good enough for third all time. Markakis enjoyed a year without any errors in right field, plus 14 assists to top it off. There was another Oriole who was definitely in the discussion for a Gold Glove. J.J. Hardy, our new shortstop starting in 2011 had a spectacular year defensively as well. Unfortunately, he was edged out and the award was presented to Erick Aybar of the Angels. All in all, I was proud of the Orioles showing with the 2011 Gold Gloves and look forward to more defensive excellence in 2012.
Now I’d like to take a moment and discuss “As The GM Turns”, the Orioles edition. What most of us thought to be close to a lock was proved wrong, when GM candidate, Tony LaCava spurned the Orioles offer of GM and remained in Toronto. LaCava is the latest in a long line of players, front office personnel, and managers, to turn down opportunity in Baltimore. LaCava insists that his decision was not about the Orioles, it was about Toronto. We can all collectively only scratch our heads and wonder what in fact did happen during LaCava’s meeting with team owner, Peter Angelos.
This does seem a bit fishy to me. LaCava has never held a GM position and he did not accept what would have been his first gig as the “big guy in town”. Our GM opening is probably not listed amongst the most glamorous positions in MLB, but don’t you think you need to start somewhere? We offered him that chance. Yes, it may be in the AL East and yes, we may not have the same resources as some of these other clubs in the division. With that said, this was his potential big break. He would have finally achieved that dream that I’m sure most assistant GMs have…to be the boss. For the record, I am not Tony LaCava and I have no idea what went through his mind. He made an informed decision…I cannot blame him. Maybe he saw something that put him off. Angelos is not one to surrender full authority easily, so it may have been a control issue. Sources have also said that LaCava had plans to clean house of some front office people whose jobs had been protected by Angelos. Whatever it was, the Orioles have no choice but to move forward and get into gear before free agency begins.
Word out of Baltimore is that the interview process will be extended. De Jon Watson and John Stockstill seem to be long shots for the job, even though at this point, they are the only other two that have interviewed. For the time being, the team of Buck Showalter and director of baseball operations Matt Klentak will be handling the GM duties.
It is pure speculation at this point as to any other candidates for interviews. Seems like every media outlet has their names to throw out there. One thing is for sure, a familiar face will be back to interview on Tuesday. That person is Scott Proefrock, the former Orioles’ director of baseball administration from 2006-2008. He left Baltimore in 2008 to become assistant GM to Rubén Amaro, Jr. in Philadelphia. The Orioles have also asked the Minnesota Twins permission to interview vice president, Mike Radcliff. Other names being thrown around include two Texas Rangers executives, Thad Levine and A.J. Preller, White Sox vice president, Rick Hahn, former Red Sox GM, Dan Duquette, Yankees scouting director, Damon Oppenheimer, and Athletics assistant general manager, David Forst. There are two longshot, yet surprising names on this list, so I saved them for last. It appears as though the Orioles have asked the Tampa Bay Rays permission to interview their executive vice president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman. Finally, in the event that he chooses to leave LA, the Orioles have their eyes on interviewing GM, Ned Coletti. This is closer to the quantity and quality of candidates that I expected the team to set up the first time around. There are a handful of future GMs on that list as well as one present. Question is, which one will take a shot and be the next GM in Baltimore? Only time will tell.
One other small note, the Orioles did make a transaction today, albeit not front office related. They claimed a right-handed relief pitcher, Darren O’Day off waivers from the AL champion Texas Rangers. He pitched a total of 16 2/3 innings this past season for the Rangers, posting a 5.40 ERA and 18 strikeouts, while surrendering 5 walks. Our roster now sits at 38 players, 2 short of the required amount for an MLB team.
Stay tuned in to the MSB for future Orioles updates on both the front office and any player movement! As proven lately, you NEVER know what can happen in Bird Land.