Monday, July 04, 2011

Showalter and MacPhail -- A Win-Win Situation Regardless of Team's Record

I am beginning to think that the Orioles are the Cubs of the American League, as Orioles Hangout community founder Tony Pente suggested a few weeks ago. After 14 years of losing, we've become a novelty team playing in a novelty park.

We have a number of ex-Cubs and Twins employed on the roster because those are the teams who are willing to talk to us these days about trades--the last two places MacPhail has worked. We've become the last stop on line for players like Guerrero and Lee, another city to collect a paycheck in and garner a few extra years of service. The good ones don't want to come here in their prime.

2011 doesn't really matter. It's an extended Spring Training.

These aren't Showalter's Orioles--and he can't be tagged for a depleted farm system or a roster of players that, for the most part, includes precious few starters for contending teams. Jones, Markakis, Roberts, and Wieters could probably play regularly for contenders, and that's 4 out of 25. It's a line-up that's a mouth full of missing teeth. Hitters lack patience and a sense of situational hitting--or they just lack talent--regardless, the job is far from getting done.

Their disappointing record against the National League, 7 wins against 11 losses had a lot to do with not having a DH. Having a pitcher in the line-up meant days of Andino, Tatum, and a hurler batting in succession.

Buck has been a trifle passive, perhaps because he knows a change is coming. He claims otherwise, and that behind closed doors things are being handled, but his approach is more aligned with Johnny Oates than Earl Weaver at this point--patient and compassionate.

MacPhail hasn't talked about returning next year and if he leaves, Buck would be well positioned to handle general manager responsibilities. Willie Randolph or another Buck protege could then manage the team. MacPhail's "Grow the Arms, Buy the Bats" strategy is sound but making the right bet on the right bats is a harder feat to pull off. Also, handling a stable of young and inexperienced pitchers has had its share of ups and downs.

If Andy stays, this will be remembered as a year of working out the kinks. If he goes, Buck will have more of an imprint on the future. The team's record today, 36-45 doesn't really matter.
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