On 105.7 The Fan on Saturday, as a guest of Michael Popovec, I opined to look out for the possibility that O’s manager Buck Showalter could take over as the new architect of the franchise, becoming the general manager with Andy MacPhail moving on upon the expiration of his contract at the end of this season. I’ve had a growing sense for the possible transition and my friend Peter Schmuck presented similar analysis in his Baltimore Sun column posted about four hours after my radio conversation. For the record, Schmuck and I never spoke of the topic- but I’ve had conversations with others about something I feel is a logical progression in Orioles leadership.
First of all- I should say that I’ve gotten no direct, on-record attribution from either MacPhail or Showalter about my theory. MacPhail is very guarded about his work and Showalter is not about to discuss speculation of an ascension into the front office while his team plummets in the standings in a disappointing and disastrous season that has the O’s headed for a 14th straight losing campaign. I have said on the radio since February that a pre-season interview I did with MacPhail left me feeling that the long-time baseball executive has family priorities that make me think he has plans beyond rebuilding the Orioles. I can empathize with MacPhail as I recently made a personal decision to discontinue my regular radio show based on the overwhelming time demands it required. MacPhail has improved the franchise is some fundamental ways that are not reflected in the team’s record and can move on feeling he’s leaving the Orioles better than what he inherited — if he chooses to.
So, what about Showalter as GM? Quite simply- in my opinion- he’s a natural and is destined to have a Major League GM job, if not in Baltimore then elsewhere. Showalter is a difference-maker as a manager (limited though by the talent- or lack thereof- that he has to work with as is EVERY manager). What makes Buck different from others is his insatiable quest to know everything about the franchise he works for. It’s been his M.O. from the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and now the O’s. Showalter isn’t satisfied managing just the Major Leaguers on his 25-man roster, he takes the time to know all of the prospects in the minor league system who could vie for a big league spot. He’s been active in the shuttling of top pitching talent Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen to the minors- establishing a new standard for performance for what Showalter believes a winning team has to uphold. Buck meets regularly with O’s owner Peter Angelos. I have every reason to believe that Showalter wants desperately to make the Orioles a winning franchise again- and he may see that he’s best suited to do so as the team GM, not the field manager. He could be better suited to evaluate and pick the players, and put them in the hands of a manager of his choosing. Showalter is a big picture guy. It’s my sense he’s the man who will get the next chance to improve what’s been an ugly picture for the Orioles.
Posted By: Mark Viviano