Everyone calling for change needs to stop.
Andy MacPhail needs to stay. The scouting department needs to be retained. The major league staff needs to be left alone.
More than anything else, teams that are successful have stability at the top. Since the last winning season, the Orioles have had 5 General Managers (Frank Wren, Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie / Mike Flanagan, and now Andy MacPhail). They have had 7 managers (Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, Dave Trembley, Juan Samuel, and now Buck Showalter). There has been no continuity, and that has been a major contributor in their lack of success.
Andy MacPhail was hired in June of 2007. In the grand scheme of things he has had 3 seasons to change this club (I don't count the 2007 season since the major personnel decisions were made before he came in. MacPhail came in with a whole different philosophy than any of his predecessors. You may have heard the phrase "Grow the arms, buy the bats". It is a sound philosophy for building a team.
Sidebar for a moment of hard truth for Orioles' fans:
Anyone who expected all of the "Young Guns" (Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, and until his shoulder surgery Troy Patton) to pay off was fooling themselves. Teams are lucky if 1 out of every 3 "can't miss" arms actually doesn't miss. The hope is that one of the other two will become a quality bullpen arm, and that often is not the case. Britton is still very young, so his growing pains are not a surprise. Tillman is more of a head scratcher but he is only 23, so it is not like he is all but destined for the scrap heap. Matusz's disappearing velocity is a much larger concern, but he was injured to start the season and he is only 24 so there is time to let him get back to what he was doing during the last half of 2010. The Orioles brought in all of these guys right around the same time, so them struggling at the same time is not unprecedented or completely unexpected. What it is is bad timing for a team trying to make the turn back to respectability.
We as fans need to give this plan time to really grow and see if it can flourish. It makes sense. I don't know if it will work, but I know that it can work.
The other thing I am hearing is a call for the heads of the scouting department. Fans want Joe Jordan gone. Well I don't. And here's why...
Jordan was hired in November of 2004. So he has been running the scouting department since then. In that time he has helped the Orioles draft Matusz, Tillman, Britton, Matt Wieters, Manny Machado, David Hernandez, and hopefully Dylan Bundy. And do not forget that it was the scouting department that told MacPhail who to ask for in the Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada trades, so he gets credit for Arrieta, Adam Jones, Luke Scott and George Sherrill being a part of the team as well. All in all, it looks to me like he has done a good job.
For those calling for his head, here are two other things to consider:
- He does not have final say on who the team drafts
- He has no say in how they are developed
I said in a previous post that I think the team needs to commit a LOT more money to scouting, especially overseas. Until this team commits real resources to scouting Joe Jordan is going into a gunfight with half as much ammunition. So add that to the fact that his staff makes the recommendations, but the front office pulls the trigger. A front office that has had 3 different cooks stirring the soup since his hire (starting off w/2 at the same time in Beattie and Flanagan), which means 3 different philosophies on what the team is looking for in the draft and what players give the team the best chances of getting that. Did Jordan push MacPhail to draft Matt Hobgood? We will never know because both Jordan and MacPhail are "company men", they don't talk out of turn and they NEVER reveal what happens behind the scenes. And looking back, take a good look at the 2009 draft's first round. How many players after Hobgood REALLY jump out at you? Right now I count maybe three that if offered up an even swap for Hobgood that I would take the deal. This is only his second full professional season, and he was injured for part of last year. Let the kid develop.
But most importantly to me (and the only thing I would be willing to listen to as far as needing immediate change) is the minor leagues. The real question is "Is the team picking bad players or are they not developing good players to their full potential?". And that is the question that I cannot answer right now (but if I had to guess, I would go more with the latter than the former). But until we give Andy MacPhail's people time to develop the players they are drafting that fit the mold they see for the future of this ballclub we cannot really know if he will be a success or not. And to blow it all up and start ALL over again would be a much bigger step backwards than the team has taken this year.
Let them be.