BALTIMORE — With a week left in the 2018 season, the future of the Baltimore Orioles may have just become a little more clear.
It’s no secret that both manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette’s contracts expire after the 2018 season wraps up. Showalter led the Orioles back to relevancy after his arrival in 2010, but the wheels have fallen off and the O’s will finish the 2018 campaign with their worst record in franchise history. Duquette pieced rosters together using bargain deals and plenty of Rule 5 picks. Recently, he’s orchestrated several deals in an attempt to rebuild Baltimore’s roster.
Up until this week, talks surrounding both Showalter and Duquette’s status with the ballclub remained silent, as the Angelos family hasn’t made any public statements about the statuses of their manager and general manager. But on Friday, USA Today Baseball Columnist Bob Nightengale began the discussion with a Tweet, released just before 2:30 pm.
Almost a day after Nightengale’s Tweet came out, no additional reports have surfaced and the Orioles have not confirmed anything. Orioles fans will have to wait until additional details are made public, but until more sources confirm it’s hard to wholeheartedly believe that this scenario will play out yet.
If the plan is to dismiss Showalter and award Duquette an extension, it’s not entirely shocking but many Orioles fans won’t approve of it. Many point the finger at Duquette for signing Chris Davis to a $161 million contract, but it was actually majority owner Peter Angelos who deeply desired keeping the former Crusher. While Duquette has used bargain deals to build rosters in previous years, he’s made public comments expressing his interest in using analytics, technology, and international scouting to rebuild the Orioles.
With ownership still heavily involved, there’s a good chance that Duquette’s ability to make decisions is still limited. However, diving into the areas expressed above would certainly yield a higher return than loading up on Rule 5 picks.
As for Showalter, saying goodbye isn’t something that sits well with Orioles fans, but perhaps it’s the right move to make for the franchise. Showalter ended a 14-year losing drought and lifted the O’s to their first American League Eastern division title in 17 seasons. The Orioles led the American League in wins from 2012 to 2016, but things have gotten so bad that Showalter’s all-time record with the Orioles is now a losing one at 666-677. The core of the team that made the postseason three times in five years is gone, and now management is being questioned about the prospects that are now receiving playing time during September call-ups.
One key comment Duquette made over the summer was his intent to make the Orioles a younger ballclub.
“I would expect that the club would take the payroll down next year and the year after and reinvest those resources in younger ballplayers.” – Dan Duquette
Under this circumstance, it would make sense for the Orioles to bring in a younger manager to grow with the young players on the team and work with the front office firsthand to rebuild. The personnel decisions certainly need some work, but a young manager educated in the technological and analytical areas of baseball could pay big dividends for the Orioles.
Showalter is 62-years-old. His managerial career clock is winding down. If he wants to keep managing, he’s better off going somewhere else where he can win a championship in the next five years before calling it a career. Much like Adam Jones, it may be best to depart now for another opportunity at winning. There have been rumors about Showalter moving into a front office role, specifically in player personnel. I’m not against that idea at all, but it appears that Showalter doesn’t get along particularly well with Duquette.
Because Duquette started the rebuild, it doesn’t make sense for someone else to step in and pick up where Duquette left off when he’s gotten this far. Duquette’s previous decision-making wasn’t perfect, but he deserves a fair shot at rebuilding the roster like he said he would.
Again, it’s important for Orioles fans to not take anything they see on the internet too seriously before numerous sources confirm the information that Nightengale first reported. The Orioles likely won’t make anything official until the season wraps up, but it appears that management is finally getting the ball rolling in determining the future of the franchise.
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