BREAKING: Orioles dismiss manager Buck Showalter

BALTIMORE — Less than 72 hours after the Orioles shut out the Houston Astros 4-0, capping off their worst season in franchise history, the club has parted ways with manager Buck Showalter after a tenure of just over eight years.

The Orioles have yet to confirm the move, but multiple sources within the industry close to the situation, including MASN Orioles insider Roch Kubatko, revealed the news on Twitter.

According to Kubatko, Showalter initially met with Orioles ownership over the weekend and had another conversation today, where he was told he would not return as the team’s manager. The Orioles expressed interest in moving Showalter to a new role within the team, but no agreement was reached and the skipper is leaving Baltimore.

Rumors of Showalter’s departure started on Sept. 22 when USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale revealed on Twitter that the Orioles planned on dismissing Showalter and retaining general manager Dan Duquette. A week later, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN said via Twitter that the Orioles had not spoken to either Duquette or Showalter in regards to their futures with the team. Five days after Crasnick’s report, Showalter is gone and Duquette’s status has yet to be made public.

Showalter’s managerial stint with Baltimore began on July 29, 2010 with the Orioles holding an MLB-worst record of 32-73. The Orioles won 34 of 57 games under Showalter to finish out the 2010 season. After going 69-93 in 2011, Showalter and the Orioles finished with a winning record in 2012 for the first time in 14 seasons at 93-69. The O’s finished second in the American League East, earning a trip to Texas for the American League one-game Wild Card Playoff.

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2012 marked the first year that a second Wild Card team made the playoffs. The Orioles made the most of their opportunity, beating the Rangers 5-1 before falling in a five-game divisional series to the Yankees.

In 2014, the Showalter-led Orioles won their first AL East division championship in 17 seasons when the Birds went 96-66, good for the #2 seed in the playoffs. After the Orioles convincingly swept the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS 3-0, the Kansas City Royals got the better of the O’s, sweeping them 4-0 in the ALCS. In the 2014 World Series, the San Francisco Giants topped the Royals after seven games, winning their third championship in six seasons.

The final time the Orioles reached the postseason under Showalter came in 2016 when the Blue Jays edged Baltimore 5-2 in the 2016 AL Wild Card game. The 11-inning affair saw the most controversial decision of Showalter’s time with the O’s, as the skipper elected to not use closer Zach Britton at all in the game. Britton made the 2016 All-Star team and ended the season with an ERA of 0.54. He did not blow a save all season.

After the 2016 Wild Card game, things started to go downhill for the Orioles. Baltimore held a 22-10 record on May 9, 2017, but since then the Orioles have played to a combined record of 100-192, finishing in last place in the AL East two consecutive times. The roster underwent a complete overhaul this past summer, and franchise cornerstone Adam Jones likely played his last game in Baltimore this past weekend to cap off the departures.

Even though Showalter led the Orioles to more wins than anyone in the American League from 2012-2016, his managerial career with Baltimore ends with a winning percentage of .494 (669-684). Don’t let that statistic tell the full story. Showalter’s presence changed the culture in the Orioles’ locker room and established a winning precedent. He held players accountable, always making them available to talk to the media even after their worst performances. He commanded respect, but never lashed out at a reporter or a fan wanting an autograph. He cared for and respected his players, both on the baseball diamond and in their personal lives.

At 62-years-old, Showalter’s career as a manager is closer to the end than the start. Teams seeking an established manager with a winning attitude could express interest in him, but it’s also possible that Showalter returns to his TV gig as a baseball analyst. It’s worth noting that Showalter has grandchildren, so perhaps some time off at his home in Texas could prove beneficial in the long run, especially after two very challenging seasons in Baltimore.

As for the Orioles, the club has made it known that they want to make their roster younger. Whether the youth movement includes the manager too remains to be seen. Over the summer, Duquette said that the Orioles want to include analytics and technology in their rebuild, so it’s likely that ownership is seeking a younger manager to grow with the team and implement the analytics that Duquette talked about. This opinion can be tossed out the window if the Orioles dismiss Duquette too, but an announcement pertaining to the status of the general manager should be coming soon.

Image Credit: New York Post 

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UPDATE: Orioles have not talked to Showalter or Duquette about their futures

BALTIMORE — Last week, we passed along a Tweet from USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale that said the Orioles plan on dismissing manager Buck Showalter and retaining general manager Dan Duquette after the 2018 season ends. Well, that story may have changed or might not hold any truth. On Friday, a Tweet from ESPN‘s Jerry Crasnick surfaced and told us that the Orioles’ offseason does not look as clear as we thought it did.

Obviously, this is not a good sign. If the above is true, the Orioles are waiting until the last second to make two very important decisions that could shape the franchise for years to come. It’s no secret that a large chunk of the Orioles’ fanbase is frustrated and disconnected from the team after what will be the worst season in team history. A detailed, well-thought-out plan should have been agreed upon already to start shifting the Orioles in the right direction, but now it seems like there’s nothing set in stone.

This is a perfect example of not believing anything you see on the internet until the moves the Orioles make become official and public. Even though Crasnick’s Tweet came a week later than Nightengale’s, Nightengale’s words could end up being the more accurate Tweet. Teams don’t often reveal intricate plans until the season is over, so Orioles representatives could be sending mixed signals out to reporters to not show their cards. However, based on how the Orioles have operated in the past, it’s plausible to suspect that the Angelos family doesn’t have a plan yet.

After tomorrow’s 3:05 pm season finale against the Houston Astros at Camden Yards, the pressure is on the Orioles to make the call on the team’s manager and general manager. This decision needs to happen quickly. Announcements need to be made, and the fanbase needs to know what the future holds for the Orioles.

READ – 10 for #10: Reflecting on Adam Jones’ Orioles career.

Additional articles on this story will be written as the details come out.

Image Credit: ESPN

Bringing back legends to assist with rebuild is a great move by Orioles

BALTIMORE — In recent weeks, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette has made it clear that the franchise is beginning to rebuild. The team has already dealt Manny Machado, Zach BrittonBrad Brach, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day, and Jonathan Schoop. Even though the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline already passed, the Orioles can still move players this month if they clear waivers. On the field, the next few years will be rough for the Orioles, but the hope is that the team can return to its competitive form in the early 2020’s.

In the last three weeks, the Orioles announced the returns of two team legends who will assist the ball-club in their quest to rebuild. On July 15, it was revealed that Brooks Robinson, who won 16 Gold Gloves with the O’s in 22 seasons, will come on as a special adviser. 10 days later, fellow Orioles legend – three-time Silver Slugger recipient Eddie Murray – showed up in town and revealed that he’s also coming back to Baltimore to serve as a special adviser, specifically to ‘Executive Vice President’ John Angelos.

Murray and Robinson will both serve the front office as special advisers, but their roles will differ. Robinson, 81, is 19 years older than Murray, so obviously his workload won’t be as heavy. Robinson and Murray both outlined their responsibilities during aired interviews on MASN.

“I’ll be doing some things to try to promote this club and get people to this stadium,” Robinson said. “It’s a beautiful ballpark, and the Orioles have always tried to get people in and get people into the community.” “I might go to Spring Training, I might do a fantasy camp, I might do a session with the players [at FanFest] that they have here in January. So that’s really my job.”

“I’m not going to say it’s broke, but it’s pretty close,” said Murray. “They’re not playing very well, but hopefully [I] can come in here and maybe add something. We’ll see what I’m capable of doing.” … “[John] was letting me know that there’s definitely going to be a change made here. They said this is their chance to shine, and they would really like to get this down here on this field turned around.”

Over the last few months its become clear that much of the power held by Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos is shifting to his two sons, John and Louis. Peter celebrated his 89th birthday on July 4 and it’s only fair to assume that he will not hold his post as majority owner much longer. Although John has worked for his father as the Orioles’ Executive VP since 1999, Peter has been, for the most part, calling the shots. No official announcement about a torch being passed from Peter to the kids has been made. However, it appears that John and Louis are taking over their father’s duties fairly quickly.

Both Robinson and Murray have been out of the game for a while, but they sure do know what it takes to win. Between both Orioles Hall-Of-Famers, the duo appeared in nine playoff runs, won three World Series Championships, and played on 26 teams that finished with winning records out of 36 combined seasons. They’ve seen first-hand what it takes to build a competitive, winning ball-club and do it consistently.

From the perspective of John Angelos, perhaps the Orioles’ Executive VP (if that’s still his current title) feels that bringing back player legends to advise team operations would not only give him an accredited voice to guide him, but it would also allow the Orioles to make amends with former players who were isolated by his father.

It’s no secret that Peter Angelos severed multiple relationships with long-time Orioles players and coaches. There was the infamous battle between Angelos and former manager Davey Johnson that led to Johnson’s resignation following the 1997 season in which Johnson’s Orioles fell to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship series. Johnson and Angelos never got along. Johnson’s slow downfall to resigning began when he ordered then-second baseman Roberto Alomar to to pay a $10,500 fine for not showing up to a team dinner and skipping an exhibition game during the All-Star Break. Johnson wanted the money to go towards a fundraiser that his wife was involved in, but Alomar paid the fine to a different charity after being told by the players’ union that Johnson’s orders could be classified as a ‘conflict of interest’. Angelos used this ammo on top of his already existing disdain towards Johnson to force the Orioles’ Hall-of-Famer into resignation.

Johnson actually resigned the same day that he won the AL Manager of the Year award. He had led the O’s to three straight playoff appearances and two trips to the ALCS. After Johnson resigned, the team endured 14 straight losing seasons. His presence was dearly missed.

Aside from Johnson, another detriment to Peter was his disregard for great players and team legends, including Robinson himself. According to a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Peter made promises he couldn’t keep, telling former players like Brooks and Frank Robinson that he would schedule meetings with them, but never returned their calls. The lack of communication between Angelos and famous Orioles caused many of those players to stay away from the team, especially when the team constantly lost.

Perhaps the most underlying problem with Peter is the fact that the successful law firm he launched in 1961 presumably takes up a large chunk of his time. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t create an excuse to not pay an equal amount of attention to a professional baseball team under your name.

Former Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail described Peter as ‘a lawyer who happens to run a baseball team‘, giving the impression that the firm always has been his first priority. During his reign of owning the Orioles, Peter has gotten involved in several team decisions that would normally be made by the general manager without interference from ownership. If the law firm was truly the first thing on his agenda, you have to wonder how much thought Peter actually put into each decision before putting his foot down.

The tactics of Peter Angelos have corrupted the once-great Orioles organization. Because the Angelos family, to date, almost never addresses fans or the media, bringing the dirty laundry to surface takes some digging. Aside from first-hand accounts from former players and managers who have worked under Angelos in the past, there’s not much to go off of. It’s one of those cases where you simply say “the proof is in the pudding”.

Even though the reign of Peter Angelos hasn’t been easy for the Orioles or the city of Baltimore, the early moves of John Angelos show that there’s some hope. Letting kids below the age of nine in for free was apparently the first big decision made by John, and now the credit for bringing back Robinson and Murray is going to him. If that’s the case, there’s certainly reason to being optimistic about the future of the Orioles, specifically ownership.

Murray and Robinson can’t offer anything on the field, and they won’t even be around full-time. Robinson’s age makes a part-time schedule best for him, and Murray lives on the west coast. But, from a baseball perspective, it’s a great move by John Angelos to have these two men in his ear as he begins to take over the ownership reigns from his father. There’s going to be a lot of pressure placed on John. Reaching out for advisement was not only a great move, but it will bring multiple heads together to try to get this franchise turned around as soon as possible.

Nothing is promised and the rebuild of the Orioles will take some time. With John now at the helm with former Orioles greats assisting him, there is going to be some sound baseball decisions made. Under Peter Angelos, this seemed to not be possible.

Image Credit: Baltimore Business News