Podcast Episode 28: ‘Astroball’ author Ben Reiter lays out blueprint for how Elias & Mejdal will rebuild the Orioles

Image Credit: Eutaw Street Report 

Welcome to Episode 28 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

The guys spend the first 45 minutes of the show talking all things Ravens. First, Jake, Nolan, and Ian revisit Baltimore’s 26-16 win over the Falcons from this past Sunday (3:30). You’ll also hear an extended Ravens quarterback debate (9:20) as our team has differing opinions on whether Lamar Jackson or a healthy Joe Flacco should lead the Ravens offense to (hopefully) the team’s first playoff berth in four years. As we do every week, we’ll go over Who’s Trending (30:49) and some things to watch for on Sunday as the Ravens enter Arrowhead Stadium for a 1:00 pm tilt with the #1 seed in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs (39:39).

71TL+MlkkTLUp next, we welcome in our special guest for Episode 28 – Ben Reiter, author of Astroball: The New Way To Win It All (45:44). There’s no one better to tell Orioles fans everything they want to know about Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal than Reiter, who’s written a book detailing the processes Elias and Mejdal implemented to rebuild the Astros under Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow. Along with going over the storyline of Astroball, Reiter gives specific examples of how Elias and Mejdal used analytics. Reiter also provides some insight into how these same techniques will be used to rebuild the Orioles. It’s a must-listen interview for all Orioles fans eager to see what Elias and his team can do.

After Reiter’s call-in, Nolan and Ian jump back in, reacting to the Milwaukee Brewers decision to non-tender former Oriole fan-favorite Jonathan Schoop (1:05:18). Don’t worry, the gang also talked about Caleb Joseph and Tim Beckham being non-tendered by the Orioles too.

With the Maryland men’s basketball team off to a hot 7-1 start, the next part of the show takes a look at Mark Turgeon’s 2017-18 team (1:14:00). With the Terps making the Top 25 last week, the guys lay out their season projections for a talented, young Maryland team.

To wrap up the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Baltimore sports athletes to wear the number 28 (1:25:22).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

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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 

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