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Orioles: Andy MacPhail Out?

If this report from Bob Nightengale at USA Today is to be believed, the writing is on the wall for Andy MacPhail. Word is that he’s on his way out.

I see no reason to doubt this for now. The quotes in the report (from MacPhail and Buck) don’t dispute the claim, they just kind of dance around it with a wink and nod. That and, well, it makes sense. There can be no argument that MacPhail hasn’t accomplished all he set out to do here, despite some successes along the way. Four years is a long time.

I find myself feeling oddly ambivalent. There’s a certain shock to it in the way that all Big News is shocking, but that’s followed by…well, not much. Fatigue, mostly. I have a hunch many of you and much of Birdland might feel the same way.

Regardless, the question now becomes: what next? Or on a more granular level, where are the trend lines headed?

Buck is here and I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s putting his stamp on this team. I’m sure he’ll not only have a hand in hiring the next GM but also in helping shape the strategic direction. That’s the good news.

Bad news is, instability and uncertainty are almost never good. Every stop and restart on the things MacPhail put in motion means more time spent. Every bit of reevaluation means more potential for things getting worse (again) before they get better.

The optimist in me — the one that gained a reputation around here for being too positive — looks at a fresh start as a good thing. Results are results, after all, and MacPhail hasn’t gotten them.

The realist in me, however — the one that has gained more and more traction in recent months — says that it hardly matters unless folks in the Warehouse have finally and truly recognized the need for a sweeping change in culture.

That’s what is needed, above and beyond a new face or two. Until they say “enough” and revamp their entire approach from top to bottom, things won’t likely change much.

I’d bet Buck gets that. I’m sure the players get it. I’m equally sure that there’s a faction within the organization that likewise gets it. That kind of organizational course-correction, however, is terribly difficult. Unless the new GM is hired with a clear mandate to implement it we’re likely to be underwhelmed.

Cross your fingers, I guess. I wish I had more encouraging words than that.

Related: I wonder how much of this is MacPhail’s decision and how much came from above. Is he worn out, perhaps? Or is this a way to engineer a graceful exit for a loyal soldier who deserves better than being “let go”? We might never know.

21 comments to Orioles: Andy MacPhail Out?

  • df1570

    The realist in me, however — the one that has gained more and more traction in recent months — says that it hardly matters unless ONE MAN in the Warehouse has finally and truly recognized the need for a sweeping change in culture.

    Fixed that for you.

    You’re smart enough to know the truth. They’re NEVER winning while he owns the ballclub.


  • dan the man

    @ df1570:
    While I still think that’s kind of a lame cop-out, it’s hard to look at the last 14 years without looking at that one constant. The thing is, though, you really shouldn’t say “never” because it’s entirely possible that by some freak luck, the players on the field over-achieve enough to grab .500.

    I mean, that’s the crazy part – in nearly 1.5 decades, the Orioles haven’t been able to fall ass backwards into a .500 season. We’re not even talking playoffs here, just simply winning ONE MORE GAME than they lose. It’s stunning, really. You would think it would have happened once, at least, by sheer dumb luck alone.

    The things you read about Flanagan apparently not being able to do his job the way he wanted are sad, but it’s not like we didn’t already suspect that. Same is true with Andy most likely. Though we’ll never really know.

    Whether or not your believe that Angelos is the end-all-be-all reason the Orioles can’t win is purely opinion (because we are always on the outside looking in), but I don’t think there’s any Orioles fan, apologist or otherwise, that wouldn’t applaud Angelos finally relinquishing ownership to someone else. One of these days, it’ll happen, we know that much. Orioles luck would say that it’s going to go right to one of his sons, though.

  • neal s

    @ df1570: Eh, Dan’s right. I’d never claim that Angelos is a good owner and it’s hard to ignore his presence as the only constant through all this losing, but there’s more to it than just him. Plus, they have won with him as owner, albeit a long time ago.

  • dan the man

    On Andy, he has been awfully quiet recently, even for Andy. Last year, when the team went South, he came out and said some things. This year, he’s kind of just letting it play out while acknowledging here and there that the young starters have regressed. He hasn’t commented on Flanny, either, which may or may not mean anything.

    I was reminded earlier today that Flanny never knew his position when Andy was hired, and fans were constantly hounding Roch about what his role really was. I had forgotten that, and now it just adds to the whole Thing.

    Anyway, I expect we won’t be as excited with any new GM hire as we were when Andy was hired. Things are a little different now.

  • df1570

    You guys keep thinking that way and I’ll save you a spot at The Last Place Bar and Grill.

    Keep on thinking it’s NOT Angelos…and see what happens as long as he stays around. Yeah, they won with him as the owner in ’96 and ’97. It isn’t happening again. That’s like saying “The Doors put out great music in 1969. No reason why they still can’t do it.”

    Uh, yeah there is. One of the band members is dead.

    Ownership is the problem here, period. It’s the problem on the field, it’s the problem off the field. It’s THE problem.

    If Cal Ripken Jr. bought the team TODAY and they had a press conference tomorrow morning at 10:00 am, what would the crowd be tomorrow night against Toronto?

    It would be sold out. It would be a ceremonial sell-out, a civic “THANK GOD!” of sorts, but 44,000 would go to the game tomorrow night.

    If you don’t think the current owner is the problem, there’s no helping you.

    Honestly — I figured you guys to be smarter than that.

    Not that Andy has done any great work here. He hasn’t, of course. But the reason Andy hasn’t done great work here is that he never really intended to do GREAT work. He merely wanted to get back in the game, earn some money for himself, show well for the rest of the owners, and then parlay this into a league job at some point this decade.

    I’d say he’s accomplished that.

    The fans in Baltimore have suffered for it, but that was never really his concern from jump street.

    Free The Birds 5 is coming…should be fun.

  • neal s

    The perfect ending to the Michael Gonzalez era: traded to Texas for a player to be named later. Seems about right.

    I’d love to say “it’s like he was never here” but the truth is that his horrible showing in the early part of ’10 left scars that will never heal.

  • dan the man

    df1570 wrote:

    Not that Andy has done any great work here. He hasn’t, of course. But the reason Andy hasn’t done great work here is that he never really intended to do GREAT work. He merely wanted to get back in the game, earn some money for himself, show well for the rest of the owners, and then parlay this into a league job at some point this decade.

    Love that you state that as a fact. I bet it was fun to really have Andy open up to you like that. You must feel privileged.

    df1570 wrote:

    Free The Birds 5 is coming…should be fun.

    There was a Free The Birds 2? (Totally not even joking.)

    Look, Angelos sucks. You won’t find anyone here disputing that obvious fact. He’s just not the end-all-be-all. Case in point: Andy straight refusing to go all-in with the international market. That’s not Angelos, that’s Andy. Case in point: Rowell, Snyder, Hobgood, etc. There are multiple factors, one of them being Angelos, yes.

  • dan the man

    @ neal s:
    Oh, Gonzo.

    Why couldn’t you have just been your 2nd half self the whole time? This is the pitcher we were supposed to have signed, but our shitty luck got in the way. Mike Gonzalez IS a good pitcher. He’s got years of track record to prove it. But he comes here, blows out his arm and here we are. I’ll be rooting for Texas for sure.

    Guess it’s too much to ask for Gregg to get flipped, too.

  • Mike R

    I hope the player to be named later for Gonzo is Josh Hamilton, or Koji.

    I’ll agree it’s not all Angelos’ fault. It’s a big part, but our scouting sucks too. Like DTM mentioned Rowell, Snyder, Hobgood, etc… I give Joe Jordan no credit. It’s easy to pick the 3rd or 4th best player each year. What do you do in the other rounds. Nothing. Andy has to go. He didn’t really stick to the plan. If we were told “buying the bats” was going to mean signing retreads, or retards like Tejada, Fatkins, Vlad, D-Lee to 1 year deals, 3 of the 4 not even playing a full season here, I would have been against his hiring from the start.

    It’s no couinsidence that the O’s have won 7 out of 9 while allowing just 14 runs in those 7 wins, 2 per game average. It’s back to being a pitchers game.

    You need pitching above all else to win these days. The fact that every single pitcher who has come up through the system has torn up the minors, then lose something when they get to the show scares me. There is some kind of disconnect between the coaches and the players and the trainers and guys who develop these guys. Injuries happen, but to every single pitcher. Whatever they are doing to these guys from the time they leave Norfolk as stars, to the time they get fed to the wolves in the show isn’t working. Are the coaches messing with their mechanincs, messing with what worked for them at the minors, and making them change because “I’m the coach and I know what is right.” Enforcing retarded innings counts aren’t keeping these guys from getting injured either.

    When a pitcher has shown talent, the only thing a pitching coach should tell them is maybe “hey, your dropping that elbow. Keep that elbow up, keep the ball down.” Thats it. You think when Bryce Harper makes it to the bigs hitting 500 foot homeruns, some coach is going to fix the mechanics of his swing? Only if the Orioles had signed him.

  • Vlad to Meet You

    I may have to stick up for what looks like the minority here. I hold Angelo’s feet to the fire here. Angelo’s is the CEO on a once successful business and the business has faltered since his presence. What other business would we blame other factors aside from the CEO. If Apple starts to plummet due to their sales strategy, hires and new products right after Steve Jobs leaves how long does the CEO stay? Angelos is the only person in the org that has the say so and ability to fix anything he’s sees fit, like scouting. He can hire somebody new. International market, he can say I want a piece of that. It’s Angelos guys. It’s freaking Angelos

  • dan the man

    It’s freaking Angelos, but it’s also freaking the GM. But yeah, like I said, Angelos sucks, but he’s merely part of the suck.

    I found it very interesting that Buck went out of his way to mention how the kid pitching for the Jays last night was a product of what the Jays are doing in Venezuela. Complete with a long pause. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think it’s pretty clear Buck doesn’t agree with Andy’s international efforts, or lack thereof.

  • Ballmer Bruce

    Thank goodness for the Ravens in 10 days.

  • dan the man

    @ Ballmer Bruce:
    Agreed, but damn I wish it wasn’t such a ridiculous and important game on Week 1. Yep, I’m scared of the Steelers, especially when our O-line hasn’t even played as a unit yet.

  • dan the man

    And it always annoys me that Steelers fans are likely kicking back and largely chilled out about these games. Yeah, they get hyped, but they don’t get worried. Neal, can you confirm this as a fan of the yellow and black?

  • neal s

    @ dan the man: Well, I can confirm two things:

    First, I try to always chill and kick back about football. But my sense from among Steelers fans is that, yes, they by and large take the Ravens very seriously but don’t exactly worry about it. I think there’s a healthy respect combined with confidence.

    Second, I’m soon going to file paperwork to spend the 2011-12 season with the Buffalo Bills as my primary allegiance.

  • dan the man

    @ neal s:
    The Bills? For real? See, but us TLC-lurkers will always know the real truth.

  • neal s

    @ Andrew G: @ dan the man: It’s fer ril. I’m a huge Ryan Fitzpatrick fan, and the Bills need me right now.

  • dan the man

    Joe Jordan on the way out, too, is the rumor, according to Keith Law and Tony Pente.

  • neal s

    @ dan the man: Interesting.

    It’d make sense. I think we all know that a full organizational reboot is in order. Only problem is, do we trust that it’ll be executed properly? Or will we just shuffle the deck and end up with more of the same?

  • dan the man

    @ neal s:
    Right. DtM of two years ago would be doing back flips right about now. Now it’s a flat wait-and-see approach. We can all basically agree that a reboot is in order, but it doesn’t correlate with optimism and excitement like it once would have. It might eventually, but it’s all about results now.