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Orioles at the Deadline: MacPhail Still Magic? Or Was He Ever?

As the trade deadline passed for the Orioles last weekend and news trickled out about the deals involving Koji and Derrek Lee, a few thoughts began to percolate. It started with mild admiration for the fact that Andy MacPhail had turned Koji into two major league-ready potential contributors (emphasis on “potential”). From there it morphed into something approaching what I think is a decent understanding of Andy’s tenure.

We all remember the great hope that attended his arrival. Here was a proven MLB exec who would bring gravitas to the role and implement a strong rebuilding strategy. Shortly thereafter, he authored his masterstroke: the Erik Bedard trade. He also got what, at the time, appeared to be a strong haul for Miguel Tejada. The general consensus among O’s fans — and I remember this — was that this guy was something of a trade genius. That bought a hell of a lot of goodwill.

Goodwill which, I believe, might have blinded us a bit. Since those two big, early moves he hasn’t really had a great track record. He hasn’t had a terrible one, either, but the results both on the field and in terms of the ultimate return on those two big trades speak to a guy who is, shall we say, struggling. He hasn’t overseen a comprehensive rebuild of the team. He hasn’t fixed the farm system. He hasn’t brought the team to contention.

He hasn’t failed, true, but he hasn’t exactly succeeded. I’d call his results “middling” and he only gets that because he had such dramatic success (or seeming success) early. Take away the Bedard trade and things start to look a lot more like they looked during the previous regimes. Some successes, some failures, and precious little real progress.

I don’t say these things as a prelude to advocating his removal. I actually think he should stay and that he and Buck should be given the chance to keep plugging away on getting things right. Change needs to happen, for sure, but it needs to happen in scouting/development more than it does at the top.

I do think, however, that it’s fairly clear now that MacPhail is not special. There’s nothing amazing about his work here when you take it as a whole. He’s a solid GM who works hard and hasn’t hurt the team. That’s it. And because that’s it, I hope he realizes — like we do as fans — that the time has come to step it up. The Koji/Lee moves were fine. Maybe even good. But they aren’t enough. Far from it.

It’s been a long time since that Bedard trade. It’s time for another masterstroke.

13 comments to Orioles at the Deadline: MacPhail Still Magic? Or Was He Ever?

  • neal s

    Also, as a postscript: many thanks to everyone for the kind words on the Best of Baltimore win. I really appreciate the goodwill. It helps keeps things crankin’ around here.

  • Mike R

    It’s so hard to judge trades until years after the fact. I mean the Bedard trade looks like a slam dunk for us. But now that hes in Boston, he could win 20 games and leave O’s fans saying “Why did we ever ged rid of that guy? Adam Jones could also jack 30 homers and Bedard could find the DL again, then MacPhail looks like a genius.

    MacPhail also traded for Reynolds who leads the team in homers, and Hardy whos real solid. Right now it looks good. David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio arent turning heads. But what about next year, or the year after? Judging a man and his trades are hard to do.

    It goes a step higher. When it comes to writing the checks, how handcuffed is MacPhail by Angelos? We’ll probably nevew know for sure.

  • dan the man

    MacPhail has never had a problem with trades. He does pretty well when he wants to make a trade. Except maybe the Chad Bradford thing.

    I just feel like we’ve been blindsided when he starts spitting out quotes about not really being interested in the international market. Like, wait.. it would have been nice to know that up front, man! Really, though, it’s not all on Andy. He just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to phone it in, and neither does Buck. But it IS on them to fix whatever is going on in scouting and development, and to score their first really big free agent.

  • Ballmer Bruce

    I still like the Reynolds deal, but Hernandez is having an above average season as the Dbacks set up man. Equitable trade for both teams.

    Beating a dead horse I know, but this team will not contend is we continue to ignore the International Market for young prospects. McPhail throws out red herring when he says he does not believe in paying $5M bonuses. I do not disagree, but how about the fifteen or so players at $500M each we could have signed for Vlads money. Come on Andy, quit blowing smoke. Teams that need as much as the Orioles must look under every rock.

  • Dibs

    I don’t know enough of all f MacPhail’s trades and doings, but a weak development system is down to him, isn’t it? And the trade for Reynolds was at Showalter’s behest, Buck hoped Mark would become a decent 3B and hit, not only 34 homers/100 RBI’s, but hit in pressure situations, which he has bombed at if you beleive the sabermetrics.

  • Max Morf

    Actually Andy MacPhail hasn’t said he isn’t interested in the international market. I heard him on the radio a week or so ago saying what he isn’t so much interested in is the “$4 million guy” that you sign based on a workout. He mentioned that the O’s had actually just signed two guys via international market (Dominican I believe), one guy who hit 100 on the radar, and another in the high 90s. I think we as fans see stories in the media about some guy who is getting alot of buzz and wants $BlankMillion dollars and we all start yelling, “Why doesn’t Andy sign this guy?” That’s all hype, and I do recall Andy saying that’s he’s not into the hype, and he shouldn’t be. There’s alot of deception and deceit swirling around some of the players in the so called “international market,” guys who are alot older than they are purported to be, guys who want to be signed based on a workout, i.e. Drungo Hazewood types who can crush a fastball but couldn’t anything that breaks with a bat the size of a barn door. Andy is conservative, he’s methodical, he’s not going to do anything rash or “wheeler dealer” and I don’t have a problem with that. You see, you can afford to take risks and make big splashy signings and trades when you’ve (1) got a ton of money to play with and (2) a farm system and major league roster bulging with players you can trade. When you’re “poor” as the O’s are (not that Angelos doesn’t have money, but he doesn’t seem very inclined to spend it; and we are poor in terms of farm system prospects) you can’t afford to make a big deal that’s a bust or you’re crippled. If you got a ton of players to deal and trade and plenty left over, you can afford the occasional mistake. We can’t. That means you want a conservative approach and that’s what Andy brings. Does that make for exciting deals and headlines? No, it doesn’t. Hate to say it, but we have to remain patient. I do agree, however, that we need to make some considerable strides in terms of SCOUTING and DEVELOPMENT of the players we sign. I think it is crazy that the Orioles have drafted as high as they have over the past 10+ years and yet, have so little to show for it. This means our scouting department is making mistakes, signing the wrong guys, while teams that draft far below us seem to do so much better. That has to change. Andy has spoken in favor of our current head of scouting, etc., but that’s to be expected. Andy isn’t controversial. He isn’t going to throw anybody under the media bus, he’ll say all the right things to the press, but who knows what’s going on behind closed doors? I think and hope we’ll see some changes because, yes, 14 seasons of losing is enough. Way, way enough.

  • Andrew

    @ Max Morf:
    Yes, MacPhail did say he merely was not interested in signing international teenagers to multi-million dollar contracts, but the fact remains that the Orioles sign as few international players at any price as any team in baseball. Pointing the finger at the Sanos and Ynoas of the world is merely setting up a straw man.

  • Andrew

    @ Max Morf:
    Also, the Orioles totally can’t afford to be crippled by a failed bold move. If they got crippled by that kind of thing they’d probably be resigned to being the worst team in the AL for a good 3 or 4 years and I can’t even imagine how terrible that wou-

    Oh. Oohhhhhhhhhhhhh.

  • dan the man

    Don’t worry guys, Jo-Jo is here to save us! Actually, it’s not a bad pickup just to save us from Jakubauskas and the like.

  • dan the man

    As much as we may not like Vlad and some of the other signings, at least Andy didn’t throw $60 million at THIS guy:


  • Mike R

    Meanwhile…Derrek Lee went deep…TWICE last night.


  • dan the man

    @ Mike R:
    I feel like that says more about the NL than it does about the O’s. Welcome home, D. Lee.

  • dan the man

    Say what you want about Alfredo Sauce, but he stepped up big when the O’s had no closer (until his arm wore out), and he’s stepped up big this year when the O’s had no rotation. He’s solid – you want this guy on your team for depth because of his ability to pitch in multiple roles and because he has pretty nasty stuff at times.