Last night, with the news of Dave Trembley impending doom looming large over Birdland, duck suggested that we try a Camden Chat round table to discuss Trembley and the Orioles future. It was short notice, but we managed to round up a few of the usual suspects: daveh873, twistedlogic, WestcoastO'sfan, James F, duck, zknower, and me. Duck and zk facilitated the discussion and despite veering much further away from Trembley than we all probably intended, some interesting opinions were brought to light. Check them out. This is just part one of our talk; part two will post tomorrow afternoon.
duck: So, Diamond Dave. He's gone. Can any of the losing this year be attributed to him, and specifically, what?
twistedlogic: i'd say half and half
James F: Meh. A little, maybe. But the losing isn't the problem, as far as I'm concerned
zknower: Losing isn't the problem if it's expected, but losing in ridiculous ways can be a burden to the young uns.
Stacey: It's not the losing so much as how the losing is happening, I guess.
twistedlogic: he did some really dumb stuff at times...especially with the bullpen carousel, but he can't force the guys to hit or, you know, take a pitch every now and then
James F: Well, what he was worst at was that he always did the "traditional baseball" thing... always with the hit and runs, and the bunts, and the intentional walks and reliever roulette. And that shit doesn't work, and it probably cost us a close game or two.
twistedlogic: I'd say more than a game or two
daveh873: I agree with James there. As much stuff as Dave does that I just don't get, how many losses are really on his head? That being said, I don't think he's done a particularly great job.
duck: I have a problem with the seeming lack of accountability. I understand you don't dress your players down in public, but at some point, there has to be a viewable consequence for screwing up., And that never seemed to happen, and on the rare occasions it did, it was misplaced anger. Felix Pie jumps to mind. Adam can screw up a dozen plays in CF, but let Felix make one base running mistake, and Dave took his head off.
Stacey: I know! Poor baby.
zknower: I feel like there were a few times when DDT hung players out to dry....
twistedlogic: well people have made Jones out to be a god so that didn't really help, and Atkins did get benched for sucking......
zknower: People say DDT hasn't lost the team. But how can you know? There are people in the clubhouse who never say anything, and aren't going to come out and say, "Yeah, I hate the way I've been handled." If you look at when Mazzilli and Perlozzo were let go, in the weeks leading up, all the players said, "it's on us." After the firings, some people then came forth and said, "there was a problem." Regardless of what Nicky or Millwood says publicly, this is a team that looks defeated from the first pitch of the first inning right now. It's not just that they're worried they'll lose-it's more like they *expect* to.
James F: One thing that was interesting about the Sun's interviews with the scouts was how much all of them thought that the kids were pressing, too tight, and trying to hard. And that spoke to me some about the clubhouse. Same with the guys concealing injuries.
duck: Next question - how much was the players and how much was Dave? JACK GERMOND! Um, I mean zk.
zknower: Of course it's mostly the players, but when an ENTIRE TEAM is playing below expectations, you have to look at coaching.
daveh873: All I know is that the team goes out there day in and day out looking like they have no chance of winning and are just going through the motions. Honestly, Dave kinda looks that way too. I think he realized it was a lost cause and just began waiting for the inevitable to happen.
Westie: Let's not forget the injuries to Pie, Nolan, and Roberts that handcuffed him in the outfield. Then what can he do when his leadoff (best?) hitter gets hurt. Of course he could not play him so soon, but was that Roberts fault or Dave's?
zknower: Talent is talent, and I can't fault the manager if a guy isn't hitting better. But it doesn't take a special talent to tag up from 2nd and go to 3rd, or to run back to your previous base to make a rundown take longer. These are fundamentals. If one guy isn't doing fundamentals well, then he's the problem. If an *entire team* isn't, then it's coaching. This team played some of the worst fundamental baseball I've ever seen, and there have been no notable benchings, closed-door meetings, or anything else that would suggest they are being held accountable for it.
James F: I have no idea. I don't know to what degree players at this level even are coachable. The conventional wisdom is that they are, but I'm not so sure. I have no doubt that people talk to Adam about not playing so shallow or not swinging at the low breaking ball. Why he doesn't get it, I don't know.
zknower: Jones doesn't get it because he doesn't get benched for ignoring it.
duck: Adam has straight out said the club asked him to play back, and he said no.
twistedlogic: if he's gonna fuck around after a direct order then he ought to end up on the bench
Stacey: Well to be fair to him not getting benched, once Felix went lame the back-up CF was Lou Montanez
duck: Stacey, it doesn't have to be forever, just a game to prove a point.
Stacey: then Andy MacPhail should give Trembley someone capable of playing that position. But then we got Corey, so...
zknower: How much is it a manager's responsibility to motivate his players? And did DDT not fail at this?
twistedlogic: Partially on Dave there. He needs to lead by example and he looked just as or more dejected than the players.
James F: If you're not motivated, you aren't in the majors. I firmly believe that. I don't believe that our guys are not trying.
Stacey: I feel like once you reach this level you should be able motivate yourself.
duck: A lot. Yes, they're playng for God-huge piles of money, but it's on the manager to put the players in a position to do their best, and to help them make their best better. It's on Trembley to rest Wieters, not Wieters to tell him he's tired. It's on Trembley when he asks Wiggy to hit and run. He's forcing players into situations where they are more likely to fail than success with hit and runs and the way he uses relievers.
daveh873: I think motivation is a BIG part of managing, especially with young players who are failing for possibly the first time in their lives. If he's been trying to motivate them it certainly hasn't been working. The team looks defeated from the 1st pitch on.
twistedlogic: agreed with duck and dave
Stacey: However, I think that if the players feel like the manager makes decisions to put them in a position to lose, no matter how motivated you are it has to be tough.
zknower: @ James & Stacey: We all like to think that.....but we know there are a lot of guys around the majors hot dog it when their teams are down. Miguel Tejada being example A, at least a few years ago.
twistedlogic: DT calls the shots, and if he's making dumb calls, he isn't helping a struggling team.
James F: But, zk, I think to a degree that is just who these guys are. Think about how Randy Moss takes plays off. That's who he is. You can't change Miggi - if Billy Beane couldn't, who can?
Westie: Its entirely the managers job to motivate his team. Some players can motivate other players, some players are naturally lazy, but the job description of the manager is to motivate his team. Any manager can call the plays, it takes a good manager to manage a clubhouse, it's Lou Pinella versus Lee Mazzilli.
Stacey: That's true but I think that's partly a function of the team being so bad. When things are going miserably for me at work, even though I'd normally have enough intrinsic motivation to keep going, I don't work that hard. Cause what's the point. I feel like I just contradicted myself, oh well.
zknower: James: I don't know the answer. But if players are phoning it in, it's the manager's job to get them to stop. Not saying it's easy.
James F: I dunno - I think that part of it comes down to character. There is a reason why guys with all the talent in the world like Scott Moore and Corey Patterson are where they are now. There is a reason why Miggi is a guy who took banned substances and lied about his age. It is who they are.
daveh873: Speaking of Randy Moss though, look how much he changed between Oakland and NE. Sure, he still dogs it on some plays, but there was a definite change there.
twistedlogic: well you aren't being paid millions Stacey
Stacey: YOU DON'T KNOW THAT
twistedlogic: haha yes I do
duck: So, Juan Samuel is next in line to be interim manager. Given the schedule left in 2010, is 60 wins a realistic goal for this team? They're on track to win about 43.
twistedlogic: not happening. 50 is more like it.
zknower: I expect to see a breath of change after Samuel (or whoever) gets hired, then a regression to the norm.
Westie: I like the sound of 43, easy 1st pick. Hopefully we start losing in more amusing ways.
daveh873: 60 wins is possible, but it certainly isn't something to aim for. At that point we're pretty much the worst team in baseball one way or another.
James F: It is hard for me to see how much better we can get given that I expect we're gonna trade Wiggy, Millwood, Tejada and Scott if we can.
daveh873: I think adding Arrieta, BRob, Pie, and jettisoning some of the garbage will go a long way in moving that winning percentage up though.
twistedlogic: see I don't really think so, unless BRob brings offense
duck: What gives you hope for 2011 and 2012? I see an infield where not a single player is younger than 30, where 6 of the 9 lineup positions are taken by players 30 or older, and there's not much in the minors coming for years. What gives you hope about this team going forward?
Stacey: I don't have any hope. I honestly don't have any hope.
zknower: I get hope from MacPhail. I think he knows this year is a shitstorm, and I think he'll be far more aggressive this offseason.
James F: The draft. The hope that Matt Wieters will still emerge as a star.
duck: Z, I hope so, but you can't buy an entire infield (aside from catcher) in one off-season, and that's basically what we need.
zknower: No, but you can get a slugging 1B and a decent 3B and we're a lot better off.
twistedlogic: .....I'm not really on MacPhail's bandwagon
Stacey: Duck, don't put Brian out to pasture yet
duck: He's 30+ with a back problem. ANYTHING we get at this point is going to be unexpected.
Stacey: duck, but he's Brian!
duck: I just don't see any positional players in AAA or lower that are going to even be meaningful bench players in 2011.
Stacey: Josh Bell?
twistedlogic: i thought Justin turner might help a little bit
James F: Bell will be starting for us by mid-2011.
zknower: But we may trade for good positional players with all our pitching prospects. Matt Hobgood! Lol
daveh873: Hope for the next couple years? I think that comes from the thought that AJ much better than this and that this is just growing pains we are seeing. It comes from believing Wieters is for real and Arrieta, Tillman, and Matusz will be the shut down rotation we've all hoped they'd be. It comes from the belief that the O's really will buy the bats they need. It's a lot of faith to put out there, but that's where the hope comes from.
duck: Bell can't hit lefthanders if they were pitching slow pitch underhanded. How is he going to learn than in the AL East?
James F: Who cares if he can't hit lefthanders? There are like six good ones in the league
duck: We seem to face 2 every series we play...
twistedlogic: yea well those good ones all appear to be on teams we play.
James F: Eh, Sabathia, Lester, Price and Romero are all in our division.
zknower: Question to those who follow such things: What are reasonable goals to set for the mid-season trades of Wiggy/Millwood/Scott?
duck: Warm bodies and contract relief
Stacey: My first question about Millwood is, is there any chance he might be a Type A FA?
James F: Very unlikely, but Millwood's a solid B
daveh873: Regardless, I think if we offer Millwood arb. he accepts.
Stacey: I don't know, he might be looking for one more two year deal to finish things out.
James F: We can definitely get salary relief for Millwood, which is ok by me if we take Taillon and still go over slot and if this rumor that we're in on a big international FA are true.
Stacey: James, but is that stuff dependent upon losing Millwood's salary?
James F: I have no idea. I'd like to think not.
duck: But we're desperate and teams know it. Who's gonna offer us anything? We got lucky with the Dodgers last year.
zknower: We can call the shots with Millwood, assuming he doesn't tank in the next 6 weeks. Teams will overpay for him.
duck: zk, I don't know. We need a buyer, and we won't be the only team offering pitching. Do we really get anything worthwhile for him?
twistedlogic: @zk....millwood is throwing a ton of pitches. No guarantee he's not gonna tank.
Westie: Millwood or Guthrie, package one with Luke or Wiggy and get a good middle infielder.
duck: Westie, what team makes that deal?
zknower: but we'll only get a prospect, right?
twistedlogic: why would we make that deal? Luke sucks, but Guthrie/Millwood for a middle infielder?
Westie: Guts/Millwood plus Wiggy. The Mariners. They would take Wiggy
daveh873: Yes. I said before Luke and the others will probably not bring back much. We need to be looking at package deals.
Stacey: I'm not opposed to trading any of the older guys to make the team better, but do any of us honestly think they'll bring back things we can use in the future?
zknower: Getting back to DDT: How optimisitc is anyone that Crowley will also be fired tomorrow?
Stacey: He won't be.
James F: Not at all. I'm certain Crowley stays
twistedlogic: I am too, and I'm not happy about that. Crow has to take a bit of the blame for the shitty offense.
zknower: a BIT? What about after the year is over?
duck: Crowley will still be hitting coach when I die of old age.
James F: No idea. Part of it depends on the fanbase. If they start really calling for his head, that's one thing that makes it more likely. But hitting coaches who get fired in season get fired before the manager, not after.
daveh873: Crowley isn't going anywhere, which is almost as bad as Samuel being given a promotion for being horrible at his job.
Stacey: zk, hopefully the new manager will be given free reign to bring in his own coaches. If they fire Trembley but no one else, I will reserve judgment to see what happens with the new manager in the off season. But if they bring in, say, Willie Randolph and he hires a bunch of new coaches and Crow is still here, fuck that.
zknower: These guys can't work a count to save their lives. WHY is this not addressed?
twistedlogic: That and fucktards who can't FUCKING TAKE A GODDAMN PITCH.
duck: Just listen to the players, it's not his fault, oh no. All those pesky stats showing how the O's have been in the bottom third of the league for almost 12 years in most major offensive stats? Not Crowley's fault, nosiree!
James F: Well, they have been pretty crappy players for 12 years
daveh873: Well, to be fair the O's have been in the bottom third in the league in talent for almost 12 years as well.
twistedlogic: But in crow's defense...the players he's had have sucked hard, and they really aren't any better now. Other than maybe Nicky.
Westie: Dont defend the Crow. Honestly.
twistedlogic: I didn't say DONT fire him. I want him gone. I'm just saying it isn't ALL his fault
zknower: but NOT in crow's defense. the current young 'uns are good, and he's not helping them at all.
Stacey: Well the pitchers all sucked for Leo Mazzone and whoever else and the pitching coaches still got the axe.
James F: Let's not say the players aren't better. Wieters is a great talent. Jones is a great talent. All the scouts and evaluators in baseball are not crazy
zknower: Yes. And to Crow's credit, he sometimes helps an individual guy: Nicky, Pie.
Stacey: Right, James. That's what is KILLING me.
twistedlogic: I really don't think Jones is great talent.
WHAT A CLIFFHANGER! Tune in tomorrow for thoughts on who should be Trembley's permanent replacement, if we think Andy MacPhail has what it takes to give any manager what he needs to win, and some final thoughts on Diamond Dave and his role with the Orioles.