On June 25th, prior to a game vs. the Cincinnati Reds, Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter addressed season ticket holders on the state of the Baltimore Orioles. After some opening remarks fans were given the opportunity to ask questions of Andy or Buck. Much of their responses to these questions was boilerplate, but there were some interesting bits of knowledge to glean as well.
The opening statements were devoid of anything interesting, just some cheer leading remarks about how the players do feed off the energy of the crowd. So, onto the questions from the fans. I have organized the questions into a more logical flow, as opposed to posting them in the order in which they were asked. Also, I am merely paraphrasing Andy and / or Buck's responses.
*On the process of transforming the team into a contender:
AM: We are a better club now than we were last season. But, the process has not occurred as quickly as he had hoped. They are maintaining the emphasis on developing young arms.
BS: Players develop at different rates, or fail to develop. Progress doesn't occur in a linear fashion. We're better, but certainly not good enough yet.
*On Andy MacPhail's future with the club:
AM: He will wait until the end of the year before discussing anything. Not concerned with his contract status during the season.
*Will the Warehouse be willing to spend $ in free agency this off-season:
AM: Ownership will do what is needed to improve the ball club. Free agency is one avenue to that end, but there are other ways to improve the club. For instance, no one has out spent the O's in the amateur draft over the past 4 seasons. The spring training complex was completely renovated.
*Will the Warehouse make a run at landing Pujols or Prince this off-season:
AM: Per baseball rules he can't discuss other teams players, but, he will be focused on improving the middle of the lineup. In order to win in the A.L. East the O's need to be an offensive juggernaut.
*On Brian Roberts' status:
BS: BriBob worked out in Sarasota without any complications or set backs. He will go back to Pittsburgh to be reevaluated in a week or so.
*On their approach to utilizing sabermetrics:
AM: In terms of player acquisition the front office uses a variety of reports when analyzing if a player would be a good fit for the club. Analyzing SABR stats comprises approximately 1/3 of their approach, and there are certain statistics that they focus on, but he did not elaborate any further.
BS: He uses all things available to him, but, the bulk of his response concerned how unquantifiable aspects of the game, such as the mental approach / makeup of players, are not reflected in statistics.
*Regarding our spending in the international market:
AM: The spending curve is increasing. He touted success in developing some arms in the DSL (Dominican Summer League) and GCL (Gulf Coast League). And then he restated his refrain regarding not being willing to deal with the 'buscones' (Latin American baseball camps), because he wants the scouts to see players perform in a competitive environment, not just going through drills.
*Regarding the success at the end of 2010 vs. the struggles in 2011:
BS: The team is close, and has been competitive, but a lot of little errors have hurt the team this season, i.e. lead off walks, hit by pitches, failure to get bunts down, fielding mistakes, etc.
That was about the extent of the session. It would have been nice if it lasted a bit longer, there were certainly plenty of people with questions who were left out (myself included), or if questions could have been followed up, but batting practice was starting and so it was time for Buck to get back to the team. Feel free to share any thoughts / questions in the comments.