BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles walks across the outfield before his team takes on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 17, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
With speculation mounting that today is de facto General Manager Andy MacPhail's last day on the job in Baltimore, I find myself at a loss. I'm unsure what I'm expecting to hear out of the Warehouse in the coming days, although rumor has it tomorrow is going to be a big news day, at least in terms of MacPhail's status. I'm also unsure what exactly I'm hoping to hear. The popular theory seems to have Buck Showalter turning in his sanitary socks for the GM equivalent (I'm thinking argyle), and at first blush I think I might go hoarse from screaming "No no no no no no no!".
But why not Buck? What precise qualities is he missing that I require in the Orioles's next GM? More to the point, what precise qualities do I require in a GM? There's a lot of rebop rattling around in my brain about things like "new school thinking" and "21st century GMing", but I wonder if that isn't just ageism. Earlier this week, the Sun's Orioles Insider blog put out some choice quotes, which caused myself some consternation:
I don’t see the Orioles hiring some whiz kid to take over the front office. I don’t see anyone under, say, 45 getting that job. And I’d assume it would be someone that Showalter knows and/or respects and someone with a scouting, player-evaluation background.
Why is it relevant that the next GM be under 45 years old? While it's true that I have a lot of respect for "whiz kid" GMs like Alex Anthopoulos (34 years old), Theo Epstein (37), Andrew Friedman (34), and Jon Daniels (34), what about Billy Beane (49) or Sandy Alderson (63) or Pat Gillick (74)? Youth is not a requirement to strong front office leadership. I could even take it the other direction and argue that Buck's inexperience in the front office, despite time in Arizona and Cleveland, is a larger hindrance to his success in the Orioles's GM chair. Which it would also be for some first timer like Thad Levine or Matt Klentak.
The truth is I don't have any idea whatsoever what Buck Showalter would do if he's named as the next Orioles's GM tomorrow. He doesn't have significant front office time to judge against, and there's no scouting report for managers-turned-executives. But I also don't know what anybody else would do with the reins of Baltimore's uniquely difficult situation in the AL East. Regardless of who is doing the talking from behind the podium come Friday, there is going to be a lot of uncertainty in Birdland.
I wrote last week that what I want from the next regime is some kind of acknowledgement that the track the Orioles are on right now leads nowhere. I don't mean that literally, though it would be nice to have a more media-friendly GM, but rather I just want to see the direction of the franchise shift back towards addressing the serious problems with the roster and the farm system. That's still what I'm hoping to see this week out of the Warehouse: direction. It really doesn't matter who is doing the talking, it only matters what he or she is saying.