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Friday Bird Droppings: Where there’s another job opening for Buck

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All of a sudden there are three MLB manager jobs available, including a newly vacant spot in New York. Buck Showalter, anyone?

Oakland Athletics v Baltimore Orioles
Buck Showalter had seemingly missed out on all of this winter’s managerial jobs. Not so fast, my friends.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Three months ago, former O’s manager Buck Showalter was a hot name among teams looking for new skippers for 2020. He interviewed for both the Phillies and Angels openings and publicly discussed his interest in the Mets, and his longtime protege Manny Machado openly campaigned for him to be considered for the Padres job. Alas, all four of those teams — and every other club with a managerial opening this winter — went with a different hire, and Buck was left out in the cold.

Story over...or so it seemed.

But now, in the wake of baseball’s devastating, chaotic, sign-stealing scandal, everything has changed. The ripple effects of MLB’s investigation continue to permeate, and suddenly, three major league teams are without a manager. The latest opening comes with the New York Mets, where freshly hired skipper Carlos Beltran — who had only been on the job since Nov. 1 — stepped down yesterday. MLB’s report implicated Beltran by name as a major contributor to the 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scheme. He wasn’t disciplined by MLB because he was a player at the time, but ultimately, his association with the scandal forced him out of his new job.

Beltran’s departure follows those of A.J. Hinch, who was fired by the Astros after receiving a one-year ban from MLB, and Alex Cora, who mutually agreed to leave his post as Red Sox manager (and is expected to be harshly punished by MLB for his connection to the 2017 Astros as well as the 2018 Red Sox, who are also being investigated for illegally stealing signs).

With less than a month before spring training, three teams are now scrambling to find a skipper. And if they’re looking for someone who has oodles of experience, is ready and willing to manage again, and — perhaps most importantly — is a notorious stickler for the rules who won’t put up with any chicanery, well, have I got the guy for you! Hiring Showalter would restore instant credibility to teams that have been tainted by the controversy.

At least one team seems to agree. The Astros have already interviewed Showalter for their managerial opening. The Mets didn’t interview him earlier this winter for the job that went to Beltran, but perhaps they’ll be more open to the idea this time around, considering the bind they’re in. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are probably the least likely of the three teams to be interested, as new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom might prefer a younger, more analytics-oriented manager. But who knows?

As Buck himself has been known to say, “Just because something’s delayed doesn’t mean it’s denied.” The book isn’t closed on Showalter managing in 2020 after all.

Links

So wrong it’s right: Why Buck Showalter’s us-against-the-world style would work as Astros’ manager – The Athletic
Dan Connolly makes the case for the Astros to hire Showalter, who is still seeking his first World Series appearance and title. Imagine Buck finally winning a championship, but it’s with the Astros? I’d feel...conflicted, to put it mildly.

Here are the Top 10 catching prospects for 2020 - MLB.com
Mike Rosenbaum breaks down the best catching prospects in the majors, and you can probably guess who leads the list. The esteemed Mr. Rutschman also ranks as having the best hit tool, the best power, the highest ceiling, and the highest floor. (*insert Homer Simpson drool gif*)

Answering your Orioles questions - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff answers questions from readers about, among other things, Chris Davis, Fredi Gonzalez, and the possibility of the Orioles being sold. I chuckled at the question, “How long ago was the Machado trade?” by a reader who apparently has never heard of Google.

Because You Asked - The Final Destination - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko also answers Orioles questions, albeit ones he made up. If you’re heading to Sarasota for spring training and need some sushi recommendations, he’s got you covered.

D-backs claim infielder Pat Valaika off waivers from Baltimore - Arizona Sports
I will forever look back fondly on Valaika’s tenure with the Orioles. They never lost a game with him on the roster!

Orioles birthdays

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three Orioles were born on this day, including Jay Heard (b. 1920, d. 1999), the first African-American player in O’s history. The former Negro League standout pitched in two games during the Birds’ inaugural 1954 season. Also born today was 1963-65 catcher Dick Brown (b. 1935, d. 1970), who tragically died of a brain tumor at age 35. The only living ex-Oriole celebrating a birthday today is 2007 righty Rob Bell (43), one of the four unlucky pitchers to take part in the Birds’ infamous 30-3 loss to the Rangers.