As the Major League Baseball playoffs carry on without them for a 14th straight fall, the Orioles are making moves to fill the void left in the front office by the departure of president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
According to our Orioles ace Dan Connolly, Buck Showalter and Peter Angelos are meeting on Wednesday to narrow down their list of general manager candidates and will decide who will be conducting the interviews. Connolly floated several possibilities last week, including Scott Proefrock, J.P. Ricciardi and Tony LaCava.
Dream GM candidates such as Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman and Brian Cashman aren’t expected to show interest in the Orioles’ opening. And Cal Ripken Jr., a totally dreamy candidate in the eyes of many Baltimore fans, plans on pledging a fraternity with his son next fall, so he isn’t going to take control of the front office.
(OK, Cal was joking when he said he wanted to go to college with his son, Ryan, who is a senior in high school. But it’s fun to imagine the Ironman taking an 8 a.m. freshman psych class with a bunch of sleepy college kids.)
Whoever the Orioles hire (and ideally, they will do it quickly so the new GM can get down to business), will have his hands full building on what MacPhail accomplished in his tenure. The organization is in better shape now than it was before MacPhail -- yes, things were that bad -- but the Orioles aren’t close to being contenders.
That’s because the team’s young pitching prospects haven’t yet panned out as MacPhail had hoped. Brian Matusz had a historically bad season. Chris Tillman can’t seem to make the jump from Triple-A to the major leagues. Brad Bergesen hasn’t matched the promise he showed in his rookie season. And overall, the Orioles allowed a league-high 786 runs in 2011, which was 62 more than the team that ranked 29th in ERA.
So yeah, getting a competent pitching staff will be one of the top priorities for the new general manger.
But what should be the new guy’s top priority? Should it be the rotation or something more big picture?
Two of MacPhail’s finest moments were when he traded away Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada, stocking the organization with a handful of prospects, including 2011 Most Valuable Oriole Adam Jones. A few years later, the farm system needs to be restocked again. Are trades needed? Should the Orioles change their philosophy in the draft or invest more in international scouting? Can they actually develop good prospects if they get them?
And how should the Orioles proceed in free agency this winter?
These are questions the new general manager will have to answer. Which issue is most pressing?
Your turn: Whoever the Orioles’ new general manager turns out to be, what should be his top priority?