Tuesday was a dark day for the Orioles organization. The Orioles were stiff-armed by Toronto Blue Jays exec Tony LaCava, who decided the grass was greener north of the border in Canada and turned Baltimore's offer to become its next general manager.
Even the silver lining of two Gold Gloves for the Orioles couldn’t shine up the day.
The news that LaCava would remain at the right hand of Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos instead of being the main man in the Warehouse came a few days after Jerry Dipoto, another GM candidate the Orioles brought in to town for an interview, was hired to be the new GM for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
It’s understandable why Dipoto would have taken the Angels gig. Los Angeles is one of the biggest markets in baseball. The Angels won the World Series in 2002 and have been postseason regulars over the past decade. And the Angels play in the four-team A.L. West, which is easier for Dipoto to tame than the big, bad A.L. East.
But when Dipoto signed on the dotted line in L.A., Baltimore became the most attractive opening in baseball -- mainly because the Orioles are the only team with a vacant GM position the day before free agency begins.
After meeting with Peter Angelos on Monday, LaCava decided to wait for a better opportunity another year.
"When I decided to interview, it wasn't that I was looking to leave. But there are only 30 GM positions, and I was interested in it," said LaCava, a 50-year-old Pittsburgh native who had interviewed twice in October with the club. "When I weighed both at the end of the day, I just didn't feel I could leave the Blue Jays."
George Costanza fans can relate to LaCava’s attempt to let the Orioles down gently: “It’s not you. It’s me.”
"I am working in a great place, a job that I love," LaCava told The Baltimore Sun. "It's just as simple as that."
But for the Orioles, it isn’t. Free agency starts on Thursday, and while most of the big deals will get done next month, it is a bit embarrassing that the Orioles don’t have a GM in place to work the phones if the agents for Prince Fielder or C.J. Wilson come calling early (the Orioles probably won’t sign either of those two big-money free agents, but it’s hard to make a reliable prediction considering we don’t know who will be calling the shots in the front office).
Forget about free agency, though. The bigger concern is that LaCava, who was a finalist in the past for general manager jobs in Seattle and Pittsburgh, either thought that the situation in Baltimore was so helpless at the moment or he was really turned off by Monday’s lengthy meet-and-greet with Angelos that he passed on the opportunity to work for a storied baseball franchise with a great manager, a beautiful ballpark and a pretty patient fan base.
Well, at least the fan base was pretty patient. They shouldn’t be anymore, and probably won’t be, either. Who could blame them?
The Orioles are now moving on to Plan C in their search for that elusive head baseball executive. They may turn to another of the candidates they have already interviewed or bring in someone new. They might even put an ad on Craigslist:
Wanted: A general manager. Experience preferred, but not necessary at this point. Must enjoy baseball, Buck Showalter and picking early in the draft. Can’t like big, hairy guys in the A.L. East or mesothelioma.
The situation is bleak. Here’s hoping the Orioles get their guy, any guy, even if it’s somebody from Craigslist.
Your turn: With Tony LaCava turning down the Orioles, has the organization hit an all-time low?