Mired in the longest extended period of futility in club history, Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos shook up his organization today, firing the club's manager and bringing in a new high-profile front-office leader.
With declining attendance, the growing presence
of the Washington Nationals in his backyard and a
club that has not finished with a winning record
since 1997, Angelos finally made his move.
Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
But that is not expected to be the only move. A
baseball source said Angelos also will be hiring former Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs executive
Andy MacPhail as the club's chief operating officer
-- and essentially Angelos' right-hand man. The
front office, unaware the owner was actively seeking a replacement for Joe Foss, who resigned in
May, was surprised by the impending hiring.
Bringing in MacPhail -- whose father, Lee, helped lay the groundwork for
the Orioles team that became a
dynasty in the late 1960s --
means Foss, a business and finance specialist, is being replaced
by a baseball man. He ultimately
will have veto power over vice
presidents Mike Flanagan and
Jim Duquette, whose contracts
expire in 2008.
The Orioles wouldn't speak
about hiring MacPhail, and he declined to comment today. But
a baseball source told The Sun
that MacPhail and the club had
agreed to a deal in principle and
that it probably would be announced Wednesday once minor
issues were resolved.
The source said MacPhail probably wouldn't have agreed to come
to Baltimore if he didn't feel he
would have autonomy to run the
club. And Angelos, who has been
criticized as meddlesome in the
past, trusts MacPhail and so desperately craves a winner that he
has given assurances that
MacPhail would have significant
control of baseball operations, a
source close to Angelos said.
Once MacPhail is in place, his
initial order of business will be to
find a replacement for Perlozzo.
One baseball source said the uncontested top choice is Joe Girardi, who won the National
League Manager of the Year
award last season with the Florida Marlins. The former big league
catcher, who won three World Series rings with the New York Yankees, was fired last year after his
lone managerial season after a
dispute with ownership.
An Orioles contingent -- including Flanagan, MacPhail and team
general counsel H. Russell
Smouse -- is expected to meet
with Girardi, 42, tomorrow morning in
Chicago to discuss the job and to
perhaps tender an offer. Meanwhile, Orioles bullpen coach Dave
Trembley was named interim
manager and will lead the team
tomorrow night against the San Diego Padres in California.
Girardi, a New York Yankees
television commentator, played
for the Chicago Cubs for three seasons while MacPhail ran the organization. One baseball source
said the two weren't exceptionally close but had mutual respect
and "a good relationship."
Others mentioned as potential
candidates include Davey Johnson, who led the Orioles when
they last had a winning season, in
1997. He resigned with a year remaining on his contract amid a
dispute with Angelos. Another
possibility is Dusty Baker, who
was hired as Cubs manager while MacPhail was club president.
Both Baker and MacPhail, who
joined the Cubs as top executive
in 1994 after winning two World
Series rings as Minnesota Twins
general manager, left the Chicago
club at the end of last season.
During a news conference at the
warehouse this afternoon,
Flanagan deflected questions
about MacPhail and instead focused on Perlozzo's firing and his
belief the Orioles could turn
around their losing ways.
"It really wasn't one event, one
game that reflected this decision," said Flanagan, who has
been among the club's top decision makers for five seasons. "I
think we felt it was slipping away
from us, that we're a better club
than we've played and that we
can still be a better club. It's been
an awful tough time of maybe
four or five weeks."
The impetus for the restructuring is financial and performance-based. The Orioles, who had never
experienced more than three consecutive losing seasons in their first
45 years, are staring at their 10th
straight sub-.500 campaign.
The club is in an eight-game losing streak, which included consecutive sweeps at home by the
Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Consequently, Camden Yards attendance continues
to dip since hosting a record 3.7
million fans in 1997 -- and it's on
pace to drop below 2 million for
the first time in the stadium's
The past decade has been disastrous for Angelos and the Orioles,
who have had six managers since
1997 (including Trembley). Only
the Toronto Blue Jays -- who have
had seven, including interim managers -- have had more turnover.
Angelos has now employed
eight managers since he became
owner in 1993. Perlozzo, who was
signed through 2008, is the second consecutive manager to be
let go before his contract expired.
He replaced Lee Mazzilli, who was
fired in August 2005 with two
months left on his contract.
Angelos declined to comment,
but sources close to him said the
owner agonized over today's
move. He felt he couldn't ignore
the club's record, lackluster play
and the growing sentiment that
Perlozzo's players no longer had
faith in him, the sources said.
But Angelos is genuinely fond of
Perlozzo, who grew up in Cumberland and has been with the club
for 12 years. Perlozzo was Angelos'
original choice for manager after
the 2003 season, when the front office instead settled on Mazzilli.
Perlozzo didn't return calls for
comment but issued a statement
that he was disappointed in the
decision but wished the club and
its players luck.
"I don't know what the future
holds for me with regard to my
career," said Perlozzo, who finished with a 122-164 record as
manager. "But I certainly hope to
stay in the game that I have been
a part of for so long."
Flanagan said the club would
like Perlozzo to remain in the organization but no position has
been offered, and Perlozzo hasn't
indicated that he would take one.
Pitching coach Leo Mazzone,
Perlozzo's longtime friend whom
he lured from the Atlanta Braves
to the Orioles in 2006, is expected
to remain with the team, according to Flanagan and Duquette.
Mazzone could not be reached
today for comment.
Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec
contributed to this article.
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Angelos making moves in bid to turn team around
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