By Peter Schmuck, The Baltimore Sun
9:20 PM EDT, October 31, 2011
The Orioles apparently are inching closer to the selection and hiring of a new head of baseball operations as the clock begins to tick on what could be a very important offseason for the struggling franchise.
Toronto Blue Jays executive Tony LaCava was back in Baltimore on Monday to meet with owner Peter Angelos, according to team sources, but there has been no indication the club is about to announce a replacement for former president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and club officials are not ruling out the possibility that more candidates will be interviewed later this week.
The only thing that seems clear is that the team does not feel a particularly strong sense of urgency to get the front office put together before the opening of the free agent market on Thursday.
The Orioles were not expected to have a second round of interviews, so the return of LaCava for a meeting with the ownership component of the search committee could be interpreted as an indication that the process has progressed to the point where they are discussing contractual terms and the conditions of employment, but the possibility of further interviews makes that seem unlikely. It also leaves the search open-ended and the club's prospects for real improvement this winter more and more uncertain.
Since this is an executive search involving some high-demand candidates, it's not just a matter of narrowing it down to one and pushing a contract in front of him. The outside candidates who were summoned to Baltimore to interview for the position all are highly prized by their current organizations, so it's not fair to assume any of them would automatically accept the job if offered.
LaCava is one of four candidates who were brought in for interviews. The others were Arizona Diamondbacks executive Jerry Dipoto, who has since been hired to be the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson and Orioles director of player development John Stockstill.
No doubt, Angelos needs to be comfortable with the executive who is going to run his baseball operation, but it may be just as important for the next baseball operations chief to know the limits of his authority and the extent of ownership's commitment to upgrade the organization.
The search committee was focused from the start on bringing in candidates with strong backgrounds in scouting and player development. LaCava was on the ground as a scout for the Angels, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos and Cleveland Indians before joining the Blue Jays organization nine years ago. He currently is assistant general manager in charge of player personnel and has had great success identifying international talent to augment the Blue Jays well-regarded farm system.
Whoever accepts the position will have a big job ahead of him, which is why the Orioles cannot afford to spend too much more time making a decision. The free agent signing period begins later this week and the new head of baseball operations will have several other urgent priorities such as hiring a replacement for departed scouting director Joe Jordan and re-evaluating the minor league operation.
Gold Gloves to be announced
The winners of the 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be revealed on Tuesday night on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is among the finalists at his position, as are shortstop J.J. Hardy and right fielder Nick Markakis.
Adam Jones, who won a Gold Glove in 2009, did not make the list of three American League finalists in center field. He led all major league center fielders with 16 outfield assists, but made eight errors. Jacoby Ellsbury, Austin Jackson and Peter Bourjos are the finalists.
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