USA Today, citing two high-ranking Orioles officials, reported on its website that MacPhail has decided he will not return for his fifth full season heading the front office.
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"You can get two sources to say the moon is made out of green cheese," MacPhail said.
Still, most people close to MacPhail feel that he's entering his final months in his role with the Orioles. Even after team owner Peter G. Angelos told The Baltimore Sun during spring training that MacPhail "is not going anywhere," the longtime baseball executive was noncommittal about returning.
His stance hasn't changed as the 58-year-old has maintained that he will wait to decide his future until late in the season. His refusal to publicly express interest in returning — or approach Angelos about a contract extension — has been interpreted as a sign that he is not interested in coming back.
That point of view has been fueled even further by the fact that Angelos and manager Buck Showalter have been meeting regularly — with MacPhail's blessing — about the state of the club. Showalter has two years left on his contract after this season, and it's expected that he'll influence Angelos' decision on who will be the team's next president of baseball operations.
USA Today also reported that New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will be on the Orioles' list to fill their GM vacancy. Another potential candidate mentioned has been John Hart, the former GM of the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers who has a close relationship with Showalter.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are closing in on their 14th consecutive losing season. With Tuesday night's 6-5 extra-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, they improved to 54-79, which puts them on pace to finish 66-96, the same record they had last season.
MacPhail took over the front office in June 2007, and shepherded the franchise through an arduous rebuilding process, trading All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada and talented starter Erik Bedard for 10 total players.
He said before this season that the team should be out of the toughest phases of rebuilding and it was time to start "moving the needle" in the win column. That hasn't happened, despite several of MacPhail's offseason moves working out.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, acquired from the Minnesota Twins in December for two minor league relievers, has been one of the best shortstops in baseball offensively and defensively this season, and he was rewarded with a three-year contract extension. Corner infielder Mark Reynolds has also provided the lineup with 31 homers and a much-needed jolt.
But the infield offensive improvements have been largely nullified by the fact that most of the Orioles' young pitchers, the backbone of the rebuilding plan, have taken a huge step backward this season.
Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.
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