Orioles managing general partner Peter Angelos is expected to outline his plan to restructure the club's front office this week, but he hinted yesterday that he will add at least one new baseball operations position and redefine several others.
Angelos, who announced Friday that he had installed transition director Joe Foss and businessman Fred Arscott as permanent members of the front office, said yesterday that he probably will create the position of farm director to focus more attention on player development.
"That's something that the baseball professionals think we need," Angelos said. "That's obviously the critical area as far as keeping a steady supply of talented young players."
The player development department has been administered by assistant general manager Doug Melvin, and no one is complaining about the job he has done. But it appears that Melvin will be working even more closely with general manager Roland Hemond on the makeup of the major-league roster.
That could become clear soon, when Angelos outlines his plans for the entire front-office alignment. He is expected to clarify the role that vice chairman and former club president Larry Lucchino will play on the new management team and might have more to say about Melvin and the Orioles' other assistant general manager, Frank Robinson.
Angelos said last week that Lucchino would be asked to play a "significant role" in the new management structure, but the two are expected to meet again today or tomorrow for further discussions.
It seems apparent that Angelos will offer contract extensions to both Robinson and Melvin, but there is some question whether they will remain equals in the new configuration. Melvin has far more front-office experience, but Robinson has become a symbol both of the team's storied past and its long-stated commitment to provide equal opportunity to minority candidates at the higher levels of the front office.
Angelos is expected to meet with Robinson soon to discuss his future with the team, just as he has done with Hemond and manager Johnny Oates.
Robinson's future with the club appears to be in some doubt, but not because Angelos is in any hurry to move him out of the front office. He is viewed as an asset to the organization, but he does not figure to be satisfied playing a supporting role indefinitely.
He has made no secret of his desire to become a general manager, but Angelos' decision to give Hemond a two-year contract extension has left little doubt that it won't happen here in the foreseeable future.
Melvin was considered the heir apparent to Hemond before Robinson moved into the front office. He still is young enough to work his way into the GM role. Robinson, 58, has worked hard the past 2 1/2 years to establish himself as a viable GM candidate, and he is eager to move into a decision-making position, but the possibility exists that Angelos will offer Robinson a new job in the organization.
Angelos appears to be concerned with the perception that the nucleus of the Orioles front office -- Lucchino, Hemond, Melvin and Robinson -- is a nebulous body without clearly defined areas of expertise. He hopes that adding a farm director, either from inside or outside the organization, will be a step toward a more specialized baseball operation.
The club's player development arm has been productive, as evidenced by the presence of four recent first-round draft choices on the Orioles' 25-man roster during the 1993 season. Angelos hopes to keep the emphasis on scouting and minor-league development even as he seeks to improve the club through free-agent spending this winter.