Hemond to head on-field matters Melvin likely GM, Robinson assistant


With Larry Lucchino's departure yesterday, the stage is set for an extensive retooling of the Orioles' front office.

Managing general partner Peter G. Angelos said yesterday that he expects to be ready in a few days to announce a number of major changes, including promotions for Roland Hemond and Doug Melvin.

Angelos said he'll name Hemond as vice chairman for baseball operations, a new job in which the veteran executive would be in charge of matters affecting the team's on-field performance.

The post is seen as a step up for Hemond, 63, who has served as Orioles general manager for the past six years, reporting to Lucchino, then the team's president.

Without making a firm commitment, Angelos, a Baltimore lawyer, appeared on the verge of settling the long unresolved issue of who will succeed Hemond, saying, "We may well designate Doug Melvin as general manager and Frank Robinson as assistant general manager."

Melvin and Robinson are aspiring general managers, and each has been biding his time in the Orioles executive suites as an assistant to Hemond. Angelos suggested that the new arrangement might be less than permanent, saying he'll offer two-year extensions to Melvin and Robinson, then assess how the setup is working.

"This is the group that will guide the baseball operation for the next two years," said Angelos, who earlier granted two-year contracts to Hemond and manager Johnny Oates. Though Robinson wouldn't be getting the GM job he covets, Angelos said he hoped that the Hall of Famer, who has served as a player, coach and manager with the Orioles, would be happy continuing as an assistant GM because it keeps him on a track to get a top job in Baltimore or another club.

"Frank's goals and ambitions of being a general manager certainly can be fulfilled -- be it here or in some other organization -- if things go well for him," said Angelos.

In the new alignment, Hemond, Melvin and Robinson will continue to make most of the baseball decisions, but they'll take some of the big ones, including major free-agent signings, to Angelos for his approval. Angelos predicted those occasions would be rare.

"I'm here. I'm the managing general partner. But I'm a lawyer. I don't make baseball decisions," Angelos said. "Obviously, we'll be meeting periodically. But the [baseball] operation of the club on a day-to-day basis is in their hands."

The team also will be looking for a new farm director, filling the hole left by Melvin's impending promotion. Melvin had been overseeing the team's minor-league system while he handled other major-league assignments for Hemond. But Angelos said player development will have a high priority under his ownership, calling the absence of a full-time farm director in the past "a glaring deficiency."

Angelos, who did not attend Lucchino's midafternoon news conference yesterday, said he has discussed his plans for the revamped front office with Hemond, but that he hasn't met yet with either Melvin or Robinson to apprise them.

For their part, the threesome appear to be waiting for a formal announcement before commenting. Hemond said: "Only time will tell. When I came in here today, I didn't expect this [Lucchino's resignation]."

Robinson also was guarded yesterday, saying only: "I am just waiting. There will be a time when we'll have to sit and make a decision. I'm sure I'll eventually hear from somebody."

Under Angelos' organizational plan the Orioles office will be divided into distinct divisions for baseball and business. That's a significant change from the setup the new owners inherited from previous owner Eli S. Jacobs, one in which a team president (Lucchino) oversaw both business and baseball affairs.

In the new lineup, the president's job will be abolished and Hemond will report directly to Angelos. A vice chairman for Orioles business affairs, former banker Joe Foss, also would report to Angelos.

Angelos was reluctant at first to talk about the planned changes, saying that he didn't want to give the impression they were mapped out while he waited for Lucchino's resignation.

Just the opposite, said Angelos, who said he wasn't sure about Lucchino's plans until yesterday and that most of the switches would have taken place even if the former club president had accepted the offer to head the baseball operations.

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