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O's have options at GM, manager If jobs are open, candidates attractive

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Orioles owner Peter Angelos hasn't decided the future of general manager Roland Hemond or manager Phil Regan. But if he chooses to make changes, these are some replacements he may consider.

At GM, candidates could be Randy Smith, who has just resigned as general manager of the San Diego Padres; Dan O'Dowd, assistant GM of the Cleveland Indians; and Kevin Malone, who reportedly is leaving his job as GM of the Montreal Expos.

At manager, the choice could be between Tony La Russa of the Oakland Athletics and Davey Johnson of the Cincinnati Reds.

Randy Smith

The Orioles asked for permission to talk to Smith, 32, once before, and it figures they will again, now that he is severing ties with San Diego. (The Detroit Tigers reportedly also have asked for permission to talk to Smith.)

The son of Tal Smith, longtime executive with the Houston Astros and a specialist in arbitration cases, Randy Smith grew up in baseball. He broke into professional baseball in 1984, as an administrative assistant with Beaumont, a Padres affiliate, and within four years he was named San Diego's scouting director.

Smith left San Diego in 1991 to become assistant general manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies. He was integral in helping GM Bob Gebhard prepare for that club's first amateur draft and the expansion draft in the fall of 1992. When the Padres decided to trade off the core of their team, Joe McIlvaine left as GM and Smith was hired to replace him, in June 1993, with orders to cut the payroll.

Within six weeks after he was hired, Smith traded All-Stars Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff, and pitchers Bruce Hurst and Greg Harris. His trade for Sheffield has worked out well for the Florida Marlins and Padres, the Padres getting closer Trevor Hoffman and two other prospects in return. The McGriff deal has been one-sided in the Atlanta Braves' favor. His trade of Hurst and Harris to the Rockies is regarded as one of the best in recent years.

In return for Hurst, injured at the time, and Harris, the Padres received pitcher Andy Ashby, catcher Brad Ausmus and pitcher Doug Bochtler, all of whom play major roles in San Diego. In addition, Colorado picked up $1 million of Hurst's salary.

The Padres, who had the worst record in the majors in 1993 and 1994, competed for the division title in the weak NL West this year and will finish near .500.

Strengths: He is considered very organized and strong in player knowledge, and he has a strong rapport with his subordinates.

Weaknesses: Some within the Padres' organization say he is sometimes too patient with players he's responsible for acquiring.

What would make him attractive to the Orioles: He has taken the Padres through the early stages of rebuilding while working on a small-market budget; he has had to learn to make do.

Dan O'Dowd

Earlier this month, Angelos asked Cleveland owner Richard Jacobs for permission to interview O'Dowd, 35, the Indians' assistant GM. Going against the unwritten rules of baseball, Jacobs refused. Normally, employees are given the opportunity to make an upward move to another club. O'Dowd is under contract until 1998.

But a club source says that Jacobs may relent if the Orioles were to ask for permission again.

O'Dowd broke into baseball with the Orioles. He was with the club five years before leaving in 1987, departing on poor terms with Doug Melvin, who went on to become the Orioles' assistant GM before taking the GM job in Texas.

O'Dowd has worked closely with Indians GM John Hart since then, and Cleveland has built a strong organization, from the farm -- which has turned out Albert Belle, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, among others -- to the majors.

Strengths: O'Dowd has a deep knowledge of players and is strong in player development, a weakness for the Orioles lately. He, like Smith, has had to operate on a small budget in past years.

Weaknesses: When he was with the Orioles, O'Dowd was considered by some in the organization to be highly political in dealing with his peers.

What would make him attractive to the Orioles: His roots with the organization and his knowledge of the AL.

Kevin Malone

Malone, 38, was drafted by the Indians and played minor-league ball before becoming an Expos scout in 1987. He became a scouting supervisor for Minnesota and was the advance scout assigned to Atlanta before the Twins beat the Braves in the 1991 World Series.

Malone became the Expos' scouting director that fall and replaced Dan Duquette as Montreal GM in January 1994, when Duquette left for the Boston Red Sox.

Malone was in control when the Expos posted the best record in the majors, before the strike ended the 1994 season. He slashed the payroll this spring, dealing away several stars. He's leaving the Expos in part because the organization plans to maintain a limited payroll.

Strengths: His history of scouting and player development. He worked closely with Duquette, one of the brightest minds in the game.

Weaknesses: He is outspoken, a trait he is criticized heavily for in baseball circles. His strong religious convictions make others uncomfortable at times.

What would make him attractive to the Orioles: His history in player development and scouting.

Tony La Russa

Beginning Monday, the Athletics manager has a 10-day window to talk with other clubs about other jobs. Last year, the Orioles asked for permission to talk to La Russa before hiring Regan. La Russa, 50, would be expensive: If he stays with Oakland, he would earn $1.25 million next year. La Russa has told friends he likes Baltimore and its love of baseball.

La Russa, originally hired as a major-league manager with the Chicago White Sox by Hemond in 1979, led Chicago to a division title in 1983 and the Athletics to AL pennants from 1988 to 1990. Oakland won the World Series in 1989.

Strengths: His reputation as one of the game's best minds. Very strong in relationships with his players, although he has had his share of run-ins -- with Rickey Henderson, Ruben Sierra and Jose Canseco.

Weaknesses: A strong personality, much like NBA coach Pat Riley. Can wear on people, and like Riley, it may be best for him to change venues every few years.

What would make him attractive to the Orioles: His stature. Put it this way -- if the Orioles started 10-20 under La Russa, few fans would point the finger at him.

Davey Johnson

Though Johnson, 52, is leading Cincinnati into the postseason, it's a foregone conclusion he won't be retained for 1996; simply put, owner Marge Schott doesn't like him. Johnson interviewed for the Orioles' job last year. Johnson, a former second baseman with the Orioles, has managed 10 years in the majors, including the New York Mets' World Series championship club in 1986.

Strengths: A players' manager; those under his command love him.

Weaknesses: Very independent, to the point where it may annoy his bosses.

What would make him attractive to the Orioles: He has been a winner. And he played for Earl Weaver, a connection that never hurts in Baltimore.

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