Orioles put search for new GM on hold; 5-man committee to direct baseball operations; Thrift assumes prominent role


The Orioles will at least temporarily wait to begin a search for a successor to recently ousted general manager Frank Wren, leaving the same five-man committee that advised majority owner Peter Angelos on the hiring of manager Mike Hargrove to direct baseball operations.

"We're pleased with the way that day-to-day business and the overall direction of the organization has been handled. For now, we'll continue in the same way," said Orioles executive vice president John Angelos.

The decision leaves in place director of player personnel Syd Thrift as point man for the upcoming general managers' meetings in Laguna Naguel, Calif., as the front office goes about renovating a team that struggled to a second consecutive fourth-place finish last season. Last month the club suggested that the successor to Wren would be called director of baseball operations. However, Thrift, former general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, isn't expected to receive a title change.

The five-man committee is composed of John Angelos, chairman's representative Louis Angelos, Thrift, director of scouting Tony DeMacio and director of player development Tom Trebelhorn. It has been charged with day-to-day operations since Wren's firing Oct. 6.

Thrift downplayed the move but said he was excited about assuming a prominent role in the club's expected makeover. "You get excited anytime you talk about evaluating players, developing players and acquiring players. I love it," Thrift said.

Thrift likely will be the Orioles' highest-ranking representative at the upcoming meetings, which begin on Sunday and typically serve as a catalyst for numerous off-season trades. The team's two major-league scouts, Don Welke and Bob Schaeffer, will accompany Thrift, who believes Wednesday's nine-player trade that sent Texas Rangers right fielder Juan Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers is only a precursor of a hectic trade market.

Hargrove is scheduled to begin a vacation today and will not attend next week's meetings. He said he will have significant input on player moves: "I've got a decent idea of who I'll need to talk to."

The idea of a general manager "by committee" did not faze the new manager.

"Even with a general manager by committee there has to be a point man in the committee," Hargrove said.

Asked who he will report to, Hargrove replied, "I'd just as soon not go down that road."

John Angelos said Hargrove will have the latitude to make suggestions to himself, Thrift and majority owner Peter Angelos.

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