LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Former Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was at the winter meetings Monday morning as a member of the Hall of Fame veterans committee that unanimously elected managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre into Cooperstown.
Following a news conference to announce the selection of the three managers for enshrinement, MacPhail spoke to members of the local media.
MacPhail said coming to the winter meetings reminds him about how he sometimes misses the offseason and the challenge of assembling a team that comes with it.
"I miss the offseason more than the season, trying to put it together and spending the time trying to understand what the best way to proceed was, with the help of your scouts and any statistical analysis you did. That part I occasionally miss," he said. "I think that more so than every day at the ballpark from 10 in the morning to 11 at night during the course of the summer when, as a GM, you're pretty much just in reactive mode, making sure someone doesn't get hurt or your performance doesn't wane."
Several moves MacPhail made -- trades for key players like Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter and J.J. Hardy – have been instrumental in the Orioles' recent success, but MacPhail is not one to take credit.
"I'm so pleased with some of the individuals, particularly Adam Jones, who I think has really grown as a player and as a person," he said. "I'm just delighted to see that. I think the world of [manager] Buck [Showalter]. I think he's done a tremendous job. I think he's been a real good fit for the franchise. I'm happy with the way Tillman sort of emerged because there was a time quite honestly when we didn't know if it was going to happen or not. And I hope a lot of those other young arms [emerge]. These guys aren't robots. It takes different timetables for different guys to get it. You never know for certain when that's going to come about. I'm hopeful that guys bounce back and have pretty good years."
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Asked if he thought Davis would eventually hit 53 homers when he dealt for him and Hunter at the deadline in 2011, MacPhail smiled. The game is difficult to predict sometimes, but he knew the Orioles were getting a good power hitter.
"If you're counting on someone to hit 50 home runs for you, you're asking for a lot and you're likely to be disappointed. I didn't think the [33-homer] season before that was well beyond his capabilities," MacPhail said.
"I know Davis wasn't the most exciting move in the world when we traded for him, but that's worked out. But I think out of all the things we did, I'm not so sure that J.J. Hardy really wasn't the most important. You just have to have that strong up the middle [presence]. You know how long we struggled at shortstop for a couple years. For someone to come in of that character and cement that position for that long a period of time, it made a tremendous difference. I'm happy for them."
MacPhail also deflected praise for his role in the club's spring training home move from Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota, saying he was merely "President of Complaints."
"Peter Angelos was the one who got us into Sarasota," MacPhail said. "That really was his deal, because he toured them all. My chief contribution was complaining bitterly about Fort Lauderdale. ... I really think what Peter did there was really underestimated and undervalued. Starting a season with your weight facility as a tent in a parking lot? If you subscribe anything to people's mindset and you think of any of that aspect of people thinking about the environment that they're in, that it matters, that was just a huge upgrade."
MacPhail said he still looks at the hot-stove moves going on and things about what he might do in similar situations, but only casually.
"I look at it a little bit, but not that seriously," he said. "I'm a big believer in no comments from the peanut gallery. I just try to keep in mind, when you're out, you're out. You chose to get out and you should stay out of it and let people do their things."