It was only a matter of time before somebody threw out the ceremonial first rumor.
The Orioles are in the funk of all funks, now pushing past the pace of the 1988 team that set a franchise record with 107 defeats after opening that season with a major league record 21-game losing streak.
That report remains unconfirmed and has been cast into doubt by some club officials, but it’s not hard to believe and Colletti’s name will not be the last one floated as both Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter serve out the final season of their long-term contracts.
Duquette didn’t waste any time addressing it, since the unspecified job discussed in a contact such as that would almost certainly be his. He came down to the press box during Saturday’s game to tell the club’s beat reporters that he was told the report was not true.
Who knows what to make of that, since he likely would be the last to know if the Orioles were secretly interviewing GM candidates.
The last time they hired a baseball operations chief during the season was in 2007, when owner Peter Angelos asked Andy MacPhail to take over the O’s front office. The announcement was made with no advance warning, something that won’t happen very often in this age of instant tweets and ubiquitous text messaging.
Now, it’s fair to predict you’ll be hearing a lot of names over the upcoming weeks and months, unless Orioles ownership has suddenly reached the end of its patience with a team that has fallen so hard it can’t possible get up.
The wisdom of a quick fix, however, is debatable. Dumping Duquette might mollify some discouraged fans over the short run, but the Orioles are expected to deal away a bunch of veteran players over the next couple of months and will need all the expertise they can muster to make sure they get adequate value in return.
It might seem counterintuitive to keep him in place to help rebuild the club under the cloud of possible termination, but — even if Duquette is not going to return next year — it’s very much in his interest to help set up the Orioles for a quick recovery.
Keep in mind that one of the reasons Duquette was attractive to the Orioles when he was hired after the 2011 season was that he was perceived to have helped put the Red Sox in position to end “The Curse of the Bambino” before he was replaced in Boston by interim GM Mike Port and then Theo Epstein.
Showalter won’t be spared the same kind of speculation about his job security, and he knows it. He’s been hired and fired several times, though this is — by far — his longest tenure with any of the major league clubs he has managed.
He is believed to be safe at the moment, but no one below the ownership level can take anything for granted as long as the Orioles remain in free fall. They finally bounced back and ended a nine-game losing streak Sunday with a lopsided victory over the Miami Marlins, but face a tough road series against the rival Washington Nationals starting Tuesday.
While Showalter has been a favorite of Peter Angelos’, the apparent transfer of power taking place at the top of the organization calls his status more into question. Still, it seems unlikely the team would replace him just for the sake of making a change at a difficult time.
Team executives recognize that Showalter is one of the most respected managers in the sport and might be the right guy to manage the younger team they hope to assemble when they clear out their pending free agents and some other high-priced veterans. If a change were made, it probably wouldn’t be to install an in-house interim for the remainder of the season. It would only make sense to bring in a dynamic new manager who could change the subject.
So, don’t believe everything you hear. Some names will surface that might be of real interest to the club, and others might find their way into the conversation through skillful self-promotion. Only a few jobs of this magnitude come open each year, so you can bet there will be plenty of chatter until the Orioles figure out which way they want to go.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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