Orioles Game of Thrones and the Way Forward

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Courtesy: Press Box Online

The Situation

The Orioles are one of the worst teams in baseball and it’s clear this team needs to be rebuilt. Manny Machado is their best trade chip and it’s a matter of not if, but when the Orioles will trade their superstar to get some young talent to jumpstart a rebuild. The real question is, who will be overseeing the rebuild? Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter are in the last years of their respective contracts and Brady Anderson’s influence has grown.  Brady was behind the Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb, and Chris Tillman signings this spring, and it’s clear his role has greatly expanded over the last few years.

Peter Angelos is reportedly no longer involved with the day to day baseball operations. His sons, Lou and John, appear to have taken on ownership decision making roles.  This has created a very real “Game of Thrones” in the warehouse as different individuals seek power and control. How this all shakes out could have long-term ramifications for the Orioles organization.

The Background

When I first started Orioles Hangout back in 1996, it was nothing more than a hobby. It gave me a way to talk about my favorite team in my favorite sport. As the site grew in popularity, my access to players, coaches, and executives grew as well. As my reputation grew, so did the amount of information I was told, mostly by frustrated people within the organization and those who had left or had been fired.

Still, I never had any desire to be an investigative journalist or spill the organization’s dirty laundry. However, as I learned more and more, I started to think the only way to help this organization was to pull the curtain back to try and give people an understanding of how dysfunctional things were during the Syd Thrift era.

That piece was probably the piece that put Orioles Hangout on the map for something other than our minor league coverage and message board. Thrift was let go shortly after the piece came out and many others in the organization were let go or their contracts were not renewed.

The Mike Flanagan/Jim Beattie era was next and that was soon followed by the Flanagan/Jim Duquette era. From 2003-2006, the Army saw fit to move me to Hawaii and in 2004-05 I got to spend a year in Afghanistan. So my access to what was going on around the organization obviously diminished. When I returned to the area in 2006, I quickly started to regain access to people within the organization.

After Flanagan/Duquette were let go and Andy MacPhail came in, I was excited about what a GM with MacPhail’s credentials could do. Honestly, I felt like Peter Angelos would finally let his baseball people make the baseball decisions without the long delays and interference which had been a constant under the Flanagan/Beattie/Duquette tenures.

As time wore on, I started to get information that the organization had started to fall back into the same old pattern of problems that have defined the Angelos era. Angelos was still a big part of the decision-making process and MacPhail was growing weary. I was also told that MacPhail had created his own inner sanctum of personnel because he couldn’t trust the numerous people who would go behind his back to Angelos. This created distrust throughout the organization and many of the same problems I’d seen before with battling factions got even worse.

With the team on the field performing terribly, I was contacted by a former Orioles executive who said he wanted me to know what had been going on within the organization. Now, I’m not a journalist by trade, but I was trained as a military intelligence analyst, and I’ve always been able to take pieces of information and analyze and correlate them into a coherent analytical picture of the situation.

After verifying most of the information from other high-ranking sources, I put out my next piece. It covered the Flanagan through MacPhail eras. Basically, the piece showed how Peter Angelos was the primary constant who created environments that fostered faction building and distrust, which led to an organization that wasn’t winning on the field or producing many quality big league players.

From many accounts, the final straw for MacPhail was when he was overruled on hiring a manager with Angelos selecting Buck Showalter over MacPhail’s preferred choice. That led to MacPhail’s decision to leave the Orioles and the eventual hiring of Dan Duquette after several hot up and coming GMs turned the Orioles down.

While MacPhail proved to be a shrewd dealer when it came to selling off his valuable chips, bringing in much needed young talent including Adam Jones and Chris Tillman, he was often slow and methodical in his decision-making process. That hurt the Orioles who often missed or didn’t go after the waiver wire players that could have helped make a difference or provided needed depth in AAA. Although MacPhail certainly should get credit for acquiring several players who would be part of winning teams in Baltimore, he was never able to have a winning season as GM.

The Dan Duquette era (2012-2014)

Now the first thing you are going to say is “Wait a minute, Duquette is still the GM in 2018!”

Well, I guess I need to go back and explain why I consider the Duquette era over after the 2014 season. In fact, we can look at the 2014-15 offseason as the turning point that changed the Orioles fortunes from being one of the winningest franchises in all of baseball over a three-year span (2012-2014) to being one of the worst teams in baseball by 2018.

Let us first start after Dan Duquette was hired and immediately made his impact on the 2012 roster. Duquette was hired on November 4th, 2011 and basically took over for Showalter who was acting as GM after MacPhail left following the season. In fact, Showalter was instrumental in grabbing his former Texas Rangers reliever Darren O’Day off waivers four days before Duquette was hired.

Quickly, Duquette started making the types of moves that would soon become his trademark.  During November and December, he signed players with major league experience to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training. He selected a player in the Rule 5 draft (Ryan Flaherty) and he made a small trade sending two minor leaguers to Texas for Taylor Teagarden. Now, this Teagarden thing is interesting when you look at it because Teagarden was a Buck guy from his Texas days, so this trade very well may have been to score points with Buck as much as it was to fill the need for a backup catcher.

This is important because you must remember that Buck was acting as GM when Duquette was hired and Angelos reportedly gave Buck the option of becoming GM instead of manager, but Buck decided he preferred being in the dugout. This means Duquette was already coming into a situation where his manager had influence with the owner. The same manager that had worn out his welcome in three other organizations over issues of wanting more power and influence over player personnel.

After another minor trade to pick up Dana Eveland for two minor leaguers, Duquette did something none of his predecessors ever did, and that was signing a player from Asia. First, he signed Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year contract, and then made a big splash by signing Taiwanese Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to a three-year, $11.3 million contract, the largest expenditure on a foreign free agent player in Orioles history.

Needing more pitching, including relievers, Duquette then traded Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom about a week before spring training started. Duquette was not done though. After receiving great reports from winter ball about a former non-descript Boston minor league pitcher, he signed Miguel Gonzalez on March 4th.

Although Wada would end up undergoing Tommy-John surgery and never pitch for the Orioles, Duquette signed or traded for starters who made 69 starts for a 2012 team that went 93-69 and ended up in the American League Division Series before falling to the Yankees three games to two. Additionally, the free agent signing of Wilson Betemit and mid-season waiver wire and minor league free agent acquisitions of Steve Pearce and Nate McLouth were key to the Orioles first winning season after 14 seasons of ineptitude.

When people say Duquette won with MacPhail’s team, it’s important to remember how much he added to the good core that MacPhail had built.

One thing of note, during the 2012 season, Brady Anderson, who had been hanging around and mainly working out with players, was named Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (Dan Duquette). A source indicates that position was assigned to him by Peter Angelos, not Dan Duquette. So, despite his immediate success, Duquette had the owner assigning him an “assistant” to go along with a manager who had gained tremendous popularity with the fans for the Orioles amazing 2012 season.

By all accounts though, Duquette still had broad control over roster-building, although he obviously consulted with Buck and perhaps Brady as well on player personnel. The 2012-13 offseason was a typical November and December for Duquette acquiring potential role players, drafting left-handed pitcher TJ McFarland from the Indians in the Rule 5 draft, and making a minor trade. With most of the team coming back, Duquette made no major changes to the roster but did try to find some value in pitchers like Jair Jurrjens and Freddy Garcia by signing them to minor league contracts. Of note, Anderson was named Vice President, Baseball Operations in February 2013.

In 2013, Orioles were doing well, but by July it was becoming apparent they needed another starter. In second place, 3.5 games behind the Red Sox at 47-37, Duquette made what will probably go down as his worst trade ever. He traded struggling, but talented right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the Cubs for 30-year old right-handed starter Scott Feldman and minor league catcher Steve Clevenger. Then, a few weeks later he traded talented left-handed pitching prospect Josh Hader, outfield prospect LJ Hoes and a competitive balance first-round pick to the Astros for Bud Norris.

Feldman ended up going 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA and Bud Norris 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA as the Orioles finished 12 games out in 3rd place. Of course, Arrieta would go on to become a Cy Young award winner and one of the best pitchers in baseball while Strop and Hader have become shutdown major league relievers.

The 2013-2014 offseason looked a lot like the 2012-13 offseason with few major moves. One trade of note was on November 25th,, 2013 when Duquette traded a minor league pitcher to San Diego for Brad Brach. A little over a week later Duquette sent his struggling closer Jim Johnson, who was due a big raise through arbitration to Oakland for Jemile Weeks and a minor leaguer in what looked like a salary dump.

After some minor signings and the pick-up of Michael Almanzar in the Rule 5 draft (head scratcher), the offseason looked like another waste. However, spring training started, and needing another starter and power hitter, Duquette signed Ubaldo Jimenez to the largest contract ever given to a free agent pitcher by the club, and then signed Nelson Cruz to a one-year “rebuild his worth” contract.

In 2014, every in-season move Duquette made turned up gold. First, he waived Steve Pearce on April 27th but convinced him to reject a Toronto Blue Jays claim and re-signed him on April 29th. Pearce would go on and lead the team in WAR (5.9), and along with Cruz and Adam Jones, propelled the Orioles offense most of the season. At the trade deadline, despite being in first place, he locked down his bullpen by acquiring Andrew Miller for Eduardo Rodriquez. Even trading for Alejandro De Aza in late August added a spark to the club down the stretch. The Orioles, of course, won the American League East going 96-66, swept Detroit in the Division Series before running into a white-hot Kansas City Royals team and getting swept in the AL Championship Series.

The Orioles drew 2,464,473 fans and hosted their first league championship playoff games since 1997. The team had won more games over the previous three seasons than any team in baseball. Their starting rotation was all under contract and actually had six candidates going into 2015. Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop were young talented players to build around along with clubhouse leader Adam Jones. Zach Britton was a legitimate closer with Darren O’Day a top setup man. Kevin Gausman had arrived from the minors and there was hope that Chris Davis could bounce back after an awful 2014 season. Everything was looking up for the Orioles organization going into the 2014-2015 off-season.

The Toronto situation

Despite coming off a fantastic season, there was a lot of work to be done in the 2014-2015 offseason with Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller all filing for free agency. No one expected the Orioles to re-sign them all, but if both Markakis and Cruz left, the team would have had no viable everyday right fielder on the roster. On consecutive days in December, Markakis signed with Atlanta (Dec 3rd), Cruz signed with Seattle (Dec 4th), and Miller signed with the Yankees (Dec 5th).

Some wondered if Duquette was asleep at the wheel, but then it came out on December 7th that the Blue Jays were considering Duquette as their next CEO/team president. The shock felt by many fans was probably the same shock felt by ownership and those throughout the organization. Duquette downplayed the situation at the winter meetings saying he was “still under contract with the Orioles,” and that he “honored his contracts.”

Even so, it was clear to many that Duquette wanted to take the offer. And why would he not? He was being offered a promotion, more money, and a longer contract. Who amongst us wouldn’t be interested in that in their line of work?

It’s customary for baseball teams to not stand in the way of their front office personnel taking promotions, but there was some precedent for compensation from when the Cubs sent relief pitcher Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox for signing Theo Epstein to be their GM.

Apparently, the Blue Jays offered something similar, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos reportedly asked for three Blue Jays top prospects, including one of their best prospects at the time in right-hander Jeff Hoffman. To make matters worse, the situation drug on, keeping Duquette in limbo, severely draining his influence on building next year’s team. After all, how much can you be involved in building a club if your team is negotiating with a rival team on your release so you can be the architect of their team?

It wasn’t until January 25th, after two months later, that the Blue Jays announced they would not meet the Orioles demand and withdrew their interest in acquiring Duquette.

Reportedly, Angelos and many others in the ownership and front office were not happy that Duquette considered the offer and felt he was not being loyal to the franchise that gave him a chance to return to baseball after a long hiatus. However, if you take a step back, you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t he consider the offer? He was going to get the ability to have full authority to build his team, and he wouldn’t need to deal with a forced assistant or a strong-willed manager, both of whom are favorites of the owner. Not to mention more money and reportedly a longer contract. Honestly, he would have been a fool not to consider the offer.

So, for basically two months, the Orioles made no significant moves as the organization was in a standstill waiting for the outcome. Not surprisingly, two days after it was reported that the Blue Jays ended their pursuit, Duquette attempted to fill his right field hole by sending two pitching prospects to the Pirates for Travis Snider (who was a bust).

You can only imagine the tension that must have been created by the situation, especially in an organization where power has always been held by whoever had the most influence over the owner. You can also imagine when a person loses influence, it creates a vacuum. A vacuum that others in the organization would attempt to fill.

Brady Anderson’s rise

In 2010, Anderson began consulting with the Orioles on conditioning and hitting, mainly working with the players in the offseason, but also donning a uniform occasionally and working with select players in-season. Anderson has had a close relationship with Angelos from his playing days, and by 2012 Angelos named him Special Assistant to Dan Duquette. However, it was clear to everyone that was just a title, and that he did what he wanted when he wanted.

Although by all accounts Brady is very likeable, but that ability to do what he wanted with no accountability rubbed some within the organization wrong. Brady was known for going down and working with minor league players only to announce they were “fixed” but without informing the player development people what he actually did. When I asked one day why a particular player was using an unusual approach at the plate, I was told “You’ll have to ask Brady,” by a member of the organization.

By 2013, Angelos promoted Anderson to Vice President, Baseball Operations and his role reportedly was to “collaborate” with Duquette and Buck on player development and roster management. Basically, he just became the third “architect” in the Orioles organization. Brady still did what he wanted on the field with players and by most accounts, he was a positive, if not unusual force, by doing what he thought was best for the players. By Brady’s own account, he’s pro-player, something that was highlighted by his support of Mike Wright as he “fought” with then pitching coaches Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti over his pitching. Wallace and Chiti both would leave the organization with Wallace mentioning that Brady was a factor in his decision to leave.

From all accounts, Anderson’s influence and power began to significantly increase after the Toronto situation as Duquette’s plummeted. If you look at the transactions the rest of the 2014-15 offseason, those patented Duquette late offseason, early spring training signings/moves never happened and the Orioles went into 2015 a much weaker club than 2014’s World Series contender.

In an interesting note to Brady’s new potential influence, the Orioles did sign Nolan Reimold, an Anderson offseason project, on February 3rd.

Duquette’s Last Gasp to Regain Influence?

With the ongoing influence struggle, it’s hard to know who was doing what, but it was clear the Orioles as an organization wasn’t making many impactful moves during the 2015 season. However, despite hovering around .500 for most of the season, the Orioles found themselves six games out of first, but only a game out of the 2nd wild card on July 31st.

Perhaps feeling the heat of the offseason, and perhaps his chance to regain some influence, Duquette traded away Zach Davies, his best nearly ready, healthy, minor league starting pitching prospect for a two-month rental of Gerardo Parra, to fill that right field hole that had plagued the team all season. You know the hole that was created when both Markakis and Cruz were not re-signed, possibly because Duquette was busy entertaining Toronto’s offer?

The deal backfired tremendously as Parra bombed with the Orioles and they ended up finishing in 3rd place at 81-81. Worst of all, we’ve watched as Davies has become a solid major league starter for the Milwaukee Brewers as the Orioles have wasted draft picks and money trying to find his replacement since the trade.

Buck flexes his influence

At this stage, Duquette reportedly had lost a lot of influence with Angelos and along with Brady’s rise, Buck was filling the vacuum as well. Now let’s be clear, Buck had held sway with Angelos before Duquette even arrived, so he’s always had much more influence in his roster and within the organization than most managers. That said, the 2015-16 offseason if where Showalter really began flexing some influence muscle.

The first was the decision to give a qualifying offer to Matt Wieters. Reportedly Buck was instrumental in the Orioles offering Wieters that $15.8 million offer as Buck wanted his catcher back full-time in 2016. The assumption by others was that Wieters wouldn’t take the offer anyway, but Buck was happy to have his catcher back.

Next, after losing Cruz the year before, Buck wanted Chris Davis back badly. Duquette was reportedly less interested in retaining Davis for the money he was requesting, but Buck reportedly went directly to Angelos requesting his first baseman be signed.  Angelos reportedly took over the negotiations and signed Davis to the largest contract in Orioles history.

Lastly, after losing Miller the year before, Buck wanted O’Day back and he was re-signed to a 4-year contract though Brady was also instrumental in keeping O’Day from signing with the Nationals.

Dysfunction of the three architects

With Buck wielding a lot of influence and Brady appears to be in concert with Buck on moves, Duquette was now losing more and more control, and it appears a lack of communication was now starting to occur between the trio.

The 2015-16 offseason got off to a good start when it’s assumed Duquette traded a non-Buck guy (Steve Clevenger) for a salary dump, Mark Trumbo. Duquette also got his last chance to sign an Asian free agent when he signed Hyun Soo Kim, to compete as a platoon/4th outfielder. Of course, it became apparent very quickly that Buck was not a fan of the move when he saw him for the first time and mentioned something about his weight. Buck would eventually attempt to bury Kim in spring training in the hopes he would either go back to Korea or to the minor leagues before Kim insisted on his major league contract being honored. Buck was reluctant to use Kim in early 2016 until Kim kept hitting and forced his way into the everyday lineup.

Going into spring training the Orioles still needed a leadoff hitter and starting pitcher. So they targeted Dexter Fowler and Yovanni Gallardo. Had they signed both, they would have only had to give up one of their two first-round picks, but at the last second, after appearing to accept a multi-year deal from the Orioles, Fowler went back to the Cubs on a one-year deal and the Orioles were left with just Gallardo. This meant the Orioles lost the 14th overall selection for signing a low-end starting pitcher.

Even worse, the Orioles front office looked bad as Fowler’s agent Casey Close said, “In my 25 years in this business, never before have I witnessed such irresponsible behavior on so many fronts. Both the Orioles front office and members of the media were so busy recklessly spreading rumors that they forgot or simply chose not to concern themselves with the truth. The Orioles’ willful disregard of collectively bargained rules governing free agency and the media’s eager complicity in helping the Orioles violate those rules are reprehensible. Dexter Fowler never reached agreement with the Orioles and did not come close to signing with the club; any suggestion otherwise is only a continuation of an already disturbing trend.”

What is interesting here is who Close is talking about. Duquette made this interesting statement, “We made a very competitive offer. There was not an agreement to terms because they kept insisting on an opt out.” That doesn’t sound like a guy who was “recklessly spreading rumors.”

Regardless of whether Close was talking about Angelos, Anderson, Buck, Duquette, or whoever, it shows there was some definite disconnect between who is saying what to who, not only to the press but to others in the industry. Basically, it shows dysfunction and lack of a chain of command.

Buck loses some influence?

Every manager is going to make some bad managerial decisions, but Buck made such a bad decision in the 2016 wild-card game that it may have cost him some influence. We all know the story, Buck leaves Zach Britton in the bullpen and brings in Jimenez in extra innings only to watch the Blue Jays walk-off with the win. It was literally the single worst decision I’ve ever witnessed as a baseball observer, and the fact Buck never took responsibility for the awful decision left a bad taste in many people’s mouth. According to one source, many people in the organization were shocked by Buck’s blunder and lack of responsibility.

Worst of all, there were whispers that Buck lost even more of his clubhouse with the move. Various sources have indicated that Buck has been losing influence over his clubhouse. As one source said, “When you play favorites with some players, that means you are being unfair to others. Players notice that.”

That said, Buck thrives on loyalty, and in fact, may value loyalty over talent. That goes for players and coaches. Let’s not forget that Duquette had to send Taylor Teagarden to the minors back in 2013 just so Buck wouldn’t play him anymore. I doubt Buck forgot that as well.

Let’s be clear, multiple sources indicate that Buck has control over his 25-man roster. So, when Tillman is getting the ball every 5th day, or Gentry is starting in right field against right-handers, that’s Buck’s call. There is no indication that he has lost his control over his roster, though he has to take those players from the 40-man roster which Duquette still has some influence over since Brady apparently doesn’t have interest in little moves.

Brady as Executive Vice President?

With Buck and Duquette having lost some influence and luster, Brady began to wield more influence starting in 2017, though Duquette and Buck are still involved in the process. It’s hard to say who was behind the signing of Wellington Castillo and the trade of Gallardo to Seattle for Seth Smith as the web is so thick with who has what influence at this point. Most likely Duquette was behind those trades though.

However, one source reported that Duquette was not the one behind the Trumbo re-signing and suggested that was more of a Brady/Buck decision. Duquette was reportedly fine with Trumbo leaving as a free agent or signing him to a smaller deal.

Another source suggested that this was when Brady basically became the GM for all major signings and moves, and Duquette was now basically doing the duties of an Assistant GM, signing minor depth free agent deals, signing minor league free agents, making small trades, and drafting Rule 5 players.

That’s exactly what Duquette did the rest of the spring, acquiring players like Craig Gentry, Gabriel Ynoa, Vidal Nuno, Alec Asher and a small move that no one noticed at the time, sending cash to the Yankees for Richard Bleier. During the first week of the season, he also acquired Miguel Castro from the Rockies.

After Buck was less than thrilled with his bullpen options early in the 2017 season, Duquette and Buck reportedly were behind the DFA and subsequent loss of pitchers Oliver Drake and Parker Bridwell, both of whom found success in the majors with their new teams.

At the trade deadline, the Orioles decided to shop Zach Britton around, but not Manny Machado. Reportedly, Angelos was heavily involved in the trade negotiations with Houston though it’s somewhat unclear who was the point man for potential deals with Houston. One source indicated Anderson was heavily involved with the negotiations and taking deals to Angelos. Once the deal fell through because the Orioles were less than thrilled with the prospect being offered, the Orioles decided to “go for it” and traded for Jeremy Hellickson and Tim Beckham, giving up a Tobias Myers, an 18-year old pitching prospect who was pitching well in the NY-Penn League in the Beckham deal. It’s notable that Beckham seemed to thank Brady for bringing him to the Orioles in one interview. This seems to indicate that Anderson was now making the major trades.

In the 2017-18 offseason, despite finishing in last place and having just two starters penciled into their rotation, the Orioles were basically quiet all offseason. It’s notable though that Brady Anderson started talking to the press about moves, and about how they missed their chance to sign Manny long term after his second knee surgery in an interview with The Washington Post. That seemed to be a shot across Duquette’s bow.

Meanwhile, with few responsibilities left, Duquette was off doing what he does, this time he must’ve been bored because he upped the ante by drafting three Rule 5 players, and even talked about two of them competing for rotation spots. Duquette made a few minor moves and acquisitions, but by spring training, it was looking like no one was steering the ship as the Orioles had not made any significant moves.

That all changed right after spring training started and Andrew Cashner was signed. What was interesting though was when he said that he began negotiations with Brady Anderson since free agency began. That certainly seems to give more indication that Anderson was now the chief architect for the Orioles major acquisitions. Anderson was also involved in getting Tillman, another one of his offseason projects, re-signed as well. As the spring went on, Anderson was reportedly instrumental in finalizing the deal with Alex Cobb that ended up being the largest contract the Orioles have ever given to a pitcher. If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear that Brady is the guy who oversees the major acquisitions now.

The winner of the Orioles Game of Thrones

Looking at this whole situation, it appears the dust is starting to settle, and the winner of this interesting saga looks to be Brady Anderson. Anderson has been quoted as saying he wasn’t seeking out new responsibilities, but if they were to come he would take them on. That’s pretty much him saying he will take the Executive Vice President role if offered.

The wildcard in all of this is the reports that Peter Angelos is no longer involved in the day to day operations of the club and that his sons – Lou and John Angelos – have taken over the ownership decisions with the club. So, what does this mean for Anderson, Buck, and Duquette?

Anderson had a great relationship with Peter Angelos, but it’s unknown exactly what his relationship is with the sons. There are indications that Brady has a good relationship with Lou, but John may be the major ownership decision maker now, though it’s not confirmed. In fact, there are conflicting reports on whether Lou or John is calling the shots or if they are taking an ownership version of a Flanagan/Beattie-type decision-making process. Who knows really? Maybe they are still going back and Peter is still involved?

Buck has always had a strong relationship with Peter, and some sources have indicated that Buck will be given the opportunity to stay on as manager if he wants, but it remains to be seen how much influence Buck has maintained.

As for Duquette, it’s hard to imagine he will be retained when his contract runs out due to how everything has shaken out here in Baltimore. The thing is, someone will still have to do his role since one source indicated that Brady wants to be the lead architect, but doesn’t want to do all the little things that Duquette does like the minor league free agents, small deals, and daily roster management.

Moves that will speak volumes

There are rumblings that someone is going to get axed soon because of the Orioles awful start to the 2018 season. If that happens, it will be very interesting because the firings could tip the ownership’s cards regarding future leadership of the organization.

Duquette

If Duquette is fired, it’s because they were not going to bring him back anyway and they can make him the scapegoat for the disastrous 2018 club. It’s easy because a lot of fans think he’s had much more power then he’s really had over the last three years. This would give Anderson a chance to bring in his own guy for assistant GM to do the Duquette work.

Buck

If Buck is fired I’d be shocked, but that would mean Anderson is getting rid of any threats to his authority. There are no indications of a rift between Anderson and Buck yet, but Anderson may want his own guy. It’s interesting to note that one source indicated that Buck wanted to move up to Duquette’s VP of baseball operations role and felt Brady didn’t want the role. Now that Brady has indicated he does and that he’s basically filling that role now could mean Buck must decide whether he’s happy with just being a manager.

Orioles Coaches

If any of Buck’s coaches are fired, it’s a shot across his bow and probably means he won’t be retained after the season, and Brady will get an opportunity to bring in his pick of managers for the rebuild.

No One

If no one is fired and the Orioles run the course with what they have, it could mean a few things. It could mean that the Angelos brothers are going to go with an outside architect to rebuild the organization. That’s doubtful as I think Brady is going to be the guy.

It also could mean that they are going to give Anderson an opportunity to lead the rebuild and let him sign a new “assistant GM” of his choosing to do Duquette’s work. It could mean that Anderson can then decide whether Buck should stay on as manager.

Heck, it could even mean that they all come back though that is doubtful.

Machado Trade

If the Orioles trade Machado this season then it’s pretty much assured that Anderson will be the new Executive VP of Baseball Operations who will oversee the rebuilding of this team.

Regardless, all indications seem to point to Brady Anderson being the winner of the Orioles Games of Thrones. Now the question that needs to be asked, “Is he the right man for the job?”

I’ll save that for another article.

Tony’s Take

No matter which way ownership decides to go, they need to install a proper chain of command and roles and responsibilities for each position in the organization.

Regardless of titles, there needs to be one person who has overall responsibility for Baseball Operations. That person and that person alone should have the ability to hire personnel to the following roles and responsibility:

  1. VP of baseball operations in charge of 40-man and 25-man roster moves, with responsibility for minor league free agents, waiver wires acquisitions, Rule 5 drafting
  2. VP of Scouting with responsibilities of overseeing both professional, international, and amateur scouting. Responsibilities to hire scouting directors for:
    1. Professional
    2. International Amateur
    3. Domestic Amateur
  3. Director Player Development who would have the authority to hire and fire coordinators and minor league staff along with full autonomy to move players at his discretion
  4. Manager who would have the ability to hire his coaching staff
  5. Director of Analytics that support the major, minor and scouting operations

Ownership needs to allow the Orioles to get back into the International scene and be willing to spend money on potential high-priced impact International players.

I don’t know whether or not Brady Anderson has the type of leadership skills or desire it takes to be this person with that much control. If he’s not, then ownership needs to find that dynamic leader who has the experience and understanding to build a cohesive and synchronized baseball organization from top to bottom. That is done by hiring the right professionals, holding them accountable, and ensuring that everyone’s goal is to make the Orioles better and not trying to worry about your next contract or job.

It’s ownership’s move.

What they decide will have ramifications for the Orioles organization for years to come.

Thanks to Luke Siler for proof editing

 

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Tony Pente
Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.

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