Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Buck Stops Here

ESPN is reporting that Buck Showalter has been hired and will begin managing the Orioles on 8/3.

Tim Kurkjian at ESPN has reported that the Orioles have officially hired Buck Showalter as the new manager, replacing interim manager Juan Samuel. His first game as manager is being reported as August 3rd.

That sound you just heard is me sighing with relief.

I was convinced the O's were gonna blow this one...that they were gonna let Buck get away after failing to officially hire him for almost a month. Thankfully, they didn't blow it.

Showalter is exactly what this team needs: an experienced manager who has had measurable success with three different organizations over his 11 year career as manager.

He was the manager of the Yankees from 1992-1995, leading the Yankees to the playoffs as a Wild Card team in 1995. Showalter was replaced by Joe Torre and the Yankees won the World Series in 1996.

In Arizona, Buck had his best success. He was hired two years before the Diamondbacks began play in 1998 and helped oversee the creation of the expansion team's roster. The Diamondbacks lost 97 games in their inaugural season, but the next year, they won 100 games. They lost in the first round of the playoffs, and won 85 games the following year, Showalter's last as the Diamondback's skipper. And just like in New York, the Diamondbacks went on to win the World Series after Showalter left.

And in Texas, Showalter had only moderate success, notching only one winning season in 4 seasons and never finishing above 3rd place.

So while both the Yankees and Diamondbacks winning the World Series a year after Showalter left town could be used as a knock against him, I look at it as a positive. Showalter, in some way or another, had a hand in helping develop these teams. And like in Arizona, where Showalter took a team that lost 97 games and helped turn them into a 100 win team overnight (acquiring Randy Johnson also helped), Showalter will be taking over an Orioles team that needs to get on the fast track to drastic improvement.

Showalter has also been named AL Manager of the Year twice in 1994 and 2004.

Most importantly, Showalter has major league experience. It was something that Andy MacPhail said he wanted in his next manager, and rightfully so. Since Mike Hargrove, the Orioles have gone with 4 managers who have had no big league managerial experience: Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel, all of which showed weaknesses as Orioles manager while learning on the job. And with the Orioles being such a young and inexperienced team filled with hopeful prospects, it's important that the manager have the experience that players will respect.

So while things probably won't change overnight with Showalter as manager, it is still a step in the right direction. Giving him these last two months of the season will allow the players to familiarize themselves with his managerial style so there will be no surprises in 2011. And like he did in Arizona, I hope Showalter will have some say over the development of the organization.

There is still a lot of work to be done to get the Orioles back to respectability. But maybe that job just got a little easier now that Showalter is on board.

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