The problems are familiar and circular.
One recognizable and respected name after another has taken a job with the Baltimore Orioles and been mitigated by ownership meddling and circumstance.
Even with Buck Showalter in place, nothing much has changed; the enthusiasm and excitement from having a manager of his stature quickly receded into the abyss, drowned by vicious competition and a lack of talent.
Why doesn’t Showalter simply take over as GM?
It’d be much easier for everyone.
The club could hire someone to do the grunt work that no one ever realizes is going on with the rock star status that certain general managers enjoy nowadays; Showalter could pick the players and run the entire show doing things the way he wants.
The names that are coming in for interviews are young, impressive and irrelevant; the only benefit they’ll have is to be able to toss their hands in the air and say, “what could I do?” when things go wrong as they did for Pat Gillick, Frank Wren and Andy MacPhail.
In addition to that, the new “boss” won’t have any final say-so with Showalter as the guy in charge. That’s not an advantageous position for a GM to be in whether he’s onboard with it or not.
It’s a resume-builder to say, “I’ve been a GM before”. They can’t win on or off the field and if the Orioles somehow find a way into contention within the new GM’s tenure, the credit will largely go to Showalter.
The Orioles situation is a continuing saga of inertia.
They can hit, but have very little pitching and not much on the horizon in the high minors.
Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Jim Johnson, Alfredo Simon—all have talent; but in that division, the Orioles can’t compete unless they bring in some legitimate arms, but that leads them back onto that failed cycle of overpaying for veterans, seeing them come to Baltimore and fade, repeating the process all over again. If they want to get a “name” free agent like C.J. Wilson or CC Sabathia, they have to drastically overpay and even then they’re not guaranteed to be anything other than a bargaining chip for another club to match or beat their offer.
At this point, until they’re showing marked improvement, why would any free agent with options want to go to Baltimore? The Yankees, Rays and Red Sox have vast talent that the Orioles don’t; and mark my words: the Blue Jays are going to shock baseball in 2012.
Where does that leave the Orioles?
Where they’ve been for the past 13 seasons—on the treadmill. Going nowhere.