In what might be the first bit of good news that Orioles fans have had since their 4-game sweep of the Rangers prior to the All-Star Break, the front office has acknowledged that they have hired Buck Showalter to become the newest manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Showalter has long been considered the first choice of the organization, having vast experience as a manager with a 882-833 record during stints with the Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Yankees. Unlike previous managerial hirings, Baltimore will not be moving the interim tag from a current manager but instead attempting to put their fate in an experienced manager who, while he has his faults and has clashed with players and management in the past, has a track record for success. Frankly, it was the best hire the Orioles could have made given the options on the market.
Ever since I did my profile of possible managerial candidates as time was ticking down on the Dave Trembley Era, Buck Showalter has stood out to me. He took an expansion franchise in Arizona and crafted out of its youthful collection of prospects a major league roster that was prepared for postseason success. Likewise in Texas, Showalter helped turn around an organization that was desperate for a winner en route to his second Manager of the Year Award. Prior to all of this, Showlater helped turn around the New York Yankees and put it in a position to win the string of titles it would achieve during the Joe Torre Era.
However, there is a reason that Showalter didn’t stick around to see those titles in Arizona and New York come to fruition. Showalter has long been considered a control freak, a manager with an incredible knowledge of the game and an excellent assessor of talent. He has his defined ways of doing things that can sometimes come off as obsessive, and has historically demanded a great deal of control over the composition of his roster. Hardly player-friendly, he does not simply ask his players to achieve. He demands that they perform and if they don’t he has a remarkably short leash. One of the likely sticking points in his negotiation with Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos was likely his amount of say in the composition of the 25-man and 40-man rosters, where Showalter will be sure to be heard.
But some can argue that that might be exactly what this team needs. The Orioles have had a steady stream of player-friendly managers, who only started to “get tough” going into this season. Players on this team won’t have to wait for Buck Showalter to decide to get tough. It is who he is. His personality has grated on many and it may be the reason he has bounced around so much despite his great success on the field. Managers like Showalter do not typically go without a position for 4 years unless there is more to him than his resume.
This team is too young and has had too much turnover and too little leadership. Showalter was one of the few managerial options who offered a strong, reliable presence for young players, one who always has an answer and can instill some accountability and leadership to a roster in need of it. Is he the perfect manager? Of course not. But he is much better than anyone the Orioles could have hoped for had they waited much longer.
Buck Showalter is the right man at the right time for the Orioles, and I hope the team allows him to step directly into the fray with a strong backing from the organization and a healthy sense of job stability. The players must understand that he is here to stay. With the number of possible managerial openings coming up at the end of this season, the Orioles needed to make an impact hire and do it quickly. While not as quickly as I and others would have liked, I think they made the right call.