Former Orioles' skipper Trembley back in the majors

Late last week new Houston Astros’ manager Bo Porter announced that former Baltimore Orioles’ manager Dave Trembley would be joining his coaching staff. Trembley was the Orioles’ manager from June 7, 2007 until June 4, 2010. He was hired on an interim basis in the aftermath of Sam Perlozzo’s dismissal, and the interim tag was removed in August of that year. At the tail end of the 2009 season Trembley had a club option on his contract picked up which allowed him  to continue as the Orioles’ manager in 2010, but with the proviso that marked improvement be shown in the win/loss column. After the 2010 O’s started 2-16, Trembley was relieved of his duties on (the above-mentioned) June 4th when the Orioles had a league-worst 15-39 record.

Towards the end of his tenure, many Orioles fans grew increasingly frustrated with Trembley for the way the team performed. At the time I covered the Orioles for another outlet, and while I did agree that Trembley misused the bullpen in many games, I also thought that he was being dealt an unfair hand in general. Trembley lost Brian Roberts, Felix Pie, Michael Gonzalez, and Jim Johnson…in the first week or two of the season. Alfredo Simon also injured himself along the way, and in general Trembley didn’t have the type of talent that the Orioles have now. Granted some of the players themselves were the same, but we’re talking about versions of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters that weren’t as far along in their respective careers as they are now.

In the end, I suppose that Trembley’s dismissal was probably the right move even given what I said above. The injuries definitely sound like excuses, and they may well be. However they were also the truth. With all of that said, Trembley’s firing set in motion the events that led the Orioles to the promised land in 2012. Buck Showalter ultimately was hired (replacing interim manager Juan Samuel) and finished out the final two months of the season in 2010…and voila the O’s are in the postseason in 2012!

With all of this said, I was disappointed in many Orioles fans for the way that Trembley was villainized towards the end of his tenure. Certainly there were improvements that needed to be made, however Trembley didn’t have the horses that the Orioles have now, and he got no help on the injury front. Having said that, I don’t believe that the franchise would have been in the postseason in 2012 had he been the manager, so what’s fair is fair. However there were many more aspects of Dave Trembley’s tenure which unfortunately have gone unnoticed. Dave Trembley understood that this game was for the fans as much as for the players and coaches. I would watch with amazement and respect at how he’d spend 20-25 minutes before each game (home or road) going down the line by the Orioles’ dugout and signing autographs for people. He was especially good with children; he would ask kids who their favorite player was, and then he’d try to teach them something about that guy’s position. Trembley probably never thought twice about these encounters after they were over, however those kids will always remember the day that they got to meet and speak with a big league manager.

I think that’s the Dave Trembley that Orioles fans should remember. Granted it’s the multiple pitching changes and bullpen meltdowns that really matter obviously (which is part of why this year’s Orioles’ bullpen was all the more special), however there’s something to be said for trying to earn the goodwill of fans. As I said, Trembley would do that autograph routine both at home and on the road. Away from Camden Yards obviously most of the fans were rooting for the opposition, however for a brief moment they were Orioles fans because all they knew was that a big league manager was giving them the light of day. In an age where different sports along with movies, video games, night clubs, etc. compete with each other for people’s attention and money, that should speak volumes.

Trembley’s duties with Houston have not yet been outlined short of saying that he’ll be on Bo Porter’s staff. Previous to being elevated to manager he was the Orioles’ bullpen coach. (Which is a bit ironic given that much of the criticism of Trembley came as a result of misuse of the bullpen.) My bet would be that he ends up being the bench coach, which in effect is similar to being an Offensive/Defensive Coordinator and Asst. Head Coach in the NFL. Incidentally that Houston coaching staff will have a decidedly mid-Atlantic twang to it with Trembley, along with manager Bo Porter himself who’s been the third base coach for the Washington Nationals the past few years. The O’s will visit Houston, who’s moving to the American League in 2013, in the first week of June. Trembley will make his return to Camden Yards as a visitor with Houston on July 30 – August 1st.

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  • Carlos Rossi

    I am happy for Dave he is a good man with plenty of baseball savy to share. And I agree with this article that the game hand that he had was not great, to say the least. However, two things must be said:
    One, DaveT never played professional baseball at any level, and that fact alone retracts from his ability to gain respect from his team that is full of youngsters and need someone credible to look up to and lead them. BuckS and EarlW were both very good minor league players and got plenty of respect from their team which always helped them to become the great strategists that they are and were. The second thing is that the grand strategy of the Orioles during Dave’s helm proved wrongheaded. That is NOT all of Dave’s fault, blame Flannagan, McPhail, whomever, but they simply thought that they could bring great oldies has beens (Bell, Lopez, Sosa, Guerrero, Segui, Lee) and build a superteam to contend with the superwallets of the AL-East; like building a car from a junkyard and racing it in the Indianapolis 500. That strategy went embarrasing south when even poorer teams like Tampa Bay and Oakland found success by doing the opposite strategy; spending on coaches, bulding a great bullpen, a great farm system. .

    Good luck Dave, hope you put the hard lessons learned to the test now…You are a good man

    • Domenic Vadala

      In fairness to all, Flanagan was never the GM during Trembley’s tenure as manager in Baltimore. That said, Albert Belle, Javy Lopez, Sammy Sosa, Vlad Guerrerro, David Segui, and Derrek Lee weren’t on the team either. I get your point about playing MLB, and for the most part I think you’re right. However it’s also worth mentioning that very few superstars in sports have turned around and been good in the coaching ranks. Granted there’s a difference between being a non-superstar athlete and not playing the sport at that level, however I do believe that there’s something to be said for watching from the bench and learning. A perfect example is Pat Riley in the NBA. He was never a star player, but he sat on the bench and learned the ins and outs of the game by watching. Good points; thanks for reading!