The best news all week was not just the expected extension of Buck Showalter’s contract for five years after 2013 (three had been anticipated), but the twin signing of Dan Duquette through the 2018 season as well. It was unexpected in a pleasant way, infusing the organization with a continuity it hasn’t seen in years.
Stability at the top is most important ingredient. Having the players do what you want always works better if they know the guy in charge will be there a while. The Showalter signing was universally cheered by the team, and the assurance that one philosophy will guide the team’s personnel decisions, tactical thinking, and training methods for six more years including this season is welcome news.
You have to go back a while to remember the last time the Baltimore Orioles had a manager-general manager team in place for seven years, counting last season, this, and the next five, 2014-18.
Paul Richards ran the front office and managed from 1955 to 1958, then continued to manage while Lee MacPhail took over as GM in 1959. MacPhail ran the club from 1959-’65, with Hank Bauer becoming manager in 1964. Harry Dalton took over from MacPhail from 1966-’71, firing Bauer and hiring Earl Weaver in 1968. J. Frank Cashen had the job from 1971-’75, and Hank Peters from 1975-’87. It was during the Peters years that Weaver, installed as manager after the All Star Break in 1968, remained from ’75 through ’82, retired, and then came back for part of ’85 and ’86.
Cal Ripken, Sr., succeeding Weaver and managing in 1987 and part of’ ’88, began a string of 11 skippers over 23 years until Buck’s hiring in 2010.
But the other, more unnoticed great news of the past few days was Miguel Gonzalez‘s declining to play for his native Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. A wise move, and a huge relief as it applies to the Baltimore Orioles’ starting pitching, which is where winning starts. As reported in The Sun, it was his decision.
The importance of having a full Spring Training in Sarasota, which he didn’t have last year, and the long-term harm that could come from the WBC’s accelerated workload during would normally be a gradual phase of camp, weighed heavily. Neither he nor the Orioles would have wanted his innings to be limited in the second half of the season because of the too-soon pounding his arm may have had to absorb in early March.
Obviously there are many other pitchers doing it. But he definitely wouldn’t have wanted to spoil the financial payoff that would come if he were to sparkle this season, after having come this far to reach the Orioles.
It’s the right choice for any starting pitcher.
As reported in The Sun, relievers Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) and Luis Ayala (Mexico) are also on their countries’ provisional WBC rosters, as are infield prospect Jonathan Schoop (Netherlands) and minor league catchers Chris Robinson (Canada) and Allan de San Miguel (Australia). Strop confirmed Thursday that he will pitch in the event. But the circumstances are different for a setup man.
Duquette put the finishing touches on the week today by making Matt Wieters, Chris Davis and Troy Patton millionaires, and re-signing Brian Matusz, who was already one, to a new, 1-year deal. Wieters and Davis are in their first, arbitration-eligible years. The other two have three more eligible years. Baseball’s rules for being eligible for arbitration are above my pay grade.
See you at FanFest. More to come.