The rumors have been swirling around Baltimore for weeks, and yet Juan Samuel still has his feet up on the manager’s desk in the Orioles clubhouse. It seems like every media outlet is circulating conflicting stories regarding the Orioles flirtation with would-be savior Buck Showalter. Buck is wise to keep quiet throughout the process, which has only fueled the speculation. My guess is that Buck has made some requests of the organization before committing to sign on as Captain of this sunken ship.
If I were Buck Showalter this would be my list of demands:
1. A four year contract – The Orioles are not as close to competing as we’d all like to think. They are currently 30 games under .500, so while the cavalry may have arrived they’re still waiting for air cover. For Showalter’s plan to have any chance of working he is going to need more than 3 years. A 3 year contract with a rebuilding club doesn’t offer much in the way of job security, certainly not enough to lure Buck from the cozy confines of the Bristol studios. Taking a 3 year deal could have Buck as a lame duck manager just when the team is about to become competitive. Seeing as he was pushed out the door after building the Yankees and D-backs into a competitive bunch I can’t imagine he’ll willingly go down that road again.
2. An out-clause – Reports have surfaced across various Internet sites over the past few weeks regarding the Orioles lack of scouting staff in comparison to other Major League teams. The fact that Andy MacPhail is content tooffer safe harbor to every Cubs castoff only furthers the perception that he O’s scouting staff is undermanned. Showalter would be the Manager, not the GM, so he has no direct authority over scouting. If I were Buck I’d request that the team make the necessary adjustments to become more in line with their competition in terms of scouting. If those adjustments are not made in the agreed upon time frame Buck should be free to walk without taking a financial hit.
3. A payroll guarantee – One thing that has become increasingly obvious since MacPhail’s arrival in Charm City is the rapid decline in the team’s payroll. A decline that just so happens to coincide with the launching of MASN, which was supposed to make the team more competitive. For the Orioles to become contenders Angelos needs to put his money where his MASN is and Buck should get some payroll guarantees from Andy and Peter before signing on.
4. A hefty share of Rolaids stock – With Alfredo Simon and Mike Gonzalez at the back end of the bullpen he’ll need it.
Ultimately if I were Buck I’d politely decline the offer and hope that LaRussa calls it quits in the off-season and the Cardinals or Braves come calling. If you need that many concessions from an employee to make the job offer legitimate it’s probably not worth the trouble. I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if Eric Wedge is wearing an O’s cap at the Camden Yards podium in the coming weeks.