Dan Connolly of The Athletic recently published an article about the Baltimore Orioles, featuring an interview with catcher Caleb Joseph. Joseph mentions a lack of leadership in the organization, a lack of accountability in both the front office and the locker room, and a newly formed losing mentality
The Baltimore Orioles are dead in the water; they have been for quite some time now, and this isn’t news to anyone following Major League Baseball in 2018. We can see from the outside that the organization is having trouble putting talent on the field.
What we don’t see is the mentality in the locker room on a daily basis. In Dan Connolly’s article, which you can read here (subscription only, unfortunately), Orioles’ catcher Caleb Joseph states that clubhouse mentality taken a severe turn for the worse.
It’s hard to fathom that isn’t the case, as the Orioles continue to push their worst season in franchise history further into the abyss. But this article brings up a couple important questions about the future of this organization. Specifically, what is the problem with the Orioles?
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Is this lack of leadership in the clubhouse due to the inability of the front office to put the right players in the right places? Are the players in the clubhouse who are currently in leadership positions unfit for their role in the organization? Can the players in the organization overcome this alleged losing mentality and reset the expectations of the Orioles’ franchise?
The front office has done a poor job assembling talent across the organization and there’s clearly a void at the major league level, both talent and leadership wise; there’s no denying that
But it’s probably foolish to debate whether it’s the front office’s fault for not putting leaders in the locker room, or the players’ fault for not setting the example for the youngsters and holding each other accountable. Either way, it’s a zero-sum game and there’s little to be done to fix this problem in late September.
In the article, Joseph states, “They always say winning cures everything. And it really does”. But saying we’re winners because we win games is just begging the question. Winning may help hide internal issues in an organization, but winning does not beget strong leadership; winning is a product of strong leadership.
We’ve seen the Tampa Bay Rays find success with a modicum of talent on the field. Yes, they have one of the better farm systems in baseball, but they were projected to be one of the worst teams in the majors and they’re pacing to win 90 games this year. The Rays don’t sign big-name free agents, they don’t spend extravagantly, and they play in one of the smallest markets in MLB.
The difference between the Rays and the Orioles is that the organization in Tampa is top to bottom, inside and out, building a winning culture and creating an environment in which players want to play.
The Orioles can’t wait for this team to start winning games to find leaders in the clubhouse.
They can’t create a winning culture and a positive environment by winning. If the Orioles are to be successful in the future, the front office needs to do a better job identifying and acquiring talent, and the players need to hold each other accountable and develop a chain of leadership that pushes the team forward, rather than backward.
The entire organization needs to do a better job across the board. Caleb Joseph brings important issues to light in this interview, but he’s not identifying solutions to the problem. That in itself is part of the problem.
As long as the alleged leaders in the clubhouse continue to complain about a lack of leadership in the organization, the Orioles are doomed to fail.
What the upper-level management and ownership needs to do is to evaluate every single person in this organization and identify potential solutions. Both GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter have expiring contracts after the 2018 season. We’ll soon see how the Orioles handle this off-season, and it will have large implications on the future of the franchise.