In recent weeks, the man I call the most interesting manager in the world has looked like the most irritated manager in the world as he scowls away in the
These past two months have been the most turbulent of
As Buck Showalter celebrates his one-year anniversary as Baltimore's manager, you can't help but wonder if the Orioles magic act he put on down the stretch last season was simply smoke and mirrors.
But that's not an indictment of Showalter. I still think he was an excellent hire. He has the right attitude. Everyone around him says his preparation is second to none. And he has the unquestioned respect of the Orioles clubhouse even though they have dug themselves into last place in the American League.
With the hand dealt to him this season, Showalter would need divine intervention to fix what ails the Orioles. The team's struggles are because of poor management, not a poor manager.
President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail inherited a huge mess four summers ago, and his much-mocked "buy the bats, grow the arms" philosophy was the right idea.
The issue has been execution.
The Orioles stockpiled hyped-up young hurlers such as Arrieta,
And now that the Cavalry has arrived, retreated, arrived and retreated again, the Orioles don’t have any high-impact prospects within a couple years of
Meanwhile, the stopgap veterans signed to fill out the starting lineup -- once again, that was the right approach at this point in the total organizational overhaul -- were unfortunately brought in a year or two too late.
To be fair, MacPhail deserves passing grades for acquiring
But this is not an indictment of MacPhail. He might not return to Baltimore after the season, leaving a rebuilding plan still "under construction." But the Orioles are in much better shape than they were before he took one of the longest titles in baseball history (I certainly won't miss typing out "president of baseball operations"). How much better? We won't know for a couple of years.
So who am I blaming? I'm not sure. There is plenty to pass around after what will be a 14th straight losing season in Birdland. I do know that Showalter has done pretty well in the past 365 days.
The Orioles went 76-86 in his first 162 games as manager. That's a .470 winning percentage, which Dan Connolly points out that over a full season would be the team's best record since the 2004 season.
More importantly, Showalter instilled hope at the start of the season, both inside and outside of the Orioles clubhouse. Sure, that hope got crushed a couple of months ago. But if anyone can bring the buzz back to Baltimore, whether it's down the stretch, next season or two Opening Days from now, it's Buck.