We received official confirmation of what everyone who follows the Baltimore Orioles already knew last night: Andy MacPhail is leaving the Oriole organization. MacPhail’s contract as the President of Baseball Operations is up on October 31st, so this is not a resignation or a firing by any means. MacPhail cited family issues as one of the factors of his decision, and his departure is effective immediately. As we progressed into the last week of the season it appeared that this announcement was imminent in that it would possibly come a day or two after the season ended. Instead we waited another week-and-a-half, which didn’t do anything to quell any rumors of what was going on inside the Warehouse.
Much of the speculation of late has been that Buck Showalter would possibly move into a front office position. According to Roch Kubatko of www.masnsports.com, that’s probably not going to happen. Showalter is thought to be too valuable in the dugout, plus he doesn’t exactly have a resume when it comes to front office matters. However there’s probably a bit more than meets-the-eye there; I wouldn’t expect Showalter not to have a large say in what happens with the organization moving forward, starting with who MacPhail’s successor might be.
However this column isn’t about potential replacements or even about Buck Showalter so much as it is about Andy MacPhail. As I said above, the delay in making this announcement made a lot of people wonder what was going on. MacPhail had reportedly told many people in and outside of the organization that he would be leaving at the end of the season, so why wait? If you believe some reports, there was a major push from majority owner Peter Angelos to have MacPhail stay on, so perhaps he did in fact give this some thought immediately after the season. (And when I say that folks keep in mind that we’re only talking ten days ago or so.) However regardless of how MacPhail and his family reached this decision, it’s been made and now he’s riding off into the sunset.
So how will MacPhail be remembered for his time in Baltimore? At this point I think that a lot of fans are frustrated with the amount of promise on which MacPhail came in, and with where the team is now. However we should also keep in mind that the franchise is in fact in much better shape than it was when he arrived. MacPhail hit the ground running and rid the O’s of players such as Erik Bedard (who didn’t want to be here anyways), and brought in guys such as Adam Jones. The likes of Matt Wieters, Matt Hobgood, Manny Machado, and Dylan Bundy can also be attributed to him. Plus, let us not forget that MacPhail aquired the likes of J.J. Hardy in the offseason. Personally I think that the signature moment of Andy MacPhail’s tenure will be the Adam Jones trade, however there was one other moment that is a bit more unsung. MacPhail reached agreements on contract extensions with Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis prior to the 2009 season. However those moves worked out for the Orioles moving forward is another story, however at the time there was chatter about how those players might want to test free agency waters when their contracts were up. In the past, the Orioles might have made a low-ball offer and tried to justify how that was better than whatever another team was offering when in fact it was much less. However MacPhail knew what those players meant to the fans and to the team, and he got them re-signed.
The main issue with MacPhail’s legacy will be the cavalry of young pitching. This year was a bit of a mess in that regard, however moving forward if the likes of Matusz, Arrieta, etc. can get it together I think that MacPhail will be judged much more kindly in the years to come. It also goes without saying that MacPhail is the man who hired Buck Showalter, the man who might well maestro this franchise’s return to glory. Ultimately the results on the field weren’t much different than what we had seen before, which makes a lot of people say that MacPhail was an epic failure. However the ripples are there to produce a lot of good moving forward. Speaking for myself, I wish Andy MacPhail all the best moving forward in whatever he does.