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Cold Hard Truth on a Hot Summer’s Day

Posted By Ron Burr On Jun 4 2010 @ 10:03 am In Baltimore Orioles | 3 Comments

In a move that surprised no one in any way except for how long it took, the Orioles have fired Dave Trembley, replacing him with Juan Samuel on an interim basis.  While the writing has been on the wall for quite a while, Trembley’s fate was pretty much sealed when it was reported that GM Andy MacPhail met the team at the Warehouse when they got back in from New York yesterday (that is not his normal procedure).

I have friends and readers on all sides of this decision.  And while some have been clamoring for this since before last season ended, many people (myself included) think that Trembley was never given a chance to succeed, and to see him take the fall is another case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Yes I am quite aware of my recent post saying I was on Team FireTrembley, and I do think that it had to be done.  But I also think that the man deserved a better fate than he got, especially since the odds are that he will never manage in the big leagues again.

Trembley did have his faults, faults I have enumerated before.  But the facts are that he was never given the chance to succeed here, he was never given the tools to win.  He was brought in because he was a highly respected minor league manager, and the Orioles were finally committing to a youth movement, to a wholesale change from the (at that time) decade long plan of overpaying for over the hill free agents along with an occasional star (Andy VanSlyke and Miguel Tejada would be prime examples of this).  Fans had been saying for years that they would support a team of youngsters as long as they were legitimate major league prospects and not another over hyped AAAA player (paging Beau Hale…Beau Hale you have a telephone call…).  Well, Andy MacPhail delivered.  He brought in young arms that were coveted by many other teams, and he brought in young bats that were supposed to be wearing out opposing teams’ arms for years to come.  The young arms have done fairly well.  The young bats seemed to be progressing, to the point that MacPhail said that THIS is the season we start judging by wins and losses and not by player development.  And he said (and rightfully so) that Dave Trembley deserved a chance to win and lose with this team after he had worked so hard to get them to the point that many prognosticators said this team should be respectable this year and possibly contend for the playoffs no later than 2012.

And then MacPhail went out and overpaid for a questionable closer, a 3rd baseman who had only played the position for 2 weeks during an exhibition contest (the WBC), and a 1st baseman who had spent the last year being flummoxed by NL Central pitching but whom MacPhail thought would come over to the toughest division in baseball and thrive.  MacPhail did not do his due diligence on Brian Robert’s injuries or Nolan Reimold’s rehab.  He left the team way too thin at key positions, basically saying that as long as everything went perfectly the Orioles would be fine.

They didn’t go all that well.

MacPhail overcompensated for Roberts by bringing in Julio Lugo (when Robert Andino’s numbers were similar and he was already a well liked member of the clubhouse), and did not pursue other options for the bullpen when it was obvious to even a casual viewer that Michael Gonzalez was having problems.

The biggest problem was and is the hitting.  Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun just did a fascinating series of posts on Orioles Insider [1] that looked at how opposing scouts view some of our young hitters.  The consensus was that the players were pressing and trying to do too much at the plate (or in Reimold’s case trying to come back too quickly).  There is some responsibility on the manager for that, but that is not his primary concern.  That is the fault of the hitting coach, Terry Crowley.

The Crow should have been gone long before Trembley got the boot.  When multiple people look at promising players and say they are making these mistakes while at the plate, and they are all seeing the same thing, how is the HITTING coach not seeing this?  How is he not working on correcting this?  How is he not browbeating them and pulling them aside as soon as they come back to the dugout after swinging at an 0-2 slider a foot off the plate and down around their ankles, correcting them right in the moment?  How is he not trying to alter their approach even a little bit in order to break them out of their funk?  If Trembley has any major fault, it is that he didn’t campaign MacPhail (or campaign hard enough) to get rid of Crowley a month and a half ago.

What is done is done.  Samuel is now the manager, and Gary Allenson (until now the manager at AAA Norfolk) will be the 3rd base coach.  The official word is that Samuel is an interim in the truest sense of the word, and while I am sure he will be interviewed for the position I do not expect him to keep it very long.

Trembley has to go.  No manager would agree to interview for his position while he was still in charge.  It just isn’t done.  By removing him and making Samuel the clearly interim manager, the door is now open for MacPhail to begin looking for the permanent guy.

I wish Trembley all the best, and I hope that the Orioles let him enjoy the remainder of the year off to recharge and revitalize himself, and then find a nice, cushy, well paying job for him somewhere within the organization.  As I saw someone post in a discussion on Trembley, maybe they can get him a job as a Hollywood stuntman.  After all, he has been one hell of a fall guy for this team, and he’s doing the job one last time.

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[1] Orioles Insider: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/blog/

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