'Highly capable' Oates impresses Angelos Manager, GM Hemond may get 2-year pacts

October 20, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Orioles managing general partner Peter Angelos did not make any official announcement yesterday, but he left little doubt that manager Johnny Oates and general manager Roland Hemond will be rehired for at least the 1994 season.

Angelos met with Oates for 3 1/2 hours yesterday and said he came away very impressed. He already was leaning toward renewing Oates' contract for the 1994 season, but there appears to be the strong possibility that both Oates and Hemond will be signed for more than one year.

The decision on Hemond apparently has been made, but Angelos may hold back any announcements until next week to honor a request by Major League Baseball that teams not upstage the World Series.

He met with Hemond on Saturday, and yesterday he engaged Oates in a wide-ranging discussion that seemed to allay any doubts Angelos may have had about rehiring him.

"The meeting was excellent," Angelos said. "He is very impressive -- obviously a highly capable baseball professional. We haven't completed our discussions, but we'll get together again Friday."

No doubt, Angelos and Oates had hoped the situation could have been resolved earlier, but Angelos did not take control of the team until a day after the regular season ended. He intended to dispense with the major front-office questions quickly, but a severe throat infection set his timetable back by more than a week.

Oates also has had a complicated schedule. His mother has been ill, so he spent part of last week in North Carolina. He may return there today but is expected back in Baltimore for further discussions with Angelos on Friday.

The decision to rehire Oates might have been held up anyway because of the informal news embargo.

"Major League Baseball sort of suggested that no announcements be made during the World Series," Angelos said, "but by the end of the week we should be ready. I wasn't finished [meeting] with him, but obviously the Series -- in a sense -- precludes a resolution of various matters we are dealing with."

Neither Angelos nor Oates would say specifically what was discussed yesterday, but Oates also characterized the meeting as very positive.

"It was a very good meeting," Oates said. "There are a few other things that have to be talked about, but it was an entire discussion of my situation. We talked about his hopes for the team and my hopes for the team. I think there are a few things he has to think about and there are a few things I have to think about."

The Orioles are in a position to unilaterally decide to renew Oates' contract for the 1994 season. The deal he made in 1991 called for two years guaranteed and a series of three options that could keep him under contract through 1996.

It is no secret that Oates would like a little more security, but there were early indications that Angelos was leaning toward exercising the first option and re-evaluating his manager over the course of a full season.

Now, sources are saying that Angelos may be ready to guarantee the next two years to send a message to the players that Oates has the full confidence of the organization.

Early speculation that Angelos eventually might replace Oates and other members of the front office has proved unfounded. Angelos maintains that there will be a front-office reorganization, but it apparently will center more on how the club makes decisions than on who makes them.

He said yesterday that he still intends to streamline decision-making to improve communication throughout the organization.

"What I'm trying to do is establish strong lines of communication from the professional group to the ownership group," he said. "We need to communicate better internally and externally."

That could result in the club's being far more open about the way it transacts the business of baseball, something that Angelos promised when he closed the $173 million deal to buy the team Oct. 4.

He also said yesterday that his examination of the club's finances has done nothing to change his opinion of what needs to be done during the next few months. He already has gone on record saying that the team is willing to spend heavily in the free-agent market this winter and boost the player payroll significantly to build a division champion.

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