Next GM likely to change title, not duties, Orioles say

Director of operations is `no hidden agenda'

October 13, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Orioles will likely change the title of general manager to director of baseball operations for the sake of accuracy and not as a signal that the office's significance has diminished in any way, according to chief operating officer Joe Foss.

Citing skyrocketing economics and a decades-long evolution in the post of general manager, Foss says it is incorrect to perceive the role as an almost omnipotent presence immune from financial and corporate interests. Foss also said that any adjustment in title will more accurately reflect what the role was under ousted general manager Frank Wren.

"[The director of] baseball operations will continue to perform those functions as he has in the past. The title change signifies there are other decisions -- generally economic -- that need to be reflected in the overall responsibilities of other people in the company," Foss said after watching an afternoon instructional league game at Marchant Stadium.

"The general manager [role] will still be the senior supervisor of the baseball operations. Changing the title sends a message of clarity not only to our own people within the organization but also begins to show a change to the fans.

"There's no mystery or hidden agenda beyond that."

Foss and Orioles executive vice president John Angelos have discussed the title change with scouts and player development personnel attending the four-day conference here. Angelos said the club has not ruled out the possibility that Wren's successor also could be named a team vice president, status Wren did not enjoy.

Whoever becomes director of baseball operations will not be authorized to conduct an organizational purge -- nor may he have input on the managerial successor to Ray Miller. Director of scouting Tony DeMacio, director of player development Tom Trebelhorn and assistant general manager Bruce Manno have been assured they will retain their positions.

Manno and director of player personnel Syd Thrift are considered possibilities to succeed Wren, though Foss did not elaborate on how many current employees would be interviewed.

A theme of the past two days has been the desire by management to retain continuity within various departments. The reception has been overwhelmingly "positive," said chairman's representative Louis Angelos.

"If someone's coming in and expecting to make wholesale changes, that person isn't the right person for the Baltimore Orioles," said Foss. "It's completely unnecessary, and it would be irresponsible on our part to allow that level of continuity on our baseball front to be disrupted."

"All the key baseball people are here," said John Angelos. "They want to be here now and in the future."

Foss said "we have no time line, no defined time" in which to hire a head of baseball operations. Foss, John Angelos and Louis Angelos plan to return to Baltimore today and will likely wait until the return of respective department heads Friday before mapping out a search for Wren's successor.

Denying the club is set on hiring its next manager before replacing Wren, Foss conceded it is "not unlikely" the team will name its next manager before Oct. 31. That date coincides with the expiration of several remaining coaches' contracts.

Except for hitting coach Terry Crowley, no guarantees have been given Miller's staff.

Incumbent third base coach Sam Perlozzo interviewed for two hours Saturday with majority owner Peter Angelos. First base coach and former Rochester manager Marv Foley is expected to receive the same opportunity, but has yet to be contacted.

"We're not going to be drawn toward any deadline," said Foss, who projected last year's GM hiring would come before the end of the World Series only to be contradicted by the New York Yankees' four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres.

"If it so happens a decision on a field manager is made before a general manager is hired, that's the way it happens.

"If the general manager is hired first, baseball traditionalists will say that's the way it has to be. But that isn't the way it's always done."

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