Orioles reseed their farm

O's minor-league system receives major overhaul with five new managers

Triple-A Ottawa lures Allenson

102 games under .500, affiliates under scrutiny

January 28, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Finding it necessary to make sweeping changes in their farm system, the Orioles' front office broke out a pretty big broom.

Five of the organization's seven minor-league affiliates will have new managers for the 2003 season, including Triple-A Ottawa, which replaced Rochester as the Orioles' highest-level team. Only Joe Almaraz at Single-A Aberdeen and Jesus Alfaro with Rookie-level Gulf Coast return to the same jobs.

The massive overhaul, ranking among the most drastic in franchise history, comes after the affiliates combined to finish 102 games below .500, a handful of prospects were shut down because of injuries and the Red Wings ended their 42-year relationship with the Orioles.

"Basically, the track record hasn't been what we would have liked," said Darrell "Doc" Rodgers, the club's director of minor-league operations. "When that happens in sports and in any type of business, you look to make changes to improve the way you're doing things. Clearly, things haven't gone the way we expect them to go in the future. A lot of thought went into the changes and additions."

Former major-league catcher and coach Gary Allenson has been named manager at Ottawa, with Andy Etchebarren reassigned to roving catching instructor. Etchebarren has managed teams on four levels of the system, including Rochester the past two seasons.

Dave Trembley will manage at Double-A Bowie after Dave Stockstill took over for the second half of the 2002 season. Tom Lawless will manage Single-A Frederick, and Stan Hough will assume control at lower Single-A Delmarva.

Don Buford, who was replaced by Rodgers as farm director Jan. 14, is returning to managing, taking over Rookie-level Bluefield. Buford managed Double-A teams for the Orioles in 1992 and 1993.

Perhaps the most formidable challenges come with the top three affiliates, which combined to finish 109 games below .500. Allenson served on the Milwaukee Brewers' coaching staff the past three years and also was part of the Boston Red Sox staff from 1992 to 1994. He brings nine years of managerial experience in the minors, going 533-600 and leading Triple-A Louisville to the International League playoffs in 1998.

Trembley has been a minor-league manager for 16 years, the last nine in the Chicago Cubs' organization. In December 2001, Baseball America included him among baseball's top five minor-league managers of the past 20 years. He has been named his league's Manager of the Year three times and has a 1,084-1,128 record.

Lawless has managed three Midwest League teams in the past eight years, most recently in 2001 at Single-A Fort Wayne. Last year, he worked for the major-league commissioner's office as an on-field operations assistant.

Hough was a field coach at Single-A Clinton last season and managed Ottawa in 2001. A former catcher, he spent seven years in the New York Mets' system and five in the Houston Astros' before joining the New York Yankees' organization as manager at Single-A Greensboro.

Among the other changes: Steve McCatty was named pitching coach and Dave Cash field coach at Ottawa; Scott McGregor was elevated to pitching coach at Frederick after holding the job with Aberdeen last year; former Yankees outfielder Hensley Meulens was hired as field coach at Bluefield; and former Bluefield manager Bien Figueroa was named roving minor-league infield instructor. Cash began last season as manager at Bowie before being reassigned at the break. Meulens, who played last season in Mexico, will make his coaching debut.

Joe Ferguson, who was dismissed after Delmarva's season, is the only minor-league manager from last season who is no longer with the organization.

The Orioles also named Ed Kenney director of baseball administration. He had been a special assistant to the vice president in the club's baseball operations department.

"It's a title that defines his responsibilities to the organization, not just to fans, but to the rest of baseball," said Jim Beattie, executive vice president of baseball operations.

New on the farm

Orioles minor-league managers for 2003 (*-new):

Ottawa (AAA):Gary Allenson*

Bowie (AA):Dave Trembley*

Frederick (A):Tom Lawless*

Delmarva (A):Stan Hough*

Aberdeen (A):Joe Almaraz

Bluefield (R):Don Buford*

Gulf Coast (R):Jesus Alfaro

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