Orioles fire their scouting director

DeMacio dismissed

more personnel decisions loom

September 28, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles announced yesterday that they will not renew the contract of scouting director Tony DeMacio when it expires at the end of October. DeMacio was hired in December 1998 after spending four seasons as East Coast scouting supervisor with the Chicago Cubs. His baseball career began with the Atlanta Braves in 1983.

"We're not placing any blame anywhere," said Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie. "It's just a matter of changing the mix for us in the front office. We all bear responsibility to make the organization better. Tony was a hard worker, a great scout. But sometimes, the way people work together and the way you can help each other and improve the organization, you have to make changes like this. It's an unfortunate part of it because Tony's been a good friend."

DeMacio oversaw the Orioles' selection of seven players within the first 50 taken in the 1999 draft. Three players from that draft - outfielder Larry Bigbie, second baseman Brian Roberts and pitcher Erik Bedard - are with the team. Bigbie was picked in the first round, Roberts between the first and second, and Bedard in the sixth.

Injuries have felled some of the organization's more notable first-round picks, including pitchers Richard Stahl (1999), Beau Hale (2000), Chris Smith (2001) and Adam Loewen (2002). Clemson University pitcher Mike Paradis, the first player chosen by DeMacio as scouting director, was released this year after reaching Triple-A Ottawa.

"No one has a crystal ball, as Tony and I often talk about," Beattie said. "You make your best bet when you make your draft list. It's tough sometimes, and certainly injuries didn't help. We've had some success at other parts of the draft."

The Orioles don't have a timetable for hiring a replacement. They also must address the status of other club officials whose contracts expire at the end of next month, including Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations.

"All of our personnel decisions are going to be made fairly shortly," Beattie said.

Rumors of DeMacio's departure heated up when majority owner Peter Angelos intervened before this year's draft and insisted that the Orioles take a college pitcher with the eighth overall pick. They settled on Rice University's Wade Townsend, who began attending classes in late August, hired an agent and apparently will reenter the 2005 draft.

After reviewing his case, Major League Baseball informed the Orioles earlier this week that they no longer hold Townsend's rights, and his college eligibility could be reinstated. The team will receive a supplemental pick next year as compensation.

"As far as they're concerned, our rights to signing him went with him when he attended class," Beattie said.

The Orioles, who will conduct their organizational meeting today, don't believe they'll have the same two-week window to sign him as the one afforded them with Loewen, since Townsend isn't a draft-and-follow pick (a high-school player or first-year junior-college player). "I don't believe that's the case but it's something we're still checking," Beattie said.

The Orioles lost their second-round pick this summer after signing free agent Miguel Tejada.

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