Major change again in minors

ORIOLES FOCUS

October 03, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Maybe the Orioles should put orange cones and yellow police tape around their entire farm system. It's become quite a construction zone, with bricks falling every day.

Don't walk near anyone in player development without wearing a hard hat.

The contracts of scouting director Tony DeMacio and director of minor league operations Doc Rodgers won't be renewed after next month. Triple-A manager Tim Leiper and short-season Aberdeen pitching coach Andre Rabouin suffered the same fate.

One year after the system showed drastic improvement under Rodgers, it's time for another overhaul. Why so soon? At least part of the answer could provide some insight on how the Orioles plan to restructure their minor league operation next season.

Insiders say DeMacio and Rodgers weren't on the same page, and team executives Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan didn't approve of Rodgers' suggestions for staff and personnel changes in 2005.

"The worst thing you can have is division. We're all supposed to be going in the same direction," said Ed Kenney, director of baseball administration.

"Obviously, there were philosophical differences. There was too much separation. It all has to be brought together."

It's believed that majority owner Peter Angelos grew increasingly frustrated with DeMacio's first-round draft picks being injured. And it didn't go unnoticed that Rodgers spent most of his nights at Camden Yards instead of the minor league ballparks, though his assistants, Tripp Norton and Kevin Ibach, often made the rounds.

In his first season, Rodgers was lauded for instilling discipline and coordinating the instruction at every level. Any manager or coach with his own agenda was reassigned or dismissed. Players who balked were sent to the minor league camp or released.

"You've got to have stability. You've got to have everybody going in the same direction and being on the same page," Kenney said.

"Ideally, the manager in [rookie-level] Bluefield should be running the same plays and doing the everything the same way as the manager in Baltimore. When the kids come up, they'll be ready to play here. That was the direction we were going, but there were obviously things that went wrong, and we needed to change it."

It's too early for the club to project names of possible replacements, but one person could oversee both new hires and settle any disputes.

"We're going to go through an evaluation of what we think might work best," Beattie said. "It may not be the same setup as it was before. Part of that will depend on the personnel we end up bringing in."

The Orioles could go the same route as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Cam Bonifay is their director of player personnel and scouting, and the farm director reports to him. That would require only two Orioles hires.

Former Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette oversaw the farm system and scouting department. "You didn't move a player without talking to him," Kenney said.

Whether they make two hires or three, the Orioles need a point man. They need everything to funnel through him.

Said Kenney: "Hopefully, this will tie both departments together so there's no friction and everybody's on the same page."

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