Flanagan gets GM job

In need of a new twist, Angelos plays old favorite

October 11, 2005|By RICK MAESE

There's a spot on the Orioles' Web site that you can click and learn about employment opportunities within the organization. I had clicked it several times over the past couple of weeks - refresh, refresh, refresh - and figured there was some sort of glitch.

While the team has been "searching" for a manager and a general manager, the site has read: "Sorry, there are no positions currently available. Please check back at a later date."

A mistake, I figured. The seamheads and the computer geeks must have sat at different cafeteria tables and communication simply broke down. There was no other explanation, because we all knew there were job opportunities available. We all knew there was a chance to bring in new blood, a chance to recharge this organization, a chance for change.

We know now that Peter Angelos never saw it that way. He drove his team to a fork in the road. He slowed down to admire the scenery and then slammed his foot on the gas. Angelos is staying the course, continuing down a path where the only glimpse of success is in the rearview mirror.

The biggest bit of news yesterday involved the team's de facto general manager position. Angelos lopped off one of the heads, sending it rolling on Eutaw Street. Mike Flanagan stays, Jim Beattie goes.

By making this decision, Angelos is pinning last season's blame almost entirely on Beattie, the more vocal of the two general managers and the one who most often served as the team's public face.

We can surmise at least this much: The most important line on an Orioles resume is the one that says you're an F.O.P. - a Friend of Peter. If you thought a Supreme Court justice had job security, you should start rolling in Angelos' inner circle.

Publicly, we knew very little about the way Beattie and Flanagan shared the general manager role. At least now we understand that Angelos must have felt Beattie was the one holding the organization back.

By all accounts, Beattie and Flanagan were both credited for Lee Mazzilli's hiring two years ago.

And while Beattie and Flanagan worked side-by-side on negotiating Miguel Tejada's deal, it's important to note that Beattie was the one who took the lead role on most free-agent contracts. In fact, the only one that Flanagan took a lead on was Sidney Ponson's - and he left out key wording that would've addressed a weight limit.

It was Beattie who was most vocal whenever controversy was brewing. And Beattie was the one really pushing for the A.J. Burnett trade.

None of this is to suggest that Flanagan isn't capable of doing the job, but collectively there wasn't enough that went right this season to spread around too much credit. Apparently there was enough, though, for Angelos to reward Flanagan, his jack-of-all-trades who has done everything short of dressing up as the Oriole Bird.

You get the sense this was all poorly scripted a long time ago. Flanagan was always going to outlast Beattie, no matter how poorly the organization fared. With the August firing of Mazzilli and the team's September futility, the Orioles were afforded the chance to really focus on implementing serious change. An overhaul was necessary.

The free-agent pool this year is shallow, but there is plenty of talent available - a long list of successful general managers and field managers who are searching for jobs.

Numbers still need to be worked out, but the Orioles seem to have settled on Sam Perlozzo as the field manager. Perlozzo isn't a bad choice.

Though the players seem to like him, for Perlozzo to have any shot at succeeding, he needs to be given the opportunity to build his own coaching staff. Time will tell whether the Orioles are ready for that kind of revolutionary change.

We never understood the game Angelos was playing. We thought he was staring at a chessboard, contemplating a big move. When the puddles of sweat started to grow around Baltimore, he simply turned away from the board and reached for some playing cards, opting to reshuffle a losing deck.

At least he decided to revert to a single general manager. Of course, you can't call Flanagan that.

The biggest offseason decision turned out to be the comical task of choosing Flanagan's new title. No reason to make him a GM. Let the other baseball teams operate with general managers.

Flanagan will now be called the executive vice president of baseball operations, taking over Beattie's title. It's long and fancy and isn't really worth remembering.

If you want to know the title that really matters, just scan back over that resume.

F.O.P. - it'll get you places.

rick.maese@baltsun.com

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