Flanagan sits out Orioles' meetings

`I needed a little break,' club vice president says

October 12, 2007|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,SUN REPORTER

The Orioles' front office contingent began heading home yesterday after wrapping up its four-day organizational meetings in Sarasota, Fla., but one high-ranking official didn't board a plane.

Executive vice president Mike Flanagan didn't have to.

He already was in Baltimore, having stayed home while the rest of the organization's movers and shakers headed south last weekend.

Originally scheduled to join new club president Andy MacPhail's first organizational gathering, Flanagan said he spoke to MacPhail last Friday and said he wanted to take time off to recharge after the Orioles' 10th consecutive losing season.

"Andy and I discussed it, and I needed a little break," said Flanagan, who was bumped from the top baseball spot in the organization when MacPhail was hired in June. "He said he'd welcome me there, but I was being honest with him. I was a little worn out."

He added: "I haven't had three [consecutive] days off in five years."

Flanagan, a former Orioles pitcher and fan favorite whose contract expires next year, said he knew his absence might further fuel speculation he is on the way out of an organization he joined as club vice president in December 2002.

"That's exactly what I don't want to happen," Flanagan said. "It was not that way."

MacPhail agreed, saying the primary purpose for the meetings was for him to meet his extended scouting and development staffs and become familiar with each level of the club's farm system.

"I wouldn't read too much into that," MacPhail said of Flanagan's absence. "This is pretty much a downloading seminar for me, to put together faces and names and download information. Mike and I speak all the time. I pretty much have all the information I need from him."

MacPhail plans to hire at least one new lieutenant in the coming weeks, and that decision led to Friday's resignation of former vice president Jim Duquette, who decided he didn't want to be fourth in command.

Flanagan said he is unclear where he will be in the organizational hierarchy once a new official is hired.

"I know somebody else is coming in," Flanagan said. "I'm not exactly sure how that is playing out."

MacPhail said those decisions will occur in time, but this week was dedicated to learning more about the Orioles' system and what other teams have in place. The first two days were spent on the Orioles organization, he said, while the rest of the league was dissected Wednesday and yesterday, with the sessions concluding about 3 p.m.

"I was pleased with the amount of information I received and how I received it," MacPhail said. "I thought [the meetings] were very successful in what I was trying to receive, not only about our organization but about the other 29 organizations as well."

More than anything, MacPhail said, he felt his minor league and scouting staffs were well prepared and the off-field personnel is in place to move forward. He wouldn't reveal what he learned about the quality of the system's players.

"I'm more focused on getting a read on the talent that's bringing the talent into the system. I am very encouraged with that," he said. "I am satisfied with those people, and now I have to do my part to augment and give them the proper resources they need to do a good job of signing and developing [on-field] talent."

MacPhail said he'll process the reports and then devise a plan of action heading into the general managers meetings Nov. 6-9, which often are where the groundwork is laid for offseason trades.

Before then, there likely will be announcements regarding manager Dave Trembley's coaching staff and the reshuffling of the front office.

Flanagan said he hopes to be present when the dust settles.

"I certainly want to see this thing through," he said. "I've been here a long time. I care about it deeply, and I would like to be here to see it through."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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