As manager Dave Trembley moved closer to finalizing his staff with yesterday's hiring of former Oriole John Shelby to coach first base, president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail worked to fortify the Orioles' scouting and minor league departments.
MacPhail hired his nephew, Lee MacPhail IV, who has a background in scouting and player development, as a special assistant to the president of baseball operations and named Brian Graham as a special assignment coach for the minor leagues.
MacPhail, who still plans to hire another executive to likely serve as his top aide, has said all along his main focus will be on improving the Orioles' scouting and player development, and he maintained that his two hires yesterday were a step in that direction.
"They both have Baltimore ties, they both have good reputations and they both can help our scouting and development departments improve to get us back to where we want to be," MacPhail said. "There's nothing more important that we're going to do than evaluate talent, and we're not going to be undermanned."
Graham was the Pittsburgh Pirates' director of player development for the past six years. In 2000, he was the Orioles' offensive and defensive coordinator under manager Mike Hargrove.
Lee MacPhail IV, 38, who was born and raised in Baltimore, spent last season as a pro scout with the Minnesota Twins. MacPhail worked with the Orioles from 1986 to 1995, starting as a public relations intern before ultimately serving as assistant director of player development and scouting under Doug Melvin.
In 1996, he followed Melvin to the Texas Rangers, where he became an assistant to the GM. He also spent two seasons as the Cleveland Indians' scouting director. After scouting for the Twins for three years, MacPhail served five years in scouting and administrative capacities for the Montreal/Washington franchise before returning to Minnesota.
"I grew up with the Orioles. They were as much a part of me as your upbringing," said Lee MacPhail, who acknowledged he has always been intrigued about working with his uncle. "We've never worked together, and I didn't know if we ever would."
Andy MacPhail acknowledged he plans to hire another executive, who will seemingly have a large say in the decision-making process. It's still unknown what role - if any - executive vice president Mike Flanagan will have in the front office.
MacPhail hasn't started interviews, saying that hire is on the "back burner." The candidates include Larry Corrigan, an assistant to the GM in Minnesota; Bill Harford, a Cubs scout who also has served as director of player development and farm director in the organization; former Colorado Rockies GM and current Arizona Diamondbacks executive Bob Gebhard; and Chicago White Sox director of player development Alan Regier. Corrigan is believed to be the front-runner, but MacPhail declined yesterday to assess the individual candidates.
"I'm trying to identify what I have and where I need to augment the staff," MacPhail said. "There are a lot of good candidates out there."
Shelby, who was the Pirates' first base coach the past two seasons after occupying that role for eight seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, becomes the third new addition to the Orioles' coaching staff since Opening Day 2007. There will be a fourth when Trembley decides on a bench coach to replace Tom Trebelhorn.
"I called quite a few clubs. I had no idea the Orioles had a vacancy at first base," said Shelby, who will replace Sam Mejias and also work with the club's outfielders. "Dave called me and made me feel like I was a part of the staff from the first time I talked to him. He had me so convinced that I was an Oriole that I wound up turning down a couple of jobs before I got this one. We're ready to go to work. This is exciting."
Trembley, intent on calling upon the organization's winning past, talked to several former Orioles about joining his staff, including B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick, and was pleased when Shelby became available. Shelby, 49, who played parts of 11 seasons in the Orioles organization and was on the 1983 World Series-winning team, was encouraged to seek other job opportunities after Pirates manager Jim Tracy was fired earlier this month.
"When I took over as manager, one of the things that I wanted to do was help restore history, tradition and pride of the Baltimore Orioles, and hiring John Shelby is a step in that direction," Trembley said. "He understands the Oriole way of doing things, is a man of dignity, has a great work ethic and our players will benefit from his presence."