When Dave Trembley took over the Orioles as interim manager in June 2007, he didn't know how long his tenure would last, but he vowed to return a once-proud franchise to respectability.
Trembley, the baseball lifer who toiled in the minors for more than two decades, kept the post much longer than expected, lasting until late Thursday night, when President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail mercifully cut him loose in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and a majors-worst 15-39 record.
But like the four men before him, the energetic, straight-shooting Trembley couldn't stem the tsunami of losing that has overwhelmed the franchise for 13 seasons.
"He's not the one who goes out there, throws the ball, catches it," designated hitter Luke Scott said. "So I think the responsibility lies on us."
Trembley was replaced, at least on an interim basis, by third base coach Juan Samuel, who becomes the team's sixth manager since Davey Johnson and majority owner Peter Angelos parted ways after the 1997 season, the Orioles' last winning year.
Trembley's tenure finished with a 187-283 record, a .398 winning percentage that is second lowest in club history behind only Jimmy Dykes' .351 mark in the Orioles' inaugural season, 1954.
"Nobody believes that the reason we have the record we have is that it was somehow Dave Trembley's fault or that making this change is going to magically solve all the problems and issues we have," MacPhail said at an afternoon news conference at Camden Yards. "But we did reach a point where we thought this was the appropriate thing to do."
Trembley, who was on the hot seat after the team's 2-16 start in a season that MacPhail proclaimed would be about wins and losses, issued a statement through the Orioles in which he thanked MacPhail, Angelos and the team's fans for "their tremendous support." He did not offer further comment when contacted by The Sun. It's possible Trembley could stay with the organization in a currently unspecified role, MacPhail said.
For now, MacPhail has inserted Samuel into the interim managerial role and has asked him to help right a sinking ship. MacPhail is making no promises or predictions as to who will be the club's next manager or when a decision will be made. The search began Friday, MacPhail said, and could include candidates who are currently coaching or scouting for other organizations.
"Just like I mentioned to Dave Trembley when I came here three years ago, 'Look, I don't know whether this is going to be a matter of days, I don't know whether it's going to be a matter of weeks, I don't know whether it's going to be a matter of months,' " MacPhail said.
"Dave Trembley managed three years. You just don't know. But we will be talking to other people while Juan manages. How that goes is going to be somewhat dependent on how the team goes and how other factors are. But I'm very delighted and excited to have somebody that commands the respect of the players that Juan does."
Until a full-time manager is named, Triple-A Norfolk skipper Gary Allenson replaces Samuel as third base coach and Bobby Dickerson, the organization's coordinator for minor league infield/Latin America field instruction, will lead the Tides.
Samuel, 49, has never managed in the majors and has had one full season of pro managerial experience, with Double-A Binghamton in 2006. But he has spent 27 seasons in the majors, coaching for 11 and playing for 16 in a career that included three All-Star appearances.
"It's an opportunity that I'm not taking lightly," Samuel said, "and opportunity comes in all different ways. This is the way the opportunity has come to me, and I have full intention to take advantage."
Samuel, a good friend of Trembley's, said the situation is "a little bit awkward," but said he talked to his former manager on Friday morning and they will continue to keep in touch.
Now that the team is his, however, Samuel said he has told players that the disappointing season must be wiped clean.
"Turn the page," Samuel said. "Let these guys know that: 'Hey, the season starts today. The past is the past. What we do from now on is what we are going to be judged on.' And I have full intention to push these guys as hard as I can. Push them to the limit."
The players expected as much from the hardworking, tough-talking Samuel.
"Everybody has a lot of respect for Sammy," infielder Ty Wigginton said. "He knows the game. He's accomplished tons of things in the game, and this is just another step."
That said, Wigginton said the club felt like it let down Trembley.
"I think everybody here knew Dave wanted the best for not only the organization but for every player in here," Wigginton said. "He wanted to see everybody go on to have massive years, and really I don't think he looked upon it as about himself at all."