Dave Trembley walks onto the field to argue a call during the… (Associated Press )
Dave Trembley, who was asked to the lead the Orioles through the early stages of a massive rebuilding project, has been fired less than two months into his third full season as the team's manager.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail made the announcement today, with the team saddled with a major league-worst 15-39 record and off to the worst start since the 1988 team began 0-21.
Third base coach Juan Samuel will take over the club on an interim basis, while MacPhail is expected to begin the search for Trembley's long-term successor immediately after the 2010 season. Samuel is the club's ninth managers since Peter Angelos became the principal owner of the Orioles in August 1993.
Trembley, who took over as Orioles manager on an interim basis on June 19, 2007, after Sam Perlozzo was fired, compiled a 187-283 record guiding the club. The .398 winning percentage is second-worst of any manager in Orioles history, better only than Jimmy Dykes (.351 in 1954).
A minor league manager for two decades before he was named Perlozzo's bullpen coach and field coordinator before the 2007 season, Trembley became just the seventh man in modern baseball history to manage in the major leagues without having played professionally.
The 58-year-old was considered by some around baseball as a transitional manager whose extensive minor league and player-development background -- he managed more than 2,500 games in the minors -- made him a good fit to steward the team through the early stages of the organization's rebuilding plan.
His tenure as manager lasted far longer than it initially appeared it would. On the day he was preparing to manage his first big league game in San Diego, MacPhail and several other Orioles executives were in a Chicago hotel suite, interviewing Joe Girardi for the managerial job. Girardi was offered the position and turned it down a day later. He became the manager of the New York Yankees the following season.
Meanwhile, pleased with the way the 2007 Orioles were performing under Trembley, MacPhail removed the interim label Aug. 22 and rewarded him with a one-year deal, which included a club option for 2009. Later that day, the Orioles were beaten by the Texas Rangers, 30-3, at Camden Yards in Game One of a doubleheader sweep, the start of an 11-28 finish to the season.
On Sept. 5, the Orioles exercised their 2009 option on Trembley's contract and added another club option for 2010. That night, the Orioles were throttled, 11-2, by the visiting Oakland Athletics, who scored eight runs in the eighth inning on just one hit, and benefited from four bases-loaded walks in one of the most embarrassing defeats of the season. That loss spearheaded a 5-17 finish to the 2008 season.
The 2009 Orioles again collapsed down the stretch, losing 13 consecutive games in late September and going just 29-56 in July and later. However, MacPhail announced before the final home weekend of the 2009 season that he would pick up Trembley's option for 2010.
In doing so, he cited numerous factors, from the trades of closer George Sherrill and cleanup hitter Aubrey Huff to season-ending injuries to All-Star center fielder Adam Jones and starting pitchers Brad Bergesen and Koji Uehara, in explaining why Trembley wasn't responsible for the late-season tailspin.
However, MacPhail made it clear that the club was out of Phase One of the rebuilding plan and Trembley would be judged by wins and losses going forward.
"Where we are now, in my estimation, is we're going to move back to the more traditional criteria of evaluating managers: wins and losses," MacPhail said at the time.
This year's club was expected to be much improved, but things started falling apart even before players reported to spring training in mid-February. Bergesen, the team's most consistent starting pitcher last season, hurt his shoulder while filming a commercial to promote Orioles ticket sales. He started the season in the Orioles' rotation but was briefly jettisoned to Triple-A after three rocky starts before being recalled.
Two-time All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts suffered a herniated disk in his lower back while working out. He played enough in the spring to be in the Opening Day lineup, but he reinjured his back during the first inning of the Orioles' home opener. He has been on the disabled list since April 10.
Promising young outfielder Felix Pie, who was filling admirably for Roberts in the leadoff spot, also tore a back muscle and will miss a good part of the season, and Uehara, setup man Jim Johnson and closer Michael Gonzalez are also on the disabled list.
The back end of the bullpen, which MacPhail thought he upgraded by signing Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million deal, faltered badly. Gonzalez and company blew three saves in the first 12 days of the season and gave up the game-tying or go-ahead runs in the eighth or ninth innings six times in the first two weeks of the year.