Welcome, Buck Showalter; now let's get down to business

Orioles fans are desperate for someone to turn team around

August 01, 2010|Kevin Cowherd

Buck Showalter, let me be the first to welcome you to town and wish you luck as the Orioles' new manager. Let me also be the first to ask the question that's on the lips of all Orioles fans: How come you haven't turned this team around yet?

Ha-ha, that's just a little Baltimore humor. We're nutty like that, Buck. Must be something in the water.

Seriously, though, do Orioles fans seem a little desperate to you?

Well, that's because they are. Thirteen straight losing seasons -- yeah, we're chalking this one up as another Hindenburg, too -- will do that to you.

So you've got your work cut out for you, which you already knew. I'll bet people have been telling you you're crazy since you took the job.

But you know what, Buck? You're not crazy. This was a great baseball town once. Trust me, I was here.

I was here for the days of Oriole Magic, when a fat man with a beard like straw and a gut drowning in Budweiser danced on the dugout roof and summoned game-winning three-run homers.

I was here in '96 and '97, both playoff years, when the town lived and died with the Orioles and it was easier to get an audience with the pope than a ticket to Camden Yards.

And you know what? This can be a great baseball town again. All you gotta do is win, baby. Turn this franchise around in the next couple of years, and they'll put your statue on Eutaw Street.

Anyway, it's good to see you're hitting the ground running this week.

I see you're scheduled to meet today with the Baltimore media. (And a smarter, more attractive group of men and women you'll never see, he said modestly.)

Then you'll manage your first game Tuesday night at Camden Yards, where I expect the crowd to give you a lot of love.

Oh, you're going to love Camden Yards, Buck. It's still the Taj Mahal of modern ballparks.

Sure, it's a crying shame to see all the empty seats at Orioles games these days. But that's why you're here. That's why they're paying you the big bucks.

Give the fans some hope that better days are ahead, give them some baseball worth watching, and they'll be back, you watch.

Before we go any further, I thought it was classy of you to reach out to Juan Samuel and offer him his job back as third base coach.

I know it appears Samuel is leaning toward leaving. And I know he's supposed to meet with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail today to tell him his decision. But your offer should earn you some good will in the clubhouse. And that's not a bad way to get started with a new team, is it?

Now, on to other matters. I imagine you'll spend the rest of the season evaluating the talent on this roster to see how the team goes forward next year.

Tell you what -- why not let me do it for you? Hell, I'll even do it for free. That's just the kind of guy I am.

OK, here goes. Keepers among the position players: Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Luke Scott, Matt Wieters.

Me, I'd keep Ty Wigginton, too. I love the way the guy plays. He's a gamer.

Sure, there are times he looks like he should be wearing a hazmat suit out in the field, but he's versatile, he can rake and he plays hard. That's a pretty good resume right there.

Keepers among the pitchers: Jeremy Guthrie and the three young prospects, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman, whether he's here or at Triple-A Norfolk. Still too much potential to bail on any of those guys.

I'd keep Jason Berken, too, as long as he stays effective out of the bullpen. I thought the guy was done when he washed out as a starter. Not so. He's found a niche, and he's milking it for all it's worth.

But everybody else on this team is fair game to be dealt. Or they have to play way, way better to earn a roster spot next year. Or, like the new third baseman, Josh Bell, they have to prove themselves once and for all.

You're probably going to bring in a whole new coaching staff next year, too, Buck. And that's as it should be. The new manager should always get to pick his own coaches.

Can you believe the Orioles once brought in a new manager (Lee Mazzilli) and wouldn't let him hire a single coach? Seriously, it happened.

But let's not get into all the bonehead decisions that have from the Warehouse the past 13 years. We'd be here all day.

Again, good luck with the new job. You've got a lot of people pulling for you.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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