Kevin Cowherd: Drawn-out GM search further tarnishes Orioles' already-poor reputation

November 02, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

I don't remember exactly when the Orioles became the Kim Kardashian of baseball, the organization everyone loves to take shots at. But this dragged-out search for a new general manager isn't helping matters.

Wasn't it back in early October that Andy MacPhail threw his bags in the car and went fish-tailing out of the Warehouse parking lot cackling: "free at last!"

So what's taking so long to hire the new guy?

I'll give you my stock answer: Who knows?

It was former Orioles GM Syd Thrift who famously observed of all the talented free agents who spurned the club more than a decade ago: "It's like we're offering Confederate money."

Maybe that's the problem here.

Look, I don't even know if Confederate money exists anymore. But if it does, I could see the Orioles having a couple of pallets of shrink-wrapped Jefferson Davis notes lying around the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos.

Maybe that's what's scaring away these GM prospects. They sink into the plush leather couch in Angelos' office and listen to the old man give them his sales pitch. Then they get a load of the Confederate bills and think: "Uh-uh, he's not sticking me with that stuff."

If you're scoring at home, you know the Orioles are 0-for-2 with their GM prospects.

One, Jerry Dipoto, took the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels when the Orioles apparently dithered too long and didn't pull the trigger. The other, Toronto Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, turned them down Tuesday.

And get this: LaCava said he couldn't take the job because he loves the Blue Jays too much.

OK, let me ask you something. In the entire history of the world, have you ever heard anyone say: "I can't take the job because I love the Blue Jays too much?"

No, that sentence had not been uttered since the dawn of man. But that's essentially what LaCava, a 50-year-old baseball lifer, told the Orioles.

He talked about the Blue Jays like they were the New York Yankees. Made Toronto sound like it was Paris. I saw his quotes in the paper Wednesday and thought: "Are we talking about the same Blue Jays here?"

And what does that say about the Orioles?

There are only 30 GM jobs in baseball. Yet a guy who's an assistant general manager with the Blue Jays would rather continue in that role than be the top guy in Baltimore.

What makes it worse is that it apparently wasn't a question of the Orioles' trying to hire LaCava on the cheap, either.

"The Orioles were classy in everything they did," LaCava told The Baltimore Sun.

But classy didn't matter. Sounds like money didn't, either. Something else caused LaCava to say, "Thanks, but no thanks," and grab the first flight back to Toronto.

And if you think it has something to do with a dysfunctional Orioles chain of command that has inexorably led to 14 straight losing seasons, you'll get no argument here.

So now the Orioles go back to interviewing candidates for MacPhail's old job, including two reported to be on their short list: Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson and their own player-development director, John Stockstill.

Amazing. Here it is, the first week in November. The free-agent signing period starts Thursday. And the Orioles still don't have a GM.

I hear some people say: "Oh, what's the big deal? Most of the big free agents signings don't happen until December, anyway."

Fine. But you think all those free agents aren't paying attention to this current Orioles soap opera?

You think they don't know the Orioles are the only club in baseball without a GM? It doesn't exactly paint the club as a model of stability and crisp front office efficiency, does it?

If I'm the agent for Prince Fielder or C.J. Wilson or one of these other highly coveted free agents, the Orioles probably aren't even on my radar screen. Not with all this uncertainty over who'll be running the club. And that business about the 14 straight losing seasons.

I tried to find out whether there was anything new with the GM search Wednesday. But — I know this'll shock you — Angelos didn't return my phone call.

I tried calling Buck Showalter, too, to see what the Orioles manager thought of this whole mess. He'll have a huge say in naming the next GM, too. But he didn't get back to me, either.

All we heard from the Warehouse on Wednesday was silence.

Some things never change.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."

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