Replacing Buck Showalter

My last post invoked quite a mixed reaction from the Orioles fanbase, but one of the things I saw come up in the comments the most was:

Who is going to replace Buck Showalter if you fire him?

This is a fair question, and one that needs it’s own post to explore potential candidates.

First let’s look back at the managers that replaced him in each setting where he was fired:

New York Yankees – Joe Torre

Joe Torre was picked as Buck’s replacement after the 1995 season and it will go down as one of the most successful manager changes in baseball history.  Not only did the Yankees win the 1996 World Series, but they went on to win the 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series and appeared and lost in 2001 and 2003 under Torre’s management.

Torre had just been fired as the Cardinals manager in 1995 part way through the season and he had managed the Cardinals since 1990,  and the  Braves (1982-1984) and Mets (1977-1981) before that.  Between managing jobs with the Braves and Cardinals, Torre worked as a color commentator for NBC and the California Angels.

Torre played for the Braves, Cardinals and Mets in his MLB career and was a 9-time All-Star winning the NL MVP in 1971.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Bob Brenly

The D’Backs chose Bob Brenly to replace Showalter in Arizona. Brenly of course guided the Diamondbacks to an improbable win over the Yankees for a championship as Showalter’s two former teams met in in the 2001 World Series.

Brenly had never managed before and had last coached with the Giants in 1995 before becoming a broadcaster with Fox, where he remained until hired by Arizona after the 2000 season.

Brenly was a catcher for the Giants and Jays during his MLB career finishing his career with the Giants in 1989.

Texas Rangers – Ron Washington

The Rangers picked Ron Washington to replace Buck Showalter after the 2006 season.  Like Brenly, Washington had never managed before but had served as a third base coach with the Oakland A’s helping to develop young stars like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez.

Unlike Brenly and Torre, Washington didn’t have immediate success until 2010 when he managed his team to back to back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011, both losses.

Washington was a former journeyman MLB shortstop that played with the Dodgers, Twins, Orioles, Indians and Astros.

So all three teams chose managers with a variety of backgrounds. The Yankees chose to go with an experienced manager that had to see any real success, while the Diamondbacks and Rangers chose to go with former coaches that had never managed.

Who is the best fit for the Orioles?  I’ll go over a few candidates that the Orioles could pursue:

Jason Varitek

Varitek is my number one choice to be the Orioles’ next manager.  He really doesn’t need much of an introduction for Orioles fans because he tormented the Orioles for his playing career, including catching two of the four no-hitters he caught in his career against the Birds.

Varitek knows pitchers, as he has caught some of the best in the modern era – so there’s no doubt to me that he could help fix this weakness that the club currently has.

Coming from the Red Sox organization, he also has an appreciation for hitters that get on base, instead of the free-swingers that Buck Showalter continues to advocate to acquire and put in his lineup night after night.  He would be a much better fit for Dan Duquette in that regard as the two would see more eye-to-eye on the need to increase the Orioles’ on-base capability.

Speaking of Duquette, there already is a connection there as Dan Duquette brought Jason Varitek to the Red Sox  originally in a 1997 trade with the Mariners.  Needless to say that move set up the Red Sox success over the next decade as Varitek became the team captain and was the symbol of their success.

It would be great to see Duquette bring Varitek to the Orioles to start another era of championships and success.

Currently Varitek is serving as a special assistant to Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowksi, and actually turned down an offer from the Mariners to manage after interviewing for the position in 2015.

Varitek has said he wants to manage a team in the future so why not the Orioles if the opportunity came up?

There are thoughts that he may be waiting for the Red Sox managerial post as Farrell’s contract is up after 2018 so he may only accept that role, but it’s certainly worth pursuing him.

Jim Thome

Thome briefly played for the Orioles in 2012 under Buck Showalter after he was acquired by Dan Duquette at the deadline, so there is already a tie to the organization.  Unlike Varitek, Thome’s ideal managing spot in Cleveland is likely going to be tied up for the near future with the success of Terry Francona, so he would be more likely to take the job in my opinion.

Thome would be ideal to work with this ballclub because of his success as a hitter, with his approach and on-base ability something he could pass on to the Orioles’ hitters.  Just like Varitek, he’d be a better match for Duquette because of that approach being important.  He’s well liked enough throughout baseball that he could likely put together a good coaching staff as well.

Here’s what his former teammate Paul Konerko had to say in 2014 about Thome possibly managing:

“Jim is probably the most positive guy I’ve been around,” Konerko said. “Whether it’s a person in baseball or on the street, he handles people right. That’s more of the bulk of the work now because you have a lot of people helping you make decisions.”

I doubt you’d see a situation like Hyun Soo Kim’s with Thome in the dugout.

Thome is currently working for the White Sox as a special assistant and as an analyst for MLB Network.

Billy Ripken

I honestly hadn’t thought of Billy Ripken as a manager until somebody asked me about it on Twitter.

After giving it some thought, the other Ripken would be a good managing candidate as he grew up with “The Oriole Way” with his father and brother and has deep ties throughout MLB with his job as an analyst at MLB Network.   His most recent coaching experience came as a coach for the 2009 World Baseball Classic United States team.

He would be a longshot though, as he’s said that managing doesn’t currently interest him in an interview with Thom Loverro earlier this year, but if the Orioles came calling?

If you want to restore “The Oriole Way” hiring a Ripken would be a good start and I think Billy actually would do better than his more famous brother.

Chris Hoiles

Chris “Tractor Man” Hoiles is arguably the franchise’s best overall catcher, backstopping the Orioles during their mid-90s playoff runs and former Orioles ace Mike Mussina always wanted him behind the plate when he was on the mound.

Hoiles managed the Atlantic League’s York Revolution for three seasons before stepping down for personal reasons in 2009 and is now a roving catching instructor in the Orioles’ minor leagues and owns and is a hitting instructor with Gold Glove Sports Academy.

Here’s what he had to say in 2012 before re-joining the organization:

“The job I’d really enjoy is working in-game with pitchers and catchers, and with the pitching coaches, and having a plan before the games like we used to do. Go over the opposition and have a game plan, and then work with them in-game, talk to them,” Hoiles said. “I could help with their hitting, too. I think I have a lot to offer with that.

A manager does all of these things, and while he hasn’t any major league experience, neither have many managers lately before they’ve been given a shot.

Hoiles would definitely be an outside-the-box choice, but perhaps that may be all it would take to flip the switch into the Orioles being a World Series contender.

Brady Anderson

Anderson is viewed as an heir to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette when Duquette’s contract expires, but he has a much more personal relationship with the players than any front office executive would normally have.

He’s not high on my list at all, but he has the trust and support of Peter Angelos already, so one would think he’d be high on the list of candidates if he wanted it so that’s why his name has to be put out there.

Frankly, Anderson as manager might be the best move for the Orioles moving forward if he stays with the the organization as the last two contracts he’s been involved with (Darren O’Day and Mark Trumbo) seem to already be albatrosses.

So those are a few candidates that I can see realistically replacing Buck Showalter.

Any candidate the Orioles pick needs to improve on the weaknesses that have shown up under Showalter’s tenure – an inability to get consistent starting pitching and a lineup that is poorly constructed and favors free-swingers with power over professional hitters with on-base ability and solid plate approaches.

Now you can say Dan Duquette acquires the players, but Showalter has a big say and decides playing time so the next manager must have a better relationship and kindred thought process on how to build the roster.  Right now that’s a big missing link in Baltimore and it has shown up over the past few seasons.

Fix that missing link, and the Orioles will be one step closer to the World Series.

Top images:  CC Images courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr

5 thoughts on “Replacing Buck Showalter”

  1. First i like to say good job to this website’s creator as i have been wanting to start a website like this but have had not had the time. Anyhow to respond to the question of who can replace Buck or who can be the next Oriole’s manager. Well, for me this is a somewhat simple choice. I am 49yrs old and have been following the birds for at least 40 yrs as I to like many others have grown up following the team with the most wins in baseball for 25yrs. Earl and many of his players set the benchmark for a great winning baseball franchise, so why Mr Angelos has hired and fired only one player from that era as manager and then fire him after a very successful run at the pennant is beyond me. Yes, I heard all the talk about Dave Johnson’s and Pete ‘s differences and whatnot, however, I just dont think that occurrence should had prevented Pete from hiring another Oriole from the winning years. And of course this is an assumption on my part, as I really dont know why Pete does not hire an Oriole from those winning yrs as manager. Anyhow, all that being said, I have been hoping, wishing, praying to the baseball gods etc, that Pete would had hired Rick Dempsey as manager when he applied for the job yrs back and Lee Mazzilli was hired. Well, enough of my opinion as i am an extremely frustrated Oriole fan and cant believe that i (no offense towards this website, i ty for it) wasted 5 minutes of my time to write about something that seems i have absolutely no control over. However, because of this website exist and is here, i decided to voice my opinion. Buck is an ok manager, just ok and nothing more. He will never win a championship with his style of coaching and whoever doesnt realize that by now does not know baseball. Again, I say hire Rick as manager, and for example, guys like BJ Surhoff as hitting coach, and someone from those pitchers that understood Earl’s way of developing pitchers, maybe Dennis Martinez or someone from that era. Come on Pete, enough of the Brady Anderson show… what is that??? Give me a break. And oh yeah, I hear Dan Ducett comment the other day calling the game of baseball entertainment. Of course its a form of entertainment, but its the sport of baseball first and in my view, there is a difference.

  2. Bill Ripken,a very intelligent man.Understands the game of baseball and would be a very good manager in the game.

  3. just 2 days since my last post, and i want to thank the owner of this site again, giving fans a place to voice their opinion. yes, i realize there are other sites where i can post my opinion, and i might. however this is my 2nd post ever about the Birds or anything for that matter and i just wanted to say thanks. i ve been working with computers and computer networks my entire career, 7 yrs in the US Air Force and 10 with Verizon Broadband and have never blogged because im just not into it. But because these past five yrs as a legitimate life time Oriole fan, as i began following the Birds around 1975 at age 8 with my grandmother all the way through 1983, the year of the Orioles last championship, not realizing until around 1980 that i was fortunate to be watching and being a fan of the best team in baseball for a 25 yr span. Anyhow, after 1983 when the team took a steady dive for yrs to come with the exception of a few yrs with Johnny Oats and Dave Johnson, it has been awful for Oriole fans for years, with no apparent end in sight. We fans sat through years of hot air from the ownership of this team, and thats where it starts with me when it comes to the question of what is the solution to make this team a champion again, the ownership. However, i get it, there is no way to change that, and when the majority owner passes away, our Birds will be handed off to his sons from what we are told. Therefore i expect more of the same hot air or even worse. Anyhow we as fans cant change the ownership and must live with it, but we can voice our opinion by not going to the ball park, or posting comments on websites like this. But that really doesnt solve anything either because there are always enough new fans that will pour into the stadium who are clueless about baseball, and its just a social event for them, or a family outing, albeit an expensive one. Believing all of this causes me to think the best solution or direction for this team to go is to start by trimming some fat, meaning lose the Brady Anderson position, again, what is that? From what I understand, no other team has a front office/back office/on the field/a locker in the locker room/etc etc etc… From what I understand, his position allows him to put his hands on everything, and right about now just about all facets of our game stinks or is heading that way. Anyhow for the sake of not writing a book here, i will cut to the chase. This team needs a shake up, and the answers and solutions need to come from someone who knows baseball like Earl Weaver did. Buck has made an awesome attempt at this, however is his decision making interfered with by others like a Brady Anderson or Dan Duquette or someone from ownership. These are things us fans dont know and why i dont like blogging about the Birds cause us fans are misinformed or just not informed at all and are left to making comments based on guesses and speculation. So again, from what little truth of what goes on in the warehouse and behind closed doors that i do know or think i know and from the results i see on the field, i will assemble my coaching staff and team like this and might return with another blog explaining why… anyhow, Rick Dempsey would be my manager, BJ Surhoff my hitting coach, Dave Johnson the ex pitcher would definitely be my pitching coach as i am thoroughly impressed with his knowledge of pitching, Mike Bordick as fielding coach and so on. My mock line up would be something like this… Smith or Rickard leading off and playing right or left field, Schoope playing 3rd base and hitting 2nd, Machado playing shortstop and batting 3rd, Trumbo in right or left field and batting cleanup, Mancinni playing 1rst and batting 5th, Chris Davis DH and batting 6th, we would have to dig down on the farm to get us a 2nd baseman, Castelo as catcher hitting 8th and Adam Jones in center field hitting 9th… Of course this wouldnt be set in stone, but the whole idea is for some consistency in the lineup and stop all the flipping shuffling the lineup and shuttling players to and fro the farm system. Calm and settle this thing down, allow the players a chance to get comfortable and stable in their every day position, develop a rhythm, continuity and chemistry with the players around them. Wow, i could go on all day about this but it starts with the owner and or owners. All i know is this life time fan wants his team back!!!!

  4. LETS GO DEEP!

    and Im not referring to hitting homeruns. Here on June 16 as the Orioles are collectively playing there worst baseball in the past few yrs, right after starting the season something like 22 – 10. They were convincingly playing good ball, however with the unbalanced schedule and inter league play, it is much more difficult to know how good a team really is until somewhere around the All Star break. Anyhow, enough baseball has been played in my opinion coupled with the fact that we know Bucks baseball philosophy and strategy for playing the game that we can make an educated assumption of what to expect from this team. As a matter of fact, I think we know enough about this entire franchise from the owner down to the players to make an educated assumption as to what to expect from this team. That being said, none, absolutely none of what is going on with this team surprises me. I am not surprised when they hit 5 homeruns in a game and get an at least average performance from there pitcher that they win, nor am I surprised when they face a team that knows how to pitch against homerun hitting clubs and shuts us down because we play horrible small ball and are not very good whatsoever at manufacturing runs without the help of a homerun. In my humble opinion, all of this is obvious and has been obvious since Buck was signed as our skipper. So, am I saying fire Buck, no, not really. But I do say Buck needs to take a long hard look at his approach to the game.
    I also say that if one logically looks at what we do know, we can make some rather fair assumptions… We know that every franchise has someone at the very top who calls the shots, at least the most important decisions, and that has to be Mr Angelos. However, because he is way up in age and is most likely passing this team on to his sons, its fair to assume Mr Angelos’s sons will be making the big decisions. As well to take it a step further, its my guess that Brady Anderson will be the man with a lot more impact on any big decisions that will be made, as he has been given the position of all everything on the team, with the authority to do everything from train the players to having his own locker in the teams locker room to all sorts of other decision making is my guess as he is some kind of president on the team. And if Mr Brady doesnt have much to do with these decisions, then he should as he is a president of some kind for this team. But of course, like most people in this position, they have no problem excepting the praise when winning, but run and hide when they are losing. Tho I need to be careful in saying this as not all management is this way, however, something tells me there are things that go on with this club that we have no clue.

  5. yes, for a baseball, sports fanatic who has never blogged about anything until these Orioles have hit this current skid, which is more like a crash that i have been expecting for quite some time now. I am, I am honestly surprised that this current nucleus of Os since Buck was signed and Brady Anderson gained a front office position and Duquette was hired. As an FYI for those that dont know and something I ve had difficulty following is the front office hierarchy… So if i have this right, of course Pete and his sons are the majority owners of the club, Duquette is Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Brady is Vice President of Baseball Operations and Buck is the manager. So my question is will there be a scapegoat for this horrendous losing funk there in, and who will it be? I know that all the so called tv and radio sports analyst have their opinion but wont say how they truly feel as it could jeopardize them their job. Weve seen this done before. Anyhow, to keep this post short and solve the Oriole’s troubles, here is my take on it. Brady is the scapegoat, there has to be one. and if someone is actually reading this and wants to know why i say this and other things im about to say, then please reply with a comment, and i will be more then happy to engage in conversation about my opinions… that being said, i say overhaul the coaching staff, Rick Dempsey as manager, BJ Surhoff as hitting coach, Dave Johnson the current orioles analyst who in my humble opinion knows pitching and understands how to coach as i know of his reputation as a pitching coach from those days when my son played little league baseball as a pitcher and we had the opportunity to talk to parents who have hired Dave to teach their son to pitch. I would choose Mike Bordick as fielding coach and allow Dempsey to choose the other coaches. for that matter, Rick should have the ultimate say in who the coaches are. And i would have all my scouts and minor league coaches evaluated…

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