Orioles aimed low in GM search and still misfired


Is Buck Showalter now the leading candidate -- by default -- for the Baltimore GM position? (Jorge Lemus/Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava reportedly turned down an offer from the Baltimore Orioles to become the club’s general manager on Tuesday. The fan reaction in Baltimore to LaCava’s decision ranged from apathy to anger. The anger was of course directed at O’s principal owner Peter Angelos. As the free agent signing period is set to begin, Baltimore finds itself without a GM or any discernible direction for the future.

LaCava is, by all accounts, a fine baseball man. He may have done a fine job in Baltimore, but his decision to leave the O’s at the altar speaks volumes about the state of the franchise. First off, who the hell is Tony LaCava? No disrespect to Tony, but he’s a 50-year-old assistant GM for a mediocre team toiling in the obscurity of Toronto. He’s not exactly Theo Epstein riding through Wrigleyville on a white horse.

If Baltimore couldn’t close the deal with LaCava, who may be running out of time and options to become a GM, who can they attract? The Orioles seemingly aimed low in their general manager search focusing on less-heralded candidates like LaCava and De Jon Watson of the Dodgers. Now that LaCava has said “thanks, but no thanks,” Baltimore is left to either go back to Watson or widen the search.

The search was flawed from the beginning, with manager Buck Showalter essentially leading the interview process as the only knowledgeable baseball man in the room. Angelos’ sons and club counsel Russell Smouse think WAR is a ’70s rock band. The departure of Andy MacPhail not only left the Orioles without a GM, it also left the club without someone in charge of baseball operations. If this is really Buck’s show, as it now appears, Angelos should just name Showalter the general manager and go about hiring someone to replace him in the dugout. Showalter apparently has the full trust of Angelos which is more than can be said for many of the club’s previous general managers. Godspeed Buck, you’re gonna need it.

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  1. I’m quite familiar with Toronto.  The O’s have been looking up at them in the standings for most of my adult life, save for the Pat Gillick years.  Your apparent affection for Toronto doesn’t change the fact that the Blue Jays have been a largely mediocre team for nearly two decades.  Toronto has finished third or worse in the AL East in 17 of the last 18 seasons and finished over .500 nine times.  The Orioles would no doubt relish that kind of mediocrity but the Jays haven’t exactly been a hot bed of baseball brainpower.  The jury is still out on Anthopoulos.  LaCava, is a 50 year old Asst. GM so I’m not sure why that got you fired up.  He has no doubt had a terrific career and may one day make an excellent GM but he’s not exactly Andrew Friedman, Jerry DiPoto or Jed Hoyer.  The Orioles went for a seemingly safe choice in LaCava and couldn’t even get him to sign on.  

  2. Umm….were you saying “no disrespect” ironically? ‘Cause that’s pretty disrespectful to both LaCava and Toronto. As for who he is? He’s a long time baseball exec., notably the one who engineered the Sizemore/Lee/Philips for Colon trade on behalf of the Indians (many people think that was a good trade). Further, he is in no small part responsible for making the Blue Jays farm system one of the best in baseball. He is generally respected as a fine baseball mind by people who bother to learn who people/places are. Toronto FYI, is a very large city with a very large fan base. Obscurity may be a relative term, but in any objective way of defining it, Baltimore follows Toronto in the rankings (with the important exception of homicide rate – Keep on blasting Baltimore!!!). I would go on, but I find myself asking: Who the hell is Dan Soderberg, and why am I filling in the sizable gaps in his baseball/geographic knowledge?     

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