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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