Who should be the next Orioles' manager?

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Juan Samuel has the job now, but you have to assume that he’s truly just the interim guy.  Based on my perusal of Orioles’ blogs and stuff, O’s fans seem to be begging for an experienced major league manager, and one would think that Andy MacPhail is thinking the same thing.

But who?  The name I’ve heard the most from Orioles fans is Buck Showalter.  I can see the appeal: he’s smart, he’s experienced and he has a track record for turning teams around (see, Yankees, Diamondbacks).

I think people read too much into that, though. Sure, Showalter was around for the rebirth of the Yankees’ dynasty, but that’s more a story of a savvy front office than a managerial genius, ain’t it? Showalter’s success with the Diamondbacks is much the same story. Tell me: was the Dbacks’ 100-win season in their second year of existence a function of Showalter’s multi-year plan to launch that franchise coming to fruition or a function of the front office going out and getting Randy Johnson and squeezing good years out of some aging veterans?  Good job by Buck, sure, but it’s not a model that the Orioles are following.

Other candidates that get talked up by O’s fans are Tom Kelly and Davey Johnson.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but those guys are a bit long in the tooth to bring a young team up from nothing anymore, no? And that’s even if you assume that either of them want to manage the O’s. Davey has a bad history with Peter Angelos and Kelly seems pretty darn comfortable being Twins manager emeritus these days to want to try and figure out what makes Adam Jones tick.  If I had a veteran team I wanted to push over the top, sure, I’d consider both of them, but they just aren’t the right fit for Baltimore.

Who else? The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly has a slide show of twelve potential managers, including Showalter, Johnson and interim guy Samuel.  Others on Connolly’s list are Phil Garner, Ryne Sandberg, Eric Wedge, Larry Bowa, Bobby Valentine, Bob Melvin, Rick Dempsey and a couple of minor league guys.

Bowa would certainly light a fire for a while, but that’s all he’s shown he can do as a manager and his act gets old pretty quick. Melvin might be a good choice — experienced but not too experienced — but he seems to be the Mets’ skipper-in-waiting and would probably decline. Same with Sandberg and the Cubs.

Valentine seems more like Johnson and Kelly to me inasmuch as I’d rather see him with a veteran team, not kids. Dempsey is a broadcaster and that’s a lot more comfortable a life than that of a manager, so he may have no interest.  The minor league guys would be viewed as Dave Trembley redux (i.e. no major league experience) so I can’t see the team going there.

Of course there’s very rarely a perfect choice when it comes to these things, and often the best man for the job isn’t among the initial group of usual suspects.  If I’m running the Orioles I let Samuel play out the year, wait and see who becomes available, and be confident that my considerable amount of young talent will be a drawing card for a lot of potential candidates.

In other words: wait until this winter, Andy.  You’ll do much better then.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.