The Orioles continue to not hire Buck Showalter. Is it by design?

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Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that, despite some suggestions that Buck Showalter is all but hired as the Orioles manager, the O’s aren’t going to change their skipper any time soon.  At least not through the trade deadline, and possibly longer.  Connolly writes “whether a change will be made in August, September, at the end of the season or at all has not yet been determined.”

For his part, Buck Showalter says he’s fine with the timeline and how it’s all being handled. Which makes me wonder if this delay isn’t being done in conjunction with Showalter’s wishes.

You’ll recall that when Showalter took the Arizona job a couple of years before the Diamondbacks even took the field.  There was a big to-do at the time about how he wanted all that time to prepare and do all of the Buck Showaltery organizational things he’s noted for.  I can’t help but wonder if he has a wink-wink agreement with the O’s in which they’ve told him they’re going to hire him but he doesn’t want to take over in the middle of a lost season.  If that were the case even naming him manager for 2011 right now could work to undermine Juan Samuel as he tries to finish 2010 with a bit of dignity.

This is just speculation on my part, of course, but crazier things have happened.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?