Tag:Andy MacPhail
Posted on: November 7, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 6:43 pm

Twins shock baseball world in firing GM Smith

Be careful what you wish for: With big-market finances come big-market expectations, and the Twins plummeting to a 99-loss season in 2010 despite a club-record $113 million payroll caused a big-time reaction Monday.

They fired general manager Bill Smith and went back to the future, naming Terry Ryan as interim GM.

Forget the Theo Epstein circus, the Tony La Russa resignation and the Orioles hiring Dan Duquette. This is the most shocking news of the off-season, simply because the Twins do not DO things like this.

Stability is their game. Since 1984, the Twins have employed only three men as GM: Andy MacPhail, Ryan and Smith.

For now, that will remain unchanged.

"I don't know if it will be for one year or for 10 years," Ryan said when asked to gauge the length of his interim tag. "We'll see how it goes. Direction, success, workload, all those things. ...

"This is going to be a challenge. I'm up to the challenge. I appreciate the opportunity."

The Twins refused to list reasons for dumping Smith. Owner Jim Pohlad had said at season's end that Smith would return, but he also said he wanted to see a plan for how the team could bounce back

Pohlad's utterings of "philosophical differences" and how this was about "scope and approach" pretty much said it all: Whatever plan Smith presented fell short in the Twins' eyes.

Hard to say if it involved spending even more money, but Ryan said that the 2012 payroll "is going to be south of where it was." He estimated that it would be somewhere around $100 million.

"Wherever it is, it's going to be a heck of a lot more than whatever I worked with," Ryan said in one of the few lighthearted moments of the news conference.

He sure has that right. Neither MacPhail nor Ryan never had a payroll higher than that of the Los Angeles Dodgers -- as the 2011 Twins did -- and they never had a brand new outdoor ballpark filled with exuberant fans night after night.

Smith did. And he signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million deal, and he had Justin Morneau on a six-year, $80 million deal, and neither of them could stay in the lineup last summer. Morneau, with his concussion issues, may never come close to being the same player he once was.

The Twins have issues, serious issues, and the fact that they've decided Smith no longer is the man to solve them ranks incredibly high on the seismic scale.

"We struggled on the mound, we didn't pick the ball up and we didn't score enough runs," said Ryan, who remains revered throughout the organization, from top to bottom. "We need to firm up a lot of areas."

Pure baseball always was going to be Smith's biggest challenge once the Twins promoted him to replace Ryan in September, 2007. A rules and contracts specialist who cut his baseball teeth from the ground up in Appleton, Wisc., in the White Sox organization, Smith was going to need a solid baseball man to team with, and the Twins made sure he had that when they promoted Mike Radcliff to vice-president of player personnel when Smith became GM.

Two of Smith's biggest trades backfired badly, and each factored into the 99-loss season as much as anything:

-- He sent two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana to the Mets in 2008 for a package of four players, none of whom has made an impact with the Twins. Outfielder Carlos Gomez came the closest, but he was spun off to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy, who now is with Baltimore. The other three players were pitcher Phil Humber and minor league pitchers Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.

-- He sent big-time catching prospect Wilson Ramos to Washington two summers ago for closer Matt Capps in a go-for-it-now move with the Twins en route to 94 wins and the AL Central title in their first season in Target Field in 2010. But now, with Mauer looking like an old 28 and playing in only 82 games in 2011, the Ramos trade looks like a disaster.

The signing of Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka last winter for three years at $9.25 million also has the makings of a bust.

"If you're going to point to those, you should point at Orlando Cabrera [whom Smith acquired in 2009], Brian Fuentes [2010] and some others who worked out," Twins president Dave St. Peter said of two Smith acquisitions who helped the Twins make the playoffs in subsequent seasons.

There are more serious personnel questions heading toward 2012 than the Twins have faced in several years -- especially given the depths to which they sunk. They've declined the option on closer Joe Nathan's contract. Outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel and Capps all are free agents. Jim Thome already has signed with the Phillies.

And regarding the pitching staff, only Baltimore (4.89) compiled a higher ERA than Minnesota's (4.58) in 2011.

Ryan, the Twins' GM from 1994-2007, acknowledged that he's fielded inquiries from other clubs during his time out of the chair. Cincinnati, who hired Wayne Krivsky from the Twins, was one. But he loves the Twins, living in Minnesota and was enjoying the freedom working as a special assistant to Smith gave him.

"The situation dictated we were going to make a move," he said Monday. "If he had won 94 games, I wouldn't be sitting here. I didn't want Bill Smith's job. He knows it."

That said, Ryan said that he is going to "take this job head on. It's a 365-days-a-year job. We've got some work to do here."

The Twins are going to need both his baseball acumen and his familiarity. Because this is unheard of. They just don't fire people

At least, they didn't.

"Our family values loyalty, commitment and talent," Pohlad said. "Bill Smith had all three. ...

"We do this with a heavy heart."

"This is a sensitive day," Ryan said.

No question. But the one thing the Twins have going for them through this stunning and uncharted territory is, they've got a pretty good track record of getting things right.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 8:48 pm

Angels to interview DiPoto, Orioles too

Jerry DiPoto, who nearly became Arizona's full-time general manager before the Diamondbacks turned to Kevin Towers last fall, is a wanted man in the executive ranks.

The Angels on Friday became the second team to obtain permission to interview DiPoto for their vacant general manager's job, according to sources, following the Orioles. Baltimore obtained permission from Arizona to speak with DiPoto on Thursday.

DiPoto becomes the third person from outside of their organization with whom the Angels have received permission to speak. Earlier this week, the Angels obtained permission from the Yankees to interview Damon Oppenheimer, executive vice-president of amateur scouting, and Billy Eppler, the Yankees' pro scouting director.

The Angels got an up-close look at DiPoto in July of 2010 while dealing with the Diamondbacks in the Dan Haren trade. DiPoto then was the point man for Arizona, which had fired Josh Byrnes, and it was under DiPoto that the Diamondbacks acquired four pitchers from the Angels for Haren, including Joe Saunders and top prospect Tyler Skaggs.

Highly respected within baseball circles, DiPoto, comes from a playing and scouting background. A former major-league pitcher, DiPoto was Colorado's director of scouting before coming to the Diamondbacks as their director of scouting and player development.

Angels owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia, president John Carpino and former GM Bill Stoneman are expected to have input on the hiring of Los Angeles' new GM.

In Baltimore, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, of course, will make the final decision on Andy MacPhail's replacement -- with significant input from manager Buck Showalter.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 8:30 pm

Orioles to interview Dbacks' DiPoto for GM job

The Orioles have received permission from the Diamondbacks to interview Jerry DiPoto as their search for a general manager to replace Andy MacPhail begins, sources have confirmed to CBSSports.com

DiPoto was Arizona's interim general manager after the Diamondbacks fired Josh Byrnes and before they hired Kevin Towers in 2010, after which he became their senior vice-president for scouting and player development. As interim GM, he was the point man for the Diamondbacks when they acquired four pitchers, including Joe Saunders and top prospect Tyler Skaggs, from the Angels for Dan Haren.

Highly respected within baseball circles, DiPoto, comes from a playing and scouting background. A former major-league pitcher, DiPoto was Colorado's director of scouting before coming to the Diamondbacks as their director of scouting and player development.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos, of course, will make the final decision on MacPhail's replacement -- with significant input from manager Buck Showalter.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 4:24 pm

"Highly unlikely Justin Upton leaves the desert"

While the Diamondbacks shipped out third baseman Mark Reynolds and his 211 strikeouts in trading him to Baltimore on Monday, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said outfielder Justin Upton probably will not follow him out of town.

"It was going to take a lot to move him," Towers said. "He's a young player, 23, he'll only get better with time.

"If someone is willing to overpay, then maybe. We're not one player away. We'll have a better idea when we leave here, but I'd say it's highly unlikely that Justin Upton leaves the desert."

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks, on a mission to fix a horrible bullpen, moved toward agreeing to a two-year deal with free agent J.J. Putz to serve as their new closer, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

The Diamondbacks were among the most active teams as the winter meetings started on Monday. Immediately after announcing the Reynolds trade, Towers said the Snakes have agreed on a one-year deal with free agent third baseman Melvin Mora. In replacing Reynolds, the Diamondbacks currently project Mora and Geoff Blum to split time at third.

Meantime, the Reynolds deal was the first move in Towers' stab at rebuilding what was one of the worst bullpens in the last half-century in 2010. Coming to Arizona for Reynolds are right-hander Daniel Hernandez, the former starter, and right-hander Kam Mickolio.

"Believe me, it was on my mind that when you're dealing with Kevin Towers, you're dealing with the foremost bullpen expert in our business," Orioles president and general manager Andy MacPhail said.

"I like power arms, and we had [Hernandez] up to 98 m.p.h.," Towers said. "And in the pen we saw a power spike. He has huge sink down in the zone, and he can pitch above the belt because of his velocity."

Towers also likes the "downward angle" the 6-foot-9 Hernandez brings to the mound.

The new Arizona GM called this deal the first move in the process of overhauling the Diamondbacks bullpen. He also said he is confident that the club will leave the winter meetings this week with a new closer. Looks like Putz is on deck.

Posted on: March 5, 2010 12:02 pm

Orioles' spring move long time coming

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Have you gotten a housewarming gift for the Orioles, who are happily ensconced in their new spring training home?

Manager Dave Trembley has: Early-spring baserunning drills.

Anybody who watched the Orioles last season knows they too often ran the bases as if they were blindfolded and suffering from vertigo.

But here's the key: The Orioles' early-spring schooling on the bases is not just a reaction to that. The early drills are made possible because of the upgrade to a real, live, major league spring training facility.

In Fort Lauderdale, where the O's trained the past 16 years, even something as simple as baserunning drills wasn't always possible.

"What we've done the last couple of springs, situational hitting, baserunning and bunting, we'd do it at the end of the spring," Trembley says. "This year, we're doing it at the beginning for two reasons: One, they needed to be emphasized, for obvious reasons. And two, with these facilities, we can do those things now.

"We've got four full fields, plus the stadium. We've got a half-field.

"We can run a major-league spring training the way it should be run."

That the Baltimore Orioles, who were a textbook model for fundamentals for so long through the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, were in such a shoddy facility in Fort Lauderdale for 16 years is unimaginable -- an inexcusable.

Among other things, the O's weight room in Lauderdale was a tent in the parking lot.

And while the big-leaguers trained there, their minor-leaguers were a three-hour drive away, in Sarasota.

Now, everyone is together. And making it better, the Orioles now will be able to use Sarasota as their year-round base for things like sending injured players down for rehabilitation.

"Huge upgrade," says president Andy MacPhail, who has been working toward upgrading the Orioles' spring facilities since taking the job in 2007. "In terms of travel, facilities, coming to a community that has had spring training baseball since 1929.

"They've embraced us early. This will be better in any form you can imagine."

Sunblock Day? Not exactly. The sun is shining, but let's just say this: The Twins pushed their workout back an hour this morning, from 9 to 10, because of predicted early-morning temperatures of 39 degrees.

Likes: Boston's City of Palms Park sold out Thursday night despite temperatures in the 40s. Not surprised. ... Akinori Iwamura in a Pirates uniform. Stylish as ever. ... Former catcher Matt Walbeck, one of the game's good guys, managing Double-A Altoona in the Pirates' system this year. ... Nino's Italian restaurant in Fort Myers, Fla., hasn't lost its fastball. Great chicken parmigiana the other night. ... And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the ribs at Lee Roy Selmon's barbecue joint in Tampa the other night. ... The Oscars are Sunday and one thing completely slipped past me until this week: I had no idea that author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy) was up for best adapted screenplay for An Education. Hornby is terrific. Haven't yet caught up to his latest book, Juliet, Naked -- it's in the stack of books I've got at home, waiting to be read.

Dislikes: Mets' shortstop Jose Reyes shut down because of concerns over his thyroid levels? And he'll return to New York for tests? Lordy, Lordy, the Mets just don't quit with this health stuff, do they? ... Speaking of which, neither does Nick Johnson. Scratched from the Yankees' lineup Thursday with a stiff lower back, and he says the problem came when he wore spikes instead of turf shoes on the mat in the batting cage. Good luck with this move, Yankees.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
"To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
"And all around me a voice was sounding:
"This land was made for you and me.
"When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
"And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
"As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
"This land was made for you and me.
"As I went walking I saw a sign there
"And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
"But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
"That side was made for you and me."

-- Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land

Posted on: March 3, 2010 4:33 pm

Tryin' to reason with exhibition schedule season

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The changing spring training landscape is presenting some clubs with scheduling dilemmas, not the least of which is teams which already face divisional rivals 18 or 19 times a summer because of the unbalanced schedule facing those clubs even more in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.

In Florida, with Baltimore having moved to the Gulf Coast side (Sarasota) from Fort Lauderdale, all five AL East clubs are within a two-hour drive of each other. Tampa Bay is just down the road in Port Charlotte, the Red Sox are a little further down the road in Fort Myers and the Yankees and Blue Jays not far north in the Tampa area.

Result: Tampa Bay is scheduled to play AL East foes in 16 of 31 Grapefruit League games. The Orioles play AL East rivals in 15 of 32 games. And so on.

The Dodgers' move to the Cactus League last spring made for more NL West spring matchups. In Vero Beach, Fla., the Dodgers didn't see any of their NL West rivals all spring. This year, Los Angeles plays NL West opponents in eight of 28 Cactus League games.

Aside from the simple fact that you get bored playing the same teams over and over, are there advantages to seeing divisional rivals so often in the spring? Disadvantages?

"There are two schools of thought on that," Baltimore president and general manager Andy MacPhail says. "One, is that you need to hide, or camouflage, what you have. The other is that what you're afraid of letting your opponent see, you get the same benefit with your opponent.

"There's probably some validity to both points of view."

The Yankees, for example, could pitch Joba Chamberlain in a 'B' game one day this spring rather than against Boston, thus not allowing Red Sox hitters the luxury of seeing Joba until the meaningful games begin. Or they could shuttle Joba into a minor-league game.

There was the spring in Arizona several years ago when Curt Schilling did just that, facing either the White Sox in each of his spring starts or the Diamondbacks minor-leaguers. His preference was to not reveal anything to the Rockies, Giants or Padres until he had to.

Meantime, the defections of the Orioles and Dodgers from Florida's East Coast has made the Cardinals and Marlins (Jupiter) and Mets (Port St. Lucie) adjust travel plans. That trio must play each other more often, and make a couple of extra trips north to face the Nationals (Viera).

It's that, or hike clear across the state, or way up to the Orlando area.

Sunblock Day? Technically, because the sun is out. But the game-time temp for Baltimore's first-ever game here in Sarasota today was 54 degrees, with a howling wind making it feel like high 40s or low 50s.

Likes: Thanks to Johnny Damon for playing along when I hit him with this quiz on Detroit and Michigan the other day. Not everybody would have been such a good sport. ... Thanks also to the Jefferson High School track team in Tampa, which graciously shared its facilities with me the other afternoon when I actually got outside for one of my few outdoor runs over the past couple of weeks in this chilly state. Jefferson, by the way, is the alma mater of Tony La Russa and Tino Martinez. ... Great line in Baseball Prospectus in comparing the struggles of the Orioles, Expos and Brewers in its 2010 edition: "The Expos were a ward of the state, while the Brewers were a ward of the Selig family, and in both cases, the clubs were the baseball equivalent of inmates in dire Dickensian orphanages." ... In the tweet world, it will be hard to top one of Dave O'Brien's from several days ago. O'Brien, who does a great job covering the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tweeted something about closer Billy Wagner's "flannel shirt." Only he dropped the "r" in shirt. Fairly soon after came another tweet from O'Brien, explaining that's what happens sometimes when you're trying to work the keyboard on a cell phone.

Dislikes: Jay McGwire. What a sleaze. Can you get any lower than writing a book to cash in on your brother's name? Jay and Mark apparently are estranged. This oughta keep them that way. ... Watched the monologue of Jay Leno's return to late night Monday. It was even lamer than his monologues used to be. David Letterman remains the king in my book, and Conan O'Brien got jobbed.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The senioritas don't care-o
"When there's no dinero"

-- Zac Brown Band, Toes


Posted on: December 9, 2009 8:22 pm

Orioles could become players on Hideki Matsui

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Orioles, in the market for another starting pitcher, a closer, a corner infielder and a middle-of-the-lineup bat, could become a serious player for designated hitter Hideki Matsui depending on how things play out there with the Yankees and where Matsui might turn next.

"I don't think there's any question he's still a productive hitter," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said Wednesday night. "He showed us that this postseason.

"We have positions to fill."

Baltimore's first priorities are to find another starter, a closer and a corner infielder, but after that. ...

"It's always possible," MacPhail said. "We're looking for a middle of the order bat.

"[He's] somebody who's on our board. We have a great deal of admiration and respect for how he plays the game."

Posted on: October 2, 2009 7:05 pm

Orioles do right thing with Trembley

Good for the Orioles.

They have a plan, and they're sticking with it. Even in the face of a horrendous finish to the season, punctuated by the 13-game losing streak and the fact that, on Sunday, they will finish with the worst record in the American League.

They could have taken the easy way out and tossed manager Dave Trembley to the sharks. Instead, they announced Friday that they will bring him back for 2010.

Trembley essentially was handed a thankless job this summer, which everyone knew was going to be a year of transition for the Orioles. Young players like catcher Matt Wieters and a flock of young pitchers were on the way. Veterans such as Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff were on the way out.

President Andy MacPhail asked Trembley and his staff to be patient. Change doesn't happen easily, or overnight. It's a bumpy ride when veterans become short-timers. And so it was in Baltimore.

Huff didn't run out ground balls no matter how many times the coaches spoke with him about it. A horrible example for the next generation of O's.

Mora hit the roof and blasted Trembley late in the season when he learned his name was not in the lineup one day -- and would be missing periodically after that. An unwinnable situation for any manager, especially one that does not have the collateral of winning seasons to draw from.

The Orioles traded Huff to Detroit. Mora turned out to be unmovable.

Meantime, MacPhail shipped closer George Sherrill to the Dodgers. Adam Eaton was released because, well, he pitched like Adam Eaton. There were many other moves and changes, but those aren't important.

What is important is this: The Orioles knew they were not going to win in 2009. They knew it would be a season of transition.

What they need more than anything is to not keep changing directions every other year.
Under MacPhail, a clear path is in place. And despite the ugly second half, that plan appears to be progressing more quickly than expected.

For one thing, this spring, pitching phenoms Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz were not expected to pitch in the majors at all this summer. But they progressed rapidly on the farm.

And now, Tillman, Matusz, Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Daniel Hernandez, Adam Jones ... the Orioles' commitment to youth, re-commitment to the draft and sharpening of their focus in Latin America is beginning to pay dividends.

Nobody was going to win with the O's this year -- not Trembley, not Earl Weaver, not Connie Mack.

But Trembley has gained the respect of his young players -- forget the Moras -- and managed through tremendous upheaval in a war between cultures inside the Orioles clubhouse.

That he was able to do that with grace and class says a lot about him.

That the Orioles are standing by him, after he stood by them, speaks volumes about their direction for the future.

Likes: Last three games of indoor baseball in Minnesota this weekend. ... The playoffs next week. ... Angels vs. Boston is turning into quite an October tradition, isn't it? Don't know if it's Notre Dame vs. USC yet, but it's getting there. ... My cable company adding the Big Ten Network as a high-definition channel. Ah, just in time for Michigan-Michigan State.

Dislikes: Lots of chatter about Padres general manager Kevin Towers' status in San Diego, and not all good. He's signed through 2010, though new chief operating officer Jeff Moorad is leaving open questions as to whether Towers will be back. Given the magic Towers has worked in turning what was going to be the majors' worst team this year into a club that's surpassed respectable over these last two months, Moorad not only should bring him back, but extend his contract. ... Anything to do with stories about Ted Williams' frozen head. ... Tried another new television show the past two weeks, and thumbs down to Community. Disappointing, too, given that a couple of critics I read liked it.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You don't need a penny just to hang around
"But if you've got a nickel, won't you lay your money down?
"Over on the corner, there's a happy noise
"People come from all around to watch the magic boy"

-- Creedence Clearwater Revival, Down on the Corner

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com