Baltimore Orioles: Is Buck Showalter a dead man walking?
Buck Showalter‘s Baltimore Orioles once again couldn’t get anything going last night as they opened a three-game set with the Miami Marlins. Kevin Gausman almost gave the O’s a quality start – and once again came away with nothing to show for it. Gausman’s line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K.
And once again, Gausman’s real issue was that Oriole bats couldn’t get going. Miami starter Urena pitched eight solid innings, keeping the Birds off the board. Urena threw a hard sinker that was nearly unhittable. But once again the Orioles decided to prove me wrong. How many times have I said if you put the ball in play good things will happen? The Orioles only struck out four times as a team last night. Urena’s sinker induced a lot of ground balls, which of course ended up being outs.
In saying that, Urena seemed to in effect disallow the Birds to hit the ball in the air. That’s a problem for a home run-hitting team. Miami’s Dietrich induced an RBI-groundout in the fifth to give them a 1-0 lead. In the sixth Brinson’s RBI-triple would run it to 2-0, and the rest was pitching that shut the Orioles down.
Reports have surfaced in the past couple of days that perhaps Showalter and GM Dan Duquette could be on the hot seat in Baltimore with the team struggling so badly. Mind you, both men’s contracts are up at the end of the year. And many, myself included, see it as a foregone conclusion that Duquette won’t be brought back. But…Buck?
I suppose it’s fair to question a manager who’s 19-49. However one can also argue what exactly is he supposed to do? Certainly he can only play the roster that he has, and the core of that roster isn’t changing anytime soon. And the fact is that the roster as it currently stands seems stubbornly unwilling to get on base.
There are a couple of things that are worth mentioning; first off, Duquette hasn’t been the same since the Toronto Blue Jays aggressively pursued him during the winter meetings in 2014. Toronto aimed to throw a monkey wrench into the Orioles’ camp, and the fact is that they succeeded. Duquette was hot on Toronto’s deal, and the Orioles weren’t about to let him go without compensation, to which Toronto didn’t agree.
At the time, I supported the Orioles standing their ground. However instead they were left with a GM who in a way didn’t want to be here. Perhaps that was predictable, but nevertheless I didn’t think it would have been fair to have a division rival strong arm someone away from a team. That’s why I thought they were right to stand their ground. But again, you end up with a GM who’s heart is elsewhere.
And people love to go back to the 2016 AL Wild Card game in which Showalter left Zach Britton in the bullpen in extra innings. There have been reports that several players lost some confidence in Buck after that. Personally I think that’s a weak argument, however apparently those sentiments were there. Are they still?
I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, although it seems likely that the Orioles’ roster is going to be vastly different very soon. However I’ll give you a prediction; either Duquette’s replacement is signed or chosen within the next month or so, or Showalter’s named as Duquette’s replacement. Odds are that means that Duquette gets the ax before the season’s end. It stands to reason that whomever’s going to oversee the future as the General Manager should get to be the one to pull the trigger.
Now the question given the second part of that scenario is whether or not Buck remains in the dugout while being the GM, or if he departs from those duties. Many coaches in sports also act as a General Manager, and many do it very successfully. It doesn’t normally happen in baseball, but why couldn’t it? It does take a special type of person to pull it off, but if there’s anyone who could do it I’d say it would be Showalter.
So I don’t foresee a situation where Buck Showalter leaves the organization overall. Mind you, that’s still very much in play, however. He himself might decide he’s done, or the Angelos family might decide to go in another direction. I just don’t see that being the case. But my predictions have a way of fizzling.