It hasn’t yet been three weeks into the Orioles offseason, and there’s already plenty to talk about.
Not a player has been moved off the roster nor added, but there’s already lots of intrigue.
The week began with Manny Machado’s knee surgery. Though the surgery went as expected, the Orioles said, the 21-year-old’s recovery time was now estimated at six months. Previously, it had been four-six months.
It’s probable now that Machado won’t be ready for the March 31 opener. The Orioles will take the conservative approach, and if he misses two weeks or a month, his season will still be intact and a long-term problem avoided.
Ryan Flaherty and Danny Valencia could play third until Machado comes back. Another infielder could be signed, too. If Flaherty is used at third, does this increase the chances that Jonathan Schoop makes the club? Is Brian Roberts more likely to re-sign with the Orioles?
When the season ended on Sept. 29, Machado was taking his own conservative approach. He hoped to avoid surgery, and was going to see Dr. James Andrews for reassurance. After the Andrews visit, he still wasn’t reassured, and then nine days ago, came word that he’d have surgery.
A few days before the end of the season, manager Buck Showalter said he hoped to have his coaching staff back for 2014. Rick Adair had left in mid-August for personal reasons, but Showalter said decisions would have to wait until he talked with Adair.
On Friday, official word came that Adair wouldn’t be back. The Orioles had compiled lists of candidates before his departure, and are interviewing Rich Dubee, the former Philadelphia Phillies coach on Tuesday.
Showalter said on Friday that he hoped to have the coaching search wrapped up by the end of the month. The new hire will have major input on the bullpen coach.
Bill Castro, who moved from the bullpen to take over Adair’s responsibilities in mid-August, will be considered, but is not assured of getting his old job back if he’s not chosen as fulltime pitching coach.
If Castro is not retained, Showalter will have his fifth pitching coach with the Orioles, though he pointed out on Friday, he’s had limited experience in hiring them.
Mark Connor worked for Showalter in all four stops in his managerial career and was with him with the Orioles for the first two months of 2011. Showalter has had other pitching coaches, including Orel Hershiser in Texas, but was in a comfort zone with Connor. He’d probably still be with the Orioles if health reasons hadn’t pulled him away two years ago.
There’s been turnover in the coaching staff each year in Showalter’s tenure. After he took over in Aug. 2010, the entire staff was remade at season’s end.
Adair replaced Connor in June 2011. The Orioles didn’t have a bullpen coach for the last four months of the season. Terry Crowley, Don Werner, Bobby Dickerson and Scott McGregor were among those who filled in.
Castro was hired after the 2011 season and so was DeMarlo Hale, who replaced Willie Randolph as third base coach. Hale left after a year, and was replaced by Dickerson.
None of the coaching moves came quickly. In 2011, Showalter waited until after Dan Duquette was hired to finalize the staff, and last year, Dickerson wasn’t added until mid-December.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals completed their National League Championship Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Showalter’s old friend Don Mattingly will wait another year for a World Series visit.
The Dodgers should offer Mattingly an extension for the excellent work he did with that club, and here’s a hope that the standoff between St. Louis’ Joe Kelly and Los Angeles’ Scott Van Slyke becomes a one-off. It was slightly amusing last night, but won’t be if seen regularly.
Boston can close out its American League Championship Series with a win over Detroit. If the Tigers win, they’ll have to play a seventh game at Fenway Park on Sunday and compete with Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis for the television audience.
The World Series begins Wednesday night in either Boston or Detroit. While the television ratings won’t be as strong with the Cardinals in the series, viewer interest has been higher this year than in the past.
The Cardinals and Red Sox have met three times in the World Series, most recently in 2004 when Boston won in four straight. St. Louis and Detroit have also played three times. In 2006, the Cardinals won in six games.