I’ve got lots of choices after my mother filled my cooler again for the trip home.
Soft-shell crabs for breakfast? Why not? A breaded pork chop on the side? What’s stopping me?
I’ve been told multiple times over the past week that I’m really going to enjoy being around new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti. Two men with opposite personalities who are great friends and work extremely well together.
Add talkative first base coach Wayne Kirby to the mix, and I may want to pull up a chair and enjoy the show.
Wallace and Chiti are the fresh eyes that the Orioles wanted for their young pitchers, and that includes minor leaguers such as Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright. Let talent evaluators from the outside determine whether these guys are legitimate prospects and how highly they should be valued as other teams inquire about their availability.
Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter want to be starters? Let Wallace and Chiti study them and offer opinions. Zach Britton also is out of minor league options and most definitely could use fresh eyes on him. And the Orioles want Kevin Gausman to flourish in 2014, especially with no guarantees that the club will sign an impact free agent for the rotation.
A big part of Chiti’s appeal is how he knows the “National League like the back of his hand,” according to manager Buck Showalter. Again, those scouting skills are going to, yes, come in handy. Chiti was in the Dominican Republic this week. He can multi-task, which gives him something in common with Wallace.
Showalter also praises Chiti for his people skills, and both new coaches will state their opinions without any sugar coating.
“You’ve got two people who will tell you what they think,” Showalter said.
Thin-skinned individuals have been warned.
I’ve heard that the Orioles tried to hire Chiti a few years ago, but the Braves increased his salary and kept him. Given a second chance, the Orioles weren’t going to be outbid.
It’s more than money, though. The Orioles are viewed as a much more appealing place to work and play than a few years ago.
“That’s a credit to everybody over there,” Chiti said. “Does one person change the environment of an organization or is it a group of people working together? I choose to believe it’s a group of people. I say Buck and Dan (Duquette) and Brian Graham, and I’m sure a lot of other people put their heads down and did a lot of work to get the organization to where it is now. It’s a combination of a lot of people doing a lot of the right things.”
Let’s go back to my interview over the weekend with left-hander Mark Hendrickson, and how he stated his desire to win a World Series ring.
“And what better place to do that than in Baltimore?” Hendrickson said.
Can you imagine hearing those words before Showalter arrived on the scene?
“If you get the right people at the top, it kind of filters down, and obviously they’ve getting the right players, and that can change things quickly,” Hendrickson said. “I noticed a difference this year in spring training, being away for a year and then coming in. Just the character of the guys in the clubhouse. I loved it. I could tell the change, definitely, and I was just gone for a year. It’s a big difference and it shows.
“Buck has a lot to do with that, and Dan (Duquette) does, too. You bring in the right character guys and guys who get along. You see what’s going on in Miami (with the Dolphins), and all of a sudden, the locker room is in disarray real quick.”
I’ve heard from a few people that former bullpen coach Bill Castro would be well-compensated if he accepted a scouting position, but the man wants to coach in the majors. Can’t blame him.
A few people in the organization have mentioned how the Orioles allowed way too many runs for a team with the best defense in baseball, and statistically the best defense in history. The finger is pointed again at the starting pitching, which must get better.
Rays outfielder Wil Myers was named the American League’s Rookie of the Year last night. Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias finished second, followed by Rays pitcher Chris Archer.
My ballot had Myers first, Archer second and Iglesias third. However, upon further review, I would have moved up Iglesias to second. The majority of voters got it right.
Here are the results for Sporting News Executive of the Year:
1. Ben Cherington, general manager, Boston Red Sox: 15 votes
2. Neal Huntington, general manager, Pittsburgh Pirates: 9 votes
3. Dayton Moore, general manager, Kansas City Royals: 4 votes
4. Frank Wren, general manager, Atlanta Braves: 3 votes