Three managers elected to HOF, MacPhail talks about the Orioles

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Expansion Era electorate has chosen former managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre for induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Other candidates for the honor included former players Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry and Ted Simmons, manager Billy Martin and executives Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner.

The 16-member electorate includes former Orioles executive Andy MacPhail, who later gave his first group interview to local beat writers since retiring from baseball following the 2011 season.

MacPhail, who still lives in Owings Mills, would like to get back into baseball in any number of roles. He actually misses the offseason, including the annual Winter Meetings, more than the 162-game seasons.

“To me, it was more fun trying to put it together and spending the time trying to understand what the best way to proceed was with the help of your scouts and any statistical analysis that you did,” he said. “That part I occasionally miss, more so than the every day at the ballpark from 10 in the morning until 11 at night over the course of the summer when, as a GM, you’re just pretty much in reactive mode - hoping someone doesn’t get hurt or performance doesn’t wane. That sort of thing.”

MacPhail is tracking the activity of various clubs, but he resists offering any input. That includes the Orioles. He’s content to observe from a distance.

“I’m a big believer in no comments from the peanut gallery,” he said. “I just try to keep, when you’re out, you’re out. You chose to go out and you should stay out of it and let people do their thing.”

MacPhail did plenty in constructing the current Orioles roster, including trades for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, J.J. Hardy and Troy Patton. The club also signed catcher Matt Wieters under his watch.

The Orioles have posted a winning record in the two seasons since MacPhail left the organization, making the playoffs in 2012.

“I’m pleased for them,” MacPhail said. “I have a lot of admiration for a lot of that group and I am so pleased for some of the individuals, particularly somebody like Adam Jones, who I really think has grown as a player and as a person. I’m just delighted to see that. And I think the world of Buck (Showalter). I think he’s done a tremendous job. I think he’s a real good fit for that franchise.

“I’m happy with the way Tillman sort of emerged because there was a time, quite honestly, when we didn’t know if that was going to happen or not. But he’s done a tremendous job. And I hope some of those other young arms... These guys aren’t robots. It takes different timetables for different guys and you never know for certain when that’s going to come about, so I’m hopeful more guys will bounce back and have pretty good years.

“I know Davis probably wasn’t the most exciting guy in the world when we traded for him, but that’s worked out. But I think of all the things that we did, I’m not so sure that J.J. Hardy wasn’t really the most important. You know how badly we struggled at shortstop for a couple years. To have somebody come in of that character and cement that position for that long of a period of time made a tremendous difference. So, I’m happy for them. They deserve it.”

Apparently, MacPhail didn’t anticipate that Davis would one day lead the majors by hitting 53 home runs. Go figure.

“I honestly thought the year he had before that, the 33 home runs, we thought that’s what we might be getting, but there are no guarantees,” MacPhail said. “If you’re counting on someone hitting 53 home runs for you, you’re asking a lot and you’re likely to be disappointed. But I don’t think the season before that was well beyond his capability.”

Beyond the trades, MacPhail’s biggest contribution to the Orioles was his role in getting their spring training home relocated to Sarasota, Fla. All it took was a little patience and a lot of noise.

“My job was president of complaint,” he said, grinning. “Peter Angelos was the one who got us into Sarasota. That really was his deal. He toured them all. My chief contribution was complaining bitterly about Fort Lauderdale.

“All I did, really, was beg, cajole, complain.”

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