The massive shakeup in the Orioles’ scouting department hasn’t bounced Jim Howard and Dave Engle from the organization.
Howard and Engle, serving as major league scouts, are expected to remain with the Orioles. Meanwhile, personnel in the department who no longer will be employed by the club next season include director of professional scouting and special projects Patrick Di Gregory, special assistant Matt Haas, major league scout John Stockstill, professional scout Ron Schueler, East Coast scouting supervisor Kirk Fredriksson, special assignment scout Wayne Britton and area scout Dana Duquette.
Stockstill also served in the past as director of player personnel, director of international scouting and director of player development.
Howard has been an Orioles scout since 1988, making him the longest-tenured member of the staff. He’s a two-time winner of the Jim Russo Scout of the Year award.
Howard’s been in the organization so long, he’s worked under team executives Roland Hemond, Pat Gillick, Frank Wren, Syd Thrift, Jim Beattie, Mike Flanagan, Andy MacPhail and Dan Duquette. He’s responsible for the Orioles drafting pitcher Erik Bedard, which pretty much makes him responsible for the Orioles getting center fielder Adam Jones, pitcher Chris Tillman and reliever George Sherrill from the Mariners for Bedard.
Engle, based in California, recommended to Duquette that the Orioles trade for Padres reliever Brad Brach. One of his finest moves.
Other confirmed departures from the organization include special assistant Lee Thomas, senior advisor Joe McIlvaine, advisor Jeremy Kapstein, assistant director of minor league and international operations Cale Cox, director of Dominican Republic baseball operations Nelson Norman, and director of analytics and major league contracts Sarah Gelles.
The constant reminders that the Orioles will become more involved in the international market, no longer staying on the sidelines like a fourth-string long snapper, raises more questions about the disappearance of Fred Ferreira.
What an underwhelming sendoff.
Ferreira served as the Orioles’ director of international recruiting, a key hire for Duquette back in December 2011 as he spoke about “getting the band back together.” It was one of Duquette’s first official moves.
We heard all the stories, including how Ferreira signed future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and Bernie Williams. How he was nicknamed “The Shark of the Caribbean.”
“Fred Ferreira is one of the top talent scouts in the business,” Duquette said after introducing Ferreira to the media in his suite at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. “One of the things that I felt we needed to put more resources toward was our international recruiting efforts, and Fred did a great job with the Yankees, signing a number of their core players. And we had the good fortune to work together in Montreal, and he signed some really top-quality players for the Expos as well. And he’s maintained all his contacts. He’s ready to go back to work.”
The Orioles cut ties with Ferreira, who signed pitcher Miguel González, after the 2017 season without making a big deal about it. Or a small one.
I confirmed the decision in October, referencing it in the last graph of a Halloween blog entry devoted to how the Orioles invited back their entire coaching staff. And Duquette mentioned it in passing, as I recall, during one of his media sessions at the Winter Meetings.
Again, Ferreira’s name appears in the last paragraph of a notebook, after Duquette told us that longtime scout Bruce Kison was retiring. And after he was peppered again with questions about Manny Machado’s market.
The Orioles quietly parted ways with Ferreira and waited a year before deciding that they should have a broader presence internationally.
* Six former major league players, three managers and one executive comprise the list of candidates appearing on the Today’s Game Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon Dec. 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. And there’s a heavy Orioles influence.
Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella, Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Lee Smith, Orel Hershiser, Charlie Manuel and George Steinbrenner are finalists for the honor. Johnson, Piniella and Manuel are included for their contributions as managers.
Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee will earn election to the Hall of Fame and be inducted in Cooperstown on July 21.
Johnson, Piniella, Baines, Belle, Carter, Clark and Smith played for the Orioles. Johnson also managed them to back-to-back playoff appearances in 1996-97 before resigning.
I’m pulling for Belle simply to hear his induction speech.
Lots of people forget or don’t know that Piniella’s first four major league games came as an Oriole in 1964. He had one plate appearance and didn’t return to the bigs until 1968 with the Indians.
The Today’s Game Era ballot was determined this fall by the Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran historians: Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (formerly New York Daily News); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (Baseball America); Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); Dave van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).