Both Buck Showalter and Andy MacPhail have said it: A critical thing that any organization must do is properly evaluate itself.
Many times, fans have asked me about the shortcomings of the Orioles’ minor leagues and and they want to know where the issues are. Let me tell you, it is hard to completely really know.
For three years, from 2004 through 2006, I broadcast games for short-season Single-A Aberdeen and for the last few years I have covered the O’s minors pretty closely. After all that, I will be honest to say I am not anywhere near sure I could pinpoint an exact issue that, if fixed, would make things a lot better.
With the Orioles, there are likely a lot of issues and problems that need fixing.
One reader said recently the Orioles need someone to come from the outside and make changes, meaning the next general manager. I think there is already someone here that came from the outside in Showalter.
He has worked three places before here and who better to know if something or someone needs upgrading at this point?
To me, one obvious thing is the upgrade needed in international scouting. This is an area where the Orioles need more scouts and more resources. Some fans would say overhaul this area and get rid of everyone. But they are doing at least some things right here.
The Orioles Dominican Summer League team made the playoffs this year and the club’s minor league Player of the Year, Jonathan Schoop, was an international signing from Curacao.
They don’t need to just get rid of everyone and start over. They just need to add to what they are doing and put more money into this department. You can’t just put your toe in the water here.
I have heard some people say there are places in the O’s minors where the video systems are lacking. At Single-A Frederick, someone said, they don’t have a covered batting cage for when it rains. How do the O’s facilities in the minors rank with those of other clubs? I don’t see other clubs to know for sure, but if they are lacking here, can someone finally please do something about it?
When a player with talent doesn’t realize his true potential is that because he wasn’t coached well enough? Is that because he didn’t work hard enough? Did the club overrate his talent from the start?
It is simply not a black-and-white issue.
Fans say the Orioles can’t develop players. What they are really saying is that the Orioles have not developed many star players.
They have developed plenty of players. I think they handled Zach Britton very well. He moved through the system, got to the majors and was an instant success. Then he struggled. I can’t blame player development for that. He struggled after he had success initially at the majors. To some degree, Brian Matusz has been similar to that. Player development got them to the majors and they had some success there. But what happened after that?
Did pitching coach Mark Connor try to tweak Matusz’s mechanics and did that contribute to his struggles? Did Matusz not condition himself properly? Did the Orioles not monitor him as closely as they needed to last winter?
Matusz is a perfect example of what I am talking about. There is a problem somewhere, but where, exactly? And who gets the lion’s share of the blame for his struggles?
It is easier to fix a problem when you know exactly what the issue is. The Orioles have reached the point where they must evaluate themselves better than they ever have.