Showalter moves up active list, Miller moves on to next career

The Red Sox, Yankees and Nationals made the playoffs this season and all three managers are out of work.

It’s a tough business.

With Joe Girardi’s removal yesterday as Yankees skipper, Buck Showalter moves up to fourth on the list of longest tenured managers behind the Angels’ Mike Scioscia, the Giants’ Bruce Bochy and the Royals’ Ned Yost.

Scioscia was hired after the 1999 season, Bochy after 2006 and Yost in May 2010. The Orioles hired Showalter on July 29, 2010 and he was in the dugout five days later.

He’ll be in there on opening day 2018. A last-place finish didn’t impact his status. He already met with owner Peter Angelos and was in the warehouse yesterday, and he’s preparing a trip to Arizona to check out prospects in the fall league. But Showalter is in the final year of his contract and what comes next is a total mystery, wide open to speculation and rumor and blind guessing.

An extension? A front office position? A new address? None of the above? Break out the pencils and mark a box.

buck-showalter-smell-baseball.jpgShowalter’s 622 wins with the Orioles rank second in club history behind Hall of Famer Earl Weaver (1,480). His 1,504 career wins are 23rd all-time and third among active managers behind Bochy, who’s 15th with 1,853, and Scioscia, who’s 22nd with 1,570.

Dusty Baker ranks 14th with 1,863 wins. He fell off the active list after the Nationals decided that back-to-back division titles couldn’t trump the team’s shortcomings in the postseason.

It isn’t much of a division from a competitive standpoint. Put a toilet brush in the Nats’ dugout and it should be able to go .500. But Baker’s dismissal still came as a surprise.

Girardi managed the Yankees for 10 seasons and came within a game this month of the World Series. They want a new voice. He’d strike the right tone in D.C. if he wants to stay in the game rather than take some time off to be with family. And if the Nats are willing to spend for him.

* Former Orioles reliever Jim Miller, one of the really good guys in baseball, has moved on to the post-pitching phase of his career.

The Angels hired Miller earlier this month as a professional scout, with his first official day on his new job coming Oct. 16.

Miller made his major league debut with the Orioles on Sept. 1, 2008, allowing an unearned run in two-thirds of an inning against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He was slotted between relievers Dennis Sarfate, now pitching in Japan, and former Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd.

Miller, now 35, appeared in eight games that month and recorded his only major league save. He spent four of his 13 professional seasons in the Orioles organization, also pitching for the Rockies, Yankees and Athletics.

The Twins released Miller in March after agent Josh Kusnick had negotiated another minor league deal. It would be the last.

“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. And relieved at the same time to actually have some employment,” Miller said.

“It was a long summer. I went to spring training with the Twins, got released the last week in camp and on my way home I’m talking to my agent, talking to my wife (Tasha), and just kind of came to the realization that after 13 years and being 35 at the end of April, I was like, well, they’re not going to keep a 35-year-old and release a 26-, 27-, 28-year-old kid.

“I wasn’t chasing down the dream of being in the big leagues. And I always told myself the only way I would keep playing was if I felt I had a legitimate shot to get back to the big leagues. And once Minnesota let me go, I didn’t have any wish to be a guy in Triple-A that they used to eat innings or keep on the phantom DL in case they needed a guy. It just didn’t appeal to me at that point. So I came home, sat down with my wife, got a plan in order as far as what we were going to do.”

Money wasn’t an issue for the family, which includes a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

“I was able to be a stay-at-home dad for a little bit,” he said. “I stayed at home and my wife, she’s a certified massage therapist and she went back to work at a chiropractic office to slow the bleeding a little bit. And I sent out resumes right after the trade deadline because I figured nobody was going to look at anything before that. I figured that was a good time.

“I wanted to be out in front of it and have my name out there as soon as possible. And even after that it was a very slow process. You’re waiting on the minor league season to end for development jobs and then you’re waiting for the big league season to end for any possible job there. But then right after the big leagues ended, everything kind of picked up. The season ended Sunday and by Tuesday I had a job, so it picked up rather quickly.

“I’m excited about the opportunity. I think after playing for as long as I did, a break from the field is good. Try something a little different. And plus, I want to try to work my way into a front office at some point and we’ll see how that goes.”

The climb begins in the Angels scouting department.

“I’ll have three teams top to bottom, and then I have to also see the Angels throughout the course of the year. So I’ll have about 18 or 19 teams,” he said. “I’ll write reports on everyone I see and whatever else the scouting department would want me to do.

“I just want to stay within the framework of the game one way or the other. Break from the field I think is going to be good, seeing the game from a different perspective. And just kind of see where it goes. I don’t necessarily have any goals as far as, in three years I want to be wherever. Just stay in the game and see what kind of opportunities present themselves as I move through this next phase of my career.

“I might get three years into this and not like it and want to get back on the field. I guess that’s why I said I don’t necessarily have any goals. I mean, my goal was just to get a job within the framework of the game because that’s what I know. After that, it’s kind of like, let’s see where it can take me.”

Miller will look back only with fondness, not remorse, over how his career played out.

“Let’s be honest, if you had told me when I was drafted in 2004 that I was going to play 13 full seasons and go to spring training in your 14th year, I would have said, ‘Yeah, OK, sign me up. I’m good with that.’ I wouldn’t have thought anything of it,” Miller said.

“Let’s look at some of the stuff I got to do. You were there in ‘08. I got to make my debut at Fenway. I got to pitch at old Yankee Stadium. I got to be on a team that won their division. I got to experience playoff baseball. I got to be a Yankee. I got to be teammates with Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The list goes on and on.

“I got to be teammates with great guys in Oakland - Grant Balfour and Coco Crisp. I met my wife playing. We have two kids now because I met her. There are so many great memories I have from being a player that I didn’t have any regrets about calling it a day.”

The Orioles acquired Miller and pitcher Jason Burch from the Rockies in January 2007 for starter Rodrigo López.

“They gave me my first opportunity in the big leagues and that can’t go unnoticed,” he said. “I had great teammates. I got to play with Brian Roberts both in Baltimore and with the Yankees. I made my debut in Fenway. I got my first and only big league save with the Orioles. So just overall, a lot of good memories.

“I got to be teammates with Aubrey Huff. I thought he was a cool dude. I still keep in touch throughout the year with Andy Mitchell. He was a career minor leaguer with Baltimore. Probably should have gotten an opportunity but didn’t. A lot of good memories. That was four of 13 years right there.

“I got to experience so much and I don’t need to be cannon fodder in Triple-A for somebody if I’m not going to get a chance to pitch in the big leagues. I’m perfectly at peace with going home and being a dad and enjoying my kids and seeing what’s next.”

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