The news that came out yesterday that the Orioles had severed ties with 11 members of their scouting and front office staffs was perhaps inevitable. New general manager Mike Elias has to be able to bring in his own people and set up his staff however he sees fit.
He didn’t get his job until last November so he inherited much of his staff and of course there was going to be some turnover. That doesn’t mean change is easy though.
According to MASNSports.com, among those let go were director of baseball operations Tripp Norton. Also a list of scouts including Dean Albany, Jim Howard, Dave Engle, Adrian Dorsey, John Gillette, Dave Machemer, Mark Ralston and Nathan Showalter.
The Athletic reported that Dan Durst and Frankie Thon also lost their jobs.
Right now they may be just names within the text of this story. But over the many years I’ve been covering the Orioles I had so many positive interactions with Norton and Albany. Both were with the club a long time, loved everything about the Orioles and did too many important things behind the scenes for the Orioles to ever count. Before he took his current role, Norton - hired by the Orioles in 1998 - was very instrumental on the farm wearing many hats over many years. He was indispensable.
So was Albany, an O’s scout for 20 years. The pride of Baltimore’s Brooklyn Park High School, I’ve met almost no one over the years who loved the Orioles more. If there was something he could do to help the club, just tell him what it is and he’d do it. Without ever looking for praise or a pat on the back. He just wanted what was best for the Orioles every day. He knew the amateur talent around this state and region as well as anyone. He loved to talk baseball and we’ve had a quite a few great conversations over the years. I respect his smarts and opinions immensely.
I don’t know too well some of the others that are moving on. But I did find this story I wrote on Jim Howard in February of 2018. He was a two-time winner of the Orioles’ Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award in 2009 and 2012. Howard’s first day on the job with Baltimore was Nov. 1, 1988. The 2019 campaign was his 31st season as an Oriole.
He was with the club so long he worked for this list of team GMs: Roland Hemond, Pat Gillick, Frank Wren, Syd Thrift, the duo of Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie, the duo of Flanagan and Jim Duquette, Andy MacPhail, Dan Duquette and Elias.
Howard was the area scout that signed Jim Johnson and Erik Bedard among others and was later among a group of team scouts that recommended to MacPhail that he trade Bedard because such a deal could produce a big haul to stock a rebuilding team. It turned out to be one of the best trades in O’s history that brought Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and others to Baltimore. Howard’s stamp was on the group of players from 2012-2016 that led the American League in wins for a five-year period.
When you think about guys like Norton, Albany and Howard, you have to marvel at how many games and players they’ve seen, signed and helped over so many years. How many trips they have taken on behalf of the club. And no doubt this is all true of everyone let go yesterday.
The Orioles lost to Tampa Bay last night. As usual there was a game to play. There will be another one tonight. But it wasn’t just another Friday at Camden Yards.