BALTIMORE --- Eight years ago this week, the Orioles made one of the best moves in franchise history. They named Andy MacPhail as their president of baseball operations.
As my friend and colleague Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, reported on Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies may soon do the same.
MacPhail, who has been out of baseball since Oct. 2011, wouldn’t be in the same position as he was in Baltimore, but he would have many of the same problems.
When MacPhail took over, the Orioles had a few pieces. Nick Markakis was in his second season, Zach Britton and Jim Johnson were in the minor leagues, but little else was there.
Matt Wieters had just been drafted, but with Scott Boras as his agent and a much more draftee-friendly system in place, it was no certainty that he would sign with the Orioles.
MacPhail successfully negotiated with Boras, who had a tenuous relationship with the team, and gave Wieters a huge contract. The Orioles had arguably the best catcher in their history. Two years later, MacPhail would wisely delay Wieters promotion until late May, giving him, one more season, which turned out to be this one, with the Orioles.
He traded for Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Chris Tillman, drafted Manny Machado and picked Buck Showalter to manage the team.
MacPhail also traded Miguel Tejada, whose contract, then the largest in team history, was considered unmovable. He got some useful players in return, too.
Perhaps most important, MacPhail extracted the Orioles from the worst spring training facility in baseball, Fort Lauderdale, and negotiated the move to Sarasota. He also markedly improved the facility and vastly upgraded the team’s minor league facility.
MacPhail left the Orioles in good hands with Showalter and his successor Dan Duquette, but his father was in ill health and wanted to spend time with him.
He also tired of the day-to-day grind of being a general manager, and with the Phillies, MacPhail would have more of the role he had with the Chicago Cubs.
MacPhail still lives in the Baltimore area, and he could attack the Phillies problems patiently, though their fans might demand more immediate action.
The Phils have lots of bloated contracts (Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley), and MacPhail would work diligently, though not hurriedly to rid the team of them.
With their record, they could well have the top draft pick next year, and he’ll have to start restocking the farm system.
He has some front office personnel he’s familiar with. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock and director of player development Joe Jordan both worked for him with the Orioles. So did special assignment scout Dave Hollins.
And, if he wants to make a managerial change, he has Juan Samuel, who was the Orioles’ interim manager before Showalter arrived.
MacPhail is content to let others take the credit for successes, and with his record of accomplishment with the Twins, Cubs and Orioles, his resume is an impressive one.
The Phillies would be lucky to have him.