DETROIT, OCT. 3 -- In the wake of the team's worst record in 32 years, Baltimore Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams is believed ready to announce a major shakeup of the club's baseball and front-office staff this week.

Most prominent of the changes could be the firing of General Manager Hank Peters, two sources said.

Doug Melvin, an executive assistant to Peters and Williams the last two years, is considered the leading candidate to replace Peters if the change is made.

"Hank is out," a prominent National League team executive said. "My understanding is that he's going to the Cleveland Indians."

Peters, 63, said this week he hasn't talked to the Indians but that he hadn't talked to Williams about his job status, either. Williams has said he'll break his four-month silence on the Orioles next week, perhaps as early as Monday.

"I haven't been told a thing," Peters said. "Right now, I have a contract and am working as if nothing has changed. We'll see what Monday, or whatever day it is, brings."

He has two years left on a contract that is worth more than $200,000 per season. A career baseball man, he was philosophical about the possibility of being replaced.

"I've been in the game so long and have been through numerous situations," he said. "Don't get me wrong. No one enjoys these things. We all have feelings and pride. But I recognize that if you own a property you can do what you want with it."

The changes may not stop with him. People who have visited Williams recently believe that farm director Tom Giordano, several scouts and three members of the team's coaching staff -- third base coach Jimmy Williams, pitching coach Mark Wiley and hitting coach Terry Crowley -- may be in trouble.

However, first-year Manager Cal Ripken Sr. is considered safe "for another year," a source near Williams said.

Williams has declined to comment on the Orioles since early in the season, saying only that he'd have something to say after the season. However, he hinted at moves recently, saying: "I let them {the baseball staff} run it this year. I purposely stayed away."

It appears to be the move involving Peters that Williams has wrestled with longest. One of the game's most respected executives, Peters has headed the club's baseball operations for 12 years and was the Orioles' general manager when Williams bought the team in 1979.

However, in recent years the two have clashed several times, most notably over Williams' criticism of the farm system and Williams' signing of free agents. Williams also has criticized Peters for his inability "to pull the trigger" on certain trades.

If Peters isn't fired, he'll at least be forced to work with an overhauled front office that includes several people he didn't hire. If Melvin isn't named general manager, he'll become farm director.

But regardless of whether Peters is fired or not, the Orioles, who haven't finished closer than 16 games of first place since their championship year of 1983, are in for a series of major changes. Among them: An overhaul of the scouting staff. The Orioles haven't gotten a signficant contribution from a first-round draft pick since 1974 {Rich Dauer}, and, since then, several drafts have been complete washouts. As this season began, the Orioles didn't have one healthy pitcher with a 92-mph fastball in their organization.Changes in the major league coaching staff. The owner is believed to favor a younger, more aggressive staff and has been unimpressed by Wiley's handling of a young pitching staff or Crowley's handling of young hitters. Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks seems the leading candidate to be pitching coach.