The arduous task of piecing back together the fractured Baltimore Orioles franchise will begin Monday morning in a conference room at the Howard Johnson's motel hard by Interstate 4. When Chief Operating Officer Joe Foss and Executive Vice President John Angelos give their state-of-the-Orioles address, it will be to a shaken, skeptical and anxious audience of employees.
The team's organizational meetings--in which scouts, minor league personnel and player development staff come together to evaluate the season past and plot the season ahead--are being held as scheduled this week just down the road from the Orioles' instructional league headquarters, where the fruits of this year's bountiful draft will be on display in afternoon games.
But the meetings will take place without the man who organized them and was to have overseen them: Frank Wren, who was unexpectedly fired as general manager on Thursday. The Orioles had not held organizational meetings since the early 1990s until Wren revived them this year.
With Wren gone, Foss, Angelos and director of player personnel Syd Thrift will run the meetings. "We have to move forward," Thrift said today. "There are a lot of important decisions to be made."
Thrift said he will not take over as general manager, as has been speculated, but will remain director of player personnel. However, Thrift said he was unsure whether the general manager's job will be eliminated, in which case Thrift would be the highest-ranking baseball-personnel employee in the organization.
As recently as Friday, employees were unsure whether the meetings would take place, team sources said. And many of them, stunned and hurt by the acrimonious circumstances of Wren's firing, did not want to attend.
However, by Friday afternoon, three other high-ranking front-office employees had been assured that their jobs are safe--assistant general manager Bruce Manno, director of scouting Tony DeMacio and director of player development Tom Trebelhorn--and the meetings were ordered to go on.
Still, according to one team employee here, Foss and John Angelos might get a chilly reception Monday morning. "They have some explaining to do," the employee said. "Everyone was shocked at what happened to Frank, and everyone thinks it's a shame. We were really starting to develop a camaraderie within the organization. That's not an easy thing to do, and it won't be an easy thing to get back."
Another employee said, "A lot of people are going to be listening carefully [to Foss and John Angelos], and weighing that against what other opportunities they might have out there" in other organizations.
The Orioles have said little about their openings for a general manager and manager. Ray Miller was dismissed as manager Wednesday night, a move that was widely expected.
Third-base coach Sam Perlozzo interviewed with majority owner Peter Angelos on Saturday for the manager's job, the first candidate to be interviewed for either job.
"I had fun," said Perlozzo, who, like the rest of the major league coaching staff, will not participate in the meetings. "I felt very comfortable and at ease with [Angelos]. We'll cross our fingers and see what happens."