The Baltimore Orioles named Sam Perlozzo their manager Wednesday, removing the interim label and giving him a three-year contract after the longtime coach guided the team to a 23-32 record in the final two months of the season.
Perlozzo, who replaced Lee Mazzilli on Aug. 4, coached in the major leagues for 19 seasons, the past 91/2 in Baltimore where he served as third base coach before becoming bench coach in 2001. He was the only person interviewed for the managerial job, said Mike Flanagan, who was promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not released.
"We're ready to go forward, we're ready to go," Perlozzo, 54, said during Wednesday's news conference where he became the 16th manager in franchise history. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time. The organization is primed, I think, to start in the direction where we can put wins on the board and put pride back in this organization. We're going at go at it as hard as we can and as long as we can until we get a winner on this field."
Meantime, the Orioles continued the process of filling out their front office. New York Mets Senior Vice President Jim Duquette traveled to Baltimore on Wednesday and will interview with Flanagan and owner Peter Angelos on Thursday, according to a baseball source. It isn't certain for what position Duquette will interview, but the source said it's unlikely he would accept a lateral position with the Orioles.
Duquette, according to the source, will have to be assured he would have decision-making power with the Orioles, since he may be a candidate for other general manager openings. On Monday Angelos said Flanagan was clearly the boss and that the dual general manager system had been scrapped. But possibly the Orioles would let Duquette take Flanagan's vacated title of vice president of baseball operations and give him some authority to make decisions.
Several weeks ago, the Orioles asked permission to speak to Tampa Bay special assistant to the general manager Tim Wilken about a job in the scouting office, but the request was never relayed to Wilken, according to a source close to the Devil Rays. The request was likely lost, according to the source, because it was made to former Tampa general manager Chuck LaMar, who was fired last week. The Orioles have not since made another request to speak to Wilken, according to the source, and it's unsure whether they will do so.
It doesn't seem the Orioles yet have a clear grasp of the structure of the new front office. Assistant general manager Ed Kenney said he hasn't spoken to either Flanagan or Angelos about what his role in the organization might be.
"I'd like to stay," Kenney said. "That's been my plan all along. I'm not concerned about them bringing in someone else. I could use the help."
The makeup of Perlozzo's coaching staff will depend in part on the health of pitching coach Ray Miller, who on Wednesday had surgery for an aortic aneurysm. If Miller is unlikely to return then Perlozzo could try to hire the Atlanta Braves' longtime pitching coach Leo Mazzone, Perlozzo's best friend. Perlozzo will likely consider bringing in at least a few of his own coaches, which could endanger the jobs of bench coach Tom Trebelhorn, hitting coach Terry Crowley and third base coach Rick Dempsey. Perlozzo said decisions about which coaches he'll retain will be made in "the next week or so."
Flanagan was impressed with how Perlozzo guided the Orioles (74-88) through the turbulent final months of the season after the team blew the lead in the American League East and dealt with the fallout from all-star Rafael Palmeiro's suspension for steroid use and pitcher Sidney Ponson's legal troubles.
"I think the last couple of months he did exceptionally well," Flanagan said. "I was very impressed with the way he handled the ball club under difficult circumstances."
Perlozzo is confident the team's minor league system will produce players who will make an impact next season. He foresees bolstering the team during the offseason via trade or free agency, enabling the Orioles to contend.
"As things unfolded at the end of the season, it was obvious that our offense was not where we wanted it to be," Perlozzo said. "But I've always believed pitching is the name of the game. If we're going to win, we're going to have some good starting pitching.
"So if I had my first pick, I'd probably pick a number one starter. I think our pitching staff after that would fall in line and be our strong suit. But we need a few other people that we're going to have to go out and get."
"But one thing we will not do is mortgage the future for short term success," Flanagan said. "We're not looking for a one-year fix."
Gallo reported from Baltimore, Arangure Jr. from St. Louis.