MacPhail Transcript

Below is the transcript of Andy MacPhail’s press conference yesterday, thanks to Cal for finding this.

And it’s long

In case you missed, I’ll say it again Girardi passed on the O’s.

Orioles Name Andy MacPhail as President of Baseball Operations

Russell Smouse (General Counsel) Opening statement: “The fans have been sending a strong message that they want change. The Orioles have heard that message and are responding.

To that end we are very pleased to announce Andy MacPhail has accepted the position as President of Baseball Operations with full and ultimate responsibility for player personnel and baseball decisions.

He has a reputation for judgment and integrity unparalleled in baseball. He has worked closely with Peter Angelos on a variety of critical baseball issues.

It is fair to say that nobody in baseball is held in higher esteem. The press release details Andy’s enviable record of accomplishments, noteworthy certainly is that he was the youngest GM of his time to win a World Series—in fact he won two World Series.

Andy brings a rich, impressive background, which uniquely qualifies him for this responsibility. The MacPhail name is a historic one in baseball, Andy’s father and grandfather both being in the Hall of Fame.

Andy has a Baltimore history. Andy lived here for eight years. During that time he attended Friends school.

It will indeed be great to have MacPhail again at the Orioles helm.

This is a day of coming home and coming together.”
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Andy MacPhail: “A couple of years ago, I was sitting around the lunch table with a bunch of baseball people and we all had to go around the table and we all had to say what’s the one thing you want to do before your career is over. So everybody had to give theirs and today, I’m doing mine. This is what I picked.

I can remember as a kid, 5 to 13, I loved the Orioles. I was the one who was going around the house when I was 7 years old with a Jackie Brandt two-tone bat and a winter glove. My mother used to fondly tell the story of the time that I wouldn’t go to kindergarten unless I could wear my Orioles PJ’s, this is something that has always had a lot of appeal to me.

I want you to know that I have a lot of passion and energy and enthusiasm for this job. What I’d like to do and what I’d like to achieve here, other than the obvious, which is win a lot of games while we’re here and go to a World Series, is I think it’s important to try to develop a team that has a character and identity. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. It wasn’t too long ago that Ozzie Guillen in a post-game interview with the White Sox (they were playing the Twins) and he called them ‘those little piranhas’, they just keep nipping at you. They come at you. They come at you. And the Twins liked that slogan so much they used it as their marketing campaign the next season. That’s the type of team I hope that we can develop here, a team that has an identity.

It’s hard to do today, because you’ve got free agency and you’ve got players coming and going. You don’t have the luxury of keeping the same players year-in and year-out. That’s just the way the game is today. But that I think is an important goal, and given the current struggles that we’re undergoing it’s going to be difficult; but when I look at this team, I see that one constant that the Orioles have had periodically over the years—that great nucleus of young starting pitching.

To me, if that holds up the way they’ve pitched to some degree this year, you may not be as far away as you think you might be. There’s been some good work done here when you have that kind of nucleus of young starting pitching. I promise you there are teams in baseball who would envy having the kind of young arms that you have here. Hopefully they’ll stay healthy and continue to pitch to they level that they have here. And other things can fall in place.

The last thing that I would tell is look, I have to get up too speed. It’s been a while since I’ve done this job, just solely on the baseball operations side. For the last eight months I haven’t been a whole lot of anything to be honest with you. The things on my agenda, so I can get up to speed, are they I have to watch and I’m going to have to read and I’m going to have to listen. I think listening is probably one of the most underrated that any executive in any line of work can have. Those are the three things that are right up on the agenda first, one, two, three. That’s what I have to do to get up to speed and hopefully we’ll get to the point where we can have the kind of season that this franchise and these fans deserve.”
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Questions:

(There’s been a lot of criticism over the years about the ownership being too involved in baseball decisions. There is a lot of speculation that Andy MacPhail, with all that he’s accomplished would not have taken this job unless he got full control and final say over baseball decisions. Did you get any guarantee from Peter Angelos that you’re the guy calling the shots and you’re making the decisions):

If I didn’t feel that way, what you outlined, I wouldn’t be here. It’s just that simple. Any owner of any team has a prerogative of owning the team and I outlined to Peter, where I think those lines are. He’s very comfortable with it; I’m very comfortable with it. I probably have the benefit, more so than anything you read in a press release or anything else, I think one of the greatest benefits I have is that I probably know Peter in a baseball context as well as anybody in the game. We were in prison together in that conference room in 2002 for summer and to some degree 2006. You get to know somebody over that period of time and you get to know them in the context of baseball. I think that’s one of the reasons that Peter wanted to talk to me. I think Peter has a level of comfort with me as a human being and he’s seen me in a totally different environment.

(How long have you been having discussions about this? The perception is that it happened a couple of days ago. Does this go back a couple of months):

We talked periodically. He talked to me at the owner’s meeting when I gave a brief presentation on behalf of the commissioner. He talked to me briefly and he’s talked to me at times. It’s not really something that’s just happened over the last couple of days. It did accelerate, to be honest with you, I was perfectly content to be doing what I was doing, which wasn’t much of anything. If you work in this game for thirty years, it’s not often you get a summer off and I was kind of looking forward to it. I got to a day before summer begins and here I am, back in the coat a tie. It was a big deal when I wore long pants in the last couple of months, so this is going to be an adjustment that I’ll have to get back to.

(This organization has long prided itself in doing things the ‘Oriole Way.’ What does that phrase mean to you and what are your plans to ensure things are done that way):

I think it’s just along the lines I talked about with having identity, creating an identity or a character for a team as best you can. Let’s be honest, in the sixties, it was an easier thing to do because you never lost a player unless he got hurt or you had somebody better coming up in the system. So, there was greater continuity in those days than you can have today. But you can still create a character and identity. And the Orioles had their ‘Oriole Way’ and we need to find ours. We need to find ours. I think with the nucleus of the young pitching that Mike and the others have established, you’ve got something very valuable there and that’s something to build around.

(Is Peter Angelos holding back with his involvement in the ball club):

Peter Angelos is the owner of the team who has entrusted me to run his baseball operations. That’s the best way I can answer that.

(Where do we stand on the managerial search right now):

Ongoing. I really don’t have a time frame, because like everything else, you really don’t know how exactly things will unfold. As you know, we did meet with Joe [Girardi]. I’m fairly impressed with Joe. I have the background, fortunately, knowing Joe as a player. He was our player rep in 2002 when Peter and I were just getting into negotiations, so we had a lot of dialogue then. But how things will unfold and when exactly, I don’t know. I know there’s a report out there that there’s been a tangible offer, a physical offer made out; that’s not accurate to this point, but the interview did go well.

(You talk about coming in here and listening. Who do you listen to? Do you listen internally or are you going to listen to people outside the organization or both):

I’ve got a saying, which relates. ‘Collect all the information you can.’ You sift through it; you try to filter what it is. I think you try to find every available source of information possible. You have to weigh it. There are some things you’re going to weight heavily and some things you may not weigh at all.

(Where does your job begin and end, vis-à-vis Mike and Jim. What will their responsibilities be):

I’m looking for all the help I can get. First of all, they know a heck of a lot more about this team than I do right now. That’s for certain. So I’m looking for all the help I can get.

(Will you be the final word):

I am absolutely responsible for the baseball operations.

(With the trade deadline only five weeks away, the learning curve is short. What are you plans in terms of turning this team over, keeping it. In the short term, what are you intentions):

Well I have to watch, I have to read, and I have to listen first, but one of the reasons that I kind of agreed that rather than waiting, it’s a good thing to get here today is that I have exactly what you said. I have those five weeks. By that time I should have listened a lot, I should have read a lot, and I should have watched a lot.

(As far as trades are concerned, there are already two people involved in that—Mike and Jim. Is that something you’re going to be involved in or would they handle that):

I like one voice. I like simplicity. Again, I’m looking for all the help I can get. It’s not unusual to have different people talking to different clubs about fielders. That goes on all the time. We’ll do what we have to do to collect the information we have to act on. At the end of the day, I have to believe that it’s the right thing, whether I initiated it or someone else initiated it. But at the end of the day I have to look at it and say this is the best thing for the Baltimore Orioles.

(Do you think this team is trying to depend more on its farm system than on trades):

I think every team is trying to do the same thing, you know, develop as productive a farm system as they possibly can. The degree of dependence on their farm system probably has direct proportion to how much revenue they have to devote to their major league payroll. So any team, even the New York Yankees is investing a lot in their farm system and doing the best they can, even though they carry a 200 million dollar payroll. Those clubs that have less revenue really have to stress it to the highest extent they possibly can and as a matter of course I think we would as well.

(Can you talk a little bit about your role here and how it compared to what you did in Chicago and prior to that Minnesota. Different organizations obviously use different titles. Are your responsibilities and authorities the same as they were in Chicago):

No. Different. In Chicago I presided over two sides, baseball and business. I didn’t day to day operate either one, but I did preside over the two. Here, you’re responsible for the operations, and just one side of the operations, and that’s baseball. So your GM analogy is that different people apply it different ways, but at the end of the day, that’s going to be a lot different. I was Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations in Minnesota so I think you’re right, different clubs have different alignments, but at the end of the day it’s how the responsibilities get divided up.

(With your past, having lived here and having been an Oriole fan as a kid and a relationship that you’ve had ongoing with Peter Angelos, I assume you’re not walking in here cold. Do you pay attention to all of baseball, the Orioles specifically. Do you have a feeling of what’s gone wrong or a first impression):

I don’t think I’m walking in cold, but I do think that I know I’m not the smartest bird in the woods, that’s for sure, but I do know this—that I don’t know enough to give you an intelligent answer yet. There are a lot of people here who have seen a lot more games and could give you a better answer. So that is one where I have to get up to speed to give you a good answer.

(It’s seems like some of the names that are associating with the managerial search are names you’re familiar with. One name that hasn’t circulated is your former manager in Minnesota. I know he hasn’t managed in a long time. Might you talk to Tom Kelly):

I talk to TK periodically, and TK has given me every indication over the years that he is not managing anymore. I would love to have him; he’s a great manager.

(What’s it going to take to bring fans back to Baltimore):

We’re going to have to win games. We’re going to have to win games. Let’s look at the Brewers. They really had a rough go for a long time. [They] moved into a new stadium and then saw their attendance drop, which isn’t unusual for a new stadium. But they had a tough road. Now, they have a winning season. Now they’re going back to the way they were when the ballpark opened. You have to win the games.

(Taking over the team now with the ninth straight losing season, maybe heading into the tenth losing season, when you come in do you almost have amnesia. Fans are very impatient. They don’t want to be told 2009 and 2010 are the years, but do you have to forget about potentially another rebuilding effort and start with a blank slate and say ‘I can’t worry about what happened. I have to position us to able to win, because we have to win kind of soon because the fans are disenchanted, or do we have to make a plan for 2010):

You have to do what you have to do to get this franchise, not just to have an over .500 season, but to get them into position to get them to the post-season and get them to the World Series. So you have to make evaluations over what you currently have and how far away you might be, what resources you have to bear, what you have in your farm system, and then you make that determination. If you really want to show the fans interest you have to do it when you really think you can win, understanding that things evolve. The beauty of our system today, with as much player movement as there is, even if you thought you might be in a year where you were going to look a couple years out, you might find yourself in July 11th when you’re a game and a half in front or two back and you can shift gears then. But I think you have to come up with a plan that you think is the best thing to get this team to the post-season. I don’t have a goal of getting over .500; we shouldn’t be here for that; no team should be here for that.

(What traits do you want in your new manager):

I want him to be passionate, prepared, and I want him to care. He’s got all the other things, where he’s got to be able to communicate, but the relationship between the guy who’s running baseball operations and the field manager is one of mutual dependency. They absolutely depend on each other. The guy running baseball operations is counting on the manager to make the most out of the talent he has on the field. The GM guy, or whatever the title is given is getting him the best players he possibly can. The two of you are absolutely dependent upon each other.

(In today’s game, do you think it’s going to take a special communicator to get a team winning the way you want):

I think today, managers are more of a custom fit than they have ever been before. I think there are plenty of examples of managers who have succeed in one place and not in another and it’s probably because sometimes of the type of team. If you look at one of the most revered managers today, Joe Torre, he had his struggles, whether it be in Atlanta or New York or Saint Louis, or wherever he went before, but the Yankees, with their circumstance was a great fit, perfect guy, championship followed. And I really think that it’s a custom fit today and you really have to understand what it takes—and it might change. What might be a perfect fit for franchise four years ago may evolve into something different four years later.

(What is one of the points you use to try to attract a top-quality managerial candidate like Joe Girardi):

I don’t think you want to do too much selling. I think you want to see some interest on their part, whoever it might be. They have to demonstrate to you that they have a passion about managing the Baltimore Orioles, whoever it may be.

(So you what you’re saying is that Dave Trembley will not be the manager by the end of the season):

I don’t know that for certain. I have not talked to Dave yet. I do know Dave. Dave managed in the Cubs system when I was there. But I have not spoken to him until I was at the podium and I was officially on the capacity. As long as he’s managing he is [a candidate for the manager’s position]. I have not spoken to him at this point. I have the highest regard for Dave and I am aware of Dave. Dave has accomplished a lot in his career. He has a great minor league managerial record and right now he’s living history, managing a major league team.

(You’ve been involved in baseball for a long time. How has it changed):

Well if we’d had a press conference twenty years ago in Minnesota or wherever I was, it might not have been this crowded, I can say that much. You might have had four guys with pads. So there’s a great change in the media around it, the technology, the amount of games that are televised. My son, I wouldn’t get him the major league baseball extra innings package, which obviously didn’t exist twenty years ago, until he graduated high school. He wouldn’t do a lick of work if that game was on there. Now you have it, and I can sit at home and watch any game, anytime, anywhere. It’s amazing how the game has evolved. The attendance, when my dad was GM of the Yankees, it was a big deal when you have 1200 people at Fort Lauderdale watching an exhibition game. Now, clubs are drawing 10,000 for exhibition games, so the game has really evolved in a lot of respects, not all, but in a lot of respects in a really positive and tremendous way.

(What kind of window ideally are you looking at for the managerial search? Do you feel any sense of urgency to get things moving in that direction):

I think the answer to that is that when you’re comfortable with the candidate and you think he’s the right guy, then you got him, and you don’t go until you think you’ve got the right guy.

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