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Orioles GM MacPhail: ‘It’s a giant step back’

06.04.10 at 3:05 pm ET

BALTIMORE — Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail, in a press conference to explain his firing of manager Dave Trembley and the hiring as interim manager of Juan Samuel, said that he felt compelled to make the move based on his club’s regression this year. The Orioles had appeared to be on the cusp of a step forward with a talented young nucleus of players in 2010, solidifying gains made under Trembley in 2009, but instead, the team has the worst record in the majors (15-39).

“It’s a giant step back,” MacPhail said of the season. “We needed to move the needle forward in terms of where we were in the standings.”

MacPhail insisted that the team’s struggles were not solely the fault of Trembley, enumerating several reasons why the team has performed below expectations.

–Players brought in this offseason (including free-agent signee Mike Gonzalez and others) “to prevent this calamity” have been either injured or performed poorly

–The back end of the bullpen has been devastated by injuries

–The offense is last in the league in runs (3.3 per game), with MacPhail characterizing the team’s production with runners in scoring as “frankly abysmal.” The Orioles are last in the majors in average (.217), OBP (.300) and slugging (.305) with runners in scoring position.

–The Orioles play in the toughest division in baseball

–Perhaps most importantly for a team that must win or lose on the strength of young talent, MacPhail had seen the young core of players such as Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones taking steps in the wrong direction.

“Maybe most disappointing of all to me and most distressing is we’ve had some of our young players go backwards,” said MacPhail. “You’re hoping to ignite a spark [with the managerial change]. … It’s a goofy business. We just felt we had to get an opportunity to get our team a fresh start.”

MacPhail suggested that Samuel would offer a measure of discipline to a club that has been making numerous lapses on the field and on the bases. The 49-year-old Samuel, who had been in his fourth year as the Orioles’ third base coach, said that he would re-emphasize fundamentals.

“For some reason,” he said, “guys don’t seem to be paying a lot of attention to the details that are supposed to go right.”

MacPhail insisted that the Orioles remain on the only possible path to establishing themselves as legitimate competitors in the relentless American League East, namely, a path of scouting and player development that requires a commitment to a young core that will be prone to growing pains.

“I wish it would come faster,” said MacPhail. “[But] there is not one scintilla of doubt that this is what we need to do.”

Read More: andy macphail, Dave Trembley, juan samuel, Orioles
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