The Baltimore Orioles' season came to an end October 12, thanks to a tremendous pitching effort from the New York Yankees' CC Sabathia.
While Sabathia gets the credit for halting Baltimore's amazing postseason run, Orioles manager Buck Showalter and VP Dan Duquette have been rightfully credited with returning quality baseball back to Charm City.
Showalter has done a tremendous job of changing the Orioles' culture of losing. With one year left on his contract Showalter is in line for a long-term extension after guiding the Orioles to their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1997. Duquette came to Baltimore following the 2011 season to head up the front office as Andy MacPhail"s replacement. Duquette deserves a great deal of praise for unearthing hidden gems like Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen, dealing for starters Jason Hammel and Joe Saunders, giving Nate McLouth a second chance, and turning third base over to 20-year-old rookie Manny Machado.
The contributions of Andy MacPhail shouldn't get lost in the praise being heaped upon Showalter and Duquette. MacPhail came to Baltimore in the summer of 2007. He inherited a franchise that hadn't won in more than a decade, an apathetic fan base, and a roster with few bright spots.
MacPhail immediately took the bold step of trading two of Baltimore's best players: Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. The Tejada trade yielded left-handed reliever Troy Patton, who established himself as one of Showalter's most reliable bullpen options in 2012. The Bedard trade landed two potential cornerstone players in center fielder Adam Jones and right-handed starter Chris Tillman. The 26-year-old Jones has already been an All-Star and won a Gold Glove. He hit a career-high 32 home runs in 2012 and signed a long-term extension that will keep him in Baltimore through the 2018 season. After struggling in previous big-league auditions, Tillman established himself as a rotation fixture by going 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts this season.
MacPhail also signed All-Star catcher Matt Wieters after the Orioles selected him in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft. The Orioles drafted and signed Brian Matusz, Manny Machado, and Dylan Bundy during MacPhail's tenure. Matusz contributed during the stretch run and the playoffs out of Baltimore's bullpen after struggling as a starter. Machado shot through the Orioles' minor league system in just two years and took over third base duties at Camden Yards in early August. Bundy, a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher, is one of baseball's best prospects. He made his major-league debut in late September and gives the Orioles their best chance for a home-grown ace since Mike Mussina. MacPhail also orchestrated the trade with the Texas Rangers that brought Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to Baltimore.
Showalter and Duquette did a superb job in delivering a winner to Baltimore in 2012. The ground work is in place for the team to be competitive for several years to come. Andy MacPhail deserves a hearty round of applause for laying that ground work and getting the once proud organization headed in the right direction.
*Information gathered from http://www.baseball-reference.com.