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Steve Phillips: Orioles' Rebuild Could Be Stunted By Dysfunction

October 10, 2018
Former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips believes the Baltimore Orioles' rebuild is going to last at least five years and could last even longer due to dysfunction within the front office.

After the Orioles' announcement Oct. 3 that executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter would not return for the 2019 season, the organization is now tasked with finding a general manager and manager to lead the franchise during the rebuild.

While the decision to move on from Showalter was expected, Phillips thinks the decision to not bring back Duquette was more surprising, as he made a number of trades ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline that will be the foundation of the rebuilding process over the next few years. 

"It's hard to apply logic to a bit of a dysfunctional structure," Phillips said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 5. "You automatically think, 'Well this doesn't make any sense,' and when it doesn't make sense, there's something wrong."

That dysfunctional structure stems from vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson's close relationship with ownership, Phillips said.

During his time in Baltimore as an executive, Anderson's influential role with the team has not been well defined, according to Phillips, who said Anderson has reported directly to ownership rather than the general manager, which causes a lack of communication in the front office. 

"That dysfunction filters down and it impacts your entire organization and tears apart the structure and the fabric of it," said Phillips, an analyst for MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.

This dysfunction is not just a problem of the past, however; it may lead to difficulties when hiring a new general manager if it continues. Veteran candidates for the position may hesitate to choose the Orioles due to the lack of certainty of their control of the rebuild, according to Phillips.

"One of the scariest things as an executive is that you have somebody around you who has authority and no responsibility," Phillips said, "where he can make decisions, and if they don't work it's my fault."

While the new Orioles' general manager will have to work with Anderson and the Angelos family to get the organization back on track, the new manager will have to work with a large group of young players and develop them into MLB-caliber talents for the rebuild to have any actual effect.

"It has to be a teacher. It has to be somebody who understands player development," Phillips said. "You have players that get to the major leagues before they're ready to be at the major league level, and they have to learn while they're there."

Whoever becomes the new Orioles manager will have to endure harsh criticism during the course of several losing seasons. But much like Showalter, he could also lead the team to several competitive seasons.  

"The guy you hire may not necessarily be the guy to take you from being a rebuilding franchise to a competitive franchise," Phillips said, "but if you get a crack at some of the best guys right now, you're hoping you're going to get that guy who could be everything."

For more from Phillips, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox