O’s Dump Mazzone

The first baseball game I ever attended was a Double-A Charlotte O’s game when I was five. I actually threw out the first pitch at Crockett Park and Cal Ripken, Jr. was on the team. When the Orioles hired Mazzone, I thought it would be fun to follow the Orioles again.

Today the Orioles fired Mazzone as their scapegoat. What an awful, AWFUL, organization. The firing of Sam Perlozzo, then courting of the flavor-of-the-month Joe Girardi, only to lose out and hire Dave Trembley. Now, the O’s are blaming their woes on Mazzone? Give me a break!

How quickly people forget that Orioles pitching was good for most of the season…that is until Mazzone’s good friend Perlozzo was fired. On June 17, the last game Perlozzo managed, the O’s pitching staff had an ERA of 4.27–that would have put them second in the American League at the end of the season. Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie were having fantastic seasons. After Dave Trembley took over on an interim basis–you know, he didn’t know if he was going to be the long-term boss—the O’s continued on with an ERA of 4.61. Once Trembley got the permanent job, things went south fast. After giving up 39 runs in a double-header on August 18, the Orioles produced an ERA of 7.61 for the remainder of the season.

Now, I’m not saying Mazzone is blameless in all of this, but it is pretty clear that pitching wasn’t the real problem with the O’s until the guys up top decided the guy calling games on Fox was really smart. Instead they ended up with their bullpen coach. I don’t see how firing Mazzone is going to fix anything with this club. This team clearly fell apart when the brass up top gave up on the team. Guys got traded, and some shut it down. Yeah, the pitching was pretty bad by the end of the year. One thing is very clear from his time with the Braves, even if you don’t believe he was responsible for any of pitching success in Atlanta: Mazzone was not the problem.

I really don’t understand the impatience of people who run sports teams. How can you expect any rebuilding when you demand immediate results? Talk about bad incentives.

It’s been a rough ride for Mazzone in Baltimore, but I have no doubt that he will bounce back. It’s good to hear that he’s not intimidated.

Mazzone has no intention of being idle during the 2008 season.

“He’s not going to sit out a year. He has no desire to do that,” said Brad Steele, Mazzone’s business manager. “He will have plenty of time to do that after he retires.”

The Braves were a fixture in the playoffs when Mazzone was there. In contrast, the Orioles lost more than 90 games in each of his two seasons with the club.

“I think Leo still has a lot of fire in his belly. He wants to be part of a winning organization,” Steele said. “But he’s not opposed to doing what he did in Atlanta, taking a team from last to first. Either way, we suspect there will be a lot of interest in him.”

6 Responses “O’s Dump Mazzone”

  1. Xon says:

    Not to be rude to the present occupant of the role, but do you think there’s any chance of the Braves re-hiring Mazzone? Would that even be a smart move if it were doable?

  2. Gus says:

    As an O’s fan, I was upset initially. But the book on Mazzone was always that he couldn’t reach young pitchers, and the Orioles are hoping to rebuild around young pitchers. On top of that, Trembley wants to pick his own staff. That’s not unusual. Ultimately, I just don’t think this was a good situation for Mazzone, and now he will go to the Yankees and revive all of their washed up former stars and lead them onto the next dynasty. Don’t give up on the Orioles, though: if they really commit to rebuilding this time, they could be a good team some time in the next 10-15 years.

  3. steve says:

    In the O’s defense, I think MacPhail MAY have left the decision to Dave Trembley. If that’s the case, you can’t fault a guy for wanting to bring in his own pitching coach. Unfortunately, Leo isn’t Trembley’s top choice.

  4. Jason says:

    I agree that Leo did a good job in Baltimore for most of the year. Bedard had turned what was good potential into some very scary results for batters and Guthrie was taken off the trash heap and turned into a better than average pitcher in the majors. He didn’t seem to be able to do much with Cabrera, but seriously, I don’t think that anyone can do much with Cabrera to make him into a good pitcher until he wants to be a good pitcher.

    The real problems for the O’s started on the day they gave Trembly his contract and then the Rangers went crazy. At that point, Bedard was out, Guthrie I think had one more start before being out and the bullpen was having a ton of problems. Remember at the end of the year, the O’s rotation was Cabrera, Liz, Victor Zambrano (insert Scott Kazmir reference here), Brian Burress, Victor Santos and a cast of pitchers who were discarded from teams like the Pirates and other crappy teams.

    I’m sure that Leo will land on his feet and help some pitching staff be better than it was before he arrived in town.

  5. JC says:

    Mazzone will not come back to Atlanta. As best I can tell, that relationship is over. I can see some minor league pitching coaches replaced, but I think they are happy with McDowell.

    It is true that Trembley probably wants his own staff, and that this is the main motivation for the firing. My problem with the O’s is that the cycle continues. Is Trembley really the guy for the job? Will he ink his own coaches to three-year deals and get fired after a year and a half? The public courting of and rejection by Girardi was embarrassing because Girardi is a terrible manager living off an undeserved MOY award.

  6. steve says:

    “My problem with the O’s is that the cycle continues.”

    In terms of managers, you’re absolutely right. In terms of coaches, there’s been an odd amount of stability. If anything, too much stability (and yes, I’m pointing at you Terry Crowley) until this year because every coach has had to inherit Hargrove’s coaching staff.