You Can Rearrange the Chairs on the Titanic, But It’s Still Gonna Sink: Trembley

(written for Oriole Magic)

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN — who I enjoy reading during a lull in a my workday (I really don’t have too many of those anymore) — wrote a piece recently on nine men whose performance during the final six weeks or so of the 2009 MLB regular season will determine how their futures will be shaped.

And one man on Crasnick’s list was Dave Trembley — who fans either have empathy or consternation towards. Here’s what was written about Baltimore’s skipper:

It’s hard not to pull for Trembley. He spent 20 years and 2,782 games in the minor leagues waiting for his big opportunity. He’s funny, engaging, knows the game and is respected by his peers. If you saw how warmly Jim Leyland greeted him when the Tigers were in Baltimore earlier this season, you’d know.

When the Orioles hired Trembley as full-time manager in 2007, the conventional wisdom was that he’d baby-sit a young team until the O’s were “ready to win.” Two years later, the Orioles still aren’t ready, and Trembley is in limbo. General manager Andy MacPhail has committed to keeping Trembley through the end of the season, but nothing beyond that.

The Orioles are 11-26 since the All-Star break. Although they’ve made a staggering number of baserunning gaffes and fundamental errors, many of the transgressions have come from the team’s veterans rather than the kids. It’s also hard to fault Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz for the team’s 5.05 ERA when the Orioles have given 73 starts to rookie pitchers, 13 starts to Rich Hill and eight more to Adam Eaton this season.

Things got a little testy recently when third baseman Melvin Mora complained about a lack of playing time and ripped Trembley for “disrespecting” him. But that was more a case of Melvin being Melvin than an indictment of the manager

The Orioles have an option on Trembley for 2010. If they decline to exercise it and make a change, it’s hard to see what purpose it will serve. Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli, Perlozzo and Trembley have all failed to produce .500 teams since 1998, so the franchise’s problems run deeper than the manager.

The blog has defended Trembley a few times, because frankly, the Orioles do not have the talent to succeed in the American League East right now, there are four rookies in the starting rotation, and the organization is in a full scale rebuilding project.

Simply put, this team was set up to fail in 2009.

Whether Trembley is fired at the end of year, retained, or whatever, for the Orioles to improve, the personnel on the field MUST improve. We’ve got a solid outfield, a good up-the middle combo, and some young arms that are promising; however, the team needs help at the corners, a veteran presence in the rotation — Guthrie, as much he’s admired, isn’t it, a bigger bat — Adam Dunn could have been an O and is looking awfully good in Washington — plus, a bullpen arm or two.

Right now, the Orioles look more like the Nationals rather than the Rays (just the honest truth — not so much recordwise, but talent and circumstance-wise), but the rebuilding WILL take time, and we as fans — no matter how much it sucks — have to be patient and hope for the best.