Via the NY Post:
Maybe it is not a mirror image, but Buck Showalter admits becoming manager of the Orioles feels a bit like when he once became manager of the Yankees.
“It does [resemble it] a little bit,” Showalter said yesterday in The Bronx. “[There are] some similarities.”Showalter has returned to the AL East after a 15-year hiatus. He has returned to managing any team after a 3½-season break. The 54-year-old skipper managed his first game with the Orioles on Aug. 3, and they promptly won his first four games and eight of his first nine. Yesterday he came back to Yankee Stadium, beating his old team 4-3 to make the Orioles 20-13 (.606) under his tenure.
Baltimore’s winning percentage prior to Showalter’s arrival was .305.
“I just came in and listened to a lot of people,” Showalter said. “I think people make a mistake when they come in and think everything here is bad or wrong because of a lot of losses. And I came into New York, that was one of the things we said, just try to create a good environment for guys’ talent to come out and play.”
For those of you who don’t know, Showalter managed the Yankees before Joe Torre from 1992 until 1995. He was instrumental in changing the atmosphere surrounding the Bronx coming out of the 80’s.
The Yankees had the highest winning percentage during the 80’s, but failed to reach the playoffs after 1981. Because of that things had turned quite sour under George Steinbrenner as it became a regular occurrence to trade away young prospects for over priced veterans and to pay too much for veterans who couldn’t hack it under the pressure in New York on the free agent market.
Things got so bad that the Yankees became a laughing stock and the Yankees couldn’t even over pay to get good players to come to the Bronx. Greg Maddux is one example, Maddux became a free agent after winning the Cy Young in 1992 and signed with the Braves even though the Yankees were the highest bidder for his services that offseason.
The Boss was kicked out of baseball in 1990, right around the time when Showalter became a coach. Showalter, along with Gene “Stick” Michaels changed the atmosphere surrounding the Yankees by removing the malcontents and returning the focus on the team instead of the individual.
Soon the Yankees were able to convince the likes of veterans like Jimmy Key and Wade Boggs to come to New York. The team made shrewd trades for players like Paul O’Neill and hung-on to prospects like Bernie Williams. The pathetic Yankees that Showalter inherited after 1991 quickly became the best team in the American League in 1994.
Now Showalter has taken over the Baltimore Orioles. Another team that cannot convince free agents to help them out, Mark Teixeira is an example of this. Teixeira is from the Baltimore area and despite the fact that the Orioles had the money and desire for the first baseman, he never seriously considered joining them. They also have quite a few young prospects to build around in the likes of Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz.
Can Showalter do for the Orioles what he did for the Yankees? It’s possible, but the AL East is a much tougher division than it was in the late 90’s. The Yankees were lucky then as the Blue Jays were on their downfall, the Red Sox were a joke, and the Rays never existed.
Even if the Orioles don’t become a power house in the AL East, Showalter will certainly be able to return them to some level of respectability. After all, he is a two time manager of the year.