ITW Sits Down with Andy MacPhail

Andy MacPhail, Orioles President of Baseball Operations, has guided the Twins to two World Championships, the Cubs to two playoff appearances, and now has the task of turning the Orioles into a winner once again. The rebuilding process started before this season and its benefits can be seen throughout the farm system. Inside, Andy MacPhail answers questions about positional needs and the future.

Andy MacPhail attended a handfull of Bowie Baysox games in the past week. ITW sat down with the Orioles President of Baseball Operations on August 4 prior the double-A game.

Michael Jaffe: What is your overall assessment of the way organization's overall development so far?

Andy MacPhail: Well, I'm still in the process of really getting to know it. I think by and large we're happy with the progress the players have made. Any time over the course of the year your going to have some players that will get injured or maybe not play to the level that you were hopeful of, and then you'll have others that excel, and others that go along the path that you'd hope they take.

We've had far more of the good than the bad; we've had a little bad, but we've had far more good than the bad. So, by and large we're satisfied with, at least I'm satisfied with the way the year has unfolded.

MJ: Is it unrealistic to see Matt Wieters play in Baltimore before 2010?

Andy MacPhail: I'm not a big one on making pronouncements on when [players will be called up]. The players will generally show you yourself. Let the performance on the field dictate the timetable. Ideally, you'd like the player to get the necessary experience at the professional level. He clearly has been one that has exceeded anyone's reasonable expectations. Even with the kid that was taken fifth in the country he's been remarkable.

For me, you really can't forecast the timetable so much as you just let them play and let those things dictate themselves. Some of it is obviously dependent upon the availability at the Major League level as well.

MJ: Could you comment on Jake Arrieta pitching in the Olympics?

Andy MacPhail: We're delighted that he is. We're pleased that he's part of it. He's had experience in international competition and I think it's a great testimony to him that he was selected and we're delighted to let him play.

MJ: How would, if at all, playing in the Olympics affect Arreita's development?

Andy MacPhail: I don't think it's going to have a negative impact at all. I think that if we really felt it was potentially a negative impact we would have had reservations about letting him go. But, obviously, right or wrong, we reached the conclusion that it wouldn't [negatively impact him] and he can represent our country in the Olympics, and that's fine with us.

MJ: Moving on to another position, shortstop. This has been a really interesting to keep an eye… does Blake Davis have a shot at the majors this year?

Andy MacPhail: Again, like I said earlier, generally you let the performance on the field sort of dictate that and time will reveal the answers for you.

Clearly there's a shot. There's a need and it's a position that requires a premium, in my view, placed on defense. So when people that we feel can play that position, defensively, they're going to get every consideration.

MJ: Is this position something that will be addressed outside of the organization or inside in the off-season?

Andy MacPhail: It's one of those areas that's been a concern for us. We've tried four or five different guys at the Major League level, and we've done it internally, and we've done it externally. We'll probably continue to try every which way we can.

MJ: Another hole is at first base in the higher levels of the organization; is that something that could be addressed?

Andy MacPhail: Well, it's an area [to address], but there are a lot of different ways you can fill that. First of all, Aubrey Huff is having a great year and he can play first base for us at the Major League level. He's signed through 2009, outfielders can gravitate to that position over their careers.

I think in the industry today there's a greater chance of filling that need if you can't do it internally, than you can shortstop right now. But like all positions, it's something we'll keep our eye on. I don't think we see it quite in the same light as we would like shortstop, that has been an issue for us.

MJ: How has your experience with other organizations in the past affect your approach here?

Andy MacPhail: I think anybody that has been in the game any period of time, as the longer you go one, the more you learn and get exposed to different things. Your philosophies might become shaped differently over your experiences.

We've made no secret to the fact that we feel, particularly in what we think is the most unforgiving division in baseball, if you're going to win here, you really have to pitch and really have to value defense. A lot of teams pay lip service to it, but I do think that is definitely something we're going to need to focus on because we're always going to be facing some giants in our division, and well-payrolled mashers. And, this is, I think, our best way to compete with them.

MJ: Finally, is there any update on Brian Matusz?

Andy MacPhail: I would think since it's August 4th and there's no resolution, you can pretty much rest assured that one's going to go down to the 15th.

ITW sincerely appreciates the time Andy MacPhail gave for the interview.

Michael Jaffe is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached at publisher@insidethewarehouse.com.

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