Longtime minor league skipper Trembley to lead O's in '08
BALTIMORE -- Before committing to making Dave Trembley the manager of the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, Andy MacPhail wanted to see how the team reacted to failure.
MacPhail, the club's president of baseball operations, never got much of a chance.
After the Orioles bounced back from three straight losses to Seattle this month to win two of three against both Boston and New York, the two best teams in the AL East, MacPhail decided Trembley was the ideal choice to lead the Orioles.
MacPhail extended Trembley's contract through the 2008 season, with a club option for 2009. The announcement came Wednesday, but Trembley received the news Saturday night in Toronto while having dinner with MacPhail.
"I wanted to see how he'd react if we went through a tough skid, and it really didn't happen. The team still played well," MacPhail said. "There comes a time when you've just got to get yourself focused and give everybody an opportunity to get set for '08 as best you can."
When Trembley replaced Sam Perlozzo on June 18, Baltimore was mired in an eight-game skid and stood in last place with a 29-40 record. Under Trembley, the Orioles have a winning record and have not lost more than three in a row.
There were smiles, kind words and congratultions during an afternoon news conference to announce the contract extension. Then, hours later, it was time for Trembley to guide the team on the field.
An afternoon to remember became a night to forget. The Orioles opened a doubleheader against Texas by yielding 29 hits in a 30-3 rout -- the most lopsided loss in franchise history.
Asked how he planned to handle such a devastating defeat, Trembley replied, "You have a real short memory and you let it go."
MacPhail attempted to hire Joe Girardi as manager the same week Perlozzo was fired. After Girardi rejected a three-year contract, the search for a new manager was called off until at least July 31.
MacPhail named Trembley the manager until the end of the 2007 season on July 31, then decided last weekend it was time to deepen the commitment.
"Everything that was attractive about Joe Girardi -- getting a team prepared, communicating with his players -- as it turned out, we had all of those things in-house with Dave," MacPhail said. "The players have a certain comfort level with Dave. We've seen how enthusiastic they are. So, everything that I was trying to achieve, we have here."
Trembley insists that the players stretch together, with no exceptions. He has built a close rapport with the team, but has made it clear his decisions are final. It's a no-nonsense philosophy based on his three favorite words: Respect the game.
"Sometimes what you hear is that Trembley's laid down the law and put the hammer down," Trembley said. "All I've tried to do is get them to respect what they are and who they are, and what they represent. What they represent is a tradition and history of a very proud organization."
The Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997. Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli and Perlozzo all tried -- and failed -- to reverse the slide. Now Trembley -- the seventh man in baseball history to manage in the big leagues without playing pro ball -- gets his shot.
"I know it's not going to be easy to get where we want to go, but I know we're going to do it right," he said.
The 55-year-old Trembley spent the last four of his 20 years as a minor league manager in the Baltimore organization. He was hired to be the bullpen coach this season, but before Perlozzo was fired, Trembley served as bench coach on occasion while Tom Trebelhorn returned to Arizona to tend to his ailing wife.
"The one thing about Dave Trembley that's just awesome is the dues he's put in to become a manager," Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar said.
"It's great for him. He's somebody that's been through a lot in the minor leagues, on bus trip after bus trip," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "Most people probably never would have thought somebody like that would have gotten a shot to manage in the big leagues, especially for an extended period of time. He deserves it. He's been great with us."
MacPhail could have waited until the end of the season to decide upon his manager for 2008, but figured it was best not to delay that important item of business.
"A managerial search really backs up your franchise. If you don't have a manager in place the first day of the offseason, then everything backs up," MacPhail said. "I'm extraordinarily confident that Dave is a good fit for this city, this franchise and these baseball fans."
Said Trembley: "I think it's great for the players, because they know that the philosophy will remain the same."
The Orioles are glad to put in the work, because the results have been profound.
"I personally love it," Millar said. "We're baseball players. That's what we're here for. Sometimes we get caught up in this Disneyland atmosphere, that we have the greatest life in the world. But it's also a job, it's also a business. You have to show up and prepare yourself to play and be the best player you can be every day."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press