Trembley dismissed; Samuel in as interim
Orioles make change with team owning MLB's worst record
BALTIMORE -- Dave Trembley's time as Orioles manager is over. Trembley was dismissed on Friday, the club announced, and was replaced by Juan Samuel, who was promoted from third-base coach to interim manager.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail met with Trembley on Thursday night and called the former skipper "gracious" in handling the situation. The move came on the heels of a winless six-game road trip -- series sweeps in Toronto and New York -- and at a time when the last-place O's have a Major League-worst record of 15-39.
"This is never an easy or pleasant task, making a managerial change," MacPhail said in a press conference Friday afternoon. "In my experience, every time you go through one of these it has a negative reflection on your entire baseball operations department, starting with me and going all the way down the system."
"Nobody believes the reason we have the record we do is somehow Dave Trembley's fault, or that making a change will magically change everything. But we reached a point we felt this was the appropriate thing to do."
MacPhail said he will begin immediate plans to search for a long-term successor to Trembley, and Samuel will be among those considered. Previously the Orioles third base coach, Samuel will be the Orioles ninth manager since Peter Angelos became the principal owner of the Orioles in August 1993. Triple-A Norfolk manager Gary Allenson was named third base coach in lieu of Samuel.
Hired for his extensive Minor League work and emphasis on fundamentals, Trembley was given a chance to help develop and nurture Baltimore's growing young talent the past 2 1/2 seasons. But MacPhail made it clear this spring that Trembley would be judged on wins and losses, calling 2010 "Phase 2" of the organization's rebuilding plan.
Instead, the O's sputtered, winning two of their 18 series and scoring a Major League-low 180 runs in 54 games. Injuries to leadoff man Brian Roberts, outfielder Felix Pie and closer Mike Gonzalez impacted the team as it got off to a 2-16 start, the second-worst beginning to a season in franchise history.
"The results on the field were not what any of us would have hoped for, and I understand that the organization felt the time was right to move in a different direction," Trembley said in a statement. "While I am disappointed at the outcome, I feel it was a privilege to wear the Orioles uniform each day and I thank all the fans for their tremendous support. I hope the team will soon return to the winning tradition they enjoyed for so many years."
The 2-16 hole was one the Orioles could never dig out of, as they lost setup man Jim Johnson to a stay on the disabled list and relievers Koji Uehara and Alfredo Simon went down not long after.
Following a respectable 7-9 stretch, the O's went .500 on a homestand that was hoped to signal a turnaround. Instead, the 4-4 stretch against the Mariners, Indians and Royals was followed by a two-game sweep at Texas and a series loss to Interleague-rival Washington.
"It's been a mixed bag," said MacPhail, who shouldered part of the blame for the on-field product he handed Trembley. "We got him a couple of guys that really didn't contribute at all and some guys that were everything we hoped they would be."
Amid increasing fan criticism for what was called a too-soft approach and his mishandling of the bullpen, Trembley's seat warmed considerably over the final few weeks of his tenure. When asked prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Yankees about being in the eye of a hurricane, Trembley said his approach to the game would never change.
"I'm a steward of the ship," Trembley said. "I'm here to do the very best I can all the time. I'm not thinking about myself, I'm thinking about the team and the organization. You do the very best you can. You don't get wrapped up in things that you can't control. That's the way it is. That's life. You go with what you got."
For the Orioles, that no longer includes Trembley -- a 20-year manager in the Minor Leagues whose love and appreciation for the game went unmatched, despite the fact that he had never played professional baseball at any level.
Trembley was named the Orioles' bullpen coach in 2007 and was given the managerial reins on an interim basis when Sam Perlozzo was dismissed on June 18. When Trembley took over, the O's were in last place in the AL East, with a record of 29-40.
Current Yankees skipper Joe Girardi turned down the job, and Trembley was given an extended chance to manage, with the organization dropping the interim tag on Aug. 22, 2007, and awarding Trembley a contract for 2008 and an option for '09. Trembley became just the seventh man in modern baseball history to manage in the Majors without having played professional baseball at any level. He leaves the Orioles with a career managerial record of 187-283.
The 49-year-old Samuel was a three-time National League All-Star whose Major League playing career spanned 16 years. He is in his fourth year on the Orioles staff; prior to that, he was manager of the Double-A Binghamton Mets in 2006. Samuel led the B-Mets to a second-place finish and a 70-69 record.
"I'm very delighted and excited to have somebody that commands the respect of the players that Juan does," MacPhail said. "And from my observations not somebody that will go lightly on those mistakes that we don't need to be making."
After retiring as a player, Samuel coached first base for the Detroit Tigers in 1999 and moved into the third-base role four games into the 2002 season. He'll be the first Latin-born manager in Orioles history and said he has a no-nonsense approach built around hustle, energy and effort.
"Hopefully I can inject a spark into these players," Samuel said. "They all know me very well; know the kind of guy that I am."
"I have full intention to take advantage of this opportunity and see how far we can push these guys. And turn the page."
Samuel, who spoke to the players in a brief meeting following the news conference, said the Orioles' season starts right now.
"The past is the past, what we do from now on is what we are going to be judged on," he said. "And I have full intention to push these guys as hard as I can. Push them to the limit."
As for Trembley, the proverbial closed door may open another open. According to the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, MacPhail spoke with Trembley about remaining in the organization in another capacity in the future. The former manager flew back to his home in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Friday and could not be reached.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.