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Seriously, who would do any better than Trembley?

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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If the Orioles want to fire manager Dave Trembley, that is their absolute prerogative. MANY UNCERTAIN FUTURESKen Rosenthal As the following list shows, the Orioles' Dave Trembley is not the only manager whose future is uncertain.

SIGNED THROUGH 2009

Bruce Bochy, Giants: General manager Brian Sabean told FOXSports.com last week that he believes there is "genuine interest" from ownership in rehiring both himself and Bochy. Perhaps only an utter collapse would change that. Bobby Cox, Braves: There were rumblings earlier in the season that he might step down, but the Braves' turnaround — and the vast potential of prospects such as Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman — should persuade him to return. Tony La Russa, Cardinals: Ownership showed its commitment to winning by approving the trades — and payroll increases — for Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday. True, Holliday might depart as a free agent, but La Russa would have Albert Pujols through at least '11. Jim Riggleman (interim), Nationals: His position would be enhanced if the man who promoted him from bench coach, Mike Rizzo, was named permanent GM But the hiring of Jerry DiPoto or Jed Hoyer as GM likely would lead to an organization-wide housecleaning. Jim Tracy (interim), Rockies: The leading candidate for NL Manager of the Year, he should be a lock to return.

SIGNED THROUGH 2010

Dusty Baker, Reds: Owner Bob Castellini has said that Baker "absolutely" will return, and the Reds' trade for third baseman Scott Rolen should end any talk of luring La Russa. Cecil Cooper, Astros: The Astros, who exercised Cooper's option for 2010 in April, easily could reconsider. Cooper is the The Man Who Issued An Intentional Walk In Front of Hanley Ramirez. Cito Gaston, Blue Jays: Nothing is certain with the Jays, starting with the return of GM J.P. Ricciardi. Gaston, however, should be immune from any front-office change. Bob Geren, A's: Difficult to imagine GM Billy Beane blaming him for the A's disappointing season — especially after extending him through '10 in March and including a club option for '11. Joe Girardi, Yankees: Started the season as perhaps the leading candidate to be the first manager fired. No more: The Yankees own the best record in the majors. Trey Hillman, Royals: GM Dayton Moore also is signed through '10, but the Royals — picked by many to surprise — own the worst record in the American League. Ken Macha, Brewers: Ask Ned Yost: Owner Mark Attanasio, believed by many to be the driving force behind the Brewers' sweeping changes last week, isn't terribly patient with the managers. Jerry Manuel, Mets: It's not his fault that so many of the team's best players got hurt, but he could be in jeopardy if the Mets make sweeping changes, pushing aside GM Omar Minaya and luring back Bobby Valentine. John Russell, Pirates: Team president Frank Coonelly told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday that manager Russell will return next season to serve the final year of his contract. Eric Wedge, Indians: Huge question. Team president Paul Dolan has said he will conduct an organization review at the end of the season to determine whether there should be changes in the team's field management and front office.
Just tell me this: Who is going to do better? I don't know if Trembley will be the right manager for the Orioles once they return to contention. But the team is at least a year away from being in such position, and Trembley shows enough of the right qualities — patience, loyalty, passion — to remain the manager of a developing club. Alas, he looks like a goner. Andy MacPhail, the team's president of baseball operations, said last weekend that the club would not decide whether to exercise the manager's option for 2010 until the end of the season. Well, nothing will change between now and then to make Trembley more appealing. The youthful Orioles, after subtracting closer George Sherrill and first baseman Aubrey Huff, again will get mauled by AL East competition in September, only adding to the scrutiny of their lame-duck manager. The team, 8-21 since the All-Star break, is right on pace for its third straight second-half collapse. Trembley, who took over for Sam Perlozzo in mid-June 2007, has presided over each of those failures. Yet, he actually has helped change the culture of a franchise headed for its 12th straight losing season. His teams have not quit. They simply have been overmatched. Unless the Orioles can get Tony La Russa or a reasonable facsimile this offseason — and they almost certainly cannot — then they should keep Trembley and offer him greater support, not dump him. Trembley's biggest drawback is that he never played professional baseball. Only seven other managers since 1900 have lacked professional playing experience, including Trey Hillman, who was named to the Royals' position in '08. Such managers make easy targets for disgruntled players, who often grumble, "What does he know? He never played the game!" The Orioles appeared to have one such issue earlier this month when third baseman Melvin Mora said Trembley "disrespected" him by reducing his playing time. Would Mora have been as defiant toward a more established manager? Maybe, but the Orioles could have enhanced Trembley's authority and sent a powerful message by releasing Mora immediately. Another problem for Trembley, if only in perception, is that his bench coach, Dave Jauss, also did not play professionally. Jauss, a good baseball man, deserves to remain a coach. But Trembley needs his own Don Zimmer — a seasoned veteran who could offer him unique perspective without threatening his job security. If the Orioles quit in the final six weeks, fine, get rid of Trembley. But most of their young players seem to possess outstanding character. As Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun noted in a recent column, the greater problem is the attitude of some of the team's veterans. By trading Huff, MacPhail at least purged one of them. MacPhail is a fair man. Picking up Trembley's option would be a fair solution.

Chipper on Escobar: "Do not give up on this kid"

On June 14, Braves manager Bobby Cox removed shortstop Yunel Escobar from a game due to a lack of focus. His attitude was infuriating not only Cox, but also opponents and teammates. But Escobar led the NL in OPS in July, and seemingly has turned an emotional corner. Ask Chipper Jones. "Escobar, I feel, is one more notch mentally from being the best shortstop in the National League," the Braves' third baseman says. "He's got the defensive game, the offensive game. Mentally, he's not quite there yet. But he's about to elevate himself into one of the top one or two shortstops in the league. "That's when sometimes reading news clippings might help you. It will piss you off. He got hacked off at what people were saying about him. Maybe that's what it takes to get the message through. Nobody appreciates being bad-mouthed in the press. And he was getting it. "Anytime Bobby Cox pulls you off the field in the middle of a game, it's bad. He wanted to make a point. He made that point. But I harp on the people of Atlanta: Do not give up on this kid. He's the best shortstop I've ever played with. "He's young, hungry, a good player, a good kid. We just need to tone him down just a little bit, get him not to make mental mistakes."

The Feliz Factor

The combined line from right-hander Neftali Feliz's first five relief appearances with the Rangers is downright ridiculous: IP: 8.2, H 2, ER 1, SO 16, BB 0 "He's throwing 100-101 mph and getting his breaking pitches over," the Angels' Gary Matthews Jr. says. "Most guys throw everything hard, everything the same speed. He throws 100, his changeup is 90 and his slider is 83. It's unique." Feliz, 21, will remain in the bullpen only if for some reason he cannot make the transition back to starting. The Rangers still view him as a member of their 2010 rotation. One American League GM says of the Rangers, "It's hard to understand how their rotation is doing it, but their bullpen is legit — power arm after power arm.'

Jepsen's accidental cutter

One challenge for the Angels this season is that several of their young pitchers are learning new pitches at the major-league level. In the case of right-hander Kevin Jepsen, at least, the experimentation worked. Jepsen, who started throwing a cut fastball in late June at the prompting of pitching coach Mike Butcher, has since developed into a trusted setup man. "(Butcher) asked if I ever thought about throwing a cutter," Jepsen said. "I said no. He looked at my fastball grip, moved the ball, turned it in my hand. I haven't looked back since." Jepsen, 25, said he began using the pitch in games two or three days later. Since July 1, he has posted a 2.14 ERA in 21 innings, striking out 21 and walking six.

Around the Horn

  • The Yankees inquired about Reds right-handers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, but backed off when the Reds said they would not include any money in a deal. While the Yankees remain active in their pursuit of a starter, they likely will stand pat and await the benefit of the roster expansions on Sept. 1.
  • Mets left-hander Billy Wagner, throwing 93 to 94 mph on his rehabilitation assignment at Class A, could be a reasonable gamble for a contender in search of relief help. Wagner, coming off Tommy John surgery, is owed the remainder of his $10.5 million salary this season plus a $1 million buyout. The Mets would need to pay most or all of that money to trade him.
  • What's wrong with Phillies closer Brad Lidge? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says Lidge needs more consistent work. Others with the club believe that Lidge needs to regain his confidence and mental edge. But one scout who sees the Phillies often describes Lidge's delivery as "horrible," questioning whether the closer is still bothered by his right knee. "He's not staying over the rubber," the scout says. "He can't sit on his back leg."
  • Whatever the story is with Brett Myers — he told the Phillies he first injured his eye playing catch with his son, then changed his story to say the problem occurred when he slipped getting out of his truck — some with the club are skeptical that he can make a successful comeback from his bigger issue, hip surgery. Myers is hyper-competitive, but he might be trying too hard to prove he is healthy before becoming a free agent.
  • The Diamondbacks never received an adequate trade offer for left-hander Doug Davis, but they were never all that motivated to move him, either. Davis hardly is flashy, but he chews up innings and usually produces an ERA below the league average. The Diamondbacks, 23-16 since July 3, also were reluctant to give up on their season. As one club official says, "At some point, you have to invest in learning how to win."
  • Say this for the Indians: They should be strong up the middle for years to come. Center fielder Grady Sizemore is signed through 2012. Asdrubal Cabrera has emerged as a dynamic defender at short, and Luis Valbuena could be the answer at second, with Jason Donald representing another alternative. At catcher, Kelly Shoppach could form a bridge to Carlos Santana, one of the game's most exciting prospects. Santana, whose offensive stats at Class AA are eye-popping, could be ready midway through next season.
  • Angels center fielder Torii Hunter on his return from a strained adductor (thigh) muscle: "I'm 90 to 95 percent, but I've never been 100 percent my whole career. Nobody is. If you're 100 percent, you're not playing hard enough." ...
  • And finally, the Angels presented a bound volume of press clippings about Nick Adenhart to the late pitcher's father, Jim, when he visited the team in Baltimore on Sunday. The book, inscribed with the words, "Living The Dream," includes articles from throughout Adenhart's career. The Angels previously had presented a similar volume to Adenhart's mother, Janet. The books were commissioned from a private company by several players' wives.
  • Tagged: Orioles, Angels, Indians, Yankees, Rangers, Braves, Reds, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Melvin Mora, Torii Hunter, Doug Davis, Bronson Arroyo, Aubrey Huff, Brad Lidge, Aaron Harang, Brett Myers, Grady Sizemore, George Sherrill, Kelly Shoppach, Yunel Escobar, Neftali Feliz

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