By Matthew Taylor
I thought he was crazy when he optimistically stated that the interim tag didn't apply to his title as manager of the Orioles following the Sam Perlozzo firing. Joe Girardi was waiting in the wings and the O's weren't just floating a trial balloon, they were letting Girardi fire the blast valve. Then Dave Trembley - with an assist from Girardi, who rightly sensed that better options would soon be available - proved me wrong.
The guy with no Major League playing experience seems to have earned Major League respect after a career spent proving wrong people much more knowledgeable than I. Kevin Millar is a fan ("I mean, let's talk about Dave Trembley for a minute. You love to see what this guy's doing. You're excited for him. Last year, he was our bullpen coach. How do you not respect this guy? He brings tears to his eyes in every meeting. That's got to make you feel good as a player, because his job is even tougher than ours. Everyone wants to do well for Trembley."), and according to Wednesday's Associated Press story so is Joe Torre.
The AP story - headlined in the International Herald Tribune, "Trembley: I'm not intimidated by anybody" - is required reading for any O's fan who still cares about the team when every indication says to feel otherwise. If you've decided to stick with the Birds, you need to have a guy like Trembley at the helm to believe there's still some good left in the franchise, and I'm not talking about skill.
I get the sense that Trembley really believes what he's saying; he's not selling lemons, he's mixing the ingredients for a tall, cold glass of lemonade. They ought to play the Monkees - "I'm a believer" - every time the guy walks out of the Camden Yards dugout.
Dave Trembley's first spring training as a major league manager has been an exercise in efficiency. No fundamental has been overlooked, and even the most mundane drill is run crisply and promptly.Here is a sampling of some other great Trembley quotes (from other sources) during this year's camp:
He waited two decades for this opportunity, and Trembley has left nothing to chance. And just to show that he doesn't consider himself to be above the players he commands, Trembley often runs with them during workouts and always rides on the team bus, even though the lengthy trek would be much more comfortable in his big, plush Cadillac rental.
Camp Trembley also features an open-door policy that was rarely employed by the last four managers of the Baltimore Orioles, none of whom could coax a winning season out of this staggering franchise. If someone has a complaint, even one concerning a perceived lack of playing time, all he has to do is walk into the manager's office and strike up a conversation.
"My philosophy is communicate and prepare. No one is better than anyone else; don't think anyone is above anyone else," Trembley said. "This is our team. I don't go through my coaches if I have a problem with a player. I go to the player himself. I make myself accessible to the players. I want them to come and tell me what they think, what I can do for them." ....
"People have been following the O's for the last 10 years, and they say, 'Here we go again.' I'm asking for people to just try one more time. Let's see if there's a difference or not, because I know the guy who's in charge [Andy MacPhail] of this thing is going to make sure it happens and I'm going to do my part to make sure it happens."
"We need to establish a new foundation, and I think you do that a number of different ways - the way you go about doing things, your approach bringing other people in, making people feel like they are a part of what's going on," he said. "You have to make everyone feel like they are important and everything they are doing is important. I know in spring training, the games don't mean anything, but the approach matters."
"Guys are doing the two things I've asked: showing responsibility and accountability. That's everybody. There's nobody above the approach we're taking."