- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

BALTIMORE As Mike Flanagan tells it, a little more than 23 years ago, he and Jim Beattie were pitchers "battling" to see who would give up Carl Yastrzemski's 3,000th hit.
Flanagan and the Baltimore Orioles visited Boston on the second weekend in September 1979, with Red Sox great Yastrzemski closing in on the milestone. He didn't get it then, but the following Wednesday, Yastrzemski singled off New York Yankees reliever Beattie for the milestone hit.
The two men have taken different routes through baseball since they finished their playing careers, Flanagan as a broadcaster and coach and Beattie mainly as a front office executive. Yesterday the former pitchers officially joined forces as the new heads of the Orioles' front office.
The Orioles hired Beattie as executive vice president of baseball operations and Flanagan as vice president for baseball operations to form a two-headed general manager of sorts, ending their extensive search to replace de facto GM Syd Thrift.
Beattie, general manager of the low-spending Montreal Expos from 1995 to 2001, will oversee the entire baseball operations department down to the minor leagues and player development, while Flanagan will handle more day-to-day duties and perform many of the tasks done previously by Thrift. Orioles vice chairman Joe Foss said Beattie and Flanagan agreed to three-year contracts.
"I am pleased that the Orioles will have the benefit of two highly respected baseball professionals to guide our destiny," said Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who did not attend the news conference, in a statement. "I know that Jim and Mike are eagerly looking forward to this partnership."
Both men said yesterday neither will have "veto power" but they will instead collaborate on decisions, letting the person with more expertise in a particular area handle decisions there and contact people in the business with whom each has dealt previously. The effectiveness of the pairing will rely greatly on their ability to communicate, which both said will not pose a problem.
"Probably from the start, [the Orioles] didn't envision hiring two of us," Beattie said. "But in developing and working this thing out, they felt there was a comfort factor there, that there are advantages to operating this way."
Beattie and Flanagan should complement each other well. Flanagan, 50, is very familiar with the organization from his work as a broadcaster, and Beattie has more than a decade of executive experience. In perhaps his greatest testimonial, Beattie kept the Expos competitive in the late 1990s despite working with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball.
Flanagan, who has been an adviser to Angelos in recent years, is in his first foray into front office work but talked with the perspective of a man who knows the parameters he will work under. Flanagan spoke yesterday of keeping a "long view" with the whole organization, building the Orioles through the farm system and player development, trades and free agency.
"We're going to make everybody players, coaches accountable," said Flanagan, who also was interviewed by Boston before the Red Sox picked 28-year-old Theo Epstein as GM. "It's easy to see where the weak link is if you hold everybody accountable."
Flanagan, the franchise's fourth most winningest pitcher, served as the Orioles' pitching coach in 1995 and 1998 and was an analyst for Orioles television in 1996 and 1997 and again for the last four seasons.
Beattie also was considered for the Boston GM position this offseason. He was a special assistant to Montreal GM Omar Minyana last season and was director of player development for the Seattle Mariners, for whom he pitched from 1989 to 1995.
Beattie resigned from the Expos at the end of the 2001 season because of the uncertainty about the club's future and for personal reasons. Montreal, which regularly unloaded high-salary players, including Pedro Martinez in 1997, still managed to remain competitive during Beattie's tenure.
The new general managers have some decisions to make already this week; one is shortstop Mike Bordick's situation. The Orioles must offer Bordick arbitration by Saturday or sign him, or else they cannot attempt to sign him until May 1. Bordick finished last season with a 110-game errorless streak, a major league record.
They will also have to decide which free agents to pursue, but one name already has been crossed off the list. Beattie said yesterday Baltimore won't pursue Frank Thomas, the longtime Chicago White Sox slugger.
The new leaders also will have to decide on other positions within the organization, including the minors, scouting and player development. For a franchise that has had five straight losing seasons, including 67-95 in 2002 with a 4-32 finish, wholesale changes could come quickly. But Beattie said that won't necessarily be the case.
"I don't have a record of going anywhere and bringing my entourage with me," Beattie said. "There are good baseball people here. They just have to be given time."

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