In what has become an almost annual occurrence, the Baltimore Orioles summoned the media to the B&O Warehouse adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards late Tuesday morning to introduce a new member of their management team. This time, the new hire was an old face: former Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, whom the Orioles named as their executive vice president of baseball operations – the equivalent of GM – to replace the departed Andy MacPhail.
Duquette, who hasn’t held a major league position since being fired from the Red Sox in 2002, went to great lengths to highlight his ties to the Orioles franchise, name-dropping folks such as Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell and Harry Dalton (the Orioles’ GM in the late 1960s and early 1970s and one of Duquette’s mentors). But he also made one cringeworthy slip-up, saying at one point that he welcomed the opportunity “to build a perennially contending team here in Boston.”
Other highlights from Duquette’s presser:
*He colored his time away from the game as a potential strength, saying he kept his skills sharp while attending to other projects – including a youth baseball academy – and asserting that his “focus is going to be sharper and better” from having been away from the game for nine years. (To this same point, Orioles Manager Buck Showalter added, “Anybody who doesn’t think he’s up to speed on the industry is sadly mistaken.”)
*He seemed to indicate the Orioles would not be major players for some of the biggest free agents on the market this offseason. Asked specifically about first baseman Prince Fielder and left-handed starter C.J. Wilson, Duquette spoke generally: “Everyone wants to look at established major league players,” he said. “My success in the free agent market has been more signing players who can compliment the team [once the foundation is in place]. When you can sign a player who can get you over the top, that’s the time, I think, when it’s right to go into the free agent market.”
*He said Earl Weaver’s influential book on managing, “Weaver on Strategy,” would be “required reading” throughout the Orioles’ player-development system.
*He said he does not feel threatened by Showalter’s influence in player-personnel decisions, saying he welcomes it. “The caliber of the manager was something that really attracted me” to the job, Duquette said. “There’s plenty of work for two guys here.”