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Who Are You, Dan Duquette, and What Is Your Vision For Our Orioles?

When the Orioles first hired Dan Duquette I was skeptical at best. I’ve never really moved beyond that feeling but I did eventually reach a place where I thought I could sort of, maybe, see what he was getting at. Revamp the front office. Shore up the organizational depth. Make long-needed international inroads. Cool, I can sign on. Nothing spectacular but nothing to really complain about, either. That whole adage about Rome not being built in a day and all.

Then he goes and trades Jeremy Guthrie — as stalwart an Oriole as we’ve had of late — for a couple of middling pitchers. Fine enough players, sure, but complementary pieces at most and, importantly, not prospects. Basically what happened today is that our de facto ace was jettisoned for a couple of guys who don’t figure to move the needle in the short term and likely won’t be around to help move it in the long term.

That skepticism I was talking about in regards to Duquette? It’s back.

What this comes down to is something I think I’m always looking for in the things I want to support and/or be a part of: vision. I’m not obsessed with measurables and not even obsessed with results, at least not in the short term. I’m happy to take a long view and I’m happy to think outside the norms. Indeed, I often prefer that approach. But what I can’t abide is lack of vision. Tell me “This might not seem to make sense right now but here’s what I’m getting at…” and I’ll probably be down, or at least willing to listen. But Duquette hasn’t done that. His moves have been piecemeal. The dots don’t connect yet without a stretch, and that’s a problem.

I’m not saying Duquette himself hasn’t connected those dots. I’m in fact quite sure he has, or at least thinks he has. But from an outside perspective it’s hard to see how it all adds up.

What I want to know is what Duquette sees when he thinks about the Orioles in two months, ten months, two years. Then I want to know how moves like today’s trade make sense in that context. There’s a hint of that thinking in his comments on the trade (warning: Sun paywall link) but he doesn’t really say anything of import. Make us more competitive…more team control…etc. Fine as far as it goes but far from inspiring.

I can’t shake this feeling I have that Duquette is in over his head a little bit. I know his intentions are good and I know he’s smart but I’m not sure he’s up to the task. Make no mistake that I want him to succeed, just like I wanted Andy MacPhail to succeed. But if we’re talking hard-money odds here then, well, I’m not sure he gets my bet. Not yet anyway, but I’m still listening and hoping to hear more.

36 comments to Who Are You, Dan Duquette, and What Is Your Vision For Our Orioles?

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i’ve held my tongue for a while but i highly suggest you start calling this guy “dookie”.

  • Jack

    Yeah, I’m with BBM…This trade reminded me that DD was, what, like the fifth or eighth person to be offered the job–I think Clancy the beerman was next–and his swagger is not only long gone but probably was never there to begin with.

    Know what? I’m amazingly sanguine about having given up my season tix. I grew up a loyal Redskins fan but lost interest in them after too many years of feeling like I’d been kicked in the huevos by Snyder. I’m there with Angelos, and will abandon the O’s before too long if this crap continues. Hard words to write, but I swear it’s true.

    This trade blows. The O’s are rudderless.

  • PW

    This seems simple, for what they were going to pay Guthrie they got two serviceable players. Neither will help the team in the long run and probably won’t be on the team in a year or two. They are roster fillers and it saved the team money. To say its about building for the future is dishonest.

    The philosophy of looking for low walk-high strikeout guys is solid, you have to like a pitcher that pounds the zone. Other than that I don’t see any sense in this.

  • Andrew

    @ PW:

    “This seems simple, for what they were going to pay Guthrie they got two serviceable players. Neither will help the team in the long run and probably won’t be on the team in a year or two. They are roster fillers”

    You know who else you could have said that about? Jeremy Guthrie. Wonderful person, but unlikely to be on the team next year anyway, and unlikely to move the needle this year anyway.

  • sci

    @ Andrew:
    Was going to say something like that as well. Let’s take a step back and remember that we’re talking about a very average pitcher here in Guthrie. He was most decidedly not a hot property on the trade market. At all.

    Doesn’t justify trading for more roster filler, but still. They weren’t going to resign him after this year.

  • dan the man

    Duquette has said the O’s never received any offers for young prospects. Whether or not that’s just hot air, who knows.

    The argument to that comment is that you instead hold onto Guthrie, hope that he stays healthy and pitches well, and then flip him at the deadline when his value is higher. That’s a risk, though.

    The O’s don’t get a pick if he walks thanks to the new CBA, so that option is irrelevant. Honestly, the best option may have been to extend him a few years and flip him next offseason.

    And according to Roch, the Colorado deal was their best offer “by far”, so.. it’s tough to know what to believe.

    I think it’s pretty clear, though, that Duquette probably likes good, young prospects like the rest of us, but balks on 2nd-tier, middling prospects in favor of proven major leaguers. It just seems like Guthrie wasn’t going to net us the package of prospects we thought he would, and that’s honestly on MacPhail. A year too late with this one.

  • ryan97ou

    we couldn’t get anything for guthrie because even though he’s our “ace” he’s still lost a ton of games and has a less than impressive ERA. and a WHIP of 1.34 aint pretty when you’re trying to pitch a trade. we weren’t going to get anything awesome for him, and to think we were is kind of ridiculous, and come the end of his contract we were gonna get nothin for him. so yah it sucks we didn’t get more but something is better than nothing and i think that’s basically what this came down to.

    still doesn’t help our rotation this year, but this year really isn’t what our eyes should be on imo…we aint gettin no prize this year.

    personally, i was at fanfest and listened to both of Duquette’s q&a sessions and while i fully realize he’s selling the kool-aid and putting a good face on everything i came away impressed with his attitude. he’s not taking any crap from anyone, that’s for sure. that may either become a huge success or an epic failure…but at least it’s not riding the middle of the road like macphail.

    so whatever…let those dice roll. what do we seriously have to lose at this point? at least it’s a changed approach from the previous years.

  • Steve Lee

    “What this comes down to is something I think I’m always looking for in the things I want to support and/or be a part of: vision.”

    In this CBS interview (http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2012/01/31/dan-duquette/), Duquette lays out his “vision”. Whether that vision satisfactorily constitutes a vision is open for debate, but he mention the Brewers as his vision of how the O’s will grow into a contender. I’m not sure if Duquette has a vision to execute this goal, but he speaks a great deal about fixing player development and his steps toward that goal. So if Duquette’s is looking to build young superstars through the draft and international scouting, the fans will be waiting for a long time for a winner.

  • Larry

    I like Guthrie a lot, too, but let’s face it, the O’s weren’t likely to pry serious prospects away for a pitcher who lost 17 games last year, had an ERA well north of 4, and a WHIP of 1.34. So we got two pitchers who separately (or collectively) should do at least as well, perhaps much better. And the O’s have control over the guys they acquired for a season or so beyond the control they had over Guthrie. I really don’t think the trade was about much more than that or says anything about Duquette’s vision.

    What has fascinated (and puzzled me) is the stockpiling of pitchers, with seemingly no end in sight. Do they want to give the cavalry another year in the minors? I thought Arietta and Britton both showed enough to justify another year in the majors, but I’m not sure there is room for both of them. What good will a year at Norfolk do for either one? Does Duquette have (or think he has) a wildly astute eye for talent, especially the under-the-radar types that have fueled some surprising runs in recent years? Or is the idea simply to give Buck lots of options, so he can keep running players up and down the system until he finds some who stick? More mediocrity is better than less?

    I don’t know what Duquette is up to, but at least for now, he has my interest.

  • PW

    @ Andrew:
    I’m not necessarily knocking the trade, but I am knocking what DD said about the trade. Namely, “We like the like the trade because it gives the Orioles an option beyond 2012.” Yeah Hammel is on contract for another season, but its unlikely he will net any more after this season than Guthrie would net now and he’s not a guy to build a staff around. As far as I’m concerned its merely a stopgap. Which would be fine if DD wasn’t trying to pass it off as team building.

  • PW

    Sorry for the poor copy and pasting skills on the quote.

  • Mike R

    Just goes to to show how far behind and out of touch the Orioles are. The Marlins are ready to meet with Cespedes tomorrow and the day could end with an offer. The Orioles, who “claim” to be interested, just like they “claimed” to be interested in Prince, are planning on scouting him in 7-10 days from now.

    I mean is Danny blowing smoke, or is he really, truly, dumb as fuck? With teams ready to make offers, does he think Cespedes will even be still available to scout in 7-10 days? Whats there to scout anyway? You see one highlight reel you think to yourself “Bo Jackson,” big, strong, fast, and hitting his prime at 26. Do they not have tv or Internet at the orioles offices? Are they that fuckin clueless?

    Fuck! just say you’re not interested. Just be honest with the fans for god sake. Its the least this sorry excuse for an organization can do. I feel so bad for the players that Im happy for Guthrie that he’s gone. He has a chance to succeed and maybe win now in Colorado.

  • neal s

    @ Mike R: Totally agreed on the idea of the team just saying “we’re not interested” but that’s from a fan’s perspective. To be fair, doing so might not be good business. There’s something to be said for hanging back a bit in certain situations to preserve leverage if things start to look good.

    Your more general point, though, is well taken. I think we’re all looking for a little more clarity and (yes, to go back to my point in the main post) vision. Duquette has been a little better about that than MacPhail but it’s still entirely too hard to see exactly where they’re going and what the thinking is.

  • neal s

    @ Steve Lee: To be honest, man, Duquette comes across in that interview more as a guy who’s simply involved in the process, not as the guy directing the process. It’s not particularly inspiring.

  • PW

    Do you think there is any weight or traction to the Manny talks? The way its being reported it seems that this is an actual possibility. They have had “exploratory talks” and DD has a history with Manny in Boston. I pray that nothing comes of this because Manny would contribute nothing but trouble to this team.

  • sci

    @ PW:

    I’ve come to believe Manny will sign here. Just a feeling. He’s really got nowhere else to go, and DD seems to like him, for some reason. And we happen to need a righty for the DH platoon, I suppose.

    Don’t know what to say about it other than I despise even the idea of it. I think 99% of fans will be against this move.

  • dan the man

    Honestly, I’m kind of in the 1%. I don’t necessarily want Duquette to sign Manny, but if he did, I think I would just find it funny rather than infuriating. The caveat, of course, is that he doesn’t take away ABs from Reimold or Davis. At this point, they would be manning LF and 1B, with our 3B being Reynolds and our DH being… Betemit? Wieters at times? Reimold at times with Chavez in LF? Doesn’t sound like Manny DHing would get in the way of a whole lot.

    It would have to be proven that he can still hit. I believe at 39 or 40 or whatever, he can still get on base like a million times better than anyone we’ve seen on the Orioles in over a decade. And we know how much DD enjoys OBP.

    I’m all about laughing about the Orioles these days. They’re blocked from South Korea – that’s kind of funny. Manny is kind of funny. They’ll be fun and interesting to watch and talk about, I think, regardless of their level of suck.

  • sci

    @ dan the man:
    Put that way, I guess I could just step back and have fun with the absurdity of Manny being on this team, should that happen. I’m against the move and hope it doesn’t happen, but I will revel in the ridiculousness if he shows up. What the hell…

    It’s true, though, that he’s not exactly the best example for the young players of how to play the game the right way.

  • ryan97ou

    @ sci:

    as you can see i generally try to remain as positive as possible when it comes to the orioles. but let me tell you right now. if they sign manny, there is no circumstance or explanation that will extinguish my anger at that move. none.

  • PW

    @ dan the man:
    Occupy Eutaw Street?

    If this happens I guess all you can really do is just sit back and chuckle.

  • dan the man

    @ ryan97ou:
    Why, though? I mean really, what does it matter? The O’s are going to lose 90 games whether we are laughing at Manny DHing or laughing at Wilson Q. Betemit DHing. You get him for a maximum of 112 games for a million bucks on a minor league deal. If he sucks or mouths off, you cut him.

    Might as well be entertaining if we’re going to stink. There’s no prospect that should be DHing on the major league squad right now. Screw it, I say. Sign me up for a hilarious 2012 season of the Baltimore Orioles featuring “reformed” Manny Ramirez, some Japanese dudes, the Ghost of Brian Roberts, angry mobs of South Koreans, 3 or 4 84-year-old FO workers, a New Zealand softball player, and a half-delusional Dan Duquette.

    You never know – it might be so damn crazy that it could work.

  • ryan97ou

    i’ve hated manny ever since he left the indians for greener pastures and then went on to make himself look like a fool more and more each season. every year he seems to impossibly make himself look even more ridiculous than the year before and the orioles might not be good, but we’re not that low, and a punch like that would be below the belt to me as a fan.

  • dan the man

    @ ryan97ou:
    That’s fair enough, and a good answer.

    I’m still fully in “along for the ride” mode, though.

    Welcome to the Circus, Luis Ayala! And congrats on turning that one lucky season with the Yankees into a guaranteed contract from the Orioles.

    On a plus note, there’s a million arms right now, and something’s gotta give. I’m thinking we’ve seen the last of some combination of Simon, Berken, Bergesen, or – God willing – Gregg.

  • Dan H

    I’ll be one of the ones booing relentlessly if Manny comes here. I don’t want anything to do with that epic douche. He’s a fool and a has-been. Is he going to get this team over the hump? Not even close. So I want nothing to do with him.

  • dan the man

    Manny bullet dodged, it appears.

    This is without question the least amount of buzz I have experienced going into spring training. It’s a combination of lackluster offseason moves, the fact that our Cavalry regressed last year, the fact that no one except Dan Duquette would accept a job here.

    In the O’s blogosphere, it also seems that the O’s have discontinued their financial support of the Orioles Hangout, with Greg Bader personally posting a message on there sort of lambasting Tony Pente’s reaction to that news. It’s all very WNST and I have to say, when WNST things start happening to non-WNST people, it makes you start to wonder. What the hell are they really thinking in that Warehouse, exactly?

    There’s also some twitter rumors that Pete is quietly shopping the team. And I am fully entrenched in believing that this team will suck until he’s gone. I know it’s cliche and unoriginal, but damnit if it doesn’t feel true.

    All in all – I’m still looking forward to spring training. There’s no hype this year, and maybe that’s a good thing. Despite the doom and gloom, there’s still the Cavalry and there’s still some nice young players on this team. And there’s Buck. The team plays hard, so there’s that, too.

  • ryan97ou

    @ dan the man: i’m with you dan. everyone is down on them because of all of what you said, and rightfully so.

    i’m taking the warren buffet approach: “Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful” in other words…everyone seems to be selling, but i would like to think that now’s the time to buy. when i say buy, i mean we will be better than people currently think. there is no way we can have things add up the way they did last year: every pitcher seemingly imploding, injuries, mainly the pitchers imploding part. i remain optimistic.

    the fact is everyone was overly optimistic last year with buck coming into his first full season, I mean we were going into a season with basically 4 rookies in the rotation. and our top rookie injured (matusz). i personally think we’re in a better situation than that heading into spring training this year.

    if it doesn’t pan out it doesn’t pan out, but at least it’s more of a discussion than “WE’RE GONNA SUCK!”

  • dan the man

    @ ryan97ou:

    And look at the reasons for the hype last year. It basically boiled down to:
    -The young pitchers
    -New acquisitions Vlad, Lee, Reynolds, Hardy
    -Another year of Jones and Wieters

    We know now that these were poor reasons to be as excited as we were. So then what’s different this year?

    -Vlad, Lee, and Guthrie are gone.

    That’s it – everything else remains the same. In fact, Betemit is an upgrade over Vlad and some combination of Davis/Reynolds/whoever is probably better than Lee. Guthrie, well, that’s hurts a little, but we at least added SP candidates. In addition, the bench is upgraded and we’re looking at a full season of Reimold. Chen and Wada provide a buffer for some of the young guys if they aren’t quite right yet.

    By that logic, we should almost be more excited for this year in terms of the on-the-field product.

  • ryan97ou

    @ dan the man: agreed. my main concerns are (outside of the obvious pitching questions):

    -davis and andino starting a whole season in the infield, doesn’t seem to be much depth there (or experience) but andino has shown what he’s capable of last year (just don’t ask him to bunt) and davis does remind me of wieters behind the plate (big, and, when swinging nicely, capable of putting a hurting on the ball).

    -left field: i am gonna have to hope that reimold is finally over that injury and capable of getting back to his 2009 form (or better).

    -DH – even though it’s better than vlad (arguable) this is still obviously a weakness. but one that i am willing to save money on until a DH will actually help us in a playoff race.

    -right field: i’ve heard players tell me before that they’ll be ready for opening day and have that lead to a season of headaches (roberts/matusz/reimold) so i won’t be surprised if right field ends up being an, excuse the pun, sore spot.

    maybe this is worth a post in itself: top things to watch going into spring training? just a thought.

  • dan the man

    @ ryan97ou:
    Yeah, no clue what to think about Markakis. I go back and forth between thinking he’s due for a healthy bounce-back season, and thinking exactly what you said.

    With DH, there’s at least the option there to rotate guys in and out. I think Wieters will get more DH time and I think Davis could be the eventual DH if Nick Johnson is miraculously healthy and productive, to which I give about a 5% chance of happening.

  • sci

    This really is shaping up to be an interesting year. Not much hope from the fan base going in. I agree with Dan – it’s actually the lowest expectation level I can recall going into spring training. But hey, can you really look at our division and predict anything higher than last place? The only thing division-wise I can take heart in is that the Red Sux somehow have not improved their team at all, not even a little bit. They’re still leagues above the O’s though.

    At any rate, I’ll throw out 75-87 as my realistic prediction for the year. BUT I have this weird feeling, a very weird feeling, that things are going to go a lot better than anyone thinks this year. Not willing to put my money where my mouth is on that, but still. Last year there were unrealistically high expectations, this year there just might be unrealistically low expectations. Simply changing from Gregg to JJ as closer might win us 2 more games alone.

    Very pleased about no Manny.

  • sci

    Nice, the O’s are ranked dead last in ESPN’s future power rankings, which rates how teams are set up for the next five years. Below the Astros. Well, it’s not hard to beat those expectations, haha. There really is nowhere to go but up. That’s kind of nice, I suppose, in its own way.

  • Miles

    …and now reports are surfacing that Zach Britton is exeperiencing “lingering shoulder issues”.

    There’s a lot I’m willing to accept, and I realize, in a way, it’s out of the team’s control, but damn. Can’t one of the cavalry become an effective major league starter? Is Arrieta really our best hope for the opening day assignment?


  • dan the man

    @ Miles:
    Right? Maybe Peterson can make a difference by having these guys on a pitching program. Maybe it’s all just dumb luck.

    Even Arrieta is a bit of a question mark coming off of that bone chip surgery in his elbow.

    Arrieta – elbow
    Britton – shoulder
    Matusz – just lost it/oblique
    Tillman – enigma
    Bergesen – just lost it/shoulder

    Someone get these guys right!

  • Miles

    @ dan the man:

    I hate to get on this bandwagon, but at some point, it goes beyond dumb luck and just looks like perpetually poor scouting, poor minor league system management, poor conditioning…


    Just poor.

    Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald (Questionable), Erik Bedard….

    Am I forgetting anyone in the last 22 years or so? Does John Maine count?

    Meanwhile, look at the discard pile: Rick Krivda, Mike Oquist, Jimmy Haynes, Rocky Coppinger, Scott Klingenbeck, Sidney Ponson, Matt Riley, Sean Douglass, John Parrish, Jay Spurgeon, Josh Towers, John Stephens, Rick Bauer, Daniel Cabrera, Hayden Penn, Adam Loewen, Kurt Birkins, Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz.

    Holy crudbuckets, that’s ugly. I just threw up in my mouth. That doesn’t include some of the draft disasters (hello, 1999), And Bergesen is just one more poor spring from making the cut.

    I still hold out hope for Tillman due to his age, and ditto Matusz.

    So disappointing.

  • dan the man

    Britt reporting he had an MRI and it’s just inflammation. Positive news for now, until the kid gets hit by a bus walking to Starbucks or something.

    By the way, are there basically only 3 good Orioles reporters when it comes to the big league club? Roch, Connolly, and Britt?

  • Mike R

    dan the man wrote:

    By the way, are there basically only 3 good Orioles reporters when it comes to the big league club? Roch, Connolly, and Britt?

    Could not agree more. God I hope the Angelos rumors are true.