Dan Duquette's Road To The Playoffs Is Remarkable
Amid all of the celebration in Texas following the Orioles' win against the Rangers during the wild-card game was general manager Dan Duquette getting soaked with champagne. Players stood around him and the team's manager, Buck Showalter, dousing them. There is a look of elation on Duquette's face that says, "I can't believe I'm here."
With all of the success this season for the Orioles, it's hard to remember that Duquette, the team's executive vice president of baseball operations, was out of professional baseball this time last year. In fact, he had been out for nearly a decade, not hired since the Red Sox let him go.
The Orioles lost Duquette's predecessor, Andy MacPhail, when he resigned following the 2011 season, and the team was starting a search for a replacement. Up-and-coming names such as Jerry Dipoto, De Jon Watson and Tony LaCava all came to town and blew off the Orioles' advances. The hiring of Duquette felt random, and there was certainly a last-resort vibe about him. It felt like another bad move for a franchise that appeared to forget what a good move looked like.
Duquette's acquisition of on-field talent felt just as random as his hire. Rule Five Players, Asian pitchers and former All-Stars with crumbling careers came to town. High-profile talent signed elsewhere. The Orioles and Duquette, in some ways, were a match made in heaven -- always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
In the scouting department, Duquette hired a series of lifers and men who had worked with in the past in Boston. He hired a series of young statistical analysts to crunch the numbers and tapped Rick Peterson, a pitching instructor with bio-mechanical emphasis, to rove the team's minor league system.
Duquette, who was running a sports academy when the Birds hired him, remained a baseball man even if baseball had moved on from him. As I've said throughout this season, people will try and copy what Duquette and Showalter did this season, and they won't be able to.
Duquette spent a decade with ideas floating around in his head, and now they're paying dividends in Baltimore. Showalter was out of baseball, too, for four years and was working on ESPN before the Orioles hired him in 2010.
It made sense to see Showalter and Duquette in the middle of that celebration last night. Duquette and Showalter, like the Orioles, might not have been everyone's first choice. Now that the Orioles are back in the big dance, baseball's going to pay for it.
Posted Oct. 6, 2012