New Dance Craze: Duquette's Orioles Roster Tango
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Let the printing presses roll. Let the blobs of multi-colored ink be spewed forth in such a way to net the result of the first playoff tickets in Baltimore for baseball in 15 years.
It's a fitting metaphor, the blending of those different-colored inks into what Orioles fans will hold in their hands come playoff time. Because in order for this team to be dreaming about using those tickets, the new artistic team of general manager Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter will have used a multi-colored mix on the palette that is their roster.
For a few days, there is a smidge of Steve Pearce, a dab of Omar Quintanilla a scintilla of Jim Thome. Shake it and test it. … No, it needs a bit of Lew Ford, throw in a kitchen sink of Nate McLouth and don't forget that pre-prescribed amount of Brian Matusz relief. OK, you get the picture.
The Orioles' roster this year has been any of a number of metaphors that say the same thing: collaborations of useful ingredients can bring about a good finished product. Although calling the Orioles anything more than a great story up to now might be too steep a mountain to climb, the work isn't done yet.
But good luck to Duquette and Showalter as they sort out the ooze of what they have created on their pitching staff. The starter options include: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Johnson, Zach Britton, Joe Saunders, Randy Wolf and a guy named Jason Hammel.
Last time I looked, that adds up to three more toes than I have on one foot. So how does Team Tango create roster space for newest addition Randy Wolf? They option Britton, he of the eight-inning, 10-strikeout performance on Thursday.
But ask Showalter, "Are you planning to use Wolf out of the bullpen?" He looks you straight in the eye and says, "Can't say, all depends on how things shake out tomorrow. We are waiting to see how one guy's eye is." And so it goes.
On the position side of things, it's been easier for the skipper to both know and communicate who is playing where. Although Wilson Betemit and Thome may be on the disabled list, they are hardly forgotten.
Second base? That was the private purview of Robert Andino, save for the brief re-entry of Brian Roberts. By the time Roberts was shelved again, Andino came up with a lame shoulder diving for a ball. Faster than you can say Wally Pip, the sudden juggernaut of Ryan Flaherty and Quintanilla unseated Andino.
The entire exercise is wearying to those of us left to simply observe the genius of Duquette's mastery of roster building. With September call-ups starting on Sept. 1 and the possibility of creating postseason rosters with the flexibility of going series to series, for Duquette, the roster shuffle may just be hitting its stride.
To those of us that remember the time, long before social media, when crazes hit a tipping point -- the Hula Hoop, Tiki Gods and the Twist, to name a few -- Duquette's Roster Tango may just be Baltimore's newest dance craze.
Posted Aug. 31, 2012