Grading Dan Duquette's First Orioles OffseasonPosted on February 14, 2012
Each week, two PressBox baseball writers will weigh in with their thoughts on a different question. First up, Stan "The Fan" Charles and Matt Palmer on how would you grade Dan Duquette's first working offseason in nine years?
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Despite his nine years out of the industry, the level of product knowledge the Orioles' new executive vice president of baseball operations possesses makes me think this will be like a kid riding a bike. Long before there was a Theo Epstein, Dan Duquette was baseball's wunderkind.
It's not as if Double D was handed the keys to a 2012 Porsche. The Orioles in their entirety are closer in the car analogy department to the proverbial lemon. While Duquette has worked hard at buying pitching depth, and it does seem as if the Orioles are not putting all their eggs in the basket of the young arms that once made up the cavalry, it is still the young arms of Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman that hold the greatest long-term hope for the O's.
Newcomers Tsuyoshi Wada, Wei-Yin Chen, Dana Eveland, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel provide some experience that might give the Orioles a bit of a cushion so they do not have to force feed the young arms.
Duquette spent an awful lot of his offseason ammunition on upgrading one of the most critical areas the Orioles have had -- scouting and assessing talent to sign into the organization. In Baseball America's latest ranking of minor league systems, Baltimore came in at No. 17, with only Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Jonathan Schoop rated as top-tier prospects.
To properly judge Duquette, let's give it three years to see whether his new regime can move the O's minor league system into the top 10 or maybe even the top five. For now, I give Dan Duquette's first Orioles offseason a grade of B. At least he has properly diagnosed the Orioles' need to upgrade the personnel people before they can hope to improve the personnel.
By Matt Palmer
When it came to major free agents, the Orioles whiffed. Worse than that, they never came out of the dugout to take a swing in the market. That was Dan Duquette's decision, ultimately.
Prince Fielder was out there for the taking and the Orioles didn't want to secure their biggest star since Cal Ripken. The Birds had the money and need, but chose not to chase opportunity.
The already-loaded American League got better when Fielder signed with the Tigers.
The Orioles assembled a crew of players -- from America and Asia -- that have yet to prove they can play in the majors. Duquette is banking on on-base percentage being the key to success. The problem is we're not in the early 2000s anymore, when the Athletics were trying to change the game. The game changed and clubs adjusted.
Many teams are playing moneyball, which you can't do against the Red Sox and Yankees. On top of that, the Rays are set to compete for years to come with all their talent.
In the AL East, you have to choose to be competitive. The Orioles have sent a message during this offseason that they're not willing to spend to do that.
The way the Orioles are operating, particularly with the trade of ace Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies, is sending a message to the club's special players -- Adam Jones and Matt Wieters -- that the club would rather not deal with large contract demands. Jones is a free agent in two years. He wants to win, but this offseason sends a message to him and fans that the club isn't in a hurry to do that.
This is a poor offseason with potentially damaging long-term ramifications. Duquette's first few months on the job have been overwhelmingly underwhelming.
Posted Feb. 14, 2012