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Monday, March 18, 2013

PressBox: Dan Duquette is rebuilding his reputation, and his new team, with a vengeance

With Mike Barnicle, Mike Shalin and Jonah Keri checking in.

But as the days lengthen and the regular season beckons, members of the national media wonder whether the bear-like Duquette hasn’t spent the winter hibernating, at least when it comes to acquiring major league-ready talent.

“If I was a fan, I’d be very upset,” Keri said. “The Orioles should have a $200 million payroll. They might be making $100 million off of MASN alone. It’s ridiculous and an outrage that [owner] Peter Angelos lines his pockets instead of putting the money back into the team. But just look at the Rays. They’re as handcuffed by money as the Orioles, and they went out and made the Wil Myers deal.”

Remind Duquette of this and his reputation begins to leak out. When told that oddsmakers and pundits were saying the largely unimproved team was unlikely to break the .500 mark, he let out a slow, intimidating bellow of a laugh.

“Are they the same people who said we’d finish in fifth place last year?” Duquette said. “Or that we only had a 5 percent chance in August of making the playoffs?”

He went on to tout the defensive prowess of light-hitting first baseman Travis Ishikawa, claimed off waivers, and the versatility of backup outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Duquette’s approach, here in Baltimore, the bargain basement of major league baseball, is to favor quantity instead of proven quality. If Russ Canzler, Lew Ford, Steve Pearce or Danny Valencia can hang with the big club, why spend more money?

Repoz Posted: March 18, 2013 at 06:02 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles

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   1. escabeche Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4390515)
“If I was a fan, I’d be very upset,” Keri said.


Well, I am a fan, and I'm not upset, so maybe Keri's just wrong about this? There are only two teams in baseball with a $200 million payroll and I don't wake up in the morning being angry at Peter Angelos because the team I follow isn't one of the three most expensive teams in the majors. We've got a bigger payroll than Atlanta, which I've heard also makes a little money off cable.

What we have is a team filled with interesting young cheap players who could be great and could be terrible. Why should I not like that? At other times, like 1997, the Orioles were stocked with expensive free agents and were the best team in baseball, and I liked that too. Life is long and I like all kinds of teams.


   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4390526)
At other times, like 1997, the Orioles were stocked with expensive free agents and were the best team in baseball, and I liked that too.

And in 1998, with the biggest payroll in the Majors, they began the year 10 and 2 and then went 69 and 79 after that. The willingness to spend big bucks is necessary at times, but it only helps if you spend it well.
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4390535)
What we have is a team filled with interesting young cheap players who could be great and could be terrible. Why should I not like that?
You could have that and have another good hitter and another good pitcher. No one is saying the Orioles should block Dylan Bundy or give up on Manny Machado, but are Chris Davis, Conor Jackson, Travis Ishikawa and Nolan Reimold really the sort of young cheap players who make the team exciting? And hell, you could still platoon three of them in two spots and have room in the lineup for a Nick Swisher or another professional bat.

I don't think Orioles fans should be incapacitated by grief or rage, but it was an odd offseason that didn't need to be so odd.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 18, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4390545)
You could have that and have another good hitter and another good pitcher. No one is saying the Orioles should block Dylan Bundy or give up on Manny Machado, but are Chris Davis, Conor Jackson, Travis Ishikawa and Nolan Reimold really the sort of young cheap players who make the team exciting? And hell, you could still platoon three of them in two spots and have room in the lineup for a Nick Swisher or another professional bat.

I don't think Orioles fans should be incapacitated by grief or rage, but it was an odd offseason that didn't need to be so odd.


Concur. Swisher would have been a great fit. And they could really use another reliable SP to bump Jurrjens out of the rotation.

Given their long sojourn in the wilderness, I really would have thought the O's would have been more aggressive while the Yankees, Sox and Rays are all fairly week.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: March 18, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4390550)
but are Chris Davis, Conor Jackson, Travis Ishikawa and Nolan Reimold


It's really Davis, Reimold, McLouth and Betemit for three spots. Ishikawa and Jackson shouldn't be on the team.
   6. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: March 18, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4390555)
This Oriole team reminds me of Duquette's 1995-1996 Red Sox teams. The '95 Sox won the AL East thanks in part to some off-seasons from other clubs and some nice finds by Duke (Wakefield, Hanson, Tinsley, O'Leary, the bullpen). They didn't really do much in the off-season adding an over the hill Kevin Mitchell and new second baseman(!) Wil Cordero and counted on repeat performances from a bunch of guys that it shouldn't have been expected of and it worked about as well as you'd expect.
   7. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 18, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4390646)
Chris Davis, Conor Jackson, Travis Ishikawa and Nolan Reimold really the sort of young cheap players who make the team exciting?

That grouping of players makes no sense. Davis is the starting 1b and has a decent amount of potential. Reimold should be a fulltime LF/DH if he's healthy and has a lot of potential. Ishikawa is minor league filler who won't make the team. Jackson is a reclamation project who might make the team as the last guy off the bench.

The young players (some of them cheap) who make the team exciting are Jones, Davis, Machado, Wieters, Tillman, Matusz, Chen, Bundy, Gausman, Schoop, Britton, et al.

I think the Orioles can and should spend more money, and my primary target would have been Swisher, but Keri is being silly. The orioles payroll isn't anywhere near the bottom (in part because they just signed Jones to a long term deal), and the team is actually in good shape and has a lot of depth. I think they're going to surprise a lot of people and finish 1st or 2nd in the division.
   8. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 18, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4390650)
Also, it's very unlikely that Jurrjens will be in the rotation. The fifth starter will probably be Britton or Matusz. Jurrjens is a nice buy low candidate who will start in AAA.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 18, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4390671)
The young players (some of them cheap) who make the team exciting are Jones, Davis, Machado, Wieters, Tillman, Matusz, Chen, Bundy, Gausman, Schoop, Britton, et al.
That's my point. The critique of Duquette is that he failed to add needed players at positions where the young exicting guys aren't.

I did spend far too little time putting together my list of blah 1B/LF/DH guys on the Orioles roster.
   10. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 18, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4390681)
But where should he have added a player? Who was available? The best option was Swisher -- he could have played LF, made McLouth the 4th OF, and forced Reimold to fight for playing time. The other hole is 2b, but Roberts appears to be healthy. I don't have a lot of confidence in him, but I'm not sure another great option was available. Duquette did sign Alexi Casilla and Yamiaco Navarro as fall backs, and they have Ryan Flaherty, who's been playing well this spring but will probably start in AAA.

They pursued Butler, but it sounds like KC wanted Bundy or Machado.

He could have tried to get another starter, but the orioles already have 10 guys fighting for 5 spots, so only would have made sense to add a TOR guy, and I don't think they should have beaten the dodgers offer for Greinke.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: March 18, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4390707)
The best option was Swisher

Or, if they really are rolling in the dough, Hamilton. Or both. Or grab Bourn and stick him or Jones in LF.

Reimold should be a fulltime LF/DH if he's healthy and has a lot of potential.

C'mon now ... Reimold is 29 and has a 111 career OPS+. At best you hope he gives you 2-3 seasons of average corner bat and call it a day.

Reimold's #10 comp at b-r: Kevin Reimer. Hard enough to remember which is which already.

   12. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 18, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4390726)
Fair enough. "A lot" is stretching it. But I think he can put up a few seasons of 115-125 OPS+ for a reasonable price. That's valuable.
   13. Dan Posted: March 18, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4390770)
A Bourn signing to move Jones to LF would actually have been a brilliant move in my opinion. Jones seems okay in CF, though metrics have hated him at times, but a Jones-Bourn-Markakis OF would be a true defensive asset to help the young pitching. And the Orioles could use a lead off type as well, since right now McLouth is probably leading off most days. Then you'd have a lineup of:

Bourn
Hardy
Markakis
Jones
Weiters
Davis
Betemit
Machado
Roberts/Casilla
   14. GotowarMissAgnes Posted: March 18, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4390779)
While I do wish the Orioles had brought in one FA bat, the problem with Jones-Bourn-Markakis as a defensive asset is it's just about the last thing you need in Camden Yards. The OF is a postage stamp. And Roberts is probably leading off.
   15. Jick Posted: March 18, 2013 at 08:38 PM (#4390795)
We've got a bigger payroll than Atlanta, which I've heard also makes a little money off cable.


Not anymore. The Braves haven't had a TBS exclusive for years, and are locked in one of the worst TV deals in baseball for another two decades.
   16. RobertMachemer Posted: March 19, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4391181)
This Oriole team reminds me of Duquette's 1995-1996 Red Sox teams. The '95 Sox won the AL East thanks in part to some off-seasons from other clubs and some nice finds by Duke (Wakefield, Hanson, Tinsley, O'Leary, the bullpen). They didn't really do much in the off-season adding an over the hill Kevin Mitchell and new second baseman(!) Wil Cordero and counted on repeat performances from a bunch of guys that it shouldn't have been expected of and it worked about as well as you'd expect.


That 1996 team started off incredibly poorly, then played terrific baseball in the second half of the year (the best record in baseball, I believe). They finished above .500 in a tough division.

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