Baltimore Orioles and Dan Duquette: Committed to Winning


May 7, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) looks from the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On the first full day after fans of the Baltimore Orioles heard that Nick Markakis would not be in right field for the O’s in 2015, the fallout continued. Reactions seemed to range across the spectrum from “Good God, what are they thinking?” to “Smart move to not sign him that long for that sort of price.”

Baltimore Orioles beat reporters began to also provide some of the insider talk from the players and even from Duquette himself, as there was a benefit event at the Babe Ruth Museum where he was previously scheduled to meet with fans.

Duquette is as good as any politician out there in terms of saying something without really saying much. I don’t mean that as critically as it might sound. He needs to be circumspect. He can’t just blab everything that goes on. If that became a reputation, he could not expect to have the necessarily frank conversations that happen in negotiations and behind closed doors.

Clearly an issue for the Orioles was the length of the contract and a concern about a disc problem in Nick’s neck. Combine this with financial constraints and the still festering wound of a recent long-term contract that smells pretty bad after only one year … not to mention declining statistics year-to-year … and I don’t have any stones to throw.

The players who have commented speak more of the personal loss of a close teammate and friend. They all speak of the clubhouse leadership issue, and there is certainly merit to that, though I think this particular group is far from devoid of others who will continue the healthy atmosphere that has been a trademark of this recent Baltimore Orioles team.

The portion of the report by Roch Kubatko of Adam Jones’ remarks that most interested me was at the end. Having settled down a bit from last evening’s immediate reaction on Twitter, Jones said …

"“I signed here after they said they were going to ensure that winning is a priority. This is one of those crossroads where you say, ‘OK, what’s the plan?’ … One thing I know is not to question Buck’s desire to win, so let’s see what they have in store.”"

Some Orioles fans will never get beyond believing that Peter Angelos and DD can each pinch a penny so hard that Abraham Lincoln will be screaming for mercy. While they are never going to get a reputation as free-spenders, I agree with Adam Jones that a commitment to winning is completely there.

The numbers support this desire to be a consistently winning outfit; they really do. Over the past three years (the years upon which we can judge Buck Showalter and DD’s efforts), the Baltimore Orioles have the second-most wins in the American League and the fourth-most in all of Major League Baseball.

Here are the totals of wins from 2012-2014 – American League on the left, and National League on the right…

Baltimore274St. Louis275
Detroit271LA Dodgers272
LA Angels265Atlanta269
NY Yankees264Cincinnati263
Tampa Bay259Pittsburgh261
Texas251San Francisco258
Kansas City247Milwaukee239
Cleveland245San Diego229
Seattle233NY Mets227
Chicago WS221Miami208
Houston176Chicago Cubs200

So what is the plan? Certainly the Orioles are going to build some more in the area of the bullpen while also figuring out what to do about the corner outfield positions. Duquette also has spoken of getting more catching depth, probably anticipating such a need after what is more than likely the final year for Matt Wieters in Baltimore.

Regarding outfielders (and DH, which is a part of the same discussion), what are the options?

  • The Orioles can hope to swing a reasonable deal with a Melky Cabrera type player.
  • They can sign a couple of short-term players like

    Delmon Young


    Mike Morse

    , or

    Nori Aoki

    until the minors provide longer-term answers … hoping one or two of these (along with

    Alejandro De Aza


    David Lough

    ) can catch fire like

    Steve Pearce

    did in 2014.

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  • They can hope the minors produce ahead of schedule with the likes of Mike Yastrzemski, Dariel Alvarez, or even Henry Urrutia.
  • Here on The Baltimore Wire we have already written perspectives on about half of these scenarios and will continue to provide thoughts on the rest. So check back over recent days and weeks, and come back again in days ahead for more analysis on what is again, unsurprisingly, an interesting offseason.