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November 10, 2011

Some random Orioles thoughts (Duquette, free agency, trades, Cuddyer)

One of the things I took out of Tuesday’s Dan Duquette news conference was the growing mutual admiration between Duquette and Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Each heaped praise on the other. Showalter was part of the search committee that interviewed Duquette, which is a little backward since Duquette is Showalter’s boss.

Duquette said he thinks the duo will make a dynamic team; Showalter said he expects Duquette to be opinionated and passionate and to engage him in spirited discussion, which the manager said he is excited about.

Throughout baseball, people are curious to see how these two strong-willed men coexist. You should be, too, because if the Orioles have any chance of turning things around, it likely will be because Duquette and Showalter get on the same page and rebuild the franchise.

Forget the big tickets?: Heading into free agency, I thought there was very little shot the Orioles would be in the hunt for the biggest-money free agents, namely Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson. After hearing Duquette talk Tuesday, I’m even more convinced there is no chance of that happening.

Duquette said he wants to look at all avenues of improving the franchise. And that would include free agency. But he also pointed out that it’s the riskiest endeavor – code for that this club isn’t ready for taking a major financial risk given how far away it is from competing for a title. He said he was a builder, and so I expect him to build and not buy for a while.

Touching base with agents: It’s not as if the Orioles will completely sit out free agency, however. They always do something, and this year likely will be no different. I was told that while the club was looking for its top executive, some of the current lieutenants contacted just about every free agent of interest to let their representatives know that they would be in touch at a later time. So the groundwork has been laid, but the real work will begin now that Duquette is in place.

Trade winds: One of the quickest ways to rebuild is to trade away current pieces for future ones. And Duquette has shown a knack for trading in the past. Given that, I would assume very few players on this 25-man roster will be untouchable this offseason. Matt Wieters would be one. It’s possible the list ends there (though a guy like Nick Markakis would be hard to trade for a sufficient bounty given his salary).

Adam Jones could be a longtime keeper, but he has just two seasons before free agency; Jeremy Guthrie has only one. At the very least, Duquette should have some interesting talks with other clubs this winter.

Cuddyer watch: There’s been a lot of talk that the Philadelphia Phillies want Michael Cuddyer badly and that they have his friend, Jim Thome, talking up the NL East champs (not that Philadelphia is a hard sell). That’s bad news for the Orioles, because my sense is Cuddyer is near the top of the Orioles’ wish list. The Virginia native fits well because he can play multiple positions, including second base, first base and outfield, so landing him would allow the Orioles to be more flexible in filling their other holes. Good luck, though, if the chief competition is the Phillies.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (25)
        

Comments

I think you are right on - which probably means the Orioles are three years at least from a winning season. I understand that free agents are a risky business, but this fan base needs some incentive to feel this team is on the right track. Saying we will focus primarily through player development won't encourage a weary fan base nor will it contradict the prevalent even if inaccurate opinion that Angelos has no desire to produce winner. Thanks for your column...

Good thing Dan that you pointed out to everybody that it would be hard to trade the Golden Boy Nick M because of his signficant salary and not because he has underperformed so badly. And since i didn't get a chance to say thanks to all you guy's down at the sun for your part in totally screwing JJ HARDY in obtaining any post season awards that he richly deserved.How was he expected to win the gold glove and the silver slugger awards when his own home town media did't even vote him most valuable oriole something that he richly deserved.

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And Bob, how do you what the Sun guys voted? Or even if they voted? Enlighten me.

PLEASE NO CUDDYER..........HE PLAYS HORRIBLE DEFENSE. THAT IS THE LAST THING THIS TEAM NEEDS IS MORE POOR DEFENSE BEHIND OUR YOUNG PITCHERS. WE HAD THE WORST DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE LAST YEAR. PLEASE NO......

Because Peter and Jeff both told me that they voted for JJ hardy and they were suprised that he didn't win. So that leaves the rest of you down there.

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Who is the rest of us "down there?" By my count, if you spoke to the other two, that would leave me. And you didn't ask me. And you make the assumption that the press box vote -- which is by radio, TV and print reporters -- altered other votes, such as Gold Glove. Yet Gold Glove ballots (from managers and coaches) had to be in before the MVO nominations were even distributed. Honestly, Bob, I like you better when you have staunch opinions and rants that can be at least somewhat defended with facts. Shooting completely from the hip doesn't become you.

Why are building and buying mutually exclusive? Can the Orioles truly not afford to pay a premium salary for a free agent as well as improving the scouting department? That's a sad development if true. I don't think a premium free agent would want to come to Baltimore regardless of the money, but I'd need it explained to me how acquiring Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder is a "risky" move for a team that has no where to go but up.

Who does vote on the Most Valuable Oriole?

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Writers, and radio and TV broadcasters/reporters. There are a bunch. And each person can decide not to vote at all.

The club now has a new excuse not to pursue quality free agents. I see the Nats are having no problem jumping right in despite splitting the market with the Os.

I can't wait to see what also ran, has beens the Orioles acquire in the offseason.

Markakis to the Red Sox. What would they be willing to give up for a solid right fielder? You would have to take that call and consider it.

Bob -

Saying that it would be difficult to trade Markakis for much given his salary implies that he's not really worth his salary.

I hate to sound like a 13-year-old, but... Duh...

Next...

You're blaming the Orioles beat writers for Hardy missing out on a Gold Glove?

Really?

The Gold Glove Awards are a total crock. And they've been a total crock since the dawn of time.

Example #1: Derek Jeter has five of them. Cal Ripken only has two.

Example #2: Rafael Palmiero won a Gold Glove in 1999 despite playing just 28 games in the field.

In short, calm down, Bob.

What so many fans seem to forget is that Tam, Bos, Det, LAA, NYY, Tor, are not simply going to stand still while the Orioles slowly attempt to get better by trading away the team's best players for small groups of prospects. The other teams will be aggressively pursuing the best players available each off season. Our turtle approach will be no match for all those rabbits.

"PLEASE NO CUDDYER..........HE PLAYS HORRIBLE DEFENSE. THAT IS THE LAST THING THIS TEAM NEEDS IS MORE POOR DEFENSE BEHIND OUR YOUNG PITCHERS. WE HAD THE WORST DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE LAST YEAR. PLEASE NO......"

Huh? Cuddyer played 4 positions this season and made 7 errors. I'm sure most any team could live with that.

Both the Texas Rangers AND world champion St. Louis Cardinals made more errors than the Orioles.

It's all about pitching folks. Texas and St. Louis had it and the O's didn't. It's not rocket science.

Dan, out of curiosity, if you had the authority what would try to accomplish during the Oriole offseason? It is my opinion if the Orioles don’t try to pick up good free agents during this time around, it will be the same old story in “Birdland”! I will also add, unless Peter Angelos comes out publicly and makes the following concessions: 1.) He promises to stay out of the process completely and let Duquette do his job. 2.) Make sure the Orioles have access to all the money necessary to have a successful free agency period 3.) Fire the Stockstills and the rest of the gang and let Duquette bring in his own people. I mean what would the Baltimore Sun stand to lose here by voicing a strong opinion like that? I mean are the Orioles helping the Sun sell newspapers? I doubt it. Anyway, I would be happy if you just answered the question if you had the authority what would try to accomplish during the Oriole offseason?
PS Cuddyear would be a worthless signing; it would do nothing for the O’s win / loss column.

Free agency should revolve around a couple starters 3B and AAA free agents especially power arms to fill pen.

You guys are missing the point of free agency. You can't build a team through it-it is for adding the last piece or 2 or 3 to your team to get you over the hump. We're not close.

You can't build the team through overpaying 30 year old SP's. We don't have the resources to pay Fielder, considering he'd be about 30% of our payroll!

Sorry to say it, but yes its going to be the same old story in Birdland. We'll stink next year. That's because we have missed on draft picks, can't develop the guys we have, and are absent internationally. It will not be because Peter won't increase the payroll. You people that just blast Angelos are understandably frustrated, but you're using him as a scapegoat. It is unreasonable to ask him to pay $150 million for a payroll that means he has to operate at a loss. Sorry, Baltimore is just not a big enough market to support that. Doesn't mean we can't win, just means it won't be with a top 10 payroll. It's not his fault the O's can't develop talent and it's not his fault previous regimes haven't used the international realm the way they should have.

Goldmurano, you mention teams that will be signing free agents. On top of the obvious points that those teams (besides Toronto, but I'm not sure why you mentioned them) are in bigger markets, I would suggest to you that each of those teams has built the core of their roster through the draft and internationally. It was not done through free agency. Please understand that.

In short not brooks that is exactley what i am saying. You know it and everybody else knows it , why the continued insistence that he has earned that contract extension. Nick would be the first player traded if they could get somebody for him. And dan you don't like me period so lets not pretend any differently.

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Oh come on Bob, I like you plenty. You amuse me. I like your passion (though I don't always agree with you). And I like to rib you. But this time you're not even trying to have facts. The MVO is announced after ballots are in for Gold Glove. How can that influence it? (I have no idea about Silver Slugger). And, again, the Sun takes a lot of heat (pun intended), but you're placing blame in the wrong area this time.

blancione -

So if you know the Gold Glove is total BS, then why does it matter?

Secondly, if GG votes are submitted before the MVO is announced, how is the Baltimore press blocking anybody?

Look, I think Hardy deserved the GG and I also think Markakis is a very average defender. But if you look at the history of the GG, you'll notice alot of the time the award is highly questionable.

It's not the Baltimore media that sucks, it's the whole system or so-called criteria (if there is any) the voting is based off that sucks.

If you don't mind me playing revisionist, in '10 when Jeter was given the GG, Cesar Izturis was a hell of alot better then Jeter at SS. Where was the Baltimore press on that? Bob, the point is the award has an embarassing history of undeserving award recipients.

Alfredo Griffin in '86 when Cal Ripken was leading the world in defense? You get my point.

Anyway, at least Wieters deservingly got the award, and I think that's something you and I can begrudgingly agree on.

So what we hearing and seeing already is the Orioles are going to brainwash us into a "We'll be able to compete in 3 years" story and expect us to go with it again? Why can't we bring in a Fielder? Cause he's a risk? Everyone is a risk. Why not get one for his proven play? Instead of getting one that you hear about the one good year they had some time ago with the hopes that being in Baltimore will bring back that players glory? Listen seriously, I along with many others have paid plenty of money to Devilos (because I don't see an Angel in his name) through the years on tickets, merchandise, concessions, MLB Packages etc. What has he given us return? Nothing. Its time for him to dig into his pockets, he will get his money back because fans will come to the games to see a big name, they'll buy the jersey, they'll buy more. Its a win win situation. Besides if Washington (who doesn't have as much money as us) can splash in the free agent market and spend what they did on a player that is not the same calibre as there are this year, then we can as well. Remember when we used to sell out? It wasn't just because of Cal, it was because we spent money for premier players. So what if it is a bust on occasion, people whine that we can't compete with the Yanks and Sox, yes we can with the right strategy. How many times do they overpay and it turns into a bust? They don't go crying Woah is me or It's not fair. Tampa can't pay the money, they can't fill the seats regardless of what they put on the field, Retired people who don't care about baseball are in Florida or the Fact that they are retired and moved there and they remain loyal to the team they grew up with. Fact is we deserve for this team to Pony up and give us someone, a big name, a proven Player (s). I'm tired of hearing how good a player may be if we get them, I want to hear how great they REALLY are as they are coming here. That is the way we will move on and progress. Everyone has a scenario and everyone thinks they can be a GM, Thing is we never really have a GM we just have someone who occupies the spot. How about cut that spot to save money and buy some damn REAL BASEBALL PLAYERS and not minor league unprovens that you boast about.

Dave pardon me but i think not brooks is the one that said the gold glove awards are a total crock. I firmly believe JJ hardy got hosed and i believe tha baltimore media had a lot to do with him not winning any of the post season awards that he desrved to win. If you aren't a pet of there's you don't stand a chance.As for your reference on weiters i didn't have any problem with him winning it

Look at the bright side. There will fewer trades, if any, with the Cubs.

bob -

When you said to not brooks "that's exactly what I'm saying", I thought you were implying that you were in agreement. My fault.

And while I do agree with you that JJ Hardy was snubbed, I wouldn't put the blame squarely on the Baltimore media. There was several other years when he was snubbed too ('08,'09). That's my opinion though. He's underrated at his position and hopefully the Baltiore media can change that.

I dedicate this my fellow Vietnam Veterans who had no victory parades.

Be proud; it wasn't your mistake. With the social consciousness concerning humanity that was prevalent in the Sixties and Seventies, any war for any reason, justifiable or not, would have been unconscionable....Our country was not proud of itself; therefore, it was unwilling, if not crippled, in showing us any pride or compassion...be proud you served and grateful you survived. You know more about life than anyone else around you.

HAPPY VETERANS DAY

Let's pretend Prince Fielder is going to come to Baltimore and have the greatest year in the history of baseball in 2012, and he single-handedly improves the Orioles by 12 wins. (No player in the world could do that, but bear with me a minute.) Then we're still a .500 team, still in either fourth or last place, and totally out of money to try to improve further for the next many, many years. While I'd love to see the O's reach .500 next year, I do not want to see it done this way.

The "free agents are risky" stuff was teh most depressing thing I could have heard about the Orioles chances for the next 5 years.
So a guy like Prince Fielder who is good for .280 and 40 bombs per year is a bigger risk than a 17 year old kid from the Dominican who isn't even done growing?
Spending big money for good players is more risky than spending low to medium money on fading superstars way past their prime such as Vlad and Derrek Lee or on trash heap scraps like Garrett Atkins and hoping that everyone else suddenly develops into superstars?
We've been trying to go the el cheapo route. We've been trying to throw darts at the draft board hoping someone turns into a big time star (we end up with Daniel Cabrera). We keep thinking that the next waiver claim or scrap heap project will be Jeremy Guthrie, when in reality there are 100 Garrett Atkins for every Guthrie.
How many key players from our 1996 and 1997 playoff years were home grown products? (Note, do not count Eddie Murray since we had to trade to get him back).
I would think after more than a decade of trying to compete like this would have a message sink through that it doesn't work, unless you call "competing" a chance to win 70 games.

Been a birds fan my whole life just turned 30 so half my life we been losers I must regretfully say if we don't do something this year I'm goin to another team maybe one who wants to be successful or have an owner who does bye bye birdie and I'm sure a lot of others will follow. Heck let's just boycott the birds till they care which could be another 14.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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