Orioles: What Duquette is doing
There has been a lot of chatter on the various blogs and Orioles fan sites about the direction that Dan Duquette is taking the game in his first months as executive vice president, and a lot of it is pretty skeptical.
With good reason. The Orioles have spent the past decade half-stepping their way into oblivion, so fans have every right to wonder if Duquette is just playing to ownership's desire to keep the MASN spigot open and the payroll spigot closed. It's going to be up to him to prove that's not the case.
I think it's a little more complicated than that. Obviously, Duquette got the job because he convinced the search committee that he can make the team competitive by tapping into the second tier of the international market with a couple new sets of eyes overseas. The result has been a handful of signings that are intriguing but unspectacular, which means that we'll all have to wait and see how things shake out.
That's certainly convenient for the team and MASN, since it buys both some time to keep fans interested, but -- to his credit -- Duquette has not given himself a huge window to get results. He has followed up Andy MacPhail's four-year plan with a one-year plan, since he said at the outset that his goal is to be a winning team this year.
How will that be possible? Some feel that it isn't, considering that the Orioles didn't make any impact free agent acquisitions, but Duquette appears to be trying to do (in his own way) what Billy Beane did in Oakland in the early 2000s. He has thrown out a big net to add a bunch of contingent starting pitchers and role players, making the team much deeper in a lot of areas without necessarily making them much better.
He's stressing on-base percentage after inheriting a team with two of the league's biggest strikeout guys and farming the Pacific Rim to beef up the rotation and bullpen.
Will it work? Will Michael Lewis right a sequel called "Foreign Currencyball"? Orioles fans can only hope.
That will depend heavily, ironically enough, on the young pitchers who were already here. Duquette also is banking heavily on a successful comeback by Brian Matusz and the continued growth of Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton. If he gets that, the Orioles have a chance to be a .500 team, but isn't that what MacPhail was gambling on last spring?