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January 26, 2012

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?

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 11:12 AM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Just baseball


Peter, Peter, Peter. "Will Michael Lewis right a sequel...." Are you kidding me? Hah!

Pete's reply: My bad. Just wroght it rong.

Considering how bad the starting pitching was last year, it'll be hard not to improve. If a couple of the new pitchers perform reasonably well, some of the young pitchers bounce forward (there's not much to bounce back from) and a few of the younger position players (Wieters, Jones, Reimold in a full-season role) increase production, winning 12 more games than last year (81 wins) does not seem out of the question. What the Orioles have lost -- Scott, Lee, Guerrero -- did not contribute much last year. I think his biggest task is bringing a degree of credibility (overcoming the Angelos perception factor) to the organization. And, even though he was not the first, or second, maybe not even third, choice to run the club, he seems to moving in the right direction. With all that, I'll be surprised if the Orioles finish higher than fifth in the AL East this year.

Right now, I'm okay with his strategy. The Orioles have been dead last in terms of finding international talent. Devoting a a big chunk of resources to that movement is the right move. And, as much as I probably would have cheered a Fielder signing had it happened, I know this wouldn't have been the right move. Fielder would have eaten up a big chunk of money and the Os would still be, at best, the third or fourth best team in the division. It's not sexy, but I like the idea of loading the team with high OBP. The blueprint for success for the Os is through strategies created by the As and Rays and not the Sox and Yankees.

How are any of these signings "intriguing"? That's a gross distortion at best. These signings are retreads, nothing more nothing less. Role players? Try barely warm bodies occupying roster space who wouldn't otherwise be allowed near a real major league dugout.

Duquette's hiring and subsequent free-agency bumblings are just the latest slap in the face to Orioles fans, who have been forced to endure a 14 year death march toward obscurity.

"We'll all have to wait and see how it all shakes out"??? No we don't, we've all seen this many, many times before.

Duquette hasn't improved this team one iota, and crossing your fingers hoping for improvement isn't a rebuilding strategy.

This team won't go .500 this year, or next year, or any year in the foreseeable future.

I could not agree more with this entry! Over at the MASN blog of a certain guy, you have to NOT say the things you just stated here! IF you dare just a minute, I beg to differ, they are not trying to get better, you get hammered by some of the Kool Aid drinkers there like TomD8, Chippy, Orange Crayon Jesus, & a few other idiots. Threats of being banned are now commonplace on the half baked premise that you are being negative & confrontational. The guys mentioned before can confront, insult, call you names, etc but they kiss butt & don't say anything bad about the plight of the team & ownership so they get the free hand there with no such banning threats no matter how much they go on.
How refreshing to be able to call a spade a spade here. This team is cheap, they are going cheap, & the MASN $$ is the ultimate concern to the old ambulance chaser. This team makes money, it's public record & the MASN money is used who knows where. DD has been brought in to be yet another yes man. The situation with the O's is a mess & it won't get better under the current regime.

Good overview, Peter.
Like nearly all my friends, I'm not buying the Duquette plan, although he is clearly making a good effort in a bad situation. The organization has been rotting from the head down for 14 years. When we grew up, late January was the beginning of our eager anticipation for Orioles baseball. Not this year. The thrill is gone. The anticipation has died.

I like to think of the Orioles' current policy under Duquette as "Yenball." I'm cautiously optimistic.

All that's well and good, but the team needs a another hitter and first baseman--Kotchman or someone else before the free agents are all gone.

All that's well and good, but the team needs a another hitter and first baseman--Kotchman or someone else before the free agents are all gone. While they weren't part of the long-range future, Guerrero and Derek Lee were two of the team's most consistent hitters last year. Without them, and with Luke Scott and his power potential gone, the team is much weaker offensively than in the past two years. Chavez and Chris Davis are useful fill-in players but they are not regulars on a winning team.


Ha! MASN should rename it's infamous O's blog The School of Rot. It's been taken over by 6 or so people that just attack anyone that has the least negative thing to say about the team or the Owner. They have the backing of the moderator too. Thankfully this blog isn't like that at all.

Personally I like what Duquette is doing. Sure I would have liked Fielder in the middle of our batter order but not at $214M and 9 years. Duquette has an enormous job ahead of him, which really speaks to the job Andy McPhail did not do, but he is attacking it the right way. He has brought in personnel that are top talent evaluators; he has signed low-risk - high reward pitchers from the Asian market; he has brought in a person who understands the mechanic of pitching to work with the entire organization; he brought back Brady Anderson to set standards and oversee fitness throughout the organization, he is building connections in international markets, etc. Most of these moves are long-term initiatives but he still has a goal of achieving .500 baseball or better. He definitely has a long way to go but his first steps are sound and I believe the future is brighter because he is here.

We can complain about our cheap owner and call him also kinds of names but it is what it is. Other teams have succeeded without breaking the bank because they were astute evaluators and developers of talent (See the Tampa Bay Rays). There is no reason we cannot achieve the same results. Let’s get behind Duquette, Buck and the team and root them to a great season.

Aren't all GM's just gambling on their players producing? This year is no different; we are one of the strongest teams up the middle IF the players produce. Are pitching could be top-notch IF the young arms produce. All teams have IFs but ours are just magnified by over a decade of losing.

pretty skeptical says it all. Stockpile enough arms and hope that someone is not too far over a 5 ERA. In order to compete in AL East, you need almost an all-star caliber player at every position. Betemit, Reimold, Davis, well, let's say I'm skeptical

Will Michael Lewis right a sequel called "Foreign Currencyball"?

"Right a sequel?" come on that's sloppy

Pete's reply: Oops. Even I make mistakes in haste.

Do you think PA and the O's organization realize how strong and loyal their dwindling fan base is? Every year I'm shocked at the Fan Fest turnout. Especially this year, with absolutely no substantial FA signings, it's shocking that anyone around here is actually interested enough to show up. Unfortunately, the O's aren't just bad, but they're boring. I always pity the hard working local media that are forced to cover this mess from July to October every losing season. The biggest challenge as we approach losing year #15 is who really cares anymore? Do you feel PA really cares about winning baseball? Is he as horribly frustrated with the losing as most fans are, or is really content with the Revenue of MASN and the home NY and Bosox games?

Hi Pete,

I hope you are well. I didn't know where else to send this email.

My new book “I Love the Work but I Hate the Business,” has been released as an E-book. It is available on my website: www.mpsportsmedia for $9.99. Payment can be made through PayPal or by check or money order. This is a special offer. The book will soon go on sale on Amazon and other outlets at a much higher price.
I hope you enjoy this irreverent look at my thirty years in the crazy business of sports broadcasting. If you write something about the book, could you please send me a copy at: Also, please give me permission to use your comments for promotional purposes on my website.

Pete's reply: Thanks Mel, I'll be in touch.

I remember asking Pete Schmuck when he started here if he was going to regret it after a while. To his credit he hung in there, and this team is no better now, nor has it been since Mr. Schmuck jumped on the Oriole Lada. Yeah, the Lada, the Russian car you hit with a hammer to make it go.

the o's will be lucky to draw an average of 10,000 fans,per game.

Duquette is just another conservative, old-school relic banking on a some kind of twisted miracle to bring the team out of the gutter

Can't see it happening with his inconsequential "moves" that evoke only yawns

Ain't going nowhere with Angelos as the owner. Have we heard this before? It is what it is. The Orioles stink for a reason....they have the worst owner in all of sport. And Duquette? He was hired as a puppet. Out of work he's just a yes man for Angelos. The Orioles won't be a .500 team while Angelos is still screwing this team, the city, and it's fans. 2012? 60-102 tops. Banking on Matusz? He's done. Lost 10mph on his fastball. Will he get it back? No's gone. Move down the pike and follow the Nats. They actually give a crap.

The O's are DOA!

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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