Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dan Duquette It Is

Say hello to your new GM (President of Baseball Operations???) Baltimore.  Granted, it's not official yet and we've been here before just a few days ago.  However, this seems like a done deal so let's take a good look at who and what we're getting in Mr. Duquette.

To start off, I should mention that I didn't even consider Duquette a possibility for the job for my last post, as he has been out of professional baseball as a GM or equivalent since 2002.  However, the Angles interviewed him before settling on Jerry DiPoto for the job.  Duquette was the last GM for the Boston Red Sox, and was let go after 2002 when new ownership wanted to go in a new direction.

So Who Is He?
Duquette got into the game in 1980 as a scouting assistant for the Brewers.  Obviously it's hard to tell exactly what players Duquette scouted, but it should be mentioned that Milwaukee had success in drafting and developing several top-notch prospects such as Gary Sheffield and BJ Surhoff.

In 1987 Duquette moved to the Montreal Expos front office as the Director of Player Development.  It took only 4 years for him to move up to GM, being named the replacement to current Tigers' President of Baseball Operations Dave  Dombrowski.

However just a few years later Duquette would leave Montreal to become the General Manager of the Red Sox, and was instrumental in their turn around and development into the team that would 'break the curse'.  He was not given the opportunity to see it through as new ownership relieved him in favor of Theo Epstein.

During his time in Boston, the Red Sox acquired Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon.  This group represented part of the core of the 'new Red Sox' as I like to call them that emerged after the turn of the century.

Over his time as a team executive, Duquette was named 'Executive of the Year twice (albeit by different groups), once with the Expos and once with the Sox.

Since 2002 Duquette helped found the Israel Baseball League and also founded the Dan Duquette Sports Academy for youths.  These endeavors merit posts in themselves, but aren't as relevant to the O's future as his tenure in Boston and Montreal.

Should I Be Excited?
I think so.  Duquette is known for two things around baseball it seems.  1. Trading for Pedro Martinez twice and 2. being an incredibly smart front office guy.  He has a background in player development from his time with the Expos and is said to be well connected in both Asia and Latin America.  This seems to be a perfect fit as those three areas are places where the Orioles could stand to substantially grow.  Ultimately, Duquette never shied away from spending money (which the O's do seem to have to spend) but has done so with a pretty good record in terms of ROI.

I know some fans are upset that he's been out of the game so long, but I'm not sure that criticism is warranted.  For Duquette, there was no need to rush back to baseball as he's been incredibly successful with his other projects.  Also Duquette is said to be very analytical, something that transcends time and changes in the game.  I'm not worried that he's going to be rusty or unsure of how to work in baseball today and neither should you.

At the end of the day, Duquette is a solid hire by the Orioles.  We could have done much much worse, and I think that he'll do a fine job helping to return this franchise to glory.  Obviously, it's difficult to predict the future, and nobody knows the circumstances that will unfold in the next few years.  However, I think this is a solid hire, and there is reason for optimism in Baltimore.

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