I said the following about the move earlier this week:
“Bringing Dan Duquette in as the GM seems… fine. He’s done some OK things in the past, but that was a long time ago. Could be worse, I guess (Dave Littlefield, for example). The bottom line is that the organization is in awful shape, and it’s not terribly likely that there will be a significant difference between Duquette and someone else (who would take the job) over the next three years (as the O’s look set to continue being a 5th place team given the relative lack of major league talent – especially pitching – and the weak farm system). It’s kind of depressing.”
But hope springs eternal, and the O’s are so often like Lucy with the football; after hearing Duquette’s press conference, I’m kind of excited again. Good things I heard:
He talked about Early Weaver and OBP; every GM should certainly understand and appreciate the importance of the latter, though it getting a shout-out isn’t a bad thing. And it probably wouldn’t hurt if everyone in the organization read Weaver on Strategy, as Duquette suggested (while ignoring Weaver’s use of pitcher-batter match-up stats).
Regarding the budget (thanks to Eat More Esskay at Camden Chat for transcribing):
“I don’t think I’ll have any troubles getting players to take my money. You have to work harder and smarter when you don’t have the resources of the top two clubs – build up inventory of the farm system, core players coming to MLB team. Team that has the best farm system will compete year in and year out. The value you create does not have to be created by the money you spend. Signed int’l players that went on to be very very valuable players. Scouts ID’d talent, player development staff brought them through.”
Scouting and player development were the terms of the day. You don’t need to spend $200 M to field a competitive team (though it surely helps).
Regarding signing a big free agent:
“My success in FA market was in players to complement the team. When your club’s in a position to go over the top, that’s the time for the FA market. I don’t know that it’s terrific use of club’s resources to sign FA just to say “I’m signing free agents!” I believe that Oriole fans know our best players will have to come through farm system.”
Exactly right. Signing Prince Fielder to get to 76 wins doesn’t really do anything.
Regarding international scouting:
“I believe in international scouting. I have good contacts. I have a plan I’m putting together for the club. We’re going to value-based markets where the players are. I’ve got people chomping at the bit to come over and help us.”
Maybe once he sees the research the O’s did showing international prospects were poor value he’ll change his mind. I hope not (unless the research was actually much better than I’m giving it credit for, not having seen it).
Regarding playing in the AL East:
“That’s the challenge of the job. We’re gonna bring in good players, build our team from the ground up. Gonna have to work harder and smarter than teams with huge piles of resources. It can be done. I learned in a small market, applied my skills in a small market. If you focus on player development, you can build a strong team.”
The Rays (who he referenced previously) are a decent model, that the O’s can emulate and then add cash to.
Regarding funding for scouts:
“It’s resource allocation. The O’s resources have been appropriate. It hasn’t been money, it’s been getting the return of players for that money. That’s where I’m going to apply my capability.”
Return on investment is important, obviously, but I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that the team needs not just “better” but “more and better” in that area.
So, there was a lot of good stuff said. It’s left to be seen if Duquette is able to follow this up with appropriate actions. Even if this is the philosophy he wants to implement (which I support as necessary, if not completely sufficient), it’s still unclear if he’ll have the full authority to do so.