Showalter, Duquette signed to extensions
If there was any doubt that Dan Duquette was uncomfortable with the 2013 Orioles, Thursday should have erased all doubts.
At the press conference to announce the contract extensions of Duquette and Buck Showalter, the Orioles’ Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, said he’s not uneasy about the state of the club.
“l like this ball club. I like the pitching staff. I like the stability we have in our pitching staff, starting with our bullpen, which was a strength of the team, and they’re all coming back. They’re a year older with more experience. We have some young pitchers who want to establish themselves as good, winning pitchers in the major leagues. We had a couple who came up last year in [Chris] Tillman, [Miguel] Gonzalez and Stevie Johnson. Those guys pitched like top of the rotation starters. They won over 20 games for us, and they were rookies last year,” Duquette said.
Tillman wasn’t a rookie last year, but he had his first sustained success in the big leagues after many tries. Only one of the team’s starters, Wei-Yin Chen was with the team the entire season.
“We built our team last year over the whole year,” Duquette said.
“When we had an opportunity to improve the team, we seized on it, if it made economic sense, so I can tell you this past off-season, we have had umpteen trade proposals from teams that like our young players, OK? Our young players are very valuable, but we like our young players,” Duquette said.
Louis Angelos, son of team owner Peter Angelos, talked about the Mets offering one of Showalter’s favorites, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey , but asking for Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman in return.
That wasn’t going to happen. Fans who’ve been bothered by the team’s seeming unwillingness to pull off a big move don’t frustrate Duquette nor do they cause him to make a move just to satisfy.
“That’s a fair point. A lot of the players we picked up in the off-season and during the season with an eye to having them on the team, not just for last season, but for this year and future years, so some of the holes we had on our team in terms of improving performance, we filled with players who are still on our ball club.
“We’ve got a long-term solution at third base when Manny Machado came up from the minors. I’ve said time and time again that our best players are going to come up through the minor leagues.”
Duquette again defended the signing of Travis Ishikawa, who can play well defensively at first if Chris Davis doesn’t, he says.
He was able to sign Ishikawa to a minor league deal, and thinks that Wilson Betemit and Danny Valencia will help at DH if Davis is at first.
Don’t be surprised if Joe Saunders is back. With barely three weeks until spring training, Saunders is going to pick a team soon, and it doesn’t look as if he’s going to get that three-year contract he wanted.
“I like to sign veteran pitchers and bring them to spring training. I wouldn’t be surprised if we continued our discussions with players who are out there because veteran pitchers can help stabilize your team and Joe Saunders did a nice job for us.
“He did a really good job and provided leadership for our team in the playoffs when we needed it. If some of our young pitchers come along like I hope they come along, we’re going to have more starters than we have spots for, but having said that, I’d like to sign another veteran pitcher,” Duquette said.
He ran through the lineup, talked about the strengths of the batting order and how much stronger the team will be with Manny Machado at third for the entire year.
Absent a trade for a big bat, the Orioles are likely to have a plethora of starters, especially if Saunders is added.
“There’s going to be some tough calls, but it’s going to be for the right reasons. It’s competitive with good people. That hasn’t always been the case. It used to be last man standing,” Showalter said.
Pitchers without options won’t be favored, and there will probably be lots of movement between Norfolk and Baltimore.
On Saturday, an enthusiastic crowd will greet the Orioles for FanFest, but during Duquette and Showalter’s question and answer session with season ticket holders, there will be some skeptics.
Duquette now has six more years to allow him to build a club that’s competitive for the long-term. Just be patient.
-Brian Roberts underwent surgery for a sports hernia last month. On Thursday, Showalter mentioned that Roberts had an undisclosed medical issue.