I’ll have full coverage up on Orioles.com, but here are a few highlights from Dan Duquette’s introductory press conference as executive vice president of baseball operations. (You can watch video here.)
After an opening statement –in which he referenced that he used to pretend to be Orioles great Brooks Robinson in the backyard with his brother, Duquette –who has been out of baseball since 2002 — showed his rust by calling Baltimore “Boston” and frequently using the term “your” when talking about the Orioles. The whole thing –with a question and answer session — lasted about 40 minutes and he appeared pretty nervous throughout.
I’ve got some quotes below, but there are a few things to take away from the presser. At least in my mind. First, he’s going to make it a top priority to fix the farm system, constantly referencing the importance of scouting and player development and mentioning that he has an international plan that he will implement here with Baltimore. Duquette needs a scouting director and Minor League pitching coordinator and he mentioned that he hopes to have all the changes, and possible reassignments, in the front office done by the Winter Meetings. When asked how he’s going to fix things exactly, he said it will be reliant on the people he brings in. There’s no set number right now as to how many people Duquette will bring with him, but he mentioned getting around 280 emails after news broke that he was taking over.
It doesn’t sound like the Orioles are poised to make a big splash in the free agency market, with Duquette saying he prefers to “build up inventory”. He mentioned Baltimore’s young core of players as being a good foundation to build around, although there’s no set timetable in years or a specific catchprase (such as Andy MacPhail’s “buy the bats, grows the arms” ) that he used.
[on why he's the right guy for the job]
“This is right up my alley, turning around a ballclub and building a farm and scouting system. This is what I love to do. This is a great opportunity and I’m thankful for it and I’m ready to go to work.”
[on competing in the AL East]
“That’s the challenge of the job. The way we’re gonna be competitive is we’re gonna bring in some players and build from the ground up.
It can be done. I learned in a small market, I applied my skills in a small market to put together a top quality team and also worked from a major market perpective. In some respects, if you just focus on strong player development program, which you have to do in a small market, you can put together a pretty darn good program to give to a good team year in and year out.”
[on player development/farm system]
“The team that has the best farm system is the team that competes year in year out, irrespective of your market size. It all starts with signing and developing and bringing them up to your team.
When you don’t have the resources that the top two clubs have, you have to work harder and you have to work smarter. You have to do a better job in scouting and player development.
I’m glad that I’m here. I can tell you that my strengths in building an organization and the work I did with the organizations I was with to make them into perennial contending teams and my experience in a small market and large market club is what distinguished me from other candidates.
This challenge is the kind of challenge that I looked for and that I successfully met in the two places I’ve been, in Montreal and Boston. I took over teams that were below .500 and I wouldn’t be here standing if I didn’t believe I could turn this franchise around and get it to a championship level.”
[on if this organization needs a total rebuild]
“You’ve got a core group of players here to build around along with the strength of your management team and I believe we’ll be able to find some players in terms of gaining depth for the pitching staff and the overall lineup. I believe the foundation is there.
All your great tradition, all your great Oriole teams, all the leadership that you had on those great teams of the 70s, we’re gonna put together those same fundamentals of player development, of sound scouting, to build a team that Orioles fans can be proud of.
I’m a builder, and when I evaluated this club and looked at the strengths of the organization, one of the things I was really impressed with was the caliber of your manager, Buck Showalter. He’s a tried and true tactician and a roll-up-your-sleeves baseball guy.
The value of pitching to a Major League team, I couldn’t overstate that to you today. If we’re gonna talk about where we’re gonna start in terms of building a contending team, it’s gonna be right there on the mound.”