Duquette on the season, free agency, etc

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette held court with reporters today, (I’ll have more from manager Buck Showalter later) and he discussed a wide variety of topics.

On the injury front, the Orioles are expecting Brian Roberts to be fully healthy for Spring Training and Jason Hamel –who had in-season right knee surgery — right now looks as if he will not need another procedure. I’ve written about Nolan Reimold expecting to have a pretty regular offseason and be ready by spring and Nick Markakis will undoubtedly be ready as well.

I’ll have a full story up later on Orioles.com, but here are a few of the highlights…

“We took a giant step forward this year and we re-energized the fan base, improving the number of games we improved was significant,” Duquettte said. “Buck had a good foundation of pieces here and we’ve continued to build on that so we can have a winning organization. Not just a good team for this year but a foundation on which we can build on so we can have a good team year in and year out. That’s really the Oriole way. It’s the same way that they build the great Oriole teams and we are doing the same thing now. So that we have a core group of players on this ballclub and we can have them together for a few years and we can take another run at the championship.

This year we knocked on the door, we didn’t get quite get through but we took a big step forward.”

Duquette said watching the team in the postseason was a good experience for the entire organization and he thinks it will help their judgement in improving upon the current club.

“A base hit here or there, an out here or there, we’d be playing for the American League Championship,” he said. “I think the experience of playing in the postseason is a good one for everyone to have. But I’m also keen enough to realize when you get into close competition it helps you identify your strengths but also the area you need to improve to win the championship. That’s something we can take a look at in the offseason…But you know the core of our lineup is good, and it’s young.”

Duquette declined to discuss individual contract situations, including that of first baseman Mark Reynolds, who has an $11 million club option for 2013.

“I can tell you we have a team here full of gritty baseball plays and they come to play,” Duquette said.  “And what Mark Reynolds did the second half of the season, getting himself to be a good first baseman, working hard every single day, twenty minutes a day to be a good defender at first base, the team really appreciated it. And he made a significant contribution to the team. Particularly in August and September.”

A few more highlights...

[on if he will be more active in bringing marquee free agents to Baltimore]
“I’ve said all along the way to build a good ballclub is from the ground up. lt’s not from the top down.  Having said that we signed a couple free agents last year that did a good job…So, we are always looking for opportunity, but I’m going to tell you this”: the core players are going to come from our minor league system. The really good ballplayers. And we’ve got a couple of them on the horizon that can help our pitching staff.”

[on if the organization has a legitimate ace]
“We are going to find out. We got couple of top picks that went three in the country and four in the of country in [prospects] Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. They have the type of stuff that could develop into top of the rotation. We have a couple top starters. Do we have a no. 1 starter yet? I think we need to continue to look for a no. 1 starter. But we might have a couple right here.”

[on international scouting]
“A lot of the investments we made worked for us, and we are continuing to scout around the globe. We hope to get into Europe this year, and we are going to continue to look in the Caribbean and also the far East.”

[on if his philosophy in avoiding going after big-ticket free agents has changed with this year’s success]
“The success of the club, I think, gives our fans hope that we can have a good team year-in and year-out. The idea of having a foundation and then adding to that foundation as the season progresses like we did this year with [Joe] Saunders. You take at the look Saunders did, he pitched god for the team down the stretch, he helped us win both elimination games. He was a veteran pitcher that did exactly what we wanted him to do. He helped stabilize a pitching staff and his experience in the playoff showed the way for some of our younger pitchers.

So I think that’s more likely the type of acquisition we would make. But I’m going to tell you right now, we have the foundation to have a good team here. We have the guys on this team to be competitive and be a top-flight team.”

[on the payroll for next season]
“We should be able to continue to field a highly-competitive team within the revenues of our market.”

[even with all the arbitration guys?]
“We have over a dozen arbitration-eligible players, but we’ve taken a look at the payroll and we think we can fit most of them on the ballclub.”



Brian Roberts needs to retire. He wasn’t very good on his return, and he impeded the development of Robert Andino. Given his age, he will remain prone to injuries (see Derek Jeter).

Thanks for the update Brittany. Great work this year.

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