Here are some quotes from ownership representative Louis Angelos (representing his father, managing partner Peter Angelos), executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter at this morning’s press conference announcing their contract extensions through 2018.
[on the decision to extend both Duquette and Showalter] “The way that they worked together it was clear at any early point, soon after dan came on, their ability to work together and the dynamic with Mr. [Peter] Angelos, it was a perfect team. The dialogue was positive, the exchanges were lively. But the commitment by all three guys is exceptional…it’s that ability to work together. We want to keep that team together and that’s what we’ve done.
[on the message to fans and city this sends] “When you have people like Dan and Buck with their track records, it became immediately apparent that these are the kinds of professionals you want to keep in your organization. Buck loves it here, he’s been embraced by the fans since Day 1. For good reason. We love him, he’s a character and he’s a joy to be around, he’s a great guy. And his baseball knowledge is second to none. And the same applies to Dan.”
[how discussions went down] “It wasn’t even a thought, and I think as people started to recognize the last several weeks –really before Christmas—that this was coming together, slowly but surely. It wasn’t about the terms of the extension, that always needs to be discussed, but it was about, ‘What are we going to do with the team?’. Those conversations ended up being with both Buck and Dan, how are we going to improve the team?
And when you begin discussions like this for such an extended period of time, I think it’s just a testament to their working relationship, because there was never really much concern. You can start with a standard three-year deal, but then it becomes, let’s go further than that. Let’s make this about building a sustained, winning, competitive team. And we got two guys who are really, I think, an unmatched team. When you look at the depth of the experience they have with the length and the list of their baseball accomplishments.”
“When we spoke to him initially we just sort of knew that Dan was the guy. He just had the knowledge and understanding of value that’s right in line with what Buck’s trying to do. And Buck’s contribution, a great example of that is Darren O’Day. I mean there’s other examples but that’s probably the best example. They started to come together rapidly last season and you saw power arms in the bullpen, you saw veterans mixed in with our younger guys. You see [Wei-Yin] Chen come in and [Jason] Hammel and suddenly, as Dan has said, you got nine guys competing for five rotation spots. There was a consensus that you don’t want to make the trade for [RA] Dickey for example, because you aren’t going to let go of [Dylan] Bundy or [Kevin] Gausman, or other players that were asked for. The ease of dialogue and the good relationship, you want to keep that in place. And it’s been that way really since Day 1.”
[on his response to the organization not doing anything this winter] “You don’t want to trade the future or sacrifice that future for what’s in the immediate. I think Orioles fans know the game really well and they want sustained winning and they want to see guys come up through the system. You can get away from that and get distracted by a tantalizing free agent or a trade possibility in Dickey’s case for example. And that was a tough, that was a long and considered internal dialogue that went on. But, Dan has his vision and it’s right in sync with Buck’s vision.
And when you extend both of them to 2018, it’s not about the immediate, it’s not a two-year extension or a three-year extension where you got the “we got to win now”, it promotes doing the right things to win over a 10-year period or a 20-year period. Let’s have sustained competitive teams with players that are brought from within, so you draft and develop and you supplement from the outside. The notion that it hasn’t been an eventful offseason in many ways you can interpret is good. We are not going to sacrifice draft picks that’s kind of right from those guys. And I know Mr. Angelos has said, ‘you guys want to do it, let’s go for it. what do you want to do?’ And you can play all sides of that. But the response consistently has been, again with respect to Dickey–tough call– but we are going to stay with the program. We are going to keep bringing our guys up. and I think it’s going to pay dividends over the long term.”
[on if he's glad the extension talk is over] “I’m ready to go down to that locker room. It’s been so lonely down there. Walking down there in November and December. To have the players filtering in, we’ve got 25 guys. Heck I can see now, they’re down there throwing. Its that time. You start getting that far away look in your eyes. I didn’t have a sleepless night last night. I didn’t sleep much last night, but [I was] thinking about the team and the things we have to get ahead of and on top of. But to answer your question, I’m hoping that’s the last focus on this, which was never an issue. Peter just wanted to get ahead of it and initiated it. I’m very honored and humbled by it.”
[on turning the page to 2013] “I think first of all, I want them, the players to reap the benefits of that,whether it’s the energy in Sarasota, the energy of our ballpark early on. I know how you maintain it. As important as last year was for the process this year is just as important. I’m the biggest fan of people who are consistently competitive. You don’t know how hard that is. … It’s going to be a challenge. There’s going to be some pitfalls and we’re going to take them as they come. You deal with them everyday. We’ve had a couple already. Camp is going great. Last year I think it really helped us get off to a good start with our pitching. We’ve got a lot of physical stuff going on with the doctors on Friday. I’m ready. As soon as I get this wedding stuff out of the way I’m heading to Sarasota.”
[on his vision matching Duquette's] “I think we both have a real respect for what each other’s good at and what the other may not be. I haven’t found any with Dan yet, but I know my strengths at weaknesses. There are things I can’t do or that I don’t want to do. I know where my comfort zone is. …We’ve spent a lot of time talking. I know that if he doesn’t pick up on the first or second ring, something important is going on. Heknows the same way there. There’s a lot of faith in it and there’s a real purity to it. I think there’s some real sincerity to why. You reach the stage in your life that I have, Why do you do it? I’m content that if Peter [Angelos] had gone in a different direction and said this year we’d like for you to go scout Timonium. Fine. People who are constantly talking about renegotiating…the word that drives me crazy is decommit…..How does a 18 year old kid decommit? Never once or ever was I going to decommit from the Orioles.”
[on his relationship with Duquette] “When you look back to when we started the GM process, I was very fortunate to be a part of it. The five of six people we interviewed, there were certain connection with his MO and his track record and where he was in his life and what would make him want to bring the energy and engagement that it required. I know how I’m wired and I know how things work. The one common denominator of every successful sport organization at the professional level is the manager and general manager have to be very close. If not, it doesn’t function. It may for a year, but it will not function properly from a morale standpoint from all the heads of different departments who have to be able to do their job properly.
[on the team's pitching depth] We have some people who are out of options, each year passes, but we have the chance to have a maneuverable pitching staff again. But we’re not going to penalize someone who can help use win mover games than another guy because the other guys is out of options and this guy has options. It doesn’t matter. If this guys the best that’s where we’re going. We’re not going to lose a game in April just because of some organizational, roster issues. We’ll get around it. You all will have to stay up on it because there will be some moving parts, but the think I look at on my board every day is the names that have the zeros next to them, which means out of options. A guy like Tillman, we’d like to find out ourselves about him rather than have someone else find out about him. There’s going to be some tough calls, but it’s going to be for the right reasons. It’s competivie with good people. That hasn’t always been the case. It used to be last man standing.
[on the extension] “I’m really grateful for the opportunity from the Angelos family and also the opportunity to serve the fans of Baltimore. I have been out of it for a while. I truly missed it and I appreciate being back. Every day, I try to give my best for the team and fans. Being away from it really accentuated the opportunity and to make the most of it.”
[on being out of baseball and getting right back in it] “I think that I had some great training from Harry Dalton and we have some excellent baseball people here in Baltimore, particularly Buck and our scouting staff. They’re pros. They know what they’re doing and they know what it takes to have a good, winning team in the big leagues.”
[on if it bothers him when fans say they haven't done enough this offseason] “We have more work to do. We have more challenges to overcome, to reach the goal that we want. But again, I like this ballclub, I like the depth of the pitching, I like the core players, I like the leadership on the field and I think we have a very competitive team. And we’ll have some other opportunities. My experience with young players is, you can be surprised by how quickly they come to the big leagues and the contribution they make to the team, so I wouldn’t lose sight of some of the good young players we have within our organization who could come up and have an impact on the team. Look at last year. Chris Tillman established himself as a top starter and I don’t know if anybody this time of the year predicted htat. We hadn’t even signed Miguel Gonzalez to our organization until March 7. That was the actual date that we signed him. Because we had some good pitching people in the organization who helped those people develop their skills, they came up and made a significant contribution to the team. Steve Johnson was signed last year, a local kid. Signed a free agent contract with us, came to camp as a non-roster, and I can’t say he was on people’s radar, but when it came to August and September, he was there to make a contribution to the team. I think we have some good pros that know what they’re doing and I think you’ll see some more players who will come up through our minor league system this year that will contibute to our team.”
[on the expectations now to field a winning team] “I think the good thing is our fans are engaged, theyr’e reengaged to the Orioles and they identify with our great players like Adam Jones. It’s cool being an Orioles fan again and I’ll take that any day of the week. Now we have to go out and find some more good young players.”
“I think we’ve been continuing to build our ballclub. I do like the age of a lot of our players. They’re 26, 27, and I think they’ll continue to improve because they have excellent work habits. And I would say that we’re going to continue to add to strengthen our team every opportunity we get when it makes economic sense. I’m going to say it again, I’d much rather have the pitching depth at this time of the year and young ballplayers that can get better. I think we have a few young ballplayers that can improve and our fans are going to want to come out and see.”
[on if the team will add an impact hitter] “We may not be able to address it by the trade market right now, but if you take a look at our lineup on paper today, it’s pretty strong. If we have good setup hitters at the top of the lineup and the middle of our order continues to improve and mature, and a player like Manny Machado continues to mature, you might have your core group of players right here. And as they continue to improve, we’ll see it.”