Duquette re-enters Majors with Orioles position
Former Red Sox GM introduced as VP of baseball operations
BALTIMORE -- After more than nine years out of Major League Baseball, Dan Duquette was officially introduced Tuesday morning as the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations, bringing with him more than two decades of experience and a new beacon of hope for an organization in dire need of a turnaround after 14 consecutive losing seasons.
Duquette, who signed a three-year contract, met with the club's decision makers for seven hours on Friday after expressing his interest in the vacancy. He was hired two days later.
"This is right up my alley, turning around a ballclub and building a farm and scouting system," said Duquette. "This is what I love to do. This is a great opportunity. I'm thankful for it, and I'm ready to go to work."
Duquette, who opened his 33-minute introductory news conference Tuesday with tales of a childhood in which he pretended to be Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, said the long layoff was something he would use as a strength, vowing in a half-joking manner to be "kinder and friendlier" than his previous stops, but some rust was still evident. The 53-year-old, who was dismissed as the Red Sox's general manager before the 2002 season, closed his lengthy opening statement by promising the crowd assembled that his goal was to fix the farm system, invest in international scouting and ultimately assemble a perennially-contending club: in Boston.
But if Duquette, who also served as the Expos' GM before spending the next eight seasons in Boston, can succeed where his predecessors have not, his initial blunder will be long forgotten. Duquette's task is to restore the Orioles to their dynastic glory of the 1960s and '70s -- chock full of the great players he and his brother emulated in their backyard of their home in Dalton, Mass. In recent years, as Baltimore has resided in the basement of the American League East, the team has been unable to attract top-tier talent or to step out of the shadows cast by baseball's two biggest behemoths in Boston and New York.
Duquette said he has an international plan that he will immediately implement to help boost Baltimore's much-maligned international efforts.
"When you don't have the resources that the top two clubs have, you have to work harder and you have to work smarter," he said. "You have to do a better job in scouting and player development."
Duquette's background in those two arenas -- he has extensive contacts in Latin America and Asia -- were major pluses for a team with a subpar farm system.
Baltimore's farm system has come under increased scrutiny of late, and the club has been unable to make any headway internationally, a key aspect of trying to succeed with a lower payroll. Duquette said he plans to overhaul personnel and change infrastructure with several new hires and internal reassignments.
The Orioles found Duquette's ideas so compelling during his initial interview, he became the immediate front-runner despite the club being further along in the process with other candidates.
"I think anybody who doesn't think he's up to speed on the industry is sadly mistaken," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We picked everybody's brain who came through here about what they thought of us and the club and everything, and I think Dan had a real grasp on where we are as an organization. [He] talked about the improvements and some of the things we did last year and how our record's gotten better each year, but it's time to increase the increments."
Duquette served as farm director for the Expos from 1987-91 and their general manager from 1991-94, when he was hired to be Boston's GM. He traded for pitcher Pedro Martinez twice, first when he was with Montreal and again when he was with Boston. While in Boston, he acquired Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek in a trade with Seattle. As Red Sox GM, Duquette signed Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, and despite being dismissed under Boston's new ownership, he helped lay the groundwork for the club that won the World Series in 2004.
"I am pleased to welcome Dan Duquette to the Orioles organization," principal owner Peter Angelos said. "With an emphasis on developing players from within as well as acquiring players through the international and trade markets, Dan built the Red Sox and Expos into formidable franchises during his tenures. His record of success, extensive baseball operations leadership and strong scouting background give Dan the experience and skills essential for this position."
Duquette assumes the role vacated last month by president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and he wasn't shy on Tuesday in acknowledging the challenge that lies before him. When asked if the team needs a total rebuild, Duquette -- who is the organization's eighth top executive under Angelos -- wasn't in total agreement, but he made it clear that the emphasis will be on stockpiling inventory in the farm system over signing big-name free agents.
"[There are] a lot of talent markets to field a competitive and winning team," said Duquette. "We will be active in several of those markets. The Major League free-agency market is probably the riskiest one, right? I'm much more comfortable operating with less risk."
Duquette is expected to work closely with Showalter, who places heavy value on scouting and player development, and the Orioles will now shift their attention toward solidifying their Major League coaching staff and Minor League operations. The club is in need of a scouting director, Minor League pitching coordinator, and a third-base coach and bench coach for Showalter's staff; the latter two are expected to be announced within a week.
The cousin of former Orioles vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette, Dan Duquette was the sixth candidate to interview, coming on the heels of Thursday's meeting with Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock. Dodgers assistant GM DeJon Watson, Jerry Dipoto and O's director of player development John Stockstill also interviewed. Watson took his name out of contention, and Dipoto accepted the GM position with the Angels. Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava was offered the position initially, but he declined.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.