12/04/11 8:15 PM EST
O's add Ferreira, Thomas to front-office staff
By Jason Beck and Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The last time Lee Thomas worked with Duquette, he put together the contract that landed Johnny Damon in Boston, an investment that paid off a couple of years later.
So when Duquette made it one of his first steps to adjust the Orioles' scouting and player personnel efforts, he went with the guys who have produced for him. He wasn't afraid to make light of it.
"These guys want to go back to work," Duquette said with a smile Sunday night in his first remarks of the Winter Meetings. "We're putting the band back together."
Ferreira was named Baltimore's executive director of international recruiting, and he is tasked with helping improve the Orioles' much-maligned efforts abroad. Thomas joins as a special assistant to Duquette.
They're getting back into the game to try to create an edge that Duquette wants to bring to Baltimore.
"We have to be smarter, and we have to make better choices than the teams that have more resources," Duquette said. "And these guys have a track record of doing that."
Duquette has seen it himself.
A longtime scout and well-respected baseball man, Ferreira previously served as vice president and director of international operations for the Yankees and Marlins, as well as the Expos. He worked with Duquette in helping build Montreal's farm system and is credited for starting nearly 60 Major League careers, from Guerrero to Cabrera to Vidro to Bernie Williams. Ferreira also spent time as a scout for the Cardinals and Angels.
The new post comes with what Duquette said will be a boost in the international scouting department.
Ferreira's scouting success has been spread out across countries. While Guerrero was the latest and greatest in a long line of great Dominican hitters, Cabrera was one of the first great success stories to come out of Colombia, alongside Edgar Renteria. Roberto Kelly, one of Ferreira's signings while with the Yankees, came from Panama. The Marlins signed Dutch hurler Rick Vanden Hurk to his first pro contract under Ferreira's watch. He also dipped into the Venezuelan market to sign Armando Galarraga, known for his near-perfect game broken up by a missed call at first base while he was pitching in Detroit.
"The effort to boost the international recruiting is so that we can be active in all the markets," Duquette said. "Fred is going to report directly to me, as is [director of international operations] David Stockstill. International scouting is a passion of mine, and something that I'm going to be paying very close attention to."
Ferreira has watched the international markets evolve with the countries themselves. He remembers signing Guerrero for $3,500, and he watched Miguel Cabrera sign with the Marlins years later for nearly $2 million. He'll watch the international market change again with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will establish a tax on excessive international signing bonuses.
"It hasn't changed as far as finding players," said Ferreira. "It's just a matter of the money has changed a great deal."
Thomas, an American League All-Star during his playing career, was the Phillies' general manager from 1988-97. After he was replaced in Philadelphia, Thomas returned to Boston as a special assistant under Duquette, who was GM until 2002, from 1998-2003. Thomas worked in the Brewers organization but has been out of baseball for the last few years after a scouting position with the Astros fell through.
He was enjoying retired life for much of the last four years, spending time with Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog, but the itch to get back into baseball hit Thomas once Duquette had a chance to get back himself.
"I've missed it, I really have," Thomas said. "It was OK the first couple years or so, and I really did miss it. I'd go down to the Cardinals once in a while. I was involved with some of their camps. But I really did miss it, and I'm bored. And when [Duquette] called me, I told him I was bored. ...
"[Duquette] and I always kind of kept in touch, but as soon as I knew he was involved and things were getting pretty hairy there, I was getting more excited."
Since Duquette's takeover last month, the Orioles have had considerable movement in their front office -- with the departure of director of baseball operations Matt Klentak, who is currently the assistant general manager for the Angels, and the reassignment of director of pro scouting Lee MacPhail just the beginning of the expected organizational changes. Duquette, who also hired Gary Rajsich as amateur scouting director, has said that he would like for most of his staff to be in place by the end of the Winter Meetings, which start Monday, although he acknowledged it could take until the end of the calendar year for everything to be set in stone.
"We're working on that," Duquette said. "We'll have something on that between now and the first of the year."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. 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.