Remember when people laughed at the Orioles hiring Dan Duquette?
Maybe they didn’t laugh, actually. I mean, Duquette had success in Boston and was a well-respected guy when he was hired by the Orioles following the 2011 season. But he wasn’t the Orioles first choice. Indeed, many bright people in the game -- GM prospects -- were said to run away from the job because no one thought that living and working with Orioles owner Peter Angelos was compatible with success. Duquette got the job partially by default and partially because, after close to a decade out of the GM’s seat, there weren’t likely to be too many other offers to run a team coming along.
And the people who ran away from the job were probably smart to do so at the time, based on the Orioles’ recent track record. There was no reason to expect that they were given a free of a hand to do what needed to be done to fix the team. To overhaul the player development system that had been profoundly lacking in recent years. To deal with Peter Angelos and his impatience.
But Duquette managed it. He remade the scouting operations and made a commitment to Latin America with a lot of help from some old hands he knew in Boston. He didn’t make a ton of big splash moves -- you figure Angelos still has veto power -- but almost all of the smaller moves he’s made have worked out well. He and Buck Showalter crafted a good bullpen that helped the O’s make the 2012 playoffs. He managed to wrangle together the depth which helped the Orioles weather the loss of two of its biggest players to injury for most of the year and another to ineffectiveness and then a drug suspension.
There are a lot of heroes on this Orioles team. Small-scale heroes, as it’s a team of depth and overall quality, not megastars. But maybe the biggest one is the guy no one really figured could turn this thing around, and certainly not as quickly as he did.
Good job, Dan Duquette.