I’m taking off my journalist hat for a moment and am going to share some emotions. The O’s GM search has me a bit out of sorts.
As a kid who grew up loving the Orioles in the 1980s, I’ve been a little depressed this week, maybe even angry. The Orioles’ inability to convince a general manager to come to Baltimore has surprised me.
Trust me, I know it’s an uphill battle for whoever takes over, but how can the leading candidates simply say, “No thanks”? This isn’t a position managing the local Burger King. It’s an opportunity to run a major league ballclub, and only 30 of those jobs exist in the entire world.
Also, Baltimore isn’t just some dump of a baseball town. We have a beautiful ballpark, rich history and fans who are craving any reason to get behind the team they continue to love no matter what.
I’m not even sure with whom I’m mad. Am I mad at those who rejected the Orioles job, or am I mad that the job has become undesirable for some executives in baseball? Perhaps after last week, I’m bothered by the lack of excitement I feel for whoever does get the job. I’m sure I’ll pull out of my funk when I have a chance to meet the new GM. According to my MASNsports.com colleague, Roch Kubatko, that most likely is former Expos and Red Sox GM Dan Duquette. For the record, I’m a big fan of his cousin, former O’s GM Jim Duquette, who is a good baseball man.
I do know Dan Duquette was on the list of candidates interviewed by the Angels and is known for his relationships in the international markets. To me, that is huge, so if he gets the job, then there’s one thing to be very excited about.
If Duquette is the guy, I hope that he’s a smart executive who doesn’t let ego affect his ability to do business. He’ll have to see Buck Showalter’s input as a major resource and not be threatened by Showalter’s strong personality. Plus, Duquette will have to be a good talent evaluator as far as his the people in the warehouse.
I know there have been rumors that other candidates shied away from the O’s GM position because they wanted the ability to hire and fire long-term front office employees. I’m not sure how much autonomy owner Peter Angelos is willing to give the GM in that area, but I do know that was not the deal breaker for Tony LaCava.
Rather than run in and clean house, perhaps Duquette will take everything in and then communicate to Angelos who he thinks is worth keeping. Others might need to be reassigned. I can’t see a businessman like Angelos being unwilling to listen to his top executive. Personally, I believe a GM should have carte blanche over who he wants in his front office.
I admit I know absolutely nothing about the type of front office executive Duquette will be. I do know he hasn’t been in Major League Baseball in any role for 10 years, and that makes me a little uncomfortable.
I hope Duquette signs some key free agents right off the bat and, just like that, everyone thinks the right man is in place.
For those of you who feel the O’s might be settling. It’s a natural feeling when a company’s second choice is hired. Producer Adam Martiyan at “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” reminded me the other day that second choices often work out better. Remember, Jason Garrett turned down the Ravens job after the 2007 season? Enter John Harbaugh. Three consecutive playoff berths and one AFC championship game later, I’d say thank goodness Garrett turned the gig down.
Hopefully, we’ll be saying the same thing about LaCava when afforded hindsight down the road.