Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed today that the Orioles signed a six-year minor league free agent yesterday, so the Dan Duquette era already has started.
That didn’t take long.
Showalter also is meeting later today with a candidate for his coaching staff, and could set up other meetings after flying home to Dallas.
Here are some quotes from Showalter regarding Duquette:
“It’s very obvious when he came in that he was very up to speed on the Orioles, and it was fun to watch him make a presentation about how he views the Orioles and whatever, through his eyes and also through the statistics and analysis and see how it corresponded to what was pretty much reality. It was real impressive. I think anybody who doesn’t think he’s up to speed on the industry is sadly mistaken.
“Dan won’t say it, but let’s face it, a lot of the stuff that was established and set up and done under his tenure there in Boston is a lot of the reason why they’ve had the success. Plus, what they’ve been able to do with their payroll since then. We’re very fortunate to be able to have someone like him with his background and experience and track record of success in all levels of the needs we had as an organization with the player development, scouting and obviously the leadership up top. We’ve spent a lot of time together and I think one of the reasons you had him toward the end of the interviews is you felt like he might be a frontrunner. You had a lot of people say, when he gets in front of you, you’re going to see why he’s had a lot of success. I’m excited about it. I can actually head back to Dallas for a few days.”
Does Duquette have a chip on his shoulder after being fired by the Red Sox in 2002 and staying away from baseball for so long?
“We all do,” Showalter replied. “You better. It’s a competitive place. It’s not for the weak of knees and faint of heart. You’ve got to live it and breathe it. We went down to the lockerroom yesterday after everybody had left, around 6 o’clock, and stayed there until about 8 and just sat down there, and that environment was beautiful because it was baseball. You can tell Dan, as soon as he got in that environment, there was a different feel. 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. 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”
What about Duquette and and Showalter being two strong-willed guys?
“I hope so,” he replied. “We’re passionate about the Orioles. The greatest thing parents can do is teach their kids how to live without them. Same thing. I want to be in the dugout and the players are the focus, and we’re getting close with that. Anybody who’s got a passion about the Orioles and has a strong opinion from his background, I’m in. It’s just good to have somebody, and I had it with Andy (MacPhail), that you can bounce something off of and ask, ‘Have you thought about this?’ And I know what Dan’s going to say. I want to have those meetings as a group where we have a lot of good people who should feel comfortable about stating their opinions and backing it. I’m looking forward to that.
“There are some good things going on. One of the mistakes I know I talked about is thinking everything here ... and Dan knows that ... there are some good things in place and there’s been some good work done. I know that firsthand. But there are some things we need to upgrade, a lot of it from attrition. People have just left and gone on. He’s got a good background in putting the right people in place, and there might be some adjustments in people who are currently here. We’ve already talked about that, just trying to give him a heads up and a cheat sheet on some things that he can assume. But I’d also like for him to examine the opinion that I have on some things and see if he agrees.
“He’s always been on everybody’s list. And when you start getting down from the original big notebook to four or five people who were interviewed, Dan was obviously a strong candidate.”
Will there be a learning curve for Duquette following his extended absence?
“If you spend a little time around him, it’s a pretty short learning curve,” Showalter said. “When you’ve got people like Matt (Klentak) and John Stockstill and people around him, and I know he’s speaking to John this afternoon. We’ve already signed some six-year free agents, we’ve already done some things on waiver claims before Dan got here. He had a player yesterday we signed right away, a six-year free agent that we wanted to get in front of. I’m sitting down with one potential coach today and a couple more might have to come to Texas or I’ll come to them.”
Showalter wanted to wait until Duquette was hired before completing his coaching staff.
“I didn’t want to think about bringing somebody in and Dan thought he was the next coming of Idi Amin,” Showalter said.
Now there’s an old-school reference.
“We’ll firm that up in the next week,” Showalter continued. “I know John Russell just signed back two hours ago, he told me. So John’s coming back. Just trying to figure out the capacities, and kind of picking Dan’s brain on that, what he thinks. I haven’t had that big of turnover in coaches, six new ones every year. It’s like the GM thing. I don’t rub shoulders with a lot of these guys. I had some people I thought that they would be interested in. If you look at the criteria for what was needed for this job, it shrunk the picking pool. It’s very obvious that Dan and Mr. Angelos are going to have a good relationship, too. You could see that early on.”