DALLAS - Rick Peterson reportedly is no longer a candidate to become Boston’s pitching coach. I mention it because Peterson interviewed last week for the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator job.
Here are some comments from executive vice president Dan Duquette:
“There were mostly trade discussions today, and some free agent discussions. But primarily trade discussions,” he said.
“There seems to be more relievers in the market. I haven’t found anybody to make a deal yet, so I can’t confirm whether they’ll part with them, but there seems to be more relievers on the market.”
Is Duquette on board with Jim Johnson possibly joining the rotation, and does it depend on what moves he makes to address the pitching staff?
“That’s a little longer-term consideration,” he said. “I know Buck likes Johnson in the bullpen. If we found an established bullpen guy, then he’d have more flexibility to use him as a starter. But either way, we have a lot of work to do to add to our pitching depth. That’s the challenge that we have. We’re really trying to address that.
“I know we need more and better pitchers to be competitive, and that’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to address that need.”
Where can the Orioles draw from when trying to make a trade? It’s not like they’re deep in many areas.
“We’ve got work to do. There’s no question about it,” Duquette said. “We’ve got work to do so we’re active on all the markets so we have more depth to our organization and more quality players in the organization. And when we do that, we’ll have more players that we can trade.”
Duquette said again that manager Buck Showalter prefers keeping the designated hitter spot flexible. “We’re going to address the DH,” he said, “but it’s not front and center right now.”
Here’s what Duquette had to say regarding their interest in Prince Fielder:
“We have interest in a lot of free agents. People want to talk about Fielder because they think he’s a good matchup with the city because of his left-handed swing and the short porch beneath the warehouse, right? So, they’re talking about it. We do have an interest in a number of free agents. I’m not sure why it keeps coming back to Prince Fielder.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to build our pitching staff. We were in the middle of the pack as far as runs scored. If we’re going to be a championship team, we’re going to have to increase our offense. But I’m going to tell you right now, we’re probably going to direct more of our resources into pitching this time around than we are other positions, because of the need of the team.”
Duquette said the Orioles are “in play on a couple of players that we think can help our team that fit into our market. We’re trying to make value-based investment decisions to improve the team.”
Asked if he’s confident that he can leave here with at least one deal getting done, Duquette said, “I hope so. We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. Hopefully, we can do some good.”
Here’s what he said about infielder Robert Andino, who’s attracting a lot of interest:
“Andino seems to be very popular. He can play shortstop. He emerged as a good option as an everyday shortstop. We have a top-quality shortstop in (J.J.) Hardy, so teams have expressed interest.
“I think Andino’s value to the (the Orioles) is as a backup shortstop and a backup second baseman. If (Brian) Roberts isn’t ready, than Andino becomes more valuable to us.”
There’s been interest in some of the young pitchers, as you’d expect, “which I think is encouraging. They’re our pitchers,” Duquette said.
“My goal is to add to the pitching staff, and if I’m adding to the pitching staff at the same time that I’m giving away young pitching, I don’t know that I’m accomplishing too much for the Orioles. That’s kind of where we’re at in the market.”
Duquette wants a veteran starter who would be “a more consistent, stable presence in the rotation for these young pitchers.” And it doesn’t matter if it’s a left-hander or a right-hander.
Competition and price are issues, “but we’re going to get some pitching,” Duquette said.
Duquette was asked if he could separate himself from emotional ties and not worry about fan backlash over trading away a popular player. Can he be dispassionate?
“I think the fans would be happy if we had a team that won more games than it lost,” he said. “If we traded away a player who was a favorite of the fans, I think that’s natural, but I also think our fans know that we’re trying to improve the ballclub. I’m always sensitive to the constituents who come out to support the team, but at the end of the day, they want to come out and they want to have a good time at the ballpark and they want to see the Orioles win, and if in our judgment we’re bringing them better players, then we’re doing the right thing for the fans and the team.
“My experience is, if we explain to fans what we’re trying to do, and then they can keep an eye on how we are executing according to the plan we laid out for them, they like that. They like to follow the progress of the team that way. And that’s aligning the interest of the fans with the team.
“It’s hard to trade players that are real popular within the market, right? And we have some players that are real popular in the market. But we haven’t had a team in a while that the whole fan base can embrace, and that’s really what I’m trying to do. We’re trying to put together a team that the fans can embrace, that wins more games than it loses.”
As I wrote earlier, Duquette wants to build around Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.
Duquette also said that the Orioles need to “develop pitching and players, and I think the team needs to be active and invest in the pitching market. But at the same time, the team has to be able to develop players, too, to go with the pitchers.
“I believe we need to be active in all the markets - the trade market, the free-agent market, the amateur draft, the six-year draft, the international market. We’ve got to be there in all of them. And then we’ve got to look for the value in each market. And then once we build up enough critical mass in our player inventory, then we’ll have a contending team. And after we have a contending team, we’ll be knocking on the door of the championship for a while, and one of those times when we knock, the door’s going to open. But we’ve got a lot of work to do. The Orioles have a lot of work to do to build up their player inventory in all the markets.”