Duquette meets the press

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette met with reporters following today’s press conference, just in case we forgot to ask him something important or if we wanted to hear the same thing. That’s what we do in this business.

Here are a few highlights:

On the extension:

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity from the Angelos family and also the opportunity to serve the fans of Baltimore. I have been out of it for a while. I truly missed it and I appreciate being back. Every day, I try to give my best for the team and fans. Being away from it really accentuated the opportunity and to make the most of it.

“I think that I had some great training from Harry Dalton and we have some excellent baseball people here in Baltimore, particularly Buck and our scouting staff. They’re pros. They know what they’re doing and they know what it takes to have a good, winning team in the big leagues.”

On fans feeling like he hasn’t done enough to improve the club this winter:

“We have more work to do. We have more challenges to overcome to reach the goal that we want. But again, I like this ballclub, I like the depth of the pitching, I like the core players, I like the leadership on the field and I think we have a very competitive team. And we’ll have some other opportunities. My experience with young players is, you can be surprised by how quickly they come to the big leagues and the contribution they make to the team, so I wouldn’t lose sight of some of the good young players we have within our organization who could come up and have an impact on the team. Look at last year. Chris Tillman established himself as a top starter and I don’t know if anybody this time of the year predicted that. We hadn’t even signed Miguel Gonzalez to our organization until March 7. That was the actual date that we signed him. Because we had some good pitching people in the organization who helped those people develop their skills, they came up and made a significant contribution to the team. Steve Johnson was signed last year, a local kid. Signed a free agent contract with us, came to camp as a non-roster, and I can’t say he was on people’s radar, but when it came to August and September, he was there to make a contribution to the team. I think we have some good pros that know what they’re doing and I think you’ll see some more players who will come up through our minor league system this year that will contribute to our team.”

On heightened expectations now:

“I think the good thing is our fans are engaged, they’re reengaged to the Orioles and they identify with our great players like Adam Jones. It’s cool being an Orioles fan again and I’ll take that any day of the week. Now we have to go out and find some more good young players.”

On pressure to repeat last year’s success:

“If I was an Orioles fan, I would expect the team to be good this year because I saw the good young players they had last year and they’re all coming back.”

On perception that other teams have improved more than the Orioles:

“I think we’ve been continuing to build our ballclub. I do like the age of a lot of our players. They’re 26, 27, and I think they’ll continue to improve because they have excellent work habits. And I would say that we’re going to continue to add to strengthen our team every opportunity we get when it makes economic sense. I’m going to say it again, I’d much rather have the pitching depth at this time of the year and young ballplayers that can get better. I think we have a few young ballplayers that can improve and our fans are going to want to come out and see.”

On failure to land an impact hitter:

“We may not be able to address it by the trade market right now, but if you take a look at our lineup on paper today, it’s pretty strong. If we have good setup hitters at the top of the lineup and the middle of our order continues to improve and mature, and a player like Manny Machado continues to mature, you might have your core group of players right here. And as they continue to improve, we’ll see it.”

On how far the pitching has come in a year:

“We have pitchers that developed last year in Gonzalez, Tillman, Steve Johnson, Chen. And we still have Arrieta, Britton and Jason Hammel, and on the horizon, Bundy has another year’s experience and we’ve added Kevin Gausman to the group. We have more depth and I think we have a little bit more quality, too. And we have more experience. The young pitchers gained experience.”

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