Looking at some issues facing Dan Duquette

As Dan Duquette becomes the latest top executive to try and turn the Orioles around, many Orioles fans must be hoping the Buck Showalter-Duquette pairing will be the one to finally take this team back to the top of the standings.

While no one can blame fans for being doubters and skeptical about that, a new face at the top does provide hope. Hope that this time some things will be different. Hope that Duquette will bring some fresh ideas and/or staff to the front office. Hope that it all will lead to the return of winning baseball in Baltimore.

Among Duquette's first tasks will be to get on the same page with Showalter. You would think if either man had questions about that happening, Duquette would not be here.

Fans and reporters are going to wonder who really has the power in this relationship and, frankly, will we really ever know? Some won't care much about that, as long as they eventually see more wins. A lot more of them.

Here's hoping Duquette can improve the Orioles' efforts in international scouting and signings.

In an interview last July with MASNsports.com, then-Orioles president Andy MacPhail seemed to point the finger at himself in terms of his conservative nature in respect to the O's international efforts.

"Apparently I am more comfortable where we are (internationally) than some," MacPhail said. "And I think (the fans) look at it as if you are not trying if you don't spend $4 million on an amateur player, be it from the Dominican, Venezuela or whatever.

"I would remind you we found (Alfredo) Simon in Mexico and Koji (Uehara) from Japan and they count for something. I said it out there in front of our season ticket holders. I am not ready to commit $4 million to a player that is just in tryout camps. I don't think it's a good place to spend your $4 million. Spend your $4 million elsewhere.

"You could say maybe I'm conservative or time may have passed me by. I'm a product of the old days, whatever, but I just don't think that's a good bet.

"It's me. I am just not big on throwing $4 or $5 million at a guy that has just been at tryout camps that you haven't had a chance to see in a competitive environment."

I also asked MacPhail then about the perception that the Orioles just don't have enough scouts and resources on the international front.

"I don't know," he said. "I am sure there are organizations that have more. You have to evaluate it today in the context of what is going on today. The buscones are going from complex to complex, they are not in the hinterland anymore.

"You are not targeting guys all over the (Dominican) island. It's just not the same game it used to be. We probably place a greater reliance, for better or worse, on our American evaluators going over there as opposed to be totally domestic in the evaluation."

Based on comments Showalter made at times last season, he seemed to very aware of the club's poor international efforts but was wary of being openly critical of his own front office. Maybe Duquette's hiring gives the Orioles a mulligan here. Time to start over, hire more and better international scouts and get that ball rolling. Finally.

It will also be interesting to see how many staff additions or changes Duquette makes. Some fans will use this as a test to see how much control he really has. But keep in mind, when you have been out of the game at the GM level for this long, this may be an area (adding his own staff) where Duquette needs to get up to speed a bit.

Those who have remained in the Orioles' front office have had some plans in place for some staff assignments on the minor league level, for instance, but they have been waiting to see if the new man will come in and sign off on some of them or want all his own people in place.

My guess is some of these issues have been discussed and probably resolved already during the last three days when Duquette was in town.

Let the new man and new era begin. The fans can only hope it's the beginning of brighter days ahead for the Orioles.

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