Dan Duquette on the 2015 season and what lies ahead

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter met with the media today for about 30 minutes to recap the 2015 season and share some thoughts on improvements needed to get back into the playoffs. It’s done every year after the final game.

The topics also included the six pending free agents, the coaching staff and the possibility of negotiating an extension with third baseman Manny Machado.

Here are some comments from Duquette. Check Steve Melewski’s blog for Showalter’s remarks:

On whether retaining at least a portion of the pending free agents is a priority:
“I’d like to wrap up the 2015 season before we turn to ‘16. I believe the team had a good year. I know we’re all disappointed because our expectations were so high to have a better season, having gone to the playoffs last year. When I take a look at the 2015 team, we scored a few more runs than we did last year despite some of the players that left. But we gave up 100 more runs, so our offseason, we need to focus on a stronger pitching staff. I know we’ve got plenty of free agents to sign, but any informed analysis of a team, you’ve got to have a good pitching staff. That’s where it starts and that’s where we’re going to put our focus in the offseason.

“The free agents, we had a number of guys who had great years. Chris Davis had a great year, (Wei-Yin) Chen had a great year, Darren O’Day had a great year, and they’re all free agents and we like those players on our team. Whether we can have them next year or not, we’re going to try to sign them. I can tell you this: We’ll have a good team when we start the season. I don’t exactly who will be on it.”

On whether the Orioles have the finances to get a No. 1 starter:
“If we’re going to improve our pitching staff, we’re going to have to add to our pitching staff. You’d love to have a top of the rotation starter. We’re going to have to develop players that we have and we can look at the trade market. Do we have the resources to have a good pitching staff? Yes. The development of the pitchers, the trading for the pitchers, the signing of the pitchers, I think we’re going to have to do all those things.”

On whether he wants to come back next season:
“We’ve had a very successful team here for not just last year, but for the past couple years. The fact that we did so well last year I think sets the bar high, and we want to have the bar high, we want to be back in the playoffs, we want to be winning the last game of the year. And I think that’s where we put our focus. If you want to be in the position to get there, you need that kind of concentration.

“This is a tough league, this is a tough division. You see all the playoff teams this year, there are a signficant number who weren’t there last year and there’s a number of teams that were in the playoffs last year who aren’t this year. And it just speaks to the competitiveness of the league and the balance of the league. As far as worrying about whether you’re going to be with the club or not, I don’t think we’ve got time to do that, really. It’s always full steam ahead in this business.”

Buck Showalter Dan Duquette presser.jpgOn whether he wants to return in his current role:
“Absolutely.”

On negotiating an extension for Machado:
“I saw Manny’s comments. Manny said he likes it here and he’d welcome a long-term offer from the Orioles. Well, I’m encouraged that he’s interested in committing long-term to the Orioles. We already tried to do that one time and we didn’t quite get to a deal. We tried to sign Chris and Matt Wieters a couple times, but again, we didn’t quite get to a deal.

“It’s heartening that Manny wants to play here. We’ve got him for three more years and that’s something that we can consider in the offseason, but I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got a lot more work to do. And the fact that Manny’s going to be here for the next three years under his current arrangement doesn’t mean that’s a back burner item, but we have a lot more urgent things that we have to look at. We’ve already looked at that and we can look at that again. Manny’s a great player, and we’d love to have him here long-term.”

On whether the team has the funds to re-sign Davis and stay competitive:
“I would hope so. The idea is to have a competitive team, OK? And it’s to have a competitive team that’s also accessible and afforable to the fans. We’re going to fund a payroll that allows us to field the best team that we can field and then have the best experience we can have for our fans in our market. We’ve done that effectively for a few years. We’ve let some players go, we’ve had some challenges to keep this team competitive, but I’m confident that we can field a competitive team within the resources of the market.

“I don’t know what the final market’s going to be for Chris Davis, but having looked at some of the other contracts, it’s going to be a lot of money. And we’re going to have to weigh the competitiveness of the team and the need of the team to staff a strong pitching staff. And a look at the possible replacements. Those are all the things we take a look at every single day. I don’t know where the money’s going to end up, but we have enough resources in this market to field a competitive team and our aim is to do that again in ‘16.”

On whether he’s worried about fan reaction if Davis leaves:
“Chris Davis is a very compelling player because he hits prodigious home runs and the club understands that value. Having said that, there’s a lot bigger markets that are out there than this market. I don’t know where that’s going to end up, but we like Chris Davis, we tried to sign Chris Davis, we’d like to have him back for next year.”

On whether it’s a positive that his personality differs from Showalter’s:
“It’s healthy when you have different styles of leadership in the same organization because they’re complementary.”

On whether payroll could rise from the middle of the pack:
“We’re about 14th, sometimes 13th in terms of overall payroll. The size of our metro market and the size of our TV market are well below that in terms of the amount of people who are available to watch the Orioles, so we already field a very competitive payroll to the extent that our resources grow on the market, we put that back into the baseball operation, we put it into scouting, we put it into major league payroll. So to the extent that there’s additional revenues there, the payroll will go up.”

On improving on-base percentage:
“We need to upgrade our on-base capability. That’s where it starts. You’ve got to get them on before you get them over before you get them in.”

On when there may be a resolution to the coaching staff:
“We started work on that a couple months ago and we met on it again today. We’re going to try to get that resolved as soon as we can. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the offseason in terms of staffing our team and having a strong coaching staff is a good start.”

On whether team chemistry is an important consideration:
“Leadership within the team is important if you’re going to have a championship team because the ideals of the team and the message points, they need to be reinforced by the players on the team. As a management team, I always consider it a success when the players start reciting the messages or imitating the coaches and the manager because then they’ve really gotten the message. To me, that’s vitally important if you’re going to have a good team.

“The leadership within our team has been fairly stable here for the last couple of years. We’ve had some good veteran players up the middle. (J.J. ) Hardy and (Adam) Jones have won Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers, and the club looks to them for leadership. Darren O’Day’s been a staple in the bullpen and players look to him for leadership. Manny Machado, believe it or not, showed a lot of leadership by playing every single game this year and having a terrific year.

“To me, leadership is having good players on the team who do the right thing, that have their interets aligned with the team and reinforce the team goals. We have a number of leaders on this ballclub. Buck and his coaches provide strong leadership for the team. We’ve got a lot of people around this organization who are very passionate about winning and they do the right things and they develop the right habits and I’m very proud of the leadership that we have within our team. These guys show it every day.”

On whether qualifying offers will be made to Davis, Wieters and Chen:
“The qualifying offer, that’s under consideration for all those players and the club has to decide that by the end of the World Series, so we’re currently working on that.”

On whether he’s intrigued to hear what Jones has to say regarding the offseason:
“Adam has a unique perspective, but he’s earned the right to express himself. It tells me that he’s interested in having a winning team here year in and year out, which is the same interest that we have, and we appreciate Adam’s input. He certainly has a forum to give us his input. I’m not sure that he’s aware of all the business considerations we have to take into account with some of these decisions we have to make. But I’ve very encouraged that he’s interested because that means he wants the same thing that we want, which is to have a good team next year.”

On re-signing his free agents before they hit the market:
“We have some ideas on how we’re going to approach the offseason. Some of the agents represent players that they automatically take to the free-agent market. There’s a couple of agencies that get hired by players for this purpose, so that the player can become a free agent and they’ll take them to the market and they’ll get a lucrative contract, which they’ve earned the right to do. A lot of times the agents won’t entertain an offer, but we have the capability to speak to these players before the other clubs get to them and we’ve considered that and it’s something we’re currently considering.”

On finishing .500:
“I thought it was important that we finish .500 because now you’ve got something to build on. You finished in third place and we ended up sweeping the Yankees and the Nats. And to me, it’s very important if you’re going to be a first-division organization that you finish in the first division every year. To me, .500 is the low-water mark. We ought to be able to do .500 every year. I’m really glad that we finished that way.”

On Dylan Bundy being in the majors next season:
“He hasn’t pitched competitively in a while but he certainly has the talent. If he’s healthy that would be a consideration we could look at in the spring.”

On whether Hunter Harvey should have elbow surgery now rather than rest:
“He was active this year and the doctors are recommending based upon the healing they’ve seen, they’re recommending that he continue to pitch. If he does throw four to six weeks from now and he still has an issue, we can always look at surgery then, but we’ve sent him to see several doctors and they’re all recommending that he continue to throw.”

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