North of the border: Columnist’s take from Toronto on Duquette story

No doubt some Orioles fans and local media too are probably a little confused over the situation involving Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Toronto Blue Jays.

There is plenty of speculation, but few actual answers right now. Will he or won’t he become the president and CEO of the Blue Jays?

duquette-smiles-sidebar.jpgThat uncertainty extends north, to Toronto, where reporters are not only not getting answers, they are not getting any comments whatsoever from the management of the Blue Jays, who are owned by Rogers Communications.

Reporters there have not been told whether Paul Beeston, whose contract expired in October, is even still the president of the team or not.

Yesterday, I interviewed Scott Stinson, a sports columnist based in Toronto for the National Post, a national newspaper in Canada.

“The company that owns the Blue Jays is not talking on the record - or even off the record,” Stinson said. “But what we’ve been able to piece together is that sometime in December there were some initial phone calls made from someone affiliated with Rogers Communication to both the White Sox and Orioles about Kenny Williams and Dan Duquette.”

I asked Stinson if there is a sense that the Blue Jays have not followed proper protocol here.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that normal protocols were not followed with either the Orioles or White Sox,” he said. “It seems pretty obvious that calls were made in an exploratory way. My understanding is you are supposed to have a formal request from front office to front office. It very much seems like that didn’t happen in either case which is why both Jerry Reinsdorf and Peter Angelos were kind of annoyed with the way it came about.

“Having said that, there hasn’t been any comment from Major League Baseball that this is an obvious case of tampering or anything like that. I don’t think it’s a big leap to suggest at the very least that it’s a bit out of the ordinary the way this thing was handled.”

Stinson said Beeston technically is still team president and is acting in that role, even with an uncertain future and no word from team ownership on his status.

There is nothing to suggest, Stinson added, that current Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is in any trouble, but that if someone with a baseball operations background like Duquette is brought in, it could diminish his role.

So has there been much reaction from Toronto fans over the team’s pursuit of Duquette?

“I don’t think it’s really caught their wide interest yet because it has been hard to pin down and no one is really saying anything about it,” Stinson said. “Paul Beeston has been around for a long time and people like him. I think people are annoyed that he seems to be getting the shaft and hasn’t been treated well in this process.

“If it ends up that the acquisition of a new president costs players, then I think they will be annoyed. There has been patience for the Anthopoulos regime. If they think they can contend and they lose players just to essentially shuffle a role in the front office, I don’t think people will be terribly pleased by that.”

He added that he does not expect to see a trade of players for Duquette. He feels the silence of Rogers Communications execs could mean a resolution to this situation soon.

“Logic suggests this team would not be willing to part with significant talent, but there is not a whole lot in this process that makes sense to me,” Stinson said. “But there is always that wild card possibility that whoever got it in their head that they wanted to go after Dan Duquette is going to make it happen even over the objections of other baseball people here.

“I’d be surprised if we get into the middle of next week and they are still not saying anything. The only explanation for them not saying anything is that they’re going to make an announcement one way or the other. They’ve come to some agreement (on a trade) or Beeston is back for next year or some years in the future. In the absence of some announcement, we are just guessing at what may happen.”

Stinson said he could understand if Orioles fans were upset with the Blue Jays right now and this could add fuel to the fire of their American League East rivalry.

“I would suspect that in Baltimore there is more annoyance with the Toronto side of things than the other way around,” he said. “If there ends up being a GM swap and players involved, too, that would certainly make the games between the teams more spicy in the future.”

Click here to read Stinson’s latest story on this topic.

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