Perhaps this year’s market wasn’t quite what Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette was expecting. Surely he knew that Josh Hamilton would find his $125 million and that Zack Greinke would get his $147 million. But I’m guessing Duquette never imagined that Lance Berkman would get $10 million or that Joe Blanton would sign for $15 million.
It’s been an expensive offseason for baseball’s for GMs, but in Baltimore it’s been a quite one. Heading into the winter meetings, the Orioles were pretty clear about what they were looking for this winter. Nearly a month and a half later, the O’s still haven’t accomplished any of those goals.
“We looked around the industry for that middle-of-the-order bat,” Duquette told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli. “There was one free agent that was a significant player. There have been some other players available in a trade that I’m not sure they were better than what we had, and the cost of the acquisition has been a little pricey for us.”
Baltimore has expressed interest in Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau. I’m guessing the Diamondbacks and Twins are simply asking too much in return for their sluggers.
Unlike most of the fans in Baltimore, Duquette believes the team he built last offseason can still contend this year and into the future. He’s not worried about the one run games and doesn’t think 2012 was a fluke.
“Let’s not confuse activity with the strength of our ballclub here in Baltimore; it was a club that won over 93 games last year, and we are returning that core with three playoff wins,” Duquette said. “That’s our team. If there were better players that were available to us at a reasonable cost, we would have added them, but we still have the core of a very competitive team here.
“We built our team last year, not just for last season, but so we could be competitive for a couple of years. And if you watched carefully, we didn’t lose a lot of players this year. And the players that performed and did well, they are getting serious raises in the arbitration system.
“We should also have some other young players coming up through our farm system. That’s where we are going to build our team. That’s where a lot of our young players are going to come from. That’s where Manny Machado and Matt Wieters came from — like we hope that [top pitching prospects] Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will this year. That’s what the Orioles are about.”
Duquette sounds confident in the core group of players and is optimistic about Nate McLouth’s return, Alexi Casilla at second base and Travis Ishikawa as depth at first. He’s continued to replenish the farm system with a slew of guys from the independent leagues and has focused his efforts on another starter.
Probably not a guy like Kyle Lohse, but likely Joe Saunders.
His answers will cause many fans in Baltimore to continue doubting the Orioles. Quiet offseasons in the past have previously led to late summer nose dives, but Duquette has a plan and he’s sticking with it.
He’s more worried about wins in September and October than headlines in January.