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Dan Duquette Rumors
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is defending his team's quiet offseason, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. "[W]e're bringing back the core of the group from a year ago and the ball club that we had at the end of the season was a good defensive team," says Duquette. "And we've continued to build our pitching staff and our defense and the core players are young [and] they should continue to improve their offensive capabilities." The Orioles appear likely to take a step back in 2013, but they have an enviable young core that includes infielder Manny Machado, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Adam Jones. They could also get pick-me-ups at some point in the season from top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Catcher Chris Snyder has accepted a Triple-A assignment with the Angels, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports. The Angels signed Snyder in mid-March as Hank Conger, who had been slated to back up Chris Iannetta, worried the Angels with his throwing. Snyder's deal with the Angels permitted him to opt out and become a free agent, but he has chosen not to do so even though the Angels ultimately decided to go with Conger as their backup. Gonzalez reports that Snyder felt it would be difficult to find a major-league job with another team with Opening Day looming.
- After winning their Opening Day matchup against the Yankees, the Red Sox can officially put 2012 behind them, Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com writes. Their victory was keyed, in part, by two new outfielders, Shane Victorino (who signed a three-year, $39MM deal as a free agent) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (a first-round pick in 2011). "I wasn't part of what happened in the past," says Bradley, "but we're leaving it in the past."
- The Red Sox aren't the only ones who want to leave the past behind. So does former star Kevin Youkilis, who's ready to stop talking about how he's with the Yankees now, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch writes. "I don't sit down and stare at my uniform all game," he says. "I don't look and say, 'Oh wow, look at these pinstripes! This is pretty cool!' I just go out and play baseball."
The Dodgers received an epic performance from their young ace today, as Clayton Kershaw hit his first career home run for what turned out to be the game-winning run. Oh, and he also tossed a complete-game, 4-hit, 94-pitch shutout. Will L.A. regret not completing an extension over the spring if the lefty sticks with his stated intention not to negotiate during the season?
- Shortstop Justin Sellers went from darkhorse roster candidate to Opening Day starter, and now figures to see a lot of action, writes Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Manager Don Mattingly seems inclined to prioritize defense at short until Hanley Ramirez returns: "We want to be able to catch it. And we're willing to sacrifice offense to do it."
- In spite of their massive payroll, the Dodgers will be relying on several "unheralded" players in addition to Sellers, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, and A.J. Ellis all occupy key positions on the field and in the locker room, even if they aren't in line for the lion's share of the team's salary and press.
- The Reds' Opening Day lineup reveals the club's roster stability, writes David Jablonski of the Dayton Daily News. Of today's starters, only third baseman Todd Frazier and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo were not penciled into the lineup card this time last year.
- Unfortunately for the Reds, the club already needs to replace one of those returning starters for some time. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick suffered a dislocated right shoulder during today's game, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Ludwick re-signed with Cincinnati this past offseason, agreeing to a two-year, $15MM deal (with a mutual option for 2015) after a strong 2012 campaign. Chris Heisey replaced Ludwick after the injury. While Heisey went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, he did make this nice grab and prevented a go-ahead, inside-the-park home run for Peter Bourjos by backing up the center fielder Choo.
- The Orioles are deeper this year than last, and Executive VP of Operations Dan Duquette feels his rotation in particular is deep enough that the team "could probably make a trade," writes Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. As he now heads a "more established club," Duquette aims "to create some urgency for today" while also working to ensure "a steady stream of players coming up through the Minors."
A few notes on the Orioles..
- The Orioles considered trading pitching for a hitter last offseason, but decided not to deal their young hurlers, Jayson Stark of ESPN reports. Stark says the Orioles would not include Dylan Bundy in a deal with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton, and also ultimately passed on Jason Kubel. “Some of the bats that we could get would have improved our team,” says executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. “But it wasn't a huge improvement. And we wanted to hold onto the pitching depth and see if we could utilize the pitching depth to have a competitive team. And we could always take a look at that [later].”
- Koji Uehara thought he might return to Baltimore this offseason, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports. "I thought that there would be a possibility [of playing in Baltimore], but I didn't especially put a lot of weight on each team or one particular team," says Uehara. "I thought that every team had a chance." The Red Sox signed Uehara to a one-year, $4.25MM deal in December.
- Outfielder Henry Urrutia has finally arrived in the United States, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports writes. The 26-year-old Cuban defector received a $779K bonus from the Orioles in 2012, but had been in Haiti and has only now received a work visa. He will take a physical, then head to Orioles minor-league camp in Sarasota. The O's had intended to send Urrutia to Double-A Bowie last year, Kubatko notes.
Fresh off of their first playoff appearance in 15 years, the Orioles have decided to keep their leadership structure in place for the foreseeable future. The team announced extensions for manager Buck Showalter and executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette through the 2018 season.
Showalter led the Orioles to a 93-69 record this past season. The club defeated the Rangers in a Wild Card play-in game before losing to the Yankees in the Division Series. The 56-year-old finished second to A's manager Bob Melvin in the 2012 American League Manager of the Year voting. Now entering his fourth season with Baltimore, Showalter has a record of 1078-1018 in 14 seasons managing at the MLB level.
Duquette has made a number of significant moves in the year-plus since becoming the club's top baseball executive, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows. He traded for Jason Hammel, Jim Thome and Joe Saunders, signed Wei-Yin Chen and Nate McLouth and extended Adam Jones, for example.
The Orioles will pursue offense this offseason, with a particular focus at designated hitter and left field, according to executive VP Dan Duquette. In a conversation with MLBTR at the GM Meetings Duquette said he has the flexibility to pursue free agents who require long-term commitments.
“Sure. We can consider some multiyear deals,” he said. “I believe that our team, though, has a solid foundation. We could add one or two pieces either through trade or free agency or international free agency in the offseason to help our ballclub.”
Duquette focused on the international market in his first offseason with Baltimore, signing Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada to multiyear deals. The Orioles aren’t as impressed with the starting pitching available internationally this year, Duquette said. At the very least, they’ll check in on the top players.
Duquette said he likes the team’s internal options at second base, especially after adding Alexi Casilla. Robert Andino, Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty are alternatives in Baltimore, according to Duquette.
On the night that playoff baseball returns to Baltimore for the first time since 1997, we take a break from the action to catch up on the latest news and stories making headlines around the American League…
- Orioles general manager Dan Duquette says there's no need to increase the team's payroll for next season given Baltimore's current success, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The Orioles' payroll for the 2012 season saw the team spend $82MM — down $6MM from one season ago.
- History says that the Red Sox will have to pay a steep price to the Blue Jays if they hope to secure John Farrell's services next season at manager, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Most recenly the Marlins sent the White Sox their fourth- and fifth-best prospects in exchange for manager Ozzie Guillen. The trade proved to be an ill-fated one for Miami as the front office may not retain Guillen for the 2013 season.
- O's manager Buck Showalter has done a masterful job taking undesirable pieces and shaping a competitive club under his tutelage, says Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. "I kind of noticed this right when I got here," Nate McLouth said. "He's the kind of guy who even when he's not looking at you, he's watching you. He knows what's going on. All the time. Everywhere."
- Mere days after the death of his newborn child, Athletics reliever Pat Neshek and his wife turned to baseball as a tool to aid in the mourning process, writes Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News. Neshek returned to the team on Saturday after tragedy struck on Wednesday to retire two batters in a row and successfully guide the A's out of a jam. "You could just see the emotion in his eyes," said Derek Norris. "You could see how much it meant to him."
- Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told reporters, including Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com, that Saunders has been on his radar for quite a while. "He's a professional left-handed pitcher. We like his experience, which complements our starting rotation, which has three rookies, and I also like the fact that he's left-handed. It gives us better balance," Duquette said.
- Also in Dubroff's piece, Duquette insinuates Saunders may not simply be a late-season rental for the Orioles. "Joe Saunders is a local kid. Maybe he's with us beyond this year. That's something we can take a look at." Saunders was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia.
- Being close to family is a big draw for Saunders, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. "I’m excited to get traded to a playoff contending team," said Saunders. "Plus my family is from there so I’ll get to go closer to home. I grew up an hour and a half south of Baltimore so it’s going to be exciting to hang out with them more and they’ll get a chance to see me pitch more."
- Saunders also took to his personal Twitter feed to thank the Diamondbacks' organization and to say he will miss the team, the fans, and the community.
- Lindstrom met with Baltimore reporters, including the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly, before leaving to join his new team. “Yeah, [I’m] surprised but also kind of excited. A little bittersweet, because the team here is doing so well."
Wei-Ying Chen, Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Pena obtained the biggest free agent contracts handed out by AL East teams this offseason, not counting the Yankees’ extended agreement with C.C. Sabathia. Here’s the latest on the division…
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe that he’s operating differently in Baltimore than he did as Boston’s GM. “I have a fresh start in Baltimore,’’ he said. “I believe I could do a better job in one-on-one communication in a couple of different areas of the job.
- Ian Browne of MLB.com checks in with Ben Cherington, who’s now wrapping up his first offseason as Boston’s GM. Though Cherington says he’s far from unflappable, his boss, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, says he’s off to a “flying start.”
- The Orioles haven’t ruled out Johnny Damon, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The Orioles have switch-hitting DH Wilson Betemit in place, but they could shift him to third at times or play Damon in left if their interest in the free agent is serious.
- Yankees catcher Russell Martin told Heyman that he was pleased to see the Cardinals recognize the value of Yadier Molina’s all-around game with a $75MM deal (Twitter link). "He kind of set the bar," Martin said.
The Orioles are looking for a backup catcher, an outfielder, starting pitching and relievers, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Duquette hopes to make trades and sign free agents in the near future to address the team’s needs. Here are the details:
- The Orioles like Mark Reynolds’ defense better at first than at third. Duquette continued to downplay the likelihood of a major expenditure at first.
- Expect Matt Antonelli and Chris Davis to contribute at third base in 2012, though Duquette endorses the players in considerably different ways. "He looks like a ballplayer. He's got a good look about him, and he's a former No. 1 pick,” Duquette said of Antonelli. “If you take a look at Bill James' projections, they're projecting Davis to slug at .500 next year,” he said of Davis. Duquette added that he expects Antonelli to be healthy and likes his ability to get on base.
- Manager Buck Showalter prefers to rotate players in and out of the DH spot and Duquette will “be guided by [the manager's] preference." Don’t count on David Ortiz signing in Baltimore. “A 36-year-old DH would be a luxury for us," Duquette said.
- The Orioles will attempt to trade for a backup catcher and they have offers out to some minor league free agents, according to Kubatko (Twitter link).
- Earlier today, Jon Heyman reported that the Orioles have expressed interest in free agent Jason Varitek.
The Orioles officially introduced Dan Duquette as their GM today. Let's round up the latest from his press conference, plus more from Charm City…
- "This is right up my alley, turning around a ballclub and building a farm and scouting system," said Duquette to reporters (including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli) at today's press conference. "This is what I love to do. This is a great opportunity. I'm thankful for it, and I'm ready to go to work."
- “Dan had a real grasp of where we were as an organization,” said manager Buck Showalter to reporters (including CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff). “He’s always been on everybody’s lists.”
- In an Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney provided some quotes from former Expos and Dodgers GM Kevin Malone, who worked with Duquette in Montreal. "The Orioles made an excellent decision in hiring Dan Duquette," he said. "[He's] a talented, proven and experienced GM that knows how to build winning and successful ML teams and organizations."
- "I don’t know that it’s a terrific use of the club’s resources to go into the free-agent market just to say that I’m out there," said Duquette to The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel when asked about possibly signing Prince Fielder or C.J. Wilson.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier looked back at Duquette's drafts with the Red Sox, the team he ran from 1994-2001. He brought Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Youkilis, and others into the organization.