I start off this piece with the following disclaimer: I am not a Baltimore Orioles fan. However, I seem to be hanging around these parts lately, so I thought I would weigh in on the new addition.
Dan Duquette is certainly an established name and there is no doubting his success as a general manager. He was in charge of the Montreal Expos during their heyday and he helped put a lot of the pieces of the championship club in Boston in place. So, he didn't just fall off the turnip truck.
Additionally, it was reported on Baseball Confidential that he had used advanced statistics at both of his stops. All signs point towards success.
However, we can't help but note that Andy MacPhail had the same track record of success coming into the gig. He had been successful in Minnesota. After all, the Twins owe both of their World Championships to him. Yet, he struggled in Chicago and obviously things didn't work out in Baltimore.
So, past success is not necessarily a predictor of future success. This doesn't mean that Duquette is doomed to failure, but Orioles fans shouldn't be mapping out a parade route either. Often, the question of success comes down to a GM's governing philosophy and whether that philosophy will jive with the current conditions.
Naturally, we should acknowledge the difficult position the Orioles were in. Tony Lacava was the favorite, but he turned down the position. Lacava certainly would have been more in line with what most teams are moving towards. Let's face it, the Orioles position isn't as attractive as it used to be.
This has to more to do with the division they play in than anything wrong in Baltimore. They have two juggernauts and one very well run organization in front of them. Then, you have the Blue Jays that are on the rise. Suddenly, we are left wondering whether there is space for the Orioles in that landscape.
That being said, there were opportunities for the Rays to move into the Mount Rushmore of the division. They did it the new way. They developed talent and they made smart moves that didn't require a lot of money. The Orioles are a little slow on the uptake when it comes to using the new methods of building teams.
Enter Dan Duquette. Is he the right guy to seize the new opportunities? He built a good young team in Montreal, but his Boston experience points more towards the traditional way of building a contending club. Mind you, he was very good at it.
Manny Ramirez was a good signing. Pedro Martinez was a great trade. He fleeced the Mariners for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.
After two consecutive GM failures in Baltimore, you can see why the Orioles would want to go with the safe pick. I just don't think the safe pick is going to get them where they want to go. Rolling the dice on a young whipper snapper is a gamble. If it goes wrong, you become the laughingstock of baseball. Of course, Baltimore isn't that far from that now.
I say this as a dedicated Houston Astros fan. We are the butt of every joke because we are the dial-up Internet of statistical analysis. Ed Wade makes Dan Duquette look like Alex Anthopolous, so everything is relative.
He's an improvement, but improvement is not what the Orioles are after. They're after championships and I just don't think he is the guy for the job.