Dan Duquette made a big promise Jan. 26. At Linwood’s Restaurant in Owings Mills, the new Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations promised more than 50 Sports Boosters of Maryland members and their guests “we’re going to turn it around this year.”
“This year, we’re going to win more games than we lose,” Duquette said.
In his introductory speech after a cocktail hour, Duquette said he is trying to rebuild the Orioles’ pitching staff, a goal he expressed multiple times throughout the night as being vital to the revitalization of Baltimore’s longstanding, but long-suffering baseball franchise.
One member, dressed head to toe in black and orange, asked later in the evening if Duquette truly believed the Orioles could right the ship in the American League East. Or was the new leader of this Orioles team, charged with bringing a winning culture back to Baltimore after 10 years of being out of baseball himself, just mincing words.
“I truly believe it and I’ll tell you why,” Duquette responded without a quaver in his voice. “We have more productive youth in our lineup and we have a good manager. I wouldn’t stand up here and tell you that if I didn’t believe it. I know what it takes and some of the things we’ve done, we haven’t made a splash, but we’ve improved our ballclub significantly.”
Duquette was the general manager of the Montreal Expos from 1991-1994 and went to the Boston Red Sox from 1994-02. After spending 10 years out of baseball and both of his children in college, Duquette decided to get back in the game … literally.
He interviewed with the Los Angeles Angels and expressed interest in the Orioles’ job. He was hired some veteran guys to surround him, which he told the crowd will jell nicely with the youth and enthusiasm the Orioles already have in their clubhouse.
He told the crowd he is excited to work with manager Buck Showalter. “Buck’s a pro,” he said, “and we share a passion for developing an organization.”
Developing an organization is obviously the biggest task on Duquette’s plate. He laid out his foundation for building a better ballclub with three big areas: good defense, a decent pitching staff and power hitting. But most importantly, the humorous new VP understands the strife Baltimore has gone through in the last 13 years and is committed to turn it around to keep his promise.