November 8, 2011 started a new era for the Baltimore Orioles. Andy MacPhail was gone after a long 4 1/2 years that did nothing but see the Orioles finish in last place. In comes Dan Duquette, former general manager of the Expos and Red Sox.
Duquette had been out of the business since 2002 when he was fired from the Sox, so bringing in somebody who had been away from the big leagues for nearly a decade had me a little worried, despite his past success.
Right from the get-go I heard rumors about the O’s bringing in the washed up circus known as Manny Ramirez. Was this what Duquette was going to bring to the table? A move that would all but mirror something MacPhail would do? Would there really be much change in the philosophy of the front office or would the team keep bringing in washed-up veterans.
No. Luckily for Baltimore, this move did not happen. Instead, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Luis Ayala, and Wilson Betemit were brought in. None of these moves were flashy, and none of the moves seemed as if they would make immediate impacts.
While these transactions were going on, many fans, including myself, wanted the team to bring in Prince Fielder. That, obviously, did not happen.
After countless years of misery as an O’s fan, I, along with others, were not thrilled off the bat with Duquette.
Fast forward to today, June 28, 2012.
The Orioles are a surprising 41-33, second in the AL-East. Hammel, despite last night’s debacle against the Angels, has been unstoppable, posting a record of 8-3, a 3.29 ERA and 89 strikeouts.
Chen has also been a pleasant surprise. He holds a 7-3 record (he will take the field tonight against the Indians), and has out-dueled the likes of C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett.
Ayala has helped the bullpen be surprisingly dominant, and Betemit, along with the rest of the team, has played well (despite the team’s recent struggles with RISP).
So, Dan Duquette, you’ve already surprised many with how well these transactions have panned out so far.
Even with the success so far, O’s fans are quickly realizing that Duquette and the rest of the front office still want to add to the team.
According to ESPN, the O’s are in serious contention to land starting pitchers Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster. With the inconsistencies of Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, these moves would all but give Baltimore a starting rotation that could definitely keep up with that of the Yanks and Rays.
Yes, Garza is only 3-6 this season, but he has shown before he has what it takes to be a big league pitcher. And despite Dempster’s age (he’s 35), he’s allowing a remarkable 2.11 runs per game, the best of his career.
Although the Cubs would want more than just Arrieta and Matusz, giving up Xavier Avery or another young prospect may be worth it, because, as we know all too well, you can only survive for so long in the AL East with two-three solid starting pitchers.
Duquette has already made strides in winning fans over in his short time in Baltimore, and bringing in Garza and/or Dempster would without a doubt help Duquette establish himself as the right man for the job in Baltimore.