Duquette promises Orioles will work “harder and smarter” to compete

November 08, 2011 | Luke Jones

However, judging from comments made on Tuesday, fans shouldn’t expect the Orioles to be very active in signing premium free-agent talent — at least for this offseason — after losing 93 games this past season.

“When your club is in a position where you can get over the top or you can get a player who can be a core player for a long period of time, I think that’s the right time to go into the free-agent market,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s terrific use of the club’s resources to go into the free-agent market just to say that I’m out there in the free-agent market and I’m signing players. I think you need a core of players and good players on your team, and then if you’re looking to add to that team complementary pieces or you can get a good-value investment for a long period of time, that’s when you should go into the free-agent market.”

And what if the Orioles do target that player who can provide that long-term value?

“I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting players to take my money, right?”

Though clearly meant as a light-hearted joke, Duquette may look back on that comment as a dubious omen should he prove unable to turn around the fortunes of the organization. If he’d been along for the hellacious ride of the last decade, he would have thought more than just twice before making that seemingly innocent comment.

Working harder and working smarter was Duquette’s calling card for his first official act as vice president of baseball operations. As he did many years ago in Montreal and then Boston, he’ll get his chance to prove himself, even if it appears few others wanted the same opportunity under the current circumstances in Baltimore.

All things considered, his introduction went well enough, but nothing he said was ever going to make fans jump out of their seats with excitement over the future. The Orioles reached the “actions speak louder than words” threshold a decade ago. Words mean very little at this point — regardless of who’s in charge of the front office.

Duquette will be asked to do what looks like the impossible — with the pitfalls of ownership and front office leftovers standing in his way — in transforming the Orioles back into a winning organization.

“It can be done,” Duquette said. “I did it effectively [before].”

But not in Baltimore.

Hopefully, Duquette knows what he’s getting himself into.