Wednesday was a busy afternoon in the Warehouse. Early in the afternoon, the Orioles and manager Buck Showalter were reported to be parting ways. Later on in the evening, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal struck again with a scoop that Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, is not expected to be retained. That is a lot of upheaval for one day.
Duquette, whose contract is set to expire at this season’s official conclusion, has spent the last several months acting like a man who thinks he’s coming back, perhaps because he had no choice but to do so. As the team launched its rebuild trades, the players Duquette got back will have a big impact on how short of a time the franchise spends in the doldrums. He talked about things that need to change in the front office as if he would be the one overseeing those improvements.
In that way, it is a surprise that the Orioles have chosen to move on from Duquette. If they were going to let him go at season’s end, why did they let him trade players like Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop, who were not free agents this year? Perhaps he should have been fired months ago rather than left around as a lame duck to make those deals. Perhaps it doesn’t matter.
In another way, it’s not surprising at all that the Orioles are going to have a different general manager, or whatever title they prefer to give the next person occupying that role. The Orioles were just 47-115. Duquette was the architect of the roster that put up that record. His trades, his signings, his draft picks, and his other assorted moves put the Orioles where they are now. There is no compelling reason to keep anyone who has presided over such a disaster.
It may be, given the general impression of dysfunction in the Orioles front office, that Duquette was not entirely responsible for some of the bad decisions that were made. That’s the way it goes. Cot’s Contracts information shows that Duquette has been making “about $2 million annually,” which is a good paycheck to cushion the impact of being the fall guy.
Notable in the vein of that dysfunction: We have heard about Buck Showalter and now we have heard about Duquette. What is the future of Brady Anderson? Is he going to be the next GM? Is the next GM going to have to accept that Anderson will be weirdly lurking, answerable only to someone named Angelos, sticking his nose in at unpredictable intervals? Are they going to make it a clean sweep and send him packing as well?
The Orioles offered at least a partial answer to the Brady question in a press release with the mild title of “Orioles announce transition in baseball operations leadership.” That might not be all the way into George Orwell territory, but it’s heading there. In the release, the O’s announced that the next leader of the baseball operations department will come outside of the organization.
The release also claims that “this individual will have the final determination on all baseball matters that he or she believes will make the Orioles successful on the field, entertaining to fans, and impactful in the community.” It’s good that they said that. Whether they follow through with it is something that I think still remains to be settled.