Duquette….and MacPhail to Thank for O's Start

May 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

By Guest Blogger John Manuel:

Its the beginning of May and the O's are sitting at 16-9 and one game out of first place.  Usually by now we are talking about their continued lack of talent or player development.  After Wednesday night's 5-0 shutout win over the Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles finally are showing something.

Just wondering how long it takes before the Buster Olneys and Ken Rosenthals of the baseball world will catch on.  No need to discuss the previous say 15 years, but so far this one has been great to watch.  I know they can tailspin down any minute but lets enjoy while we sit 2 1/2 games ahead of the $200 million Yankees.

One man who should not be forgotten after the great start is former GM Andy MacPhail.  I will admit at points last year I was hoping he would leave at the end of 2011, but what he pulled off late in the season has to be commended.  First, he dealt Koji Uehara for two solid pieces of this year's strong start, Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter.  Davis has been solid at first and seems to be getting more confident each game as a hitter.  Hunter has not been spectacular but has easily filled in as a middle of the rotation starter who can give you at least 5-6 innings a start.

Then MacPhail fleeced the Rangers again at the deadline and gave them 2-year fan favorite Mike Gonzalez and got in return Pedro Strop.  Strop has been a major factor in Baltimore's bullpen domination so far.  These are the moves that can start a change in an organization.  O's fans should be thanking Andy MacPhail for not going out as a lame duck GM last season.

After MacPhail decided to leave, the Orioles needed a new person to make baseball decisions.  After interviewing multiple up and coming baseball minds, Peter Angelos shocked the baseball world and brought Dan Duquette back into the majors.  The move was seen as another poor one by Angelos.  Duquette took a passive approach towards the big money free agents and quickly took some flack.  It was the Orioles continuing the moves of the Orioles of the past 15 years.  The ghost of the Albert Belle signing once again was visible over the warehouse.

Duquette chose to bring in "exciting" free agents like Wilson Betemit and Darren O'Day and travel across the ocean to get Wei-Ye Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada instead of making serious runs at Prince Fielder or CJ Wilson.  And Orioles fans once again began to count down till Ravens training camp.  Then he made a move that was questioned (by me included at the time) and brought many fans to rock bottom.  Dealing their most solid starter of the past 5 years Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.  Duquette was crushed for such little return for Guthrie.

Forward to now.  Hammel has been outstanding, Chen solid and better than anyone could have expected, O'Day and Lindstrom have ERA's of 0.71 and 0.00 and Betemit has been a better option than pathetic third baseman Mark Reynolds.

And remember this from Sunday.  O's fans have to be happy with what we have got from Dan Duquette and his player personnel crew so far. 

I will be honest I had this team pegged for maybe 70 wins, and who knows, maybe that's where they end up.  What I should have thought about in March was who was in the dugout.  Buck Showalter is a winner.  He is one of those coaches or managers who you just don't see having back to back bad seasons.  It didn't happen in New York, it didn't happen in Arizona and it didn't happen in Texas.  And although he hasn't won a World Series he has gotten his teams to that level.

Thank god Bobby Valentine turned the O's down.  And it was great to see Joe Girardi sitting in the losing dugout the past two nights.  MacPhail and Angelos both should get credit for getting Buck to Camden Yards.  It was a huge get for a bad organization at the time.  It makes me feel more confident knowing that a successful baseball person like Buck Showalter saw something in the Orioles to take the job almost two years ago.

Where will this season go?  The starting pitching will need to hold up and that is a strong challenge.  Staying healthy will be key but hopefully guys like Chris Tillman and Brad Bergeson see what's going on the major league level, get going and add some starting depth.  Plus, I think we will see the Dylan Bundy machine sooner than later.  I've heard too many experts say that he is too good not to be to the majors this season.  The bullpen has been rock solid.  Even with a short loss of Jim Johnson, they stayed strong.  As long as the starters can go innings and not wear them out it should continue to be a strong suit.

The lineup does scare me down the road if they lost a Wieters or Jones, both on their way to All Star status.  Reynolds is a disaster, Nick Johnson finally got a hit and Nolan Reimold has been a monster but can't stay in the lineup.  Next off-season I think they will look at add offense including the start of Manny Machado's pro career.  All in all I an thrilled with the start and hopefully the can go into Boston and shut them down like the Yankees.  Sorry to Bobby Andino I should have mentioned you in this, you have been great also.

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10 responses to Duquette….and MacPhail to Thank for O's Start

  1. The orioles have been really fun to watch this year .. I hated the Guthrie trade too, but so far, so good. Love Chris Davis …

  2. I give credit to the O's for their solid start but we all know what happens when the leaves turn brown…….the O's fall down!

  3. Come up with your own lines. Barry "The Stallion" Streib just coughed his line of coke all over the floor

  4. If guys like Johnson, Hardy and Reynolds can just give them a little offense this team could really contend

  5. Slow down. We all know that Orioles fans are stealing some sunshine right now but that storm clouds are brewing. Reimold bulging disk, Reynolds atrocious, Johnson even worse, and Hardy .185. Weiters, Davis, and Jones will not be hot all year. The team is woefully lacking in hitting and our weakness is only being buried by stellar pitching from unlikily starters. Even in last nights game, we saw many lost opportunities to score and put the game away early. The team is exciting becuase they are playing nail bitters besides an occasional blow out. And who was upset to lose Guthrie? 17,14,and 17. That his losses for last 3 years. And if he did not get shut down in september he would have had 20 last year. And please lets not get the Bundy chant going yet. The Nats rushed Strasburg, who had several years of college pitching uder the belt and look where that got him. If bundy stays in Salisbury all year eating thrashers and pollack johnnies will striking out a bunch of beer league softballers, that is fine by me. This team has found a core. Jones, Weiters, Markakais, Arrieta, Britton. They need one big name veteran next year and a legitamite 1st basemen or 3rd basement before we can talk playoffs. Let's just hope the Yanks and Sox do not reload this year too. I have a feeling there will be competition for any free agent pitchers, 3bs, and 1st basemen and Orioles still have not proven they are willing to overpay. Shoot, this mild success is probably showing Angelos he does nto have to spend to win. Being avg. is fine by him. And if we are handing out GM of the Year awards in May, lets throw Tampas GM name in the ring. Luke Scott was our MVP two years ago. He now has 6 HRs and 19 rbis in Tampa more than any Oriole. Why did we not want to sign him again? Imagine him playing DH in stead of Johnson or Reynolds or Chavez.

  6. Gib said on May 4, 2012

    Good read John. O's held Yanks to 3 Runs in 27 innings…that's solid. Keep the Baltimore flavor and you've got another fan here.

  7. eric said on May 4, 2012

    If you're an optimist you point to our best pitcher Zach Britton not having thrown a pitch yet, Reynolds and Hardy not producing and Matusz only recently starting to show signs of a bounce back. I predicted all winter that the pen would be our strength, and while they won't pitch to ERA's under 1 all year, there is no reason to think they won't be good all year. The real question will be our depth: what do we get out of Tillman,Eveland,Bergeson,Berken,Piniero,etc when the injuries hit and how good are Reimold,Davis and Andino over the long haul. If those guys stink it up and some of our best players get hurt we'll do our usual fade. The fun part to me is the upside: Have we even seen the best yet of Arrieta,Matusz,Britton,Jones,Wieters,Davis and Reimold? What if Roberts is healthy come June and produces as DH? What if Britton is healthy in June and dominates, giving us 5 guys that give us a shot most nights? Bottom line is this season has a chance to be really fun and who thought that 6 weeks ago?

  8. O'day was signed under macphail's watch.

  9. Doug said on May 5, 2012

    What I like best about this team is the mindset. In years past you got the sense that guys didn't feel like they deserved to be playing against the big spending Yankees and Sox of the world. So far this year, not only do you see them not being intimidated by them but also taking a "eff you and your bandwagon fans too" attitude. They're sick of being the laughing stock of the East. I think that credit has to go to Buck; this team seems much more confident than any I've seen in Baltimore in a while.

    One bone of contention with the story is that Gonzalez was NEVER a fan favorite. He eventually became tolerable, but was only ever one step above Kevin Gregg in terms of popularity. Koji on the other hand was very popular, but you can't argue with the return from the Rangers to date.

  10. I was being sarcastic on Mike Gonzalez