Dan Duquette certainly does not have the reputation as being a seamhead (like many of the newer GMs in baseball) but he certainly didn’t get to where he is by being a fool. The Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles ascended beyond what anyone expected. Certainly both organizations understand that there was some good fortune involved. In the Orioles case, they had an ungodly record in one run games and extra inning games. That simply can’t be sustained.
Instead of sitting on his laurels and hoping history repeats itself, Duquette has been going to work and subtly changing the roster to give them a fighting chance of repeating. In particular, the team defense should be much better this time around and if they can assemble a groundball pitching staff they might surprise again.
Matt Wieters is the best all-around catcher in the AL and could make a run at Buster Posey this year.
The Maryland butcher is officially packed and likely will land as someone’s DH.
The trade of Andino says more about what they think of Brian Roberts. Picking up Alexi Casilla was a solid move.
He’s still a solid enough hitter, so he should stick as at least a part time DH.
He won the Gold Glove even though Brendan Ryan deserved it.
He was serviceable this past season, but the Orioles have to do better than this.
I love his dynamic offensive game but he’s as much a Gold Glove as I’m John Grisham.
Markakis was the guy the coaches tabbed last season for no valid reason.
Dan Duquette has been working on this and it will be considerably better next season.
It would be hyperbole to compare Matt Wieters with Buster Posey as players overall, but the young Oriole catcher is a more accomplished all around catcher with two deserved Gold Gloves and an improving offensive game. He should start drawing comparisons with Yadier Molina. Again, he isn’t close defensively yet, but he could get there.
Give the Orioles some credit, they stopped throwing Mark Reynolds out at third base. This year they tried him at first and he was equally inept. A hot streak late in the season forced them to find somewhere in the lineup to put him. Now, he’s likely to be gone. Chris Davis was solid with the bat and versatile with the glove, but there was some noise about the Orioles making a run at Adam Laroche. If they pulled that off they would have the best defensive infield in baseball.
I suppose one can’t blame Robert Andino for his failings. He wasn’t supposed to be an everyday player. He was supposed to hold down the fort until Brian Roberts was healthy. That hasn’t happened since the Bush administration. They are bringing Alexi Casilla and his +6.7 defensive runs to the position. It was a very subtle move, but it might be invaluable if they can line up some ground ball pitchers.
A team without a legitimate superstar is usually not expected to go far, but Manny Machado might change that in Baltimore. He played like a superstar at times last year, but also showed signs of youth and experience. At least in terms of fielding he is the real McCoy. The bat will get there eventually and overall he is an upgrade over anything they have thrown over there in quite some time.
J.J. Hardy was supposed to be a place holder for Machado (a natural shortstop), but his combined hitting and fielding have changed the Orioles’ minds. He got a long-term extension before last season and its looking like a good investment so far. He isn’t a great hitter but does well enough for the position and well enough considering the huge defensive advantage he has.
This is an absolute mess. Nolan Reimold was supposed to be the guy, but he has never been consistently healthy or productive when given the opportunity. So, much like second base, Dan Duquette would like to move on and find someone that can be trusted here. I would suspect this is where he is spending a good amount of his time at the winter meetings.
How does this happen? How does a player like Jones win the Gold Glove? Coaches are supposed to know more than anyone else and they do in general, but they are watching these guys between six to eighteen times a season. How could anyone make an accurate decision about who is the best under those conditions? Jones is a terrific offensive talent and someone that could easily take the next step into super stardom. Fielding just won’t be part of that equation.
When the wrong player wins the Gold Glove it can have a detrimental effect on team building. Now, the Orioles may think they have two Gold Glove winners in the outfield when in fact they have two substandard fielders in the outfield. The first rule of running your own organization is to be able to accurately say what you do have. If they believe the press clippings they will think Jones and Markakis are the second coming of well, you get the idea.
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