Dan Duqette was hired to run the Orioles in November of 2011, after several top GM candidates either refused the offer to work for owner Peter Angelos or simply asked not to be considered for the position. The Orioles were coming off of six straight seasons of 90 or more losses, and 14 straight finishes below .500. Add to that Angelos’s legendary cantankerousness, and it’s easy to understand why the job wasn’t particularly coveted.
So Angelos lured Duquette back from exile in Israel and offered him the job. Since then, the Orioles have never finished below .400. They have made the playoffs twice, and are poised to do it again in 2016. They sit a game back of the Blue Jays for the AL East lead, and are tied with the Red Sox for the top Wild Card spot in the American League.
Duquette hasn’t done it alone, of course. He’s had significant help from Buck Showalter, probably the best manager of the last 25 years. But with the O’s performance on the field, Duquette should have earned some trust, right?
So how do we explain his performance in the front office survey we released on Monday?
That’s not an awful rating. It roughly corresponds to O’s fans being confident in Duquette and Showalter. But when we look at it in context, it’s very strange. Their composite score ranked just 14th in baseball. Even Duquette’s supporters are reduced to throwing up their hands, flummoxed:
"For a couple years I've had an uneasy feeling that Duquette can't build for long-term success and is mortgaging the futrue to be merely acceptable now, but we're in year 5 of something resembling success so at some point it's about as sustained as you can hope for." - CStoneNo37
"Moves of his that I really didn't like (like trading for Trumbo) seem to always work out while moves of his that I did like (like trading for Travis Snider) wound up failing. Needless to say, I tend to dislike most of the moves he makes then cheer for them when they do pan out. Yet another reminder that Duquette is much smarter than me." – anonymous
"While Duquette has made some good moves, like the Trumbo trade and Cruz signing, he's just as apt to make a deal that looks bad from the get go, like Davies for Parra or dealing picks for cash." - jakubazookas
"The Orioles' 40 man over Duq's tenure is like a Po Boy, scraps of this, bits of that. But somehow it works. The Orioles have proven everyone from statheads to luddites to Pythagoras wrong. It's impossible-to-predict moves like promoting the league's best SS prospect to play 3B, signing a Mexican League castoff to fill in your rotation, converting multiple failed SP prospects into ace relief arms. It's doing all this while trading AWAY Jake Arrieta AND Pedro Strop for an OK Scot Feldman and not skipping a beat. It's trading away or releasing every prospect of note save for Machado and the three SPs that have been all either hurt or forced into the bullpen. He's been good to the Orioles, time will tell if the handling of the farm system will be viewed as favorably." - @anlew82
By far, the biggest complaint is with Duquette’s handling of the Orioles’ farm system, which is pretty barren. There’s also a string of bad signings and a startlingly bad starting rotation. But while I understand the concern fans have for the future, and the Duquette’s ability to keep it going, it’s hard to argue with the results that we’ve seen over the last five years. He’s proven to be a wizard with roster management. He’s made the Orioles relevant.
Look, I could sit here all day and pick apart the Gallardo signing, or the massive deals given to Chris Davis, Gerardo Parra, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Darren O’Day. We could talk about the O’s undermanned pitching staff. But at some point you have to give in. You have to look at the results on the field and trust Duquette to be able to keep it going until he finally can’t.