Saturday, February 4, 2012

Duquette's risky plan

Dan Duquette has a plan. It is not the plan that many wanted. Prince Fielder is not part of that plan, neither is trading Adam Jones or Jeremy Guthrie. No, but Duquette has a plan.

And it is very risky.

Looking at the moves Duquette has made this offseason I think it is pretty clear, he still believes in the talent that is on this roster. I made this comment at fanfest: "If Brian Matusz [et al] played at the level we expected them to play, then MacPhail would still be here..."; etc etc. I only now realize how true those words are, because I think the O's GM feels the same way.

Duquette has spent all offseason augmenting a bench, flooding the minor leagues and plumbing the depths of South Korea and even New Zealand for fresh talent. The biggest acquisition so far, the Taiwanese starter Chen Wei-Yin, is seen by many to be little more than a middle of the rotation starter. Duquette obviously believes that the Orioles true elite pitcher is currently on the roster in the form of either Matusz, Zack Britton or Jake Arrieta.

Duquette isn't dumb, he knows what the team's problems were last year, pitching and defense. If you believe, as I think he does, that those three pitchers mentioned above still have the elite-level talent that was advertised in the Winter of 2011 then you don't need ot break the bank on a guy like CJ Wilson. Instead, what did Duquette do? He filled in the support roles around them. He went out and hired Rick Peterson to act as some kind of system-wide pitching guru; he hired Brady Anderson to be his apparent second-in-command bringing all of the pitchers to focus on strength, conditioning and endurance. Duquette has brought in a seemingly endless stream of middling starter/ reliever type pitchers to provide support and hopefully cobble together a stronger bullpen than last year.

The defense was awful last year. What does Duquette do? Brings in defensive players in Matt Antonelli, Jai Miller, Endy Chavez and Taylor Teagarden. On-base percentage was among the lowest in the league? Signs Wilson Betemit in an almost Beane-like move to be a primary DH with a high OBP. The power on this team will be coming from Reynolds, Jones, Matt Weiters and JJ Hardy. Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold botLinkh have a lot of power potential and both will get their chances as they will be the likely starters at first base and left field going into the season.

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