The Baltimore Orioles did not win the coveted AL Crown this year, but they are still bringing some hardware back to Charm City. After reports surfaced Monday that Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette, had won his second AL Executive of the Year award, shortly thereafter news broke that another Orioles head had won an award as well. Head Coach Buck Showalter had won his third AL Manager of the Year award; and, deservedly so. But with this much hardware coming back home to Baltimore, it is important to recap why Dan Duquette won this award and why Buck Showalter had won his award. For this piece, the Guardian Liberty Voice will focus on why Dan Duquette was deserving of this award.
First off, fans can easily point to how well Dan Duquette’s trade deadline acquisitions panned out for the O’s in recognizing why he should have won this award. However, some of his “biggest” moves, at least in name recognition, were the ones that happened in the offseason. Some of which panned out terrifically, while others failed miserably.
Dan Duquette, desperately in need of an everyday DH and ace to man his 2014 staff, set out in the off season to solve this problem in a hurry. In February, following a four-year, $50 million contract struck with starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles signed OF/DH Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract. In March, the O’s also signed starting pitcher Johan Santana, hoping that the former two-time Cy Young Award winner could rehabilitate his left shoulder and spark the rotation. Clearly, not all of these moves panned out for Duquette. But midway through the year, he didn’t rest on his laurels or failed attempts to rectify his starting rotation.
By the time it was the All-Star break, the O’s were four games up on the Toronto Blue Jays. Two weeks later, the trade deadline approached and Baltimore had found that their lead had dwindled to just a game and a half. The Orioles were doing good, not great, but were doing well enough. They were riding a starting rotation that was winning, but averaging just under six innings pitched per game. Duquette was at a crossroads: bolster his already stellar bullpen or blow up the future by sending top-pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey for a top of the line ace. Duquette chose the latter.
Duquette traded for Andrew Miller, a 6’7″ starting pitcher turned reliever. This move proved to be the biggest move of the season as the Orioles rode their bullpen, watching their AL-East lead go from a game and a half to nine in just three short weeks. Following that move, Duquette also found a way to strengthen their defense and depth by adding LF Alejandro De Aza and utility infielder Kelly Johnson.
If there is one thing that truly stood out from Duquette’s season at the helm, it was that not every single move he made in 2014 was perfect. Although, to accomplish complete perfection in a role such as his would be nearly impossible to imagine. However, his commitment to winning never wavered throughout the year and he worked with his injuries, worked through a couple of failed acquisitions and found a way to help AL Manager of the Year Buck Showalter any way he could bring an AL-East crown back to Baltimore. And that is how Dan Duquette won this award.
In the follow-up piece, the Guardian Liberty Voice will discuss why Buck Showalter was deserving of his third AL Manager of the Year award.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
GLV Sports Writer Covering the Baltimore Orioles