Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter participated in the organization’s annual “State of the Orioles” conference with several hundred season-ticketholders at Camden Yards before Saturday’s game – and the focus was on the club’s plans before the non-waiver trade deadline on Aug. 1.
In the 25-minute session that featured 15 questions from fans, Duquette was asked specifically about trade rumors involving beleaguered pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and the San Diego Padres’ Melvin Upton Jr. Some reports also had the club in discussions with the Padres for starter Andrew Cashner.
“What reports?” Duquette said with a smile. He then went on to repeat what he has said to reporters recently. He is going to do what he can to improve the team for the stretch run, specifically that means attempting to bolster the rotation. He didn’t mention Upton or Cashner by name.
“We’re trying to staff our team so we can play in October and we can compete in and win in October, so anything that you see that we’re trying to do is to that end,” he said. “We want to have the strongest club we can have in all areas. So whatever we do between now and the end is to give us a shot to get into the playoffs.”
One woman questioned Duquette’s decision to trade lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox in July 2014 for lefty reliever Andrew Miller, who helped the Orioles get to the American League Championship Series. Miller left that offseason for a free-agent deal with the New York Yankees and Rodriguez is in the Red Sox rotation. So the fan asked Duquette not to get another rental.
He, however, explained that that’s what often happens in July as a way to fortify a club.
“Given the same opportunity, I think we’ll probably do it again, because that’s what we are here to do, we’re here to try to win the pennant.”
Duquette was asked about the club’s maligned farm system and he quickly rattled off members of the current Orioles’ squad that were developed in the system, including Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, Jonathan Schoop and Zach Britton.
“Believe me when I tell you that the farm system is very good,” said Duquette, who added that experts who have given the system a low rank also pick the Orioles to finish last every year.
There were two questions about locking up current Orioles, specifically Machado, a budding superstar, and free-agents-to-be Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
Duquette said his focus right now is on improving the team currently and that he’ll look at moves for 2017 in the offseason. Machado is under team control through 2018, but Duquette said locking him up has always been the plan.
“We tried to sign Manny long-term a couple years ago and we didn’t quite do the deal and then he got hurt. We revisited it in spring training. I’m sure we’ll be able to revisit it,” Duquette said. “I’m encouraged that Manny likes it here. … Something we can revisit it in the future.”
Showalter was asked by a young boy if he could guarantee a World Series, and the manager responded: “That’s why we get up every morning.”
The most humorous moment of the session occurred when a fan asked Duquette about his plans for the non-waiver trade deadline and Showalter left his seat and joined emcee Jim Hunter in his seat – leaving Duquette alone to answer that one.