Duquette's public criticism of Showalter not a good look - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Duquette’s public criticism of Showalter not a good look

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Since the dismissals of manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette eight days ago, many fans have commented that they believe that the next manager needs to be more analytically based than Showalter.

In comments to FanGraphs, former Orioles closer Zach Britton said that after his trade to the New York Yankees, he had been exposed to much more analytical information than he had with the Orioles, and that it had been individualized and useful.

In surprising comments from Duquette to The Athletic, he lashed out at Showalter’s supposed reluctance to use analytics.

“The question is why did (Wade) Miley, Edwin Jackson, (Jeremy) Hellickson, (Kevin) Gausman, Britton, (Brad) Brach and (Vidal) Nuño pitch more effectively with other clubs than with the O’s and, conversely, what made (Alex) Cobb and (Andrew) Cashner less effective with the O’s in 2018 than they were in 2017? And why are the agents calling the front office to intercede, to request the club implement a more analytical approach with the major-league field staff?” Duquette said.

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In essence, Duquette seems to be blaming Showalter, who told The Athletic that he’s not anti-analytics, and pitching coach Roger McDowell for what he felt was an abrupt and unexpected decision to terminate him last week.

It’s not a good look for Duquette, who upon his Oct. 3 departure sent out a text message thanking Showalter and the fans for his mostly successful run with the Orioles.

Duquette and Showalter had an awkward relationship, and it’s clear that even if both wanted to continue with the Orioles in 2019, John and Louis Angelos would have had to make a choice between them. In the end, the decision was made to move along without either of them.

In their seven years together, Duquette never publicly nor privately criticized Showalter, though he offered no support to the manager after the ill-fated decision not to use Britton in the 2016 wild-card game against Toronto.

If Duquette, who was out of baseball for nearly a decade before the Orioles hired him in November 2011, would like to continue in the game he so dearly loves, publicly criticizing Showalter isn’t a smart strategy.

For his part, the portrayal of Showalter being reluctant to use analytics isn’t a new one, and should he decide he’d like to manage once more, he’ll have to defend himself against that belief.

While Showalter would often say during pre- and postgame briefings that analytics didn’t present the entire story, he was actually more open to them privately than he was publicly.

His public skepticism on analytics, which were occasionally tempered by an embrace of them in his final weeks on the job, won’t help him.

Most old-school baseball people who have been skeptical about analytics have been convinced that they have  a place in the game. One of those is the man who hired Showalter, Andy MacPhail.

When MacPhail was hired as the Philadelphia Phillies president in June 2015, he spearheaded a movement to build a large analytics department.

The Orioles, who have a much smaller analytics staff, will have to invest heavily in this area to keep up with the rest of baseball. After the Manny Machado trade on July 18, Duquette said that as part of the rebuilding effort the team would shift its resources toward analytics.

Duquette’s replacement has much work to do and, unlike him, will be able to select his own manager. Hopefully, they’ll work more effectively together than Duquette and Showalter did in their final years.

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52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. boss61

    October 11, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Oy, as if there are not problems enough. I read the original Rosenthal article, and the Duquette quote seems free-floating there and disjointed from any assured context. Clearly its something that we fans wondered – why the same pitchers were so much worse here than elesewhere. It makes more sense that it was the (lack of) analytics than it was the pitching coach. Maybe both.

    It’s becoming increasingly clear we’re better off without both Buck and Dan. But the road to rebuild will be tortuous and rocky, and above-all, long and uncertain.

    Oy.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      I agree with you Mark, but three years after Andy MacPhail took over the Phillies, he had them in the playoff conversation.

      • boss61

        October 11, 2018 at 2:38 pm

        Rich, lots of variables, but this is a 5-to-10 year rebuild. Give or take 3. By the time we again are competitive, no player now on the O’s 40-man roster will remain in the prime of his career, here or elsewhere. Andy MacPhail you mention – he came here with a plan. Make us worse on purpose in the short-term, to make us better in the long-term. DD’s replacement needs a similar plan, updated for modern times. And all 29 other teams are smarter, too.

        • Lookouts400

          October 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm

          Andy MacPhail took a ton of heat during his tenure here, one reason why he left. Anyone remember “Andy MacFail”?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Lookouts, Andy left because his father was elderly and wanted to spend time with him.

  2. Orial

    October 11, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Just seems at this point it doesn’t matter who did or who did not drop the ball on the material the O’s did or did not use. I just hope the ” modern” regime is hearing/reading all this and plans on addressing it. Obviously something went wrong and they’re all to blame. Let’s modernize,get younger,and get with the times. Now Ken Rosenthal’s chiming in that Manny has improved by analytics in LA(I honestly think he was doing quite well here before the trade while basically learning a new position). Rich it’s getting old and tiresome and it better be addressed.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Orial, I didn’t want to get into the Machado stuff because it seemed clear that in his final few weeks at shortstop–with stopgap third basemen–he was playing better than he was earlier in the season.

  3. CamdenWarehouse

    October 11, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    If DD’s shots at Buck and co. do anything to increase the likelihood that the next regime is more analytically inclined then we should consider the criticism to be a final favor DD is giving us.

    • Orial

      October 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Touche’

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Camden, I think that was always going to be the case.

  4. Hallbe62

    October 11, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Say hello to another 14 year rebuild.

    • Orial

      October 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      If anthing the bitter rhetoric may put a fire under the “new” regime’s derierre and expedite the process.

    • Orial

      October 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      If anthing the bitter rhetoric may put a fire under the “new” regime’s derierre and expedite the process.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      Hallbe, are we two years into the rebuild already?

      • boss61

        October 11, 2018 at 2:51 pm

        We really are, but it will be long either way.

  5. Birdman

    October 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Its certainly difficult to argue with Duquette’s observation that a disproportionately high percentage of the pitchers who have left the Orioles organization over past few years have improved, and in some cases dramatically improved, with their new teams. I think Zach Britton’s comments are especially telling here. Britton has always seemed like a quiet, thoughtful guy. For Britton to be so publicly critical of the Orioles approach to analytics, lends credibility to Duquette’s position.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      Birdman, I was just surprised by Duquette’s public criticism. Prospective employers will decide on whether it was wise or not.

    • Lookouts400

      October 12, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      During Britton’s Wonder Years, analytics meant little to how he was going to be used. Willie Mays, Rogers Hornsby, and Ty Cobb could be the three hitters coming up, and lefty Britton still would have been brought in. While the Orioles had some stellar relievers during Britton’s time here(O’Day, Brach, others), the Yankees also have some pretty good relievers and how Britton was used with the Yankees was different than how he was going to be used here. Analytics have their place, but basic stats and the eye test still mean a lot.

  6. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    October 11, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    It’s an odd look for sure, because Dan certainly could have helped make the Orioles a little more analytically inclined. It’s not like Buck was a unilateral decision maker for the organization as a whole vis-a-vis the use of modern data analysis.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Zoey Dog, the Orioles have a very small analytics staff. They also have a small scouting staff. All will have to be beefed up for them to become competitive.

  7. mcgooding

    October 11, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    So I’m wondering who these pitchers are that prospered when leaving the Orioles organization? Jake Arrieta…the Orioles wouldn’t let him throw his college out pitch because of the strain on his elbow. I get both sides of this argument. He had success in Chicago, but had he stayed with the O’s, he probably would have blown his arm out. Kevin Gausman…he started off well with the Braves, but it was a small sample size, and some of that luster started wearing off at the end of the season as well as the post season. Zach Britton…he stunk with the Yankees. He was responsible for many of the Yankee late game demises. As for Cobb and Cashner, Cobb was not ready to start the season. The defense stunk, and the Orioles couldn’t score runs. Cashner was a mediocre pitcher with Texas. When your front office waits until late February and March to go after starting pitching, that’s what you get. Starting pitching has been the Orioles Achilles heel for some time now. It’s not analytics. It’s the fact that you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s#*t!

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      Interesting points, mcgooding.

      • boss61

        October 11, 2018 at 2:45 pm

        I don’t think Mcgooding is being entirely fair. There was no pitching on the market. We got two of the best out there.

        • Jbigle1

          October 12, 2018 at 4:32 am

          I would not consider cashner to be one of the best out there. His numbers screamed regression from a mile away. The market was weak but the results for cashner aren’t surprising at all. I think he may be able to hang around awhile deal if he eventually transitions to the bullpen I’m sure that won’t happen in Baltimore because he has performance escalators in his current deal. The A’s found Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Edwin Jackson on the scrap pile and all outperformed cashner. The orioles probably didn’t even look at Anderson or Cahill because of their checkered injury histories. But, at a minimum guarantee or minor league deal there was really no excuse we didn’t bring in guys like that to compete for slots. You cannot go into a season with the rotation depth we had and expect to compete.

      • ZantiGM

        October 11, 2018 at 11:02 pm

        Letting the market play out just doesn’t work most of the time
        Just very poor free agent decisions last yr with rasmus and cashner and giving 3 yrs to Trumbo the yr before

  8. Chewy

    October 11, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I think we need to understand the context of Duquette’s quotes better before jumping to conclusions that this is a criticism of Showalter. It seemed from Rosenthal’s article that Showalter did use whatever data was available. The problem was that with one of the smallest analytical teams in the majors, the data was vastly underwhelming compared to other teams. I feel you could easily argue that Duquette is criticizing ownership for not investing enough in analytics. It seems Duquette wanted to invest more in analytics for a long time, but was only able to convince ownership this year after it was clear there needed to be a rebuild. It’s clear Duquette is setting himself up to get another GM-type position. It’s not clear who he is “blaming” though.

  9. Rich Dubroff

    October 11, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Chewy, Duquette spoke for ownership in mid-July when he said that the team would spend money on beefing up analytics. It’s clear to me he’s blaming Showalter and McDowell.

    • boss61

      October 11, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      I’m not sure I’m getting that interpretation, unless you think that Showalter’s sway with ownership deliberately slowed or lessened a turn toward analytics that DD otherwise advocated.

  10. Creatively09

    October 11, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    You want to know what I think? I think Dan is really lucky that Buck Showalter is too nice of a guy to criticize Duquette publicly.

    • VICTORTEE

      October 12, 2018 at 9:54 am

      I agree. It wasn’t Buck who failed to acquire a right fielder after Markakis left and never acquired a leadoff hitter since Brian Roberts left. He also wasn’t the one who never acquired a #1 or #2 starter. Other than Arrietta which starting pitcher who left became REALLY good. Buck also didn’t trade Eduardo Rodriguez, Josh Hader and Zach Davies. Dumpster Diving Dan showed his lack of class with his snide comments about Adam Jones.
      I think Dan is a backstabber. I wouldn’t trust him for a minute.

      • Danppp

        October 15, 2018 at 10:12 pm

        Perfect comment, Totally agree!!

    • Danppp

      October 15, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      Buck could undress him like the little Barbie doll he
      is!!!

  11. deqalt

    October 11, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    I have always been a huge supporter of both Buck and DD. Those comments from Dan shows he is classless. Buck Showalter made Dan look good in so many ways. You might not like the fact that Buck didn’t want to go in a certain direction, but he’s a baseball man too. You wait until your out the door and make comments? Do you hear Buck talking about all the horrible picks made like Colby Rasmus? Never once did Buck publicity criticize the horrible pitching he had but made work. Not resigning Markakis or Cruz. They both had alot of success. It was time to make a change. Dan lost a ton of respect from me.

  12. deqalt

    October 11, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    If I’m not mistaken wasn’t it Dan Duquette who decided Jake Arrieta could not throw his split finger pitch for fear of injury. When he went to Cubs he started throwing it and had success. Jake even mentioned that the Orioles would not allow him to throw it

  13. willmiranda

    October 11, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    Analytics is a tool for scouting, so it’s not surprising that the O’s have been deficient in both. It seems to me that for some time other teams have scouted the O’s better than vice versa. Statistics help identify players’ weaknesses and opponents attack them. One aspect we really need is self-scouting. They know why they are getting us out or hitting our pitchers, but we don’t have a clue, so it goes on and on. Our people keep moaning about how Davis and others have to make “adjustments,” but no one knows what they are, except our opponents, who aren’t talking. You need both data and insight. Hopefully, the new regime will have both.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      That would be nice, Will.

  14. Pickles

    October 11, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Z Britton being positive about his new digs is not a shot at anyone….turmoil is all we have…and frankly has been the fuel for both the media and social media….for several years…Buck has lost better jobs than working for Angelos…analytics doesn’t make the Umpires stop squeezing pitchers and hitters nor does it make people on the net who couldn’t hit high school pitching experts….the game has become a 10 market league…at best

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      Not sure that the game is a 10-market league. Cleveland, Milwaukee, Colorado and Oakland, playoff teams all, not exactly the biggest of the big. There’s plenty of room for a well-managed team from a small market. Ask Kansas City, Pickles.

  15. Michael Trent

    October 11, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Rich you are correct that it won’t look good for Duquette going into his next interview that he left criticizing Buck. This is where I stand on the whole matter. He was the GM , so it should of come down from him to make changes in scouting, analytics and drafting better. Just look at TB and how well they seem to draft pitchers. And they are in a smaller market than Baltimore. There was a time that everyone thought great of Buck on how he managed his bullpen. Also when Buck was doing work for MLB I never got the impression he was anti analytics

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 8:44 pm

      I appreciate your insights, Michael.

  16. Jacobs1928

    October 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    About a month ago , I suggested that the whole of the management of the O’s should be evaluated and replaced. If you know baseball you know the value and importance
    Of Managers and those the choose for coaches. Showalter did not pick the correct
    Coaches nor did they chosen use the new and available methods to improve or
    Maintain the talent of the players.

  17. Rich Dubroff

    October 11, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Jacobs, you are getting your wish.

  18. mlbbirdfan

    October 11, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Rich, do you honestly think the Orioles will expand their analytics department dramatically ? Who, within the current organization, has any idea how to do it? Or how to hire the correct people to do it?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 11, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      Mlbbirdfan, these decisions will be in the hands of the new head of baseball operations.

      • TraderX

        October 12, 2018 at 6:16 am

        Take a step back there. That decision will be in the hands of ownership, not the new head of baseball operations.

        If we are doing wholesale replacements, can we get rid of the real cancer that has been eating at the O’s for over 20 years, the Angelos family management of the team…? Peter may have been a great lawyer in his day but he apparently knew and knows very little about owning and running a team. Running it like his law firm doesn’t work. The rest of the family aren’t showing themselves off that great either.

        Can we get the Os sold to a good owner and maybe hope they finally comeback with excision of the Angelos cancer?

  19. 5brooks5

    October 12, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Great piece Rich, well said, I like reading your opinions and how you share them with the readers! Keep up the good work!

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Thank you, 5brooks.

  20. Maka

    October 12, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    I seriously doubt that analytics were the sole reason for our pitchers performed better with other teams. How does one explain Zach Britton’s 47/47 save year without analytics? Analytics may help but a nasty fastball/sinker combo will probably make a bigger difference. Also, Camden Yard is a home run friendly park so O’s pitcher ERAs are probably going to be higher for average pitchers. Knowing how to pitch, pitch location, and pitch quality are probably more important than analytics. I agree that we need to get onboard with analytics but we need more higher quality talent across the board. In that respect, Dan failed Buck.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I appreciate your insight, Maka.

  21. GSISDANNO

    October 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

    My response to Dan Duquette: Colby Rasmus, Travis Snyder, Gerrardo Parra, Jeremy Hellickson, Kim, Wade Miley, Pedro Alvarez. Analytics wouldnt help these guys.

    • Bhoffman1

      October 15, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      It sure helped Miley and Hellickson this year . I guess you don’t follow baseball

  22. Bhoffman1

    October 15, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    First of all just letting Arrieta go alone would be a massive blunder . He became a Cy Young pitcher that’s enough . Strop was also in the trade and he became a solid reliever. Now this year Miley possibly is the best starter on the Brewers and Gausman pitches great for Atlanta and was their stopper for awhile and only threw a inning in the post season so don’t tell me he didn’t perform well. I don’t know who’s fault it was for giving Hader away but you have to blame both DD and Buck. Another all star who we couldn’t develop. Even Brach pitched better in Atlanta. I could go on and on there’s more but this is enough to prove that this club needs a whole new team from top to bottom to run the show.

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