Duquette shares insight, stories of past

Duquette shares insight, stories of past

BALTIMORE -- Dan Duquette, Baltimore's executive vice president of baseball operations, went to Dempsey's Brew Pub just outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Thursday accompanied by family and some of his children's friends. They were sort of a human shield, he joked, as he answered questions from fans as part of a charity event just a day after outfielder Nick Markakis, the longest-tenured Oriole, signed a contract to join the Braves.

The joke, made with his dry sense of humor, set the tone for an hour-long question-and-answer session that gave him an opportunity to explain some of the club's recent decisions and shed light on his thought process and decision-making.

The most paramount issue, though, was the departure of Markakis, and Duquette tackled those questions first, saying that Baltimore got close to re-signing him "a couple of times" before Atlanta inked him to a four-year, $44 million deal.

"But we couldn't close the deal. We had a concern that made the term an issue for us," Duquette said.

Duquette didn't announce his plan to replace the player who started in right field for the O's on Opening Day each of the last eight seasons, but he pointed to the outfield depth on the Major League roster as well as in the Minors.

Alejandro De Aza, acquired in August, and David Lough, who battled through injuries in 2014, are options to patrol right field, as are Minor Leaguers Dariel Alvarez, Mike Yastrzemski and the recently acquired Alex Hassan. Baltimore has also had some talks with Delmon Young, and Duquette assured fans that the money saved on Markakis and Nelson Cruz would be put to good use.

"We didn't spend $90 million," he said, so now the Orioles have a chance to spend it in other ways to improve the team, specifically on more outfield depth and another catcher

Later on, Duquette had a chance to share his wisdom gathered from a lifetime of baseball -- plus some behind-the-scenes information about his plans for the rest of the offseason.

Duquette all but confirmed the rumors that his team was out of the running for reliever Andrew Miller -- "I'm not sure we can support paying him the kind of money in that job," he said -- and said he'd be "comfortable" keeping six starting pitchers under contract because of how fragile that position can be.

The highlights, though, came when he had a chance to tell his stories.

He recalled his days at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington were mentored by baseball coach Bill Thurston and taught by football coach Jim Ostendarp to think critically in every situation.

He also gave a look behind the curtain into the world of professional baseball. He shared a nugget from the GM meetings, where the Athletics' Billy Beane expressed interest in Steve Pearce, going so far as to call him Baltimore's most valuable player in 2014, before the O's extended the slugger.

Finally, with the Winter Meetings beginning on Monday, Duquette took a handful of questions about the event, including one about how much information he shares with the media.

"It's the last thing I think about before my head hits the pillow at night," Duquette deadpanned to conclude his evening, drawing laughter from the crowd and bringing a lighthearted end to an unsteady week in Baltimore.

David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.