MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Duquette back on top after hiatus from game

Duquette back on top after hiatus from game

For nearly a decade, Dan Duquette was on the baseball outside, looking in. Now he's back on top.

Duquette has overseen the resurrection of the Baltimore Orioles, and he is a hot commodity again. There is even speculation he could wind up as the CEO of the American League East-rival Blue Jays, which in itself speaks highly of the respect Duquette has regained.

It's about time.

As a general manager with the Expos and Red Sox, Duquette had laid foundations for success. But he wasn't a media darling, full of "off-the-record info'' and clever quotes. All Duquette did was make teams winners. And he was willing to look at every avenue available to get an edge.

You know what a big deal analytics have become in baseball? Well, before it was chic to run numbers, Duquette was a believer. He hired Mike Gimbel in Montreal and brought him to Boston, where he became a bit too public for his own good, and the Duquette administration was ridiculed by players, media and other executives.

So from the time Duquette was let go by the Red Sox following the 2001 season, until his hiring as the general manager in Baltimore on Nov. 6, 2011, there were 49 general managers hired by big league teams.

Duquette got an interview for only one of those jobs -- the Angels, who opted instead of hire Jerry Dipoto on Oct. 29, 2011.

A week later, Duquette finally got another shot. He became the general manager of the Orioles.

It wasn't what would be considered a Garden of Eden. The franchise had suffered 14 consecutive losing seasons and was coming off four consecutive last-place finishes. Owner Peter Angelos and manager Buck Showalter both had (and still have) strong personalities.

Duquette, however, wasn't complaining. He had been waiting for another shot to build a big league team, and the O's were giving him that opportunity. He had done all he could building up the Dan Duquette Baseball Academy in Hinsdale, Mass., and that eight-week season of the short-lived Israel Baseball League he had overseen hadn't sated that appetite to build a ballclub.

Now look at him.

Duquette was selected by several organizations as the Major League Baseball Executive of the Year for the past season, having put together a strong enough roster that the Orioles were able to win the AL East despite early-season losses of catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado, and the end-of-season suspension of first baseman Chris Davis.

The O's still won 96 games. They still swept the Tigers in the AL Division Series before being swept by the Royals in the AL Championship Series. They enjoyed their third winning season in Duquette's three years on the job. A team that had lost 90-plus games in each of the previous six seasons prior to Duquette's arrival has won 274 games the last three years, second among AL teams to the A's 278 wins. That's three more wins than the Tigers, nine more than the Angels and 10 more than the Yankees.

That's impressive.

That's a tribute to Angelos, who has not been anywhere near as public during Duquette's tenure, and rewarded both Duquette and Showalter by extending their contracts through 2018 prior to last year.

That's a tribute to Showalter, who after managing a team into the postseason twice in his first 13 seasons of filling out big league lineup cards has accomplished the feat in two of the last three years.

That's a tribute to Orioles players for accepting the roles they have been given, and excelling.

That's a tribute to Duquette for putting the pieces in place, and not allowing strong personalities to undermine the organizational focus.

That, however, shouldn't be a surprise.

Duquette was successful in the past, when he was given a chance.

After breaking in with the Brewers in player development and scouting from 1981-87, Duquette became the director of player development in Montreal. When Dave Dombrowski and Co. departed to oversee the expansion Marlins in 1992, Duquette was the Expos' GM for two years (1992-93). Only 33, he was the youngest general manager in the game.

Duquette wasn't intimidated, though. He put the pieces in place for an Expos team that had baseball's best record at the time of the 1994 strike, which led to the cancellation of the postseason.

Duquette had been key to the acquisition of Ken Hill, Darren Fletcher, John Wetteland and Pedro Martinez, and he was the scouting director at the time of the signing of Vladimir Guerrero and Orlando Cabrera.

Then came Duquette's nine years in charge of the Red Sox, where his legacy was building the foundation for the 2004 World Series championship team that buried the Curse of the Bambino, giving Red Sox Nation its first Series victory since 1918.

Duquette may have been on the outside looking in for a decade, but the last three years have shown that he hasn't lost his touch.

And the rest of baseball is noticing this time, showing respect for the way Duquette does his job.

He has earned it.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.