MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Duquette, Showalter collaborative duo for O's

Duquette, Showalter collaborative duo for O's

NEW YORK -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter is a hard-nosed, knowledgeable baseball man, and nobody knows that better than Dan Duquette, the club's executive vice president of baseball operations.

Duquette gives Showalter a wide berth to do his job on the field. Plus, Showalter has a large voice in the daily shuffles of the 25-man Major League roster he must manipulate to win games.

Duquette is well aware that the dugout is Showalter's bailiwick, and unlike the trend of some of Major League Baseball's younger general managers, he doesn't intrude.

The lineup is Showalter's decision.

"I think that's the manager's purview, I really do, because he's accountable to the players, right?" Duquette told MLB.com before the Orioles lost their second consecutive game to the Yankees on Saturday at Yankee Stadium, this one 13-5. "And the manager runs the ballclub. But I do encourage percentage baseball. It's not real complicated."

O's built on power, not speed

It's an old-school relationship forged on a background of analytics and new technology that gives an experienced skipper a lot more information to manage a game, said Duquette, who was GM of the Red Sox in 2002 before returning to the game with the O's in 2012.

"The biggest adjustment is the speed of the media, social media," Duquette said. "Everything is, like, happening now. The technology has evolved, too. There's a lot more measured on the field. In any business, you have to be aware of how things improve. The technology has made it easier for managers to manage."

Showalter may not agree with that. It's still a tough job, and he's had some success, managing the Yankees, D-backs, Rangers and Orioles to 1,410 wins and a .520 winning percentage in his almost 18 seasons.

For Showalter, there was a four-year gap between his last two jobs. He took over the O's in 2010. Duquette inherited Showalter, and both have the backing of owner and chief executive officer Peter Angelos.

Showalter is pretty old-fashioned in his approach.

"Sometimes too much knowledge can be a bad thing," he said. "Ignorance is bliss? Somebody knew what he was talking about when he said that."

While sometimes there's a healthy difference of opinion between the two men, what they're doing is working. Since the 2012 season, the Orioles have 425 wins, the most in the American League.

"We've sent more players to the All-Star Game the last five years than any team in the AL," Duquette said. "We've been fortunate that we've had some good players. But people don't believe you until you win the pennant and the World Series. We haven't done that."

The O's haven't done either since 1983, when they defeated the Phillies to win the last of their three World Series titles.

Under the combined leadership of Duquette and Showalter, the Orioles won 96 games in 2014, and they finished first in the AL East only to be swept out of the AL Championship Series by the Royals. They also lost a five-game AL Division Series to the Yankees in '12.

Now, the O's are at it again, vying with Boston and Toronto for the AL East title or at least one of the two Wild Card spots. In the past two days, they've had their lead over the Yankees shrink to 2 1/2 games for the second AL Wild Card spot with 33 left to play.

The Orioles are in the hunt despite a paucity of starting pitching. Their top starter, Chris Tillman, is on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, and Duquette said he hopes that the hurler, who is 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA, will miss only three starts.

Tillman headed to 15-day DL

That might be a tad optimistic, since on Saturday, Tillman said when asked about his rehab that he hasn't "even gotten started yet."

Even with Tillman, the O's starters are 12th in the 15-team AL with a 4.97 ERA and ninth with 43 wins. The teams behind them are all out of playoff contention. On Saturday, Dylan Bundy allowed five runs on seven hits and pitched four innings, which is about the norm for Baltimore starters, who have averaged 5 1/3 innings an outing this season.

Save for the trade that brought in left-hander Wade Miley, Showalter hasn't had many options.

"We've had to do it from within," he said. "That's why we've carried two or three long relievers this year."

Showalter often talks a lot about his own autonomy, about how the Orioles aren't run top-down like some other baseball organizations. He loves to speak in entertaining non-sequiturs, breaking off into tangents mid-stream about rule changes, the earthquake in Italy or the club's annual trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to visit wounded soldiers.

"I don't mean to change the subject, but that, to me, is what's important," Showalter said recently, segueing from a discussion about his starting pitching.

About information coming from Duquette's branch of the organization, Showalter said:

"There's a lot of it. We want it. We ask for it. But at the end of the day, our guys make a decision on where we want to go with it, where we want to go on what counts and with who. We're a team with it. There's not one person who comes in and says, 'This is what you're doing tonight.' I don't do that with them.

"If it comes down to where there's a lot of back and forth, I will make a decision. Otherwise, we get the information from wherever it may come from, and we welcome all of it."

Actually, Showalter knows exactly where it comes from. But Duquette chuckles about it, knowing full well that Showalter is a complex contrarian. If you tell him something is black, he'll say it's white, and then argue the point just for good measure.

It's Duquette's job to supply the talent, after all, and Showalter's to utilize it. In that regard, nothing much has changed.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.