In his introductory press conference, new Orioles general manager Dan Duquette stressed the importance of rebuilding Baltimore's farm system.
Tuesday morning, Dan Duquette was introduced as the Baltimore Orioles' new general manager, and Amalie Benjamin was there. As Benjamin writes, Duquette spent much of his time discussing player development, like this:
"When you don’t have the resources that the top two clubs have, you have to work harder and you have to work smarter and you have to do a better job in scouting and you have to do a better job in player development," Duquette said. "If you can build up the inventory of your farm system and you’ve got core players coming to your major league team you’ve got something to talk about.
"And the team that’s got the best farm system is the team that competes year in and year out. So irrespective of your market size, it all starts with signing good players and bringing them up to your team."
There's no arguing with that.
The question, of course, is whether or not Duquette is the right man to build the farm system. And (of course) whether ownership will enable anyone to build a productive farm system.
Duty compels me to point out that Duquette's most recent record in this area is not good. In 2002, with Duquette on the verge of being fired, Baseball America's Prospect Handbook ranked the Red Sox farm system 28th in the majors, with this comment:
New Red Sox ownership inherits a system almost devoid of upper-level prospects. Much of the hopes have been pinned on raw, live arms who light up radar guns but haven't been tested against advanced hitters. Boston has invested heavily in the Far East but has little to show at the major league level. The Red Sox haven't drafted strongly in recent years, further hurting the system.
One year later the system ranked 27th, with this comment: "End of the Duquette regime means this ranking could finally turn around."
Perhaps Duquette has learned a lot since 2002. Perhaps he was stuck with an ineffective scouting director. Perhaps he was hamstrung by ownership. But something different has to happen if the Orioles are going to get where almost everyone wants them to get.