Baltimore Orioles: Buyer’s remorse


If you look at Dan Duquette’s record with the Baltimore Orioles (in terms of acquisitions vs. on-field production), it’s a wonder that another team wants to take him off of the Orioles’ hands. However as we see league-wide and even in previous years with the Orioles, that’s not always the case. Recently I heard that Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler said something to the effect that if would understand if the Bears had “buyer’s remorse.”

Aug 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

My personal opinion on Cutler is that he gets a bad rap simply because he’s not the most emotional guy on the block. And speaking for myself I like that – but I digress. If anything Duquette has seemed to sign/trade or part with players at precisely the right time. So there’s nobody who should feel buyer’s remorse per se of late with the Orioles, perhaps with the exception of Ubaldo Jimenez. However on the day the Orioles clinched the AL East Title, I pointed out that the Birds signed Jimenez for a reason. If the only substantial purpose he served was to win that one game, I’d say he served his purpose.

But if you look around baseball and even around sports in general, we do see a lot of situations in which players don’t work out. Guys sign contracts based on prior production. It’s tough to gauge whether or not that will turn into current or future production. For instance, the likes of Vladimir Guerrero and Sammy Sosa probably didn’t work out exactly as the Orioles wanted. The list goes on from there, both for the Orioles as well as league and sports-wide.

So what’s a player to do when he knows he didn’t live up to expectations? First off I think you have to define the line between success and failure in a sense. And that goes into whatever the expectations for the player are. However for these purposes, I would submit that success is something whereby one can say I know it when I see it. Nelson Cruz this past year was a success for the Orioles; Sammy Sosa during his one year here was not.

But again, how do players approach this? I feel it’s too easy for fans to look at this crassly and suggest that players give their salaries back. That’s really not fair, especially given the fact that most people wouldn’t be willing to do that with their jobs. (Although, in 2003 Bobby Knight gave one year’s salary back to Texas Tech University because he didn’t feel he had done a decent enough job coaching to collect his paycheck.) In the case of Jimenez, the good news is that he still has three years left on his contract to wipe that buyer’s remorse away.

This is why a GM like Dan Duquette is in such high demand in that most of the players he brings in seem to work out. I would give you Steve Pearce, Andrew Miller, Nelson Cruz, et al. The Orioles seem to vet their moves very well; perhaps Duquette in terms of on-field production, and Buck Showalter in terms of clubhouse unity. However regardless of who’s doing what, the Orioles to this point have done what they need to do in order to succeed.