Home / General / Cinderella Men I: In Defense of the Duke

Cinderella Men I: In Defense of the Duke

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I think Tom Scocca’s initial reaction to the hiring of Dan Duquette was pretty typical:

In the end, the Orioles announced that their new general manager would be Dan Duquette. I believe I swore out loud when I heard the news. Dan fucking Duquette. Fired in the housecleaning that had swept decades of ghosts and self-loathing out of Fenway, as new owner John Henry set about reinventing the Red Sox as a 21st-century championship franchise. Duquette hadn’t had a job in a decade—a decade, coincidentally enough, in which the entire business of baseball operations had been transformed. In a world where boy geniuses analyze their way to the World Series, Peter Angelos had hired a witch doctor. If not a corpse reanimated by a witch doctor. Dan Duquette! Doom.

Whether Duquette will prove to be a good hire, despite the miracle season, is an open question — the Orioles owe their spot in their playoffs to Lady Luck and the previous management (and I would give Showalter some credit too.) But I’ll say this: Duquette was an excellent, very underrated GM, and it’s puzzling that he was out of MLB for a decade.

Let’s start with Montreal. First, when he was the Expo Director of Player Development, the Expos drafted or otherwise acquired Delino DeShields, John Vander Wal, Marquis Grissom, Charles Johnson, Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, Mark Grudzielanek, Kirk Reuter, Vlad Guerrero, Orlando Cabrera, and Javier Vazquez. That’s a lot of guys with long careers, topped off by a Hall of Famer and a couple minor stars, for 5 years while mostly drafting in the mid-first round or lower. He turned that talent base into a competitive team in 1992 and the best team in baseball in 1994 after taking over in late 1991 by making two exceptional and one good trade: getting Perdro Martinez, Ken Hill and John Wetteland for DeShields, Willie Greene, and a washed-up until that Coors Field meeting Andres Gallaragga. He also contributed significantly to the success of that team by cutting bait quickly on Tom Runnells — the ridiculously in-over-his-head manager Dombrowski hired in 1991, presumably while distracted trying to find people to sell the mineral water, airline tickets, and coolers he was charging to the team’s credit — and hiring Felipe Alou, who did a terrific job in his first three years. (Converting Fassero to the rotation alone was worth 2-4 wins a year.)

In Boston, he didn’t have the same stunning record of success, but he still did a good job and left the core of a championship team in place. Obviously, getting Pedro Martinez on the receiving end of a salary dump isn’t as impressive as getting him while dumping salary, but still — he wasn’t the only GM in the market for the guy who would have the greatest peak of any major league pitcher in history, and he gave up substantially less than Epstein Epstein’s temporary replacement gave up to get Josh Beckett. Signing Ramirez may have just required spending money, but as no Red Sox fan needs to be reminded not all elite money is spent on truly elite players that justify their contracts, and big money for a Hall of Famer at his peak is more than justified. He drafted Nomah. And while Garciaparra was gone by postseason 2004, several other key parts of that team were Duquette’s — Damon, Varitek and Lowe (acquired for human fireworks display Heathcliff Slocumb), Wakefield. Epstein did a very good job filling out that core after taking over, no question, but Duquette deserves a lot more credit for that team than he gets. And while Duquette mishandled Clemens and letting him walk was a bad decision, he also deserved credit for letting Mo Vaughn take his old player’s skills to Orange County. And it should be noted as well that when Theo Epstein put together a team without any of Duquette’s core, he ended up doing a bellyflop off the Prudential Tower.

The Orioles may have hired Duquette because they were desperate, but they may also get the last laugh. For a punchline he has a really terrific track record.

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  • DivGuy

    Absolutely agreed on all counts. I’m really happy for Duquette. He’s deserved this opportunity for a long time.

    The Duke’s failure to get another job in baseball always seemed more like the blacklisting of an annoying colleague/competitor than a reflection of his actual skill as a team builder.

  • DivGuy

    I don’t think the Theo crack is entirely fair. The 2008-2009 Red Sox won a ton of games, and the Duquette holdovers on those clubs (Wake and Tek) were bit players at best.

    Epstein’s post-2009 moves were a complete disaster, but he’d already build a post-Duquette core than could compete for championships before he fucked things up.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Fair. The better way of putting it would be that his first post-Duquette team was very good, but he lost it after 2009 (with ownership presumably deserving a lot of the blame.)

      • NBarnes

        I’d love to see a serious think-and-analysis piece somewhere like Fangraphs about how ‘unlucky’ the Red Sox have been the last three year. Some of this has been bad decision making on somebody’s part (Lackey? Really? And I loathed the Beckett extension), but damn that team has had some periods of time where their DL was a better team than 1/3rd of the NL.

  • KadeKo

    Tangent: If things play out (a big “if” in baseball) won’t the Series be between the NL and AL teams with the best records of 1994?

    Part of me still thinks the strike was provoked because after two Toronto WSs in a row America couldn’t stand the idea of Montreal winning.

    (As a good lefty, I try to separate my persecution complexes and my politics.)

    • rea

      I think you are misrecalling the Tigers’ ’94 record.

      • The ’84 Tigers were one of the best teams evah.

  • No praise for Davey? I wonder. I agree about the Lady Luck stuff, but Davey’s prior record is SO strong that I’m inclined to wonder whether he didn’t have a lot to do with the Orioles’ success. I would tend to agree with you that managers’ impact is overemphasized in general.

    This seems like as good a place as any to admit that I could not have been more wrong about Bobby Valentine. I know a lot of you have been wondering when I would come clean about this. :) I wasted a good number of pixels defending him on these boards in April, and now, I can hardly reconstruct what I was thinking. Eesh.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Which Davey? I certainly have a lot of praise for the one managing the Nationals…

      • Same guy. Took the Orioles to the wild card in 96

        • Oh. And the division in 97.

          Wow. The Yankees didn’t win one in the 90s?

          • mark f

            :/

          • Thlayli

            The Yankees only won three division titles in the 90s: 96, 98, 99. They were the wild-card in 95 and 97; and they were in first in 94, however you want to count that.

    • Yeah, brain fart on my part, sorry — Wash and Balt are in the same media market, that’s the closest I can come to an excuse. I knew I should have signed up for mlb.tv…..

  • Jack

    Theo didn’t trade for Beckett. He quit at the end of October 2005 and didn’t come back until January. The trade happened while he was gone.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Forgot about that episode — will correct.

  • Duquette hasn’t been that bad this season: The O’s best starters in the first half were Duke pickups: Jason Hammel (for Jeremy Guthrie) and Wei-Yin Chen from Taiwan. The Machado-at-3rd idea, which kept the defense from falling apart completely, seems to have been a Buck-Duke project beginning early in the season. McLouth has worked out (lucky, I admit).

    All I know is that I keep running into people out here in LA in Orioles wear, and I’ve never had that happen past April.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I’m not saying bad; I think he’s made some shrewd moves. I’m just saying, to be fair, that it’s mostly not his team. I can’t say he doesn’t get enough credit for the 2004 Red Sox and then turn around and give him all the credit for the 2012 Orioles.

  • Sherm

    That’s a pretty compelling defense of Duquette. I hadn’t realized that he was the director of player development in Montreal before becoming the GM. And I don’t think its fair to fault him for the Clemens decision. Clemens did look past his prime when that decision was made.

    • gorillagogo

      I’ve always believed Clemens’s resurgence after leaving Boston was chemically enhanced.

    • Scott Lemieux

      As much as I admire Duquette, I can’t give him a pass on that one. Look past his W-L record — which you obviously should! — and Clemens was probably the best starting pitcher in the AL in 1996, and his K rates were actually going up. There was no reason to expect that he would get even better than that starting at age 34, but unless letting him go was necessary for getting Pedro that was a bad move.

      • Sherm

        1996 was nice bounce-back year for Clemens, but he was 33 and coming off three rather mediocre seasons. And Pat Hentgen would like to have a word with you.

      • Sherm

        And Pat Hentgen is fresh in my mind only because Michael Kay complained the other night that Andy Pettite deserved the cy young that year. He later backed off after their stats were compared on the air.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Hentgen pitched well, but he struck out more than three batters less per 9 innings with almost as many walks as Clemens. Hentgen was luckier but Clemens was better. And Clemens was about as good in ’93 and ’94 as he was in ’96.

    • NBarnes

      Anybody who claims to have foreseen the shape of Clemens’ post-Boston career is a damn liar. Duquette’s analysis at the time was entirely defensible and remains so to this day. He had been dealing with a bunch of injuries, including shoulder, groin, and back problems, which have been known to make the best pitchers disintegrate overnight. Not wanting to make Clemens the highest paid pitcher in baseball was a pretty reasonable call.

      • Sherm

        I don’t recall the contract negotiations or Clemens’ demands. But I recall that I had no problem with the move at the time. As Scott pointed out, he had a really good year in ’96. But he had been injury prone in the three preceding seasons, and his ’93 and ’95 seasons were pretty average.

      • Scott Lemieux

        As I said, nobody could have foreseen how well Clemens would hold up. But K rates are the best indicator of longevity, and Clemens’s was the best of any AL starter in 1996. He clearly figured to keep being one of the best starters in baseball.

  • mark f

    Mo Vaughn may not be the only player in history whose career was ruined by falling down some stairs, but I’m fairly certain he was the only one whose career was ruined by falling down stairs in the midst of a game.

    One of the big knocks against Duquette when he worked for the Red Sox was that he had some computer nerd on staff who looked at spreadsheets and didn’t even watch games.

  • 27 and Counting

    The O’s are a cute little team so I give their fans a collective pat on the head but now it’s our time as the greatest franchise in in the history of sports goes for it’s 28th World Championship :)

    • Sherm

      Are you a Yankee fan, or are you just parodying one for our amusement? If the latter, well done sir. You captured the correct mixture of obnoxiousness and condescension and combined it with the necessary lack of self-awareness.

      • c u n d gulag

        I’m a die-hard Yankee fan, and I’m HAPPY to have the Orioles back.

        They kicked our asses back from the mid 60’s until the very early 70’s, when we sucked.
        And then they and Boston were our greatest competitors from about ’73 to the mid 80’s.

        And then, you had to love the Yankee-Orioles series in the 90’s!

        I loved to hate “The Oriole Way!”

        I look forward to hating them even more! And besides, I still love Buck.

        And I’m very, very glad for Dan Duquette.
        He’s been a very solid Baseball man who has loved the game his whole career.
        And can you say anything much nicer about someone than that?

        • Sherm

          I haven’t been commenting here that long, but I have been here long enough to know that my wiseass crack does not apply to you. I’ll be rooting against your team, but good luck just the same.

          And I have to admit that your odds of winning it all are as good as anyone’s right now. The bullpen might be tiring a little bit down the stretch, but the rotation is clearly in the best shape that it has been in all season.

        • spencer

          I’ll be rooting against your team, but good luck just the same.

          Seconded.

          And at least the Red Sox didn’t make it.

      • 27 and Counting

        Let me guess, are you a combined Mutts and Red Sux fan that’s too busy comparing notes of the teams’ Bobby V eras to go out and buy a clue?

        • mark f
        • Sherm

          Well done again.

        • timb

          Seriously, this guy or gal could be god, himself, and I would still think he should be banned from our neighborhood

          The world is full of stupid, arrogant Yankees fans; LGM is a sanctuary.

          As for CG, he just has to bear the brunt of being lumped together with the morons, but he is not one.

          • 27 and Counting

            Banning me’s a great idea Sarg, that will really help close your teams 16+ ring gap – HAHA

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        Yes. If sincere, I hope everyone will bookmark 27’s comment for the next time the popular Sox-fans-are-even-worse meme pops up. If parody, it should be bookmarked for a pitch-perfect imitation of the insufferable portion of Yankee fandom.

        • daveNYC

          So if he’s real, he shows just how bad Yankees fans are, and if he’s fake he’s showing just how bad they can be.

          • Yea, that pretty much sums it up. Kinda win-win for trolling

        • brad

          Tit for tat just makes you a pornographer.

          Which, I realize, means absolutely nothing, but I feel witty and pretty and etc…

          Seriously, tho, every professional sports team’s fanbase is mostly made up of assholes with no necks. Getting into whose fans are better or worse just marks you as one of those assholes.

          • gorillagogo

            every professional sports team’s fanbase is mostly made up of assholes

            Drew Magary’s “Why Your Team Sucks” series on Deadspin describes this phenomenon for every NFL franchise.

          • But some fans ARE worse. Philadelphia fans in all sports are just hideous are they not? My hometown fans have a 100% perfect rioting record when the team chokes in the Stanley Cup final.

            • brad

              I used to love hockey, so it pains me to say, but hockey fans south of the border are the bottom of the barrel. I was at MSG for Lemieux’s second game back after Hodgkin’s, at one point they showed him on the bench, looking obviously drained, and the entire fucking place started booing him.

              • Hey! Don’t limit it to American hockey fans. Fer crissake, football fans throw ice at Santa down here!

                • mark f

                  And that’s the mayor!

              • Moulson

                Ranger fans are indeed horrible people. But Leafs fans on the road and Canuck fans at home are some of the biggest holes in all of sports and even they are embarrassed by the vast number of dbags at CHL games.

            • Walt

              No, Philly fans are the best! They have the exact right mix of temperments: 90% self-loathing, and 10% a desire to see others suffer. Philadelphia fans are the only ones who understand the lesson that sports is trying to teach us: heartbreak and misery, occasionally interrupted by joy in the heartbreak and misery of others.

          • Uncle Ebeneezer

            Oh I agree. I would add not just professional sports fan bases…but college too (ever talk to a rabid Michigan, USC, Miami etc. fan?) I’m not claiming Sox fans aren’t some of the worst a-holes on the planet…they are! But they are no worse than Yankee fans.

            But I think that teams with large fan bases and storied histories, there is an added level of obnoxiousness that goes along with it. If Scott puts up a post about baseball, on a random topic, you don’t expect to see a Marlin fan bragging about Championships of yore, whereas you can almost guarantee that a Yankee fan will make a greatest-team-ever remark in the near-future. So the big market team fans, I think, are generally worse than small market fans. This is why Yankees, Sox, Cowboys, Eagles, Steelers, Patriots, Raiders, Lakers, Celtics etc. fans are some of the worst. # of titles + size of market + revenue = sense of entitlement (and by extension, douchey-ness of fan base.)

            And note that I said “the insufferable portion” of Yankee fans. I know some totally cool Yank fans (even some close friends and family,) but like any hugely popular team with more titles than anyone else, their fanbase has the highest concentration of assholes.

            Interestingly, it even extends to non-team sports. Every once in awhile I get sucked into reading some Nadal vs Federer thread on a tennis forum, and the amount of douchey-ness makes a Youtube or Yahoo comments section look intelligent by comparison.

        • Identity crisis

          Let it go, man!!! Just think, at 69 wins and 93 losses next year has to be better?

    • Jonas

      I heard they are bringing back Jeffrey Maier for the post-season.

      • Scott Lemieux

        FTW.

    • spencer

      Juventus has more championships than the New York Yankees.

      • Amok92

        Totally OT I guess but I assume you excluded the recent Championship they had taken away from them when the cheating was too obvious?

        • Davis X. Machina

          Lies. The Yankees have never been caught.

        • Thlayli

          Two of them, actually. 2005 and 2006.

          And yes, Juve is still ahead of the Yankees without them.

          • Moulson

            as are Madrid, Celtic and the defunct Rangers, Ajax, Anderlecht, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, River and Boca and probably more teams from the fringes

            • spencer

              I wouldn’t count Celtic or Rangers, since the SPL is (or, rather, was) basically them and 8 to 10 punching bags.

              And I say that as a Celtic fan.

              • Moulson

                The Old Firm hegemony is unmatched but every team listed played in leagues dominated by 2 or 3 clubs. I missed Benfica but the Primeira is the same way.

      • mpowell

        European country league titles aren’t comparable to US national sport titles. How many Euro wide titles have they won?

    • gorillagogo

      Rooting for the Yankees must be a lot like playing video games with the cheat codes enabled. Sure, you get to win but at the end of the day it can’t feel very satisfying.

      • mark f

        I think it was Double Dragon II for NES in which you could set the game for two players, then keep killing Player 2 and taking his lives. The Yankees are sort of like that.

        • gorillagogo

          That’s a good analogy, but I’d take it a step further. Not only would they be taking Player 2’s lives for the current game, but Player 2 would start out with fewer lives in subsequent games.

          • Sherm

            And they would confidently assert that player 2 could have done the same thing if player 2’s owner cared about winning as much as Steinbrenner.

            • gorillagogo

              Exactly!

      • Marek

        Oh, it’s satisfying. But then, I’m old enough to remember bad Yankee teams.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Yeah, that 4 whole years when the Yankees were bad; I’d have to agree that the five World Championships since then can’t begin to make up for that kind of endless agony.

          • c u n d gulag

            Scott,
            I was around for the horror shows from ’65 to the mid 70’s.
            Years when we rooted for Horace Clark, Bobby Cox, Gene Michael, an old Johnny Callison, and an even more washed-up Rocky Colavito, Steve Hamilton, Mike Kekich, and Fritz Peterson, etc, etc, etc.

            And then came Roy White, Bobby Murcer, and Thurmon Munson, a deal for Nettles, one for Sparky Lyle, and another one for Chambliss, signing Catfish as a FA, and we were off!

            The early 80’s teams were at least competitive.
            But then, they sucked almost as bad as the Horace Clark years, from about ’87-88 to 92-93.

            Not quite the Pirates or Royals, but I root for those teams to come back, too.
            Maybe our bad times were more like a junkie missing a dose for a few months, as opposed to being locked-up in prison for years and years, like those poor fans.

            I’ll be rooting for the Red Sox to come back like the Orioles, so the Yanks can crush their hopes in September/October for another WS win in the coming decades.

            I was actually glad for Red Sox fans in 2004 – thought I thought winning another one in 2007 was excessive. ONE WAS ENOUGH!!! :-)

            • Scott, I have to second cund’s comment here. I was a Mets fan even back then and even I pitied the HossClarkees.

              • Sherm

                Those teams never had more than three straight losing records, and the 1970 team won 93 games. The mets just had their fourth straight losing season, which is the most the yankees have ever had (1989-1992).

          • brad

            If you hate the 1998 team you hate baseball, didn’t even have the highest payroll that year, thanks to the Orioles. 2009 was pretty joyless, personally, but those first 4 were a team I was proud to root for.
            Then again, it often seems that your enjoyment of the game is based as much if not more in rooting against some than enjoying the victories of others. I suppose being a Montreal fan can do that to you.
            Btw, I was born in 77, so I had to wait until more or less adulthood to celebrate a title. You were saying?

            • gorillagogo

              Those 90s Yankee championship teams were very respectable. I rooted against them — mostly because I wanted to see some other team win it all — but didn’t actively loathe them the way I do now.

              It wasn’t until after the Yankees lost in the 9th inning of Game 7 to the D-Backs that Steinbrenner really blew a gasket and started outspending everyone else by an order of magnitude.

              • Sherm

                I actually rooted for them in ’96. But never again. Kind of like voting for Nader in 2000. I have learned my lesson.

              • brad

                Well, as much as I want to agree, the real reason for the decline there was the loss of 3/5ths of the starting rotation the next season.
                I love rooting for Moose, but I wish the Sox had gotten A-Rod, I really do.

                • brad

                  *loved, obviously.

                • gorillagogo

                  I didn’t say anything about the decline. My point was that up until that time, the Yankees were at or near the top of MLB salaries, but they weren’t exorbitantly outspending everyone else. That changed after 2001.

                • brad

                  To me the decline and the salary explosion are inextricably linked. Maybe, for example, Prior was unsignable, but who knows what his career would have been in pinstripes, especially without the possible abuse off his arm during his college career. A few million there might have spared a Pavano later.

                  That said, and without in any way denying the real problem of payroll limit differences between the teams, the Yankees lead in revenues by a massive margin, then should always lead in outlay, as well.
                  And the Yanks do contribute substantially to the revenues of the other teams in a number of ways that no other team comes close to matching, and I’m not talking payroll tax.

                • brad

                  As always, something about posting here induces numerous typos in my writing.
                  At least that’s my excuse.

            • Sherm

              A good many of the Yankee fans your age were Mets fans as kids in the 80’s.

              • brad

                I remember it well. I just enjoyed Rickey being Rickey and Donnie Baseball until the good times started.
                And yes, Steinbrenner was a monster, and the dynasty was built on his suspension. But, as countless others have said, at least he cared.

                • I think it’s spelled “suspension”. You have to use the airquotes.

                • brad

                  Kept him far enough away that he couldn’t trade Jeter for Terry Pendleton’s corpse, at least, to pick a veteran at random.

            • spencer

              If you hate the 1998 team you hate baseball

              I hate every Yankee team since the dawn of time and will continue to do so until the sun burns out.

              But I do respect them, at least.

        • gorillagogo

          For the record, I’m a Pirate fan. I don’t think we have the same definition of “bad team”.

          • JRoth

            I associate myself with this remark.

          • Sherm

            You poor bastards! This Mets fan was rooting for you guys this year. And that might explain your second half.

          • Cody

            As someone who was raised a Cubs fan…

            I don’t want to hear it. (P.S.: I’m young!)

            • Steve H

              This.

              And P.S., I’m not young. The Cubs had a losing record every year from when I was 8 until I was 19. Then, by six months of pure joy, all erased in a massive three-day collapse.

              So any Yankee fans who are proud because they waited all the way to adulthood to celebrate a championship? Bite me.

          • Marek

            Fair enough.

      • NBarnes

        I believe the classic quote is something like ‘Cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for the house in Vegas.’

        There’s reasons to dislike the Red Sox and Red Sox fans. But I’d rather cheer for the Mets or the Nationals than the Yankees. There are some stains that you can’t wash out of your soul.

        • This. No amount of prayer or eucharists will clear the hellfire of being a Yankee fan.

          • c u n d gulag

            Good think I’m an Atheist, huh?

            • So only the soulless root for the Yankees? ;-)

              • BruceK

                And people born within ten miles of Coogan’s Bluff.

            • Marek

              +1

      • CJColucci

        Old story. They used to say rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for U.S. Steel. Take it from an old fart that, at the time, the analogy made sense.

        • Sherm

          My dad use to say that. He’s 69.

    • rea

      the greatest franchise in in the history of sports goes for it’s 28th World Championship

      It’s only 25, and I don’t think the Canadiens are going to be good enough to win it this year.

      • gorillagogo

        Assuming the NHL actually has a season this year.

      • TT

        The way things are going, doesn’t look like anybody’s going to be winning it this year.

        • Richard

          The only silver lining there is that the Kings will remain the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

  • L2P

    Are the ’94 expos the best team to not win the World Series? I would put it up (or above) with any team in the 90’s for across-the-board talent. That outfield: Grissom, Walker, Alou? Wow.

    • Rich C

      Do you mean the best team ever that didn’t win the world series? Or just the best over the past 20 years? The 1994 Expos were a fine team, but were they really better than, say, the 1953 Dodgers or the 1954 Indians? There are a whole bunch of very good teams – in terms of the overall talent on the roster – who didn’t win the world series … I doubt the 1994 Expos would be in the top 5.

    • timb

      The ’94 Reds would have beaten them

    • gorillagogo

      The ’95 Indians were pretty amazing too. They won 100 games in a 144 game season.

    • rea

      1961 Tigers win 101 games, finish 8 games back . . .

    • The 1969 Orioles (109-53) would like a word

    • John

      What about the 2001 Mariners?

    • Jack

      1993 SF Giants. Didn’t even make the playoffs despite a 103 win season because the Braves won 104 to win the AL WEST.

      Still baffles me that they were put in the west in the first place. They had already moved to Atlanta before MLB created the east and west divisions.

      • Jack

        Doh – bold fail.

        • Bill Murray

          at least you didn’t fail like a milquetoast

          • mark f

            No need to mention the debate.

      • gorillagogo

        I believe it was because the Cardinals and Cubs refused to go to the West when the divisions were first set up. They wanted to play more games against the eastern time zone teams, so the next westernmost teams — Reds and Braves — went instead.

        • Yea. It would have been more accurate to call them National League North and NL South, but I guess the Civil War still had some unfortunate effects.

      • There were also concerns that by moving the Cards and Cubs to the west, you’d effectively rob the NL East of any powerhouse team as the defending NL champ Cards, the perennially contending Giants and Dodgers, and the Cubs of Santo, Jenkins, and Banks would all be in the same division

    • Fighting Words

      No love for the 1906 Chicago Cubs?

  • efgoldman

    Duke’s problems in Boston were twofold:
    – He didn’t (and doesn’t) have the personality to be the highly visible face and voice of the franchise in a high-pressure market like Boston. His syntax and speaking style became a subject for parody. You could tell when he had a microphone in his face, that he’d rather it be a cobra.
    – He was too closely identified with the old Harrington/Yawkey regime.

    But the Pedro/Manny/Nomah/Wakefield/Lowe+Tek moves? Absolute genius.

  • charles pierce

    No mention of Manny?
    Shame on you.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I did!

    • efgoldman

      No mention of Manny?
      Charley, you’ve been spending too much time with the gobshites. Manny’s the second name, right after Pedro.

  • I agree with this, but wonder if that tie doesn’t outweigh the good in the end.

    • JRoth

      The worst part is that it was the 90s: he totally could have gotten away with a band collar.

  • JMG

    Duquette’s total lack of people skills in Boston extended to his relations with the talented players he acquired. When he fired Jimy Williams in 2001, Pedro Martinez basically said in public Duquette had to go. Hall of Fame pitcher versus general manager isn’t a fair fight.

  • I liked it better when we argued about Scherzer vs Fister. Nobody mows ’em down like Max, but I still think Doug is more reliable.

    But this is totally off topic, so I will shut up now.

    JzB

  • Sorry, Scott, the Duquette name is verboten in Metsville and should be in Oriolesville. (see: Jim)

    • Sherm

      He’s awful on the radio too when he subs for Howie Rose or Josh Lewin.

  • the only GM in the market for the guy who would have the greatest peak of any major league pitcher in history

    That’s a joke of course.

    • 2-4 in CS and WS play. ERA north of 4 in those games, WHIP somewhere around 1.25 aas well.

      Not peaking.

      • mark f

        Trade Pedro for Jack Morris!!!

        • Koufax, Gibson, Ford, Smoltz, a few others.

          • mark f

            Not that it’s be-all, end-all, but Pedro had 5 of the top 35 ERA+ seasons of all time. Those other four guys combined for one in the top 50.

            • Not bad for a part-time starter

            • Try looking at Koufax’s World Series WHIP.

              That’s peaking.

              Pitching 300 innings a year. That’s peaking.

              Win 7 consecutive WS games. That’s peaking.

              Pitch 33 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in pre-expansion era World Seres games.

              Hell, Babe Ruth has as many career shutouts as Pedro ‘Way Overrated’ Martinez. And he held the scoreless streak in WS play until Ford broke it.

              • If Leo Durocher had been Pedro Martinez’s manager instead of Ferguson Jenkins’, Pedro would have been dead by 30.

                • mark f

                  That’s a compelling argument for doing things the old way.

              • Sherm

                With all due respect, your are talking nonsense. From ’97 though ’03, Pedro was one of the most dominating pitchers in the history of baseball. He was Koufax. And you are ignoring that Pedro posted those numbers in a more offensive era, with a lower mound, in a bandbox, and while facing a DH. His sub-two era seasons pitching against a DH in the steroid era are as impressive as any season which Koufax had.

              • Sherm

                I made the above comment without looking at the stats. Now that I have looked, I would like to add that koufax’s best ERA+ was 190. Pedro had five seasons with a higher ERA+, with a career high of 243.

              • brad

                Try looking at context?

                Also at the fact there’s at least three reasons Pedro wouldn’t even have been allowed to pitch in Ruth’s day, but Rush Limbaugh said racism is over, probably, so whatevs.

                (Not calling LosGatos in any way racist, to be clear.)

          • mark f

            He’s 5th on the career WHIP list, behind Mariano Rivera and three dead-ballers. He had five of the top 89 WHIP seasons ever, including the best, whereas Koufax had three and the rest of your list had none.

            • What would his stats have been if he was a full-time pitcher? Never know.

              • mark f

                He finished in the top 10 in IP six times btw. And Maddux was the only contemporary who came close to his dominance.

              • Janastas359

                See below

      • Pitched over 225 innings – twice. over 235, once.

        • Janastas359

          Huh?

          Per a 162 game season he pitched an average of 217 innings per season. That’s roughly 7 innings per start, pretty solid for the modern era.

          Other modern pitcher averages:

          Halladay: 234/162 games.
          Verlander: 238/162 games
          Hernandez: 231/162
          Kershaw: 216/162

          BTW, your names?
          Koufax: 222/162 games
          Gibson: 262/162
          Smoltz (An actual part-timer, in that he was in the bullpen for several seasons)
          196/162
          Ford: 230/162

          Only Gibson was appreciably different. Over the course of 30 or so starts per season the modern pitchers average an out to an out and a half more per game than Martinez. The classic pitchers you mention as work horses only averages about an out more per 162 games; Koufax isn’t even that high.

          “Number of complete games” is a dumb measure for pitcher performance, but there really isn’t even any evidence that Martinez is particularly bad at that historically.

          • Janastas359

            But wait, there’s more!

            Greg Maddux: 229/162.
            Tom Glavin: 220/162
            Randy Johnson: 230/162

            That Greg Maddux COULD have been one of the all-time greats, if only….

            • Uncle Ebeneezer

              Man, reading wikipedia makes me realize that Pedro was just a freak (I didn’t pay much attention to basebal during his peak sadly). A couple gems:

              For his career, Martínez has compiled 15 or more strikeouts in a game ten times, which is tied with Roger Clemens for the third-most 15-K games in history. (Nolan Ryan had 27, and Randy Johnson had 29.)

              Martínez was a focal point of the 1999 playoffs against the Cleveland Indians. Starting the series opener, he was forced out of the game after 4 shutout innings due to a strained back with the Red Sox up 2–0. The Red Sox, however, lost the game 3–2. Boston won the next two games to tie the series, but Martínez was still too injured to start the fifth and final game. However, neither team’s starters were effective, and the game became a slugfest, tied at 8–8 at the end of 3 innings. Martínez entered the game as an emergency relief option. Unexpectedly, Martínez neutralized the Cleveland lineup with six no-hit innings for the win. He struck out eight and walked three, despite not being able to throw either his fastball or changeup with any command. Relying totally on his curve, Martínez and the Red Sox won the deciding game 12–8. Other than his 9 perfect innings in 1995.

              Following up 1999, Martínez had perhaps his best year in 2000. Martínez posted an exceptional 1.74 ERA, the AL’s lowest since 1978, while winning his third Cy Young award. His ERA was about a third of the park-adjusted league ERA (4.97). No other single season by a starting pitcher has had such a large differential. Roger Clemens’ 3.70 was the second-lowest ERA in the AL, but was still more than double that of Martínez. Martínez also set a record in the lesser known sabermetric statistic of Weighted Runs allowed per 9 innings pitched (Wtd. RA/9), posting a remarkably low 1.55 Wtd. RA/9. He gave up only 128 hits in 217 innings, for an average of just 5.31 hits allowed per 9 innings pitched: the third lowest mark on record.

              Martínez’s WHIP in 2000 was 0.74, breaking both the 87-year-old modern Major League record set by Walter Johnson, as well as Guy Hecker’s mark of 0.77 in 1882. The American League slugged just .259 against him. Hitters also had a .167 batting average and .213 on base percentage, setting two more modern era records. Martínez became the only starting pitcher in history to have more than twice as many strikeouts in a season (284) as hits allowed (128).
              On May 6 of that 2000 season, Martínez struck out 17 Tampa Bay Devil Rays in a 1-0 loss. In his next start six days later, he struck out 15 Baltimore Orioles in a 9-0, two-hit victory. The 32 strikeouts tied Luis Tiant’s 32-year American League record for most strikeouts over two games.

              So yeah, at his peak the guy was ridiculous. And still only 5′ something” and 180 lbs soaking wet.

              • mark f

                That game against Tampa Bay in which he struck out 17 was insane, by the way. He beaned Greg Vaughn in the first inning, leading to some shenanigans but no ejections. After that TB kept trying to retaliate against Brian Daubach, who they felt had been dirty in a scrum, including a BB where several obvious bean attempts missed. Meanwhile Pedro calmly struck everyone out and carried a no-hitter into I think the seventh.

              • Identity crisis

                So, sadly you say, you weren’t paying too much attention way back then. Does that make you a fair weather fan? Why all the Sox love and select Yankee fan hate?

      • Janastas359

        AND OH BTW

        That WS (And arguably the CF games) was very clearly not during his peak, so I’m not sure how that’s relevant to a discussion of whether or not he was one of the best peak pitchers of all time.

        His one ALCS game in his prime
        1999 against the Yankees:

        7 innings, 12 SO, 3 walks, 0 runs, WIN.
        And that doesn’t even get into his non-championship series performances.

        But feel free to continue cherry picking your stats. You’ll prove that Pedro was no true Scotsman, just keep at it.

        • mark f

          Yes, like in ’99 where he entered an LDS game in relief (on short rest IIRC) and shut down what was still an outstanding lineup.

          • Janastas359

            You recall correctly :)

            • mark f

              I’m glad! I don’t always. Thanks for doing all the research I didn’t have time for earlier.

  • tucker

    Nobody cares about east coast baseball

    signed,
    The Bay Area

    PS. If Jeter even thinks about a back up flip to home, we have snipers perched in the tarp covered upper deck.

  • Davis

    I’m an Orioles fan, and Duquette (along with Showalter) has made more roster moves than I’ve ever seen. The team has had 54 different players on the roster, and AAA Norfolk has had 75, an all-time International League record. Most of the moves have obviously panned out well. Fluke? At this point, that is irrelevant to us. We almost caught the Yankees after they had a 10-game lead, That would have been an historic collapse comparable to a certain one in 1978. BTW, he’s put on a lot of weight since that picture with Pedro.

    • mark f

      So has Pedro.

  • Woodrowfan

    Any team founded after 1869 is just a damn expansion team…

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