As I posted in the previous entry, the Orioles are shaping up to have a 79-83 record next season barring any major additions before Opening Day. That would mean the team would have had the following records over three seasons of play:
Now let’s take a look at another team that had a very similar pattern:
1995: 86-58 (144 game season)
This would be another team that Dan Duquette also was the GM for, the 1995-1997 Red Sox
Let’s look at just how similar the paths of these two teams are:
1995: Dan Duquette signs Stan Belinda, Reggie Jefferson, Erik Hanson and Tim Wakefield as FAs, claims Troy O’ Leary off waivers, and trades for Jose Canseco, Mark Whiten and Rheal Cormier in the offseason. He also adds Vaughn Eshelman in the Rule 5 draft. Later he adds a released Mike Maddux in May and then Rick Aguilera at the deadline to close out games.
Result: Jose Canseco and Reggie Jefferson thrive in a platoon DH role, Tim Wakefield comes out of nowhere and he and Erik Hanson lead the Red Sox rotation with 16 and 15 win seasons, Eshelman starts 14 games, winning 6, Maddux, Belinda and Cormier anchor the Sox bullpen, Mo Vaughn wins the MVP, and the Red Sox go on to the playoffs winning the AL East with a 86-58 record, but lose to the Cleveland Indians, 3-0 in the ALDS.
2012: Dan Duquette signs Wilson Betemit, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, trades for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, selects Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5 draft in the offseason. Darren O’Day is also acquired before Duquette is hired. Later the Orioles add Steve Pearce and Nate McLouth and trade for Jim Thome and Joe Saunders.
Result: Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez lead the Orioles rotation while the bullpen gets key contributions from Darren O’Day and Matt Lindstrom before he is traded. Flaherty plays in 77 games and has a good July and September. Wilson Betemit has a .859 OPS vs. RHP. Manny Machado is called up for his defense at 3B in August and the Orioles manage to make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years winning a WC spot and beat the Rangers in the WC game, but lose to the Yankees in the ALDS, 3-2.
1996: Dan Duquette does little in the offseason to augment the roster. Belinda and Canseco are re-signed, Hanson is replaced with Tom “Flash” Gordon. Jamie Moyer is also signed. Cormier is traded to the Expos for Wil Cordero. The Red Sox also trade for Heathcliff Slocumb to replace Aguilera.
Result: Flash Gordon pitches to a 5.59 ERA with only 10 wins, Wakefield’s knuckler doesn’t quite dance around as he has a 5.14 ERA. Belinda and Maddux both fall apart with 6.58 and 4.48 ERAs respectively. Eshelman has a 7.08 ERA and winds up in the bullpen. Nomar Garciaparra makes his debut in 24 games. Mo Vaughn launches 44 HRs, comes in 5th in MVP voting. The Red Sox miss the playoffs.
2013: Dan Duquette does little in the offseason to change the make up of the team. Mark Reynolds is allowed to leave via FA. McLouth is re-signed to a 1 year deal and the Orioles add Danny Valencia to platoon with Wilson Betemit at DH.
Result: Hammel and Chen both struggle with injuries and aren’t as effective. Nate McLouth fades in the 2nd half of the season. Betemit barely plays at all and is ineffective when he does due to injury. Flaherty struggles to find his bat save for June but rebounds in August and catches fire in September. Manny Machado has a tremendous first half offensively, but falls flat in the 2nd half of the season. Chris Davis launches 53 bombs including 37 before the All-Star break and comes in 3rd in MVP voting. The Orioles miss the playoffs.
1997: Duquette does little to augment the roster for the 2nd straight offseason. Roger Clemens is allowed to go to FA and signs with the rival Blue Jays. Mike Greenwell leaves via FA and is replaced with Wil Cordero. Steve Avery and Brett Saberhagen are brought in. Jose Canseco is traded for John Wasdin.
Result: Although Garciaparra has an outstanding rookie year, The Red Sox only get 30+ starts out of one starter – Aaron Sele who has a 5.38 ERA. Wakefield becomes the ace with a 12-15 record and 4.25 ERA. Saberhagen only pitches in 6 games and gets lit up to a 6.58 ERA. John Wasdin gets his “Way Back” nickname surrendering 18 HRs in 53 appearances. Healthcliff Slocumb also has a terrible year, finally getting shipped to the Mariners in a deal that was highway robbery for the Red Sox as they got Derek Lowe and future captain and heart and soul of the team, C Jason Varitek.
2014: Dan Duquette does little to augment the team for the 2nd straight season, allowing all the Orioles’ free agents to walk including Jason Hammel. He adds multiple AAAA OFers including David Lough in a trade for Danny Valencia.
So as you can see there’s a lot of similarities to the two teams. In the Red Sox case, they failed to augment for two straight offseasons after winning the AL East in 1995 while the Orioles had that huge 1996-1997 offseason and then again had a re-tooling effort before 1997 to improve their pitching and defense.
Like the Red Sox, the Orioles only were able to advance as far as the ALDS, but have done very little to fix their weaknesses to go further. Instead they are counting on the same core players to improve when there is little improvement, if any left.
The Red Sox only turned their fortunes around when they made the trade for Pedro Martinez. He was the catalyst and a big reason the Red Sox were able to lure Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez to Boston.
The Orioles have yet to make that kind of franchise altering move, choosing only to acquire depth, but not to go all in with the core they have in spite of their success to get to the ALDS in 2012.
Like the Red Sox of 1995-1997, the talent is there in the core, but it needs some augmentation, but instead is being allowed to wither and die and the team is moving backwards in the standings as a result. The Red Sox’s fortunes could have been a lot different if instead of signing Jeff Frye to play 2B, they were able to lure Roberto Alomar and instead of signing Flash Gordon, if they had picked up Kevin Brown instead.
The Orioles are also facing their own Mo Vaughn situation with Chris Davis due to be a FA after 2015 like Vaughn was a FA after 1998. The Red Sox replaced him with various players, but it wasn’t until Manny Ramirez was signed did they replace his offensive production.
The Orioles of course have time still to change this course as there are free agents that remain to be signed and trades that can still be made to put them back on the path of playoff contention.
Dan Duquette has seen this play out before, so you would think he would know what the end result would be of two similar offseasons to that of his former team.
For Orioles’ fans sake, I hope he’s learned his lesson.