For the past six years, FanFest has been a pretty festive event (hence the name), but there was an undercurrent of discontent at the Baltimore Convention Center’s main stage when manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette fielded questions from fans.
The subjects weren’t surprising. Fans want to know if the team is going to make an effort to re-sign Manny Machado or — failing that — get sufficient value for him in a trade.
One, in particular pressed Duquette on whether he or owner Peter Angelos were to blame for the club’s poor performance in 2017 and the team’s unwillingness to spend enough to keep pace with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Duquette wouldn’t touch that, but conceded that he took last season’s late collapse very personally.
“Obviously, we’d all like to have a good team every year and win the championship,” Duquette said. “But I have to tell you that there are some key discrepancies between the markets they have up north and this market in terms of the depth and breadth of their market. That’s just a fact of life.
“We do the best we can with what we have here in Baltimore trying to give you a team you can be proud of year in and year out. We’re not perfect, but every year we’ve been able to slug it out with these teams that have a lot more resources than us and we’re going to continue to do that every step of the way.”
There wasn’t much said that Duquette and Showalter have not said before. Showalter pointed out that the Orioles have the highest payroll in their history and stressed again that the club has found ways to be competitive since 2012 despite of being outspent by their bigger-market competitors.