Duquette waits to learn how he'll be affected

The Baltimore Sun

SAN DIEGO -- The most recent change in the Orioles' front office is almost certain to affect Jim Duquette, the club's vice president of baseball operations. Just how much should be determined once he has contact with the latest hire.

Duquette said he hadn't spoken to Andy MacPhail, introduced yesterday as the team's president of baseball operations. A meeting is likely Monday, when MacPhail returns to Baltimore and moves into his new office in the B&O; warehouse.

"At some point, at some future date, we'll have a full idea, but it's still a little early," Duquette said before last night's game at Petco Park in San Diego. "He just came on board. We'll sort that out. I'm not overly concerned about it."

Duquette and executive vice president Mike Flanagan learned of MacPhail's hiring Monday. They didn't know that negotiations were taking place to bring him into the organization.

"There was a little bit of surprise, but Andy has a terrific reputation in the game," Duquette said. "I certainly view it as a positive for us. I think he's going to do good things for us."

The Orioles would settle for what MacPhail accomplished during his nine seasons as general manager in Minnesota, during which the Twins won two World Series championships. The Chicago Cubs reached the playoffs twice during his 12 seasons in the organization, including two as general manager.

"I've known Andy since '98, when I first got drafted [by the Cubs]," center fielder Corey Patterson said. "He's very easy to get along with, a strong communicator, and I think he'll do whatever it takes to improve the situation and get us moving forward. He'll do whatever he thinks needs to be done. He's done some very positive things in the past. He's a hard worker, and he'll think long and hard to make the right decisions."

Reliever Scott Williamson, who spent parts of the previous two seasons in Chicago, called MacPhail "a standup guy" who is extremely approachable.

"He's easy to talk to," Williamson said. "It seemed like he was always in a good mood when I'd see him in the dugout and stuff. He'll definitely be good for the organization, just who he is and what he's done in his career.

"The guy definitely knows what he's doing, and hopefully he can help turn around what's going on here."

Backup catcher Paul Bako also is familiar with MacPhail, having spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons with the Cubs.

"Obviously, he's got a really good track record, having built a couple championship teams in Minnesota, and he helped turn around the Cubs a couple different years," Bako said. "He comes with a lot of experience and a track record, and that will definitely help."

The Orioles could be headed toward their 10th straight losing season, so changes seemed inevitable. The team created a new position for MacPhail, allowing him to oversee all baseball operations, and fired manager Sam Perlozzo on Monday.

"We're looking for any solution," said utility player Freddie Bynum, who appeared in 71 games for the Cubs last season. "We're trying to turn it around. We're trying our best ... but things just aren't falling our way right now."

Patterson said: "Baseball's a tough game. You're never going to figure it out, no matter what happens. But you need to keep searching, no matter where it starts, until you find something that works."

Perhaps MacPhail will find that something. He'll need to work fast, with the Orioles having lost 14 of their past 16 games before last night.

"I met him a couple times," Bynum said. "He left a good impression. He seemed like a great guy, and he knows what he's doing."

Williamson said he can see the logic in having one person clearly in charge. He noted that in business, "it's always better to have one boss than two."

He also holds Flanagan and Duquette in high regard, saying, "They've been great to me. I don't have anything bad to say about them. They're easy to talk to and they're standup people. They're probably two of the best I've been around in my career. Sometimes it's hard to talk to the GM, but they've made it very easy. To me, that means a lot. They look at you as much as a person as a player, and that means a lot to me and my family.

"Hopefully, Andy can come in here and try to figure out a way and do something that can help us. But I think Jim and Flanny have been doing a great job in trying to turn this around so everybody can just go out and play the game of baseball and not worry about the other stuff."


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