O's Duquette resigns

Executive saw diminished role in front office led by MacPhail

October 06, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

Unsure and uncomfortable in his new role with the Orioles, vice president Jim Duquette resigned yesterday, the first of what could be several moves that will determine the makeup of Andy MacPhail's front office.

Duquette, who was hired after the 2005 season to work in tandem with executive vice president Mike Flanagan and had one year remaining on his contract, reached the decision after a meeting with MacPhail earlier this week.

MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, informed Duquette he planned to bring in another executive to serve as his top aide.

"He informed me at the time that he had intentions on bringing on another hire to an undefined role, but one that was going to be a significant role and one that I viewed would further diminish my role here," said Duquette, 41. "That was really the impetus to ask him to accept my resignation. I appreciate his honesty, I appreciate the opportunity for me to start fresh and get myself going in a different organization."

Duquette, the former general manager of the New York Mets, said his immediate plans are to spend more time with his family, but he is hoping to catch on with another organization before next season and in a role that will get him closer to being a GM again.

It remains to be seen how his decision and MacPhail's plans to make another hire affect Flanagan, who has been one of the lead decision makers in the Orioles' front office since 2002. MacPhail said he also informed Flanagan of his intentions to make another hire, and he's unsure what his plans are or what role he'll be in.

"I think the whole rest of the [front] office is still not settled," said Flanagan, who had the final say in all front office decisions until MacPhail was hired by owner Peter Angelos in June. "I know Andy has said that he's going to bring in another guy. We're going to have to see how it plays out. It's the same for everybody else in there."

Flanagan and nearly every other top Orioles executive are signed through next season. Their future, along with that of a couple of members of manager Dave Trembley's coaching staff, might be clearer after next week's organizational meetings. A decision still hasn't been reached on the status of pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who is also under contract through next season but hasn't been told if he'll be invited back.

If the club lets Mazzone go, one potential replacement is Rick Kranitz, the former Florida Marlins pitching coach who left the organization last month after two seasons to explore other opportunities. Kranitz, who was named Baseball America's inaugural Major League Coach of the Year last year, spent 22 years coaching in the Chicago Cubs organization and knows Trembley and MacPhail well.

As for the executive spot, MacPhail said the interview process won't begin until after the organizational meetings. MacPhail has not asked for permission to speak to any other team's executives, and once he does, he'll have seven days to consummate a deal.

MacPhail said yesterday that he has started a list of candidates and the prerequisites for the position are "somebody that knows me and has a background principally in player personnel." MacPhail declined to say whether the new hire would be considered the No. 2 executive in the front office, leapfrogging Flanagan. However, MacPhail does envision the hire overseeing scouting and player development.

MacPhail, who was the Minnesota Twins GM from 1985 to 1994 before becoming the president of the Cubs, declined to comment on certain candidates.

However, a few names that may fit his criteria are Larry Corrigan, an assistant to the GM in Minnesota who was former GM Terry Ryan's top National League scout; Oneri Fleita, the Cubs' director of player development and Latin American operations; and Bill Harford, a major league scout who also has served as director of player development and farm director in the Cubs organization.

"I need to get this thing off the ground and going in the right direction again, and I think the quickest way to do that is to bring in somebody that knows how I operate," said MacPhail, who added that he hopes to make the hire by the general managers meetings, which take place the first week in November. "He's going to be my eyes on the road, whether it is on other major league clubs or our farm system or other minor league teams."

MacPhail said he understood Duquette's decision. When the two met, Duquette told him he didn't feel as if he was earning his paycheck and he felt uncomfortable having such reduced responsibilities. He praised MacPhail for making a difficult decision bearable.

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