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For the past few months it had been rumored that Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette had come to an agreement for a contract extension. Depending on who you talked to, the years ranged from three to five.
When pressed, Duq spouted his Jimy-esque retort “Ask (Boston CEO John) Harrington.” So when it was reported that Duquette’s name came up as a possible candidate for the Dodgers GM job (with Tommy Lasorda going so far to say that “the perfect guy for the job is that guy in Boston”), it was met with some surprise from writers and almost euphoria from fans of their beloved Red Sox.
When he took over for Lou Gorman, Duq announced he had a three-year plan focusing on building from within the organization. He preached the importance of not trading prospects for veterans. This is a song every GM sings when he first takes over. It is also one that seems to go out the window fairly quickly.
Is this the reason Boston fans have such a dislike for Duquette? Didn’t he give them Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez?
Boston fans groan at the Duq’s horrendous people skills and his roto-like handling of the Olde Town Team and both criticisms are justified.
When he stood on the field near Fenway Park’s Green Monster in 1998 discussing the upcoming All-Star Game held in his home park, he made a point of mentioning how great it would be for the fans to see Nomar Garciaparra and Martinez on the field for the mid-summer classic. When a reporter asked him if he forgot to include Mo Vaughn, he answered smugly “no comment.”
Negotiation tactic? No. Duq was making a point: to show Mo who was in charge.
Fans grumbled at the idea of letting their best hitter walk away with nothing but draft picks to show for him. We grumbled when Duq showed the franchises greatest pitcher, Roger Clemens, the door. We grumble at his haircut. We grumble nearly every time the man opens his mouth. People skills and tact aside; a GM can only be judged by the results.
The easiest moves to recognize is the signing of Ramirez and the trade that brought Martinez to Beantown. $20 million for a DH? It’s fine with me as it has been fine with most Sox fans. The Martinez trade is a no brainer, as is the swapping of Everetts with Houston. Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb is larceny of the highest degree. Gambles on Tim Wakefield, Bret Saberhagen, Troy O’Leary, and Rich Garces have paid off in spades.
When one digs deeper, however, we see that not everything Duq touches turns to gold. His first significant trade was John Flaherty for Rich Rowland. Roland was a 25-year-old, power hitting backstop. When he arrived in Boston he was suddenly 29 and hit like Marc Sullivan. Flaherty, meanwhile, has been a solid catcher his entire career and enjoyed his best moments hurting his former team (He broke up Pedro’s no-hit bid last season).
Aaron Sele, Mark Brandenburg and Bill Haselman for Jim Leyritz and Damon Buford saw Texas besting Duq as well. Sele was an underachiever in Boston and was accused of being soft by Clemens, the Boston writers and the fans. He has won 60 games in his three plus years out of the Boston spotlight.
In 1998 Duq felt he needed a left handed reliever for the bullpen as the Sox were fighting for the wild card. He knew he would have to overpay for him, but the system was loaded with prospects and he felt ‘98 could be the year. He sent Matt Kinney, John Barnes and Joe Thomas over to Minnesota in exchange for Greg Swindell and Orlando Merced. Merced was released two weeks after he arrived and Swindell walked after the Indians swept the Sox out of the playoffs.
In 2000, Barnes led all minor leaguers in batting average and Kinney is on the brink of helping the Twins in a big way. It was tough to fault this move at the time. Duq was taking his shot and he did have an excess of arms in single and double AA.
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Mar 18 2002, 20:30:17
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