Posted on: November 5, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 7:25 pm

Orioles set to take a chance with Duquette

The Orioles are close to naming a general manager, and Dan Duquette is close to getting back in baseball.

It's taken them a while. It's him a while, too.

They're taking a chance, and so is he.

Sources confirmed to CBSSports.com late Saturday afternoon that Duquette is indeed the Orioles' latest choice to replace Andy MacPhail, and that team officials were working with the former Expos and Red Sox general manager to finalize a deal that could be announced within the next couple of days.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian first reported that the Orioles were close to a deal with Duquette.

Duquette will be returning to professional baseball after a nine-year absence. The Orioles' GM search has only seemed to take that long.

The Orioles settled on Duquette only after interviewing five other candidates, and only after first offering the job to Blue Jays executive Tony LaCava, who turned it down. Several other possible candidates also either pulled out of the running or made it clear that they weren't interested in joining an organization that has appeared dysfunctional.

That said, the 53-year-old Duquette could give the Orioles exactly what they were looking for. He had a good track record in both Montreal and Boston, and he has the scouting and player development background that they said was a prerequisite.

Duquette has a particular strength in Latin American scouting, an area where the Orioles have been particularly lagging.

The biggest concern is whether Duquette has lost touch with professional baseball after being out of the game so long. Fired by the Red Sox soon after the current ownership group took over, he has spent the last nine years running the Dan Duquette Sports Academy in Massachusetts, and also running a sports consulting business.

The Orioles' job is a challenge for many reasons, the first being that owner Peter Angelos can be difficult to work for. The presence of strong-minded manager Buck Showalter is also seen by some as an issue, and one of the many things that made the Orioles' GM search unusual was that Showalter sat in on the interviews and had a strong voice in the process.

Too often, the process seemed to be a total mess.

Now, it seems to be reaching the end. The Orioles seem to have found their man, and it's even possible that they found the right man.

It just took them a while.

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 4, 2011 9:11 pm

Baird won't pursue O's GM job

Some day, the Orioles will find a general manager. It won't be Allard Baird.

Baird said Friday night that he has decided against interviewing for the job, and will instead remain with the Red Sox. He cited his strong relationship with new Sox general manager Ben Cherington as the main factor in his decision. Baird has been heavily involved in the Red Sox' search for a new manager to replace Terry Francona.

Baird's decision is great news for the Red Sox, and especially for Cherington, who as a first-time GM will benefit from having an experienced baseball man at his side. Baird, a former GM with the Royals, is very highly respected in baseball circles.

The decision is another blow to the Orioles, who were turned down by Tony LaCava, saw Jerry Dipoto accept the Angels job, were denied permission to talk to Mike Radcliff, watched DeJon Watson pull out of the running, and have seen any number of other executives signal a lack of interest in even pursuing the job that Andy MacPhail left at the end of the season.

The Orioles have interviewed former Expos and Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, and are expected to interview Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer. Earlier, they interviewed John Stockstill, an internal candidate who was believed to have had just a courtesy interview, and Scott Proefrock, the Phillies assistant GM.

Baird said he would still like to have another shot as a GM. But despite long ties to Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who he once interviewed as a possible Royals skipper, Baird decided to pass on this one.

Cherington has shown an interest in expanding Baird's responsibilities with the Red Sox. The Sox have been looking to hire another experienced baseball man, and offered a job to Larry Corrigan before Corrigan chose instead to go work with Dipoto with the Angels.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 8:05 pm

O's still need a GM, but who wants that job?

Now that Tony LaCava has turned down the Orioles' general manager job, who will get it instead?

Better question: Who would want it?

LaCava was very kind in his public remarks Tuesday, claiming in an interview with the Baltimore Sun that his decision "was about the Toronto Blue Jays more than it is anything about the Baltimore Orioles." And it's true that LaCava is very comfortable in his job with the Jays, where he has the title of vice president and works closely with general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

It's also true, according to multiple sources inside and outside the Orioles organization, that this was very much about the Orioles, and that it helps expose some of the problems that exist in owner Peter Angelos' regime at Camden Yards.

Specifically, those sources said, LaCava wanted to clear out some long-term front-office people whose jobs have been protected by Angelos. Angelos refused to do that, even though he was willing to pay LaCava a competitive salary and to bring in other front-office people that LaCava wanted to hire (including Mike Berger, currently the director of pro scouting with the Diamondbacks).

The Orioles GM job is a difficult one, one rival executive said, because Angelos is such a force from above, manager Buck Showalter exerts strong influence from below, and the Orioles play in the tough American League East. People who know LaCava said that Showalter (who has taken part in the interview process) was never an issue, and LaCava already works in the American League East.

That leaves Angelos.

So who gets the Orioles job now?

It won't be LaCava, and it won't be Jerry Dipoto, who interviewed with the Orioles before taking the general manager job with the Angels. And, according to sources, it's very unlikely to be either De Jon Watson or John Stockstill, the only two other candidates interviewed before LaCava was offered the job.

One official said that the Orioles have already set up more interviews this week, but he wouldn't say who was coming in. Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported that the O's have asked permission to talk to officials from the White Sox, Rays, Phillies and Twins, and Dan Connolly of the Sun reported that Phillies assistant Scott Proefrock (a former Orioles assistant) will interview Thursday.

With the free-agent signing period beginning Thursday, and with the major-league general managers scheduled to meet starting Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, there's more pressure than ever on the Orioles to get someone in place quickly.

The problem, more obvious than it ever was before, is that too many potential candidates regard the Orioles job as a bad one. And the way the general manager search has been conducted has only added to that perception.

It was clear that Dipoto strongly preferred the job with the Angels, and it's now clear that LaCava preferred remaining in Toronto as an assistant to getting the bigger title (and better pay) with the Orioles.

Eventually, the Orioles will find a general manager. But how far down their list will they need to reach?

Posted on: September 29, 2011 12:04 am

Red Sox lose, and can only hope

BALTIMORE -- They knew they had to win.

And they didn't.

If the Red Sox had won, nothing truly bad could happen.

The season couldn't end. The collapse couldn't be complete.

Win and they weren't going home. They knew that.

And they lost. Amazingly, in as cruel a way as possible, they lost, when Jonathan Papelbon couldn't hold a one-run lead in the ninth inning.

They lost, and they left their season in the hands of the hated Yankees.


Carl Crawford couldn't hold Robert Andino's (yes, him) fly ball with two out in the ninth, and the Orioles won 4-3 to leave the Red Sox in serious danger of completing the worst collapse ever.

And all the Red Sox could do was hope for a Yankee win.

Their season wasn't over yet, but they could do nothing more themselves to save it.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:53 pm
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Posted on: September 28, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 7:12 pm

Betances starts for Yanks, Lavarnway in for Sox

BALTIMORE -- Dellin Betances and Ryan Lavarnway began the season in Double-A. Between them, they've started eight major-league games.

Wednesday night, the Red Sox are counting on both of them.

Lavarnway, the 24-year-old catcher who hit his first two big-league home runs Tuesday, is batting fifth for the Sox in Baltimore. Betances, whose major-league career consists of two outs, four walks and a hit batter, starts for the Yankees at Tropicana Field against the Rays.

The Red Sox and Rays begin the day tied atop the American League wild-card race. A Rays win combined with a Red Sox loss would end Boston's season. If both teams win -- or if both lose -- there would be a Thursday playoff game hosted by the Rays. The Red Sox talked about trading for Royals left-hander Bruce Chen to start that game, but by Wednesday afternoon sources said they won't be making a deal for a pitcher.

Crazy, isn't it?

Starting Lavarnway is hardly ridiculous. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, the Red Sox' regular catchers, are beat up. And both have struggled at the plate this month.

The Yankees starting Betances isn't outrageous, either. The Yankees clinched the American League EAst last week, and their main goal is to be at full strength Friday, when the playoffs begin.

Yankee manager Joe Girardi is starting his regular position players Wednesday. Of the regulars, only Russell Martin is out of the lineup against Rays lefty David Price.

The Red Sox just hope to play Friday. And now it depends, in part, on Lavarnway and Betances.

Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:44 pm

Great theater, as Sox and Rays go to final day

BALTIMORE -- Stop thinking. Just watch.

You thought the Red Sox were in good shape when they led the wild-card race by nine games. Wrong.

You thought the Red Sox were in trouble when you saw Tuesday night's lineup. Equally wrong.

Two Ryan Lavarnway home runs later, the Red Sox had their latest season-saving win, 8-7 over the Orioles. They've given up all of that nine-game lead, but they're tied with the Rays going into Wednesday's final regular-season games.

Stop thinking. Just watch.

It's great theater, without doubt stressful for the Red Sox and their fans, but fascinating for everyone else.

We get another day of it, maybe two more days, with a Thursday play-in game looming if the Red Sox and Rays remain tied after Wednesday.

But back to Lavarnway for a minute.

He began the season in Double-A. He was making his first big-league start behind the plate Tuesday, only because both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek were both hurt.

And he became the youngest Red Sox with a two-homer game since Nomar Garciaparra, who was the very same age (24 years, 51 days) when he did it in 1997.


Kind of like a Red Sox lineup with Jed Lowrie batting cleanup. Manager Terry Francona's reasons made perfect sense (the Orioles like to match up with their bullpen, and he wanted a switch hitter between David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez), but still.

Lowrie said he last hit cleanup in college at Stanford. Even there, he did it just nine times, because John Mayberry Jr. (now with the Phillies) was the Cardinal cleanup man.

Lavarnway . . . Lowrie . . . and don't forget Alfredo Aceves, who once again saved the Red Sox with 3 2/3 key innings out of the bullpen.

Aceves got eight outs. Starter Erik Bedard, a much higher-profile acquisition, got just seven.

"We can write this ending however we choose," Francona said Tuesday afternoon.

It's a wild story so far, wild in a bad way for the Red Sox. It was another wild night Tuesday, and much better for the Sox.

Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:25 pm

Disaster looms; blame Beckett (and Lester)

BALTIMORE -- If you don't pitch, it doesn't matter how good you feel. Doesn't matter how relaxed you are.

If your aces don't pitch, you're in serious trouble.

The Red Sox, once again, are in serious trouble, after Monday night's 6-3 loss to the Orioles. A wild-card lead that was nine games just 23 days ago has now totally disappeared, after Boston's loss and the Rays' 5-2 win over the Yankees.

All tied up, with two games to play.

Disaster looms once again for the Sox, and if you want to blame anyone, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are available.

It was Beckett who started -- and lost -- Monday. But this disaster doesn't belong to just one guy. Right now, the two biggest culprits are the two biggest starters.

When September began, someone using my name wrote that the difference between the Red Sox and the Yankees was that Boston had two top-of-the-rotation starters and New York had just one.

OK, I'll confess, it was me. And I'll admit it, I was wrong.

The last two times through the rotation, when the Red Sox needed Beckett and Lester the most, the two have combined to go 0-4 with a 9.39 ERA.

0-4, 9.39.

That's worse than John Lackey -- who, after his performance Sunday night (in-game, not postgame), is now Boston's most effective starter.

Lackey, Jacoby Ellsbury and the bullpen really did give the Sox a lift with Sunday's win. The pregame atmosphere in the Red Sox clubhouse Monday afternoon felt nothing like the weekend atmosphere in New York, or last week's at Fenway.

Sure enough, the Red Sox took a second-inning lead Monday night, just the second time in the last 13 games they'd scored first. Even when Beckett gave the run back in the bottom of the second, the Red Sox went back ahead in the fourth.

But on a night where they really needed Beckett to pitch like an ace, he turned the fifth and sixth into two innings of Red Sox misery.

When Robert Andino -- remember him? -- hit the first Orioles' inside-the-park home run in Camden Yards history (that's 20 years of history), the Red Sox were down four runs.

Andino's blast went off Ellsbury's glove in center field, but it would have been a spectacular catch, as he crashed into the fence. The blame goes to the guy who served up the blast, not the guy who nearly caught it.

It didn't help that the Sox didn't score after Jed Lowrie's go-ahead home run in the fourth. But this one was on Beckett, without doubt.

And the Red Sox' season now rests on the shaky Erik Bedard, who starts Tuesday, and then on Lester, now certain to come back Wednesday on short rest.

Normally, the Sox would feel good relying on Lester. They felt good relying on Beckett Monday.

Good feelings don't last around here. Right now, that should be obvious.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com