Before today's game the Orioles GM Dan Duquette joined manager Buck Showalter for a Q+A session with season ticket plan holders.
The session started 15 minutes before five under a simply gorgeous summer sky here in Baltimore. Jim Hunter, as usual, emceed the event wich took place on top of the thirdbase dugout. Duquette took his seat, and Buck strode across the grass behind the batting cage the crowd, three sections strong, greeted him with a chorus of cheers and applause. The session was delayed for a couple minutes as about a dozen fans mobbed Buck for autographs - he obliged as much as he could.
Dan Duquette opened with a wry smile and an almost sardonic response to the opening question from Hunter. Hunter asked the GM to characterize the season so far, 70 games in; Duquette responded with a crooked smile: "I think we are doing good." Showalter continued the sentiment with a more realistic, "To be continued," Showalter went on, "I woke up this morning and there was a team ahead of us in the division, so we have to take care of business."
Before the fans in attendance were allowed to ask questions Hunter lobbed the usual soft-toss questions that one sees at these events. Buck characterized the perceived "new attitude" of the team as just having "better players," and players "playing better." Buck did give a rather hearty shout-out to the city of Baltimore and the fans:
"The players love the support...and they can hear it in the dugout and talk about it..." he continued, "I am very proud of the city of Baltimore"
From this point the fans were allowed to ask questions. These events are more nice gesture and PR than real baseball discussion. Jim Hunter reminded fans midway through that Duquette and Showalter were forbidden from talking about other teams' players or potential deals for said players due to tampering rules.
On Lew Ford, this was the first question.
Duq - "Buck an I were talking about him yesterday," He loved his power and OBP. "You may see him up here," he said. On the same issue Buck countered that he "likes the players that he has up here" and reminded everyone that for every player to come up, someone has to go down.
On moves as the trade deadline nears.
Duquette feels that they have "a lot of answers within the organization," but he of course wants to add talent and make the team better if the right moves come along. The GM alluded to the team's pitching depth between AAA and the majors after a Hunter followup question. If one wants to read between the lines here Duquette is obviously fielding calls and it seems that some of that young pitching will be on the block.
On Jason Hammel.
Duquette credited his scouts and said that it was Hammels' "durability and stability" that was primarily attractive to him.
Funniest question goes to the fan asking if Buck gets tossed in next Saturday's game (that is set to honor Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver) if he would turn his hat around and kick some dirt around? Buck smiled, laughed and basically said that there was only one Earl and no one should imitate the legendary Orioles manager. He did caution the crowd to "not take his word on that," because "something could always happen."
Right after Hunter made the comment about the team being unable to comment about players, a fan asked about a rumored deal with the Cubs involving Garza/ Dempster and Soriano. After the stock response from buck Duquette did let a nugget slip by saying that the Cubs would "love to move," Soriano and "[he] hasn't performed well since signing that contract." Take that for what its worth but that statement left me with the impression that Duquette is not that impressed with the idea of Alfsono Soriano in an Orioles' uniform.
The last question of the day was another funny one: The gentleman was asking for his grandson who could not be in attendance, asking Buck Showalter: "Why don't you smile more?" Showalter's response was classic: "If we are where we want to be in October, you'll see me smile then."
We all will Buck, we all will.