Blue Jays, Orioles both deserve errors for handling of Duquette-Beeston mess
I want to see how both teams pick up the pieces.
I want to hear Orioles general manager Dan Duquette explain how he will mend fences with an organization that he spent several months trying to bolt.
And I want to hear Blue Jays chairman Ed Rogers explain why he is "elated" that Paul Beeston will return for one more season as president and CEO after ownership spent several months trying to replace him.
L’Affaire Duquette finally appears over now, and a messy affair it was, scarring both franchises.
If the teams were smart, they would have worked out a deal to allow Duquette to replace Beeston. But no, the Orioles asked for steep compensation, the Jays grew sensitive to fan and media criticism and nothing was accomplished but a very public airing of each club’s dirty laundry.
The Jays announced Monday that Beeston will return for the 2015 season and then retire. Rogers, however, declined to comment on his pursuit of Duquette, saying only, "There were many rumors flying about, but it would have been inappropriate to comment on such matters publicly."
Actually, it was inappropriate for Rogers to publicly lust after a replacement for Beeston, who was the Jays’ first employee, served two stints as president and earned a spot on the team’s Level of Excellence.
Beeston, 70, apparently ticked people off at the Jays’ parent company, the Rogers Corp. He also ticked off Major League Baseball by opposing the election of Rob Manfred as commissioner. But did the Jays need to embarrass him?
Of course not, but now that the Jays have "retained" Beeston, they at least should be relatively stable for the rest of the season. They then can hire their new CEO, and if the CEO initiates a front-office upheaval, well, that’s baseball.
The Orioles, on the other hand, are stuck with Duquette, a frustrated employee who invited questions about his loyalty by doing precious little to improve the club this offseason — and by refusing to say that he wanted to stay in Baltimore.
Duquette’s desire to leave for a better job was understandable. The Jays almost certainly tampered with him. But in trying to win a staredown with Orioles owner Peter Angelos — an eager combatant, even at 85 — the GM overplayed his hand.
Any moment now, Duquette will renew his vows to the Orioles and pledge to win the franchise’s first World Series since 1983. His words, though, will ring hollow — everyone knows he wanted out, and a number of Orioles employees wanted him out rather than continue as a house divided.
Can you spell awkward? Evidently, Angelos can’t. Rather than extract a strong compensation package for Duquette — and no, we’re not talking about his reported demand for at least the Jays’ two first-round picks last season, pitcher Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost — he kept the Orioles in an unsettled state.
The Orioles could have asked the Jays for lesser prospects. They could have offered right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who is owed $38.75 million over the next three seasons (the transfer of an inflated contract would have been an unprecedented but justifiable form of compensation). They could have explored any number of creative possibilities, but Angelos was ever the righteous attorney, rigid to the end.
Oh, I know — Duquette is signed through 2018, and a contract is a contract. But what will become now of his relationship with Angelos? How about his relationship with manager Buck Showalter, who likely would have assumed more responsibility in a restructured Orioles front office and can rightly wonder why Duquette has done so little to replace the departed Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz?
In fairness, Duquette was mostly quiet last offseason until signing Jimenez on Feb. 19 and Cruz on Feb. 24. The remaining free agents now are mostly of lesser quality, but perhaps Duquette can swing a trade for an outfielder or another piece now that he is free of distraction.
The entire episode was unseemly, an embarrassment to the Jays, an embarrassment to the Orioles, an embarrassment to baseball. Good luck to all picking up the pieces. This should not have been such a difficult puzzle to solve.