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09-15-02 05:29 PM #1
Boston Globe: Some shop talk from Duquette
Some shop talk from Duquette
By Michael Holley, Globe Columnist, 9/15/2002
ACTON - The Red Sox fan relaxes in a bagel shop, talking baseball at his table by the window. He has his black Toshiba laptop with him, so he taps a few keys that trigger the demonstration on his new academy.
If you don't find him here, look on a football field. He is the offensive coordinator of his younger son's 95-pound-and-under team. If you don't see him there, you can always find him in the place that he loved so much when he ran the Sox. Cyberspace. He's at www.duquettesportsacademy.com, and he wants young fans and their parents to know that he is putting together a baseball palace in the Berkshires.
These are the things on Dan Duquette's mind as he peers through his sunglasses and answers questions about the Sox. He put the team together. He stocked the farm system (he insists that it's much better than advertised). He was so involved as Sox general manager, he says, that he is qualified to return to the majors as some team's president and CEO. And that could happen as early as 2003.
For now, he is asked what he thinks of the sinking Sox.
''You know, last year we had the excuse of injured players,'' he says. ''We had some really good players who were hurt plus we had a center fielder [Carl Everett] who didn't want to be here. So we had the turmoil around the ball club from all those injuries. We had a good reason for not playing in the second half.
''What's troubling about this year is everybody's healthy and supposedly they've addressed all those chemistry issues. But the team still hasn't played that well the second half of the season. Some of those one-run games ... I mean, that's troubling. Look at the gross runs that they've scored. The differential between runs scored and runs given up is pretty big.''
The Sox have a 182-run advantage (785 to 603) over their opponents. But they are fading in the American League East and still behind Oakland and Anaheim in the wild-card race. Duquette may talk a lot about youth football and his academy, but it's obvious that he continues to study the organization that hired him for and fired him from his dream job.
''It's a bit troubling,'' he continues about the Sox' season. ''The fans are smart. They have a good idea of what's going on. It's a bit troubling because they got off to a good start. Some of the players are having pretty darn good seasons individually. But the execution hasn't been there for the most part.''
It's strange to see and hear Duquette like this. He is more relaxed than he ever was at the ballpark. He smiles a lot and laughs hard when you tell a joke. In eight years as the Sox' executive vice president and GM, he had a handful of memorable fun moments.
There was the time he made fun of the writers' old pictures at the Baseball Writers Dinner. There was the time he ''raised the roof'' in his private box after the Sox secured a playoff spot. There was the time he advised a kid to listen to the poetry on Bruce Springsteen's ''Thunder Road'' album. Now he's here, talking Springsteen and the Rolling Stones. Talking football (''I like Steve Spurrier and Jimmy Johnson, but I'm a ball-control coordinator''). Talking pro basketball (''I love the Celtics' tradition''). Talking New England's approach to pro sports (''That's how some people measure time around here; they remember where they were for Carbo's home run in '75 and so on'').
''I thought it was a pretty good ball club [coming out of spring training],'' he says. ''Execution, strategy, tactics, heads-up opportunism. That's what influences those one-run games.
''But that's not my charge anymore. You'd have to ask the guys that are in there those questions. Ask some of the people who are there day-in and day-out. I'm sure they'd have some interesting ideas for you.''
Duquette has some ideas, too. Some of them will not incite the critics at all. Others will make them howl. He has excellent ideas for boys 8 to 18. He says he wants to get them involved in the academy, so they can be taught by current and former pros. He has father/son camps in mind. He wants to have a fantasy baseball camp for those 18 and older. He was always a basketball fan and talks with academy marketer and Big Five fan Joe Siderowicz about putting together a basketball clinic. He has a startup foundation, and he wants to use it to help about 1,000 underprivileged kids go to camps over a three-year period.
He says he has a few celebrities lined up to help him raise money for his foundation. He mentions Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, and Peter Gammons.
''The academy and the foundation are opportunities to bring professional sports back to kids,'' he says. ''To make it real for young kids.''
Then there are his ideas of what he left behind on Yawkey Way. These ideas will cause more resistance than his ideas for the academy.
''The Red Sox always had enough players in the minor league system to make a trade,'' he says, amused at the suggestion that Boston's system is bare. A lot of people in the industry have either hinted privately or said that the Sox don't have much value in the minors.
''Where did those players come from that the team used to make their trades this year?'' Duquette asks. ''The minor league system. If you notice what the team traded when it made those deals, this season and in past seasons, what was it? Pitching. That was part of our overall operational effort - to have a decent minor league system to help us make trades and help bring players up. We put special emphasis on [pitching] in the minor league system. We traded a lot of our minor league pitchers away to help our major league team.
''If you do a decent job as a GM, your minor league system should support the team for a couple years after you're gone.''
The Sox traded seven minor leaguers to acquire Cliff Floyd, Alan Embree, and Bobby Howry. They dealt Franklin Francisco, Byeong An, Sunny Kim, Seung Song, Dan Generelli, Brad Baker, and Dan Giese. The new management team will admit that it is pleased to have Phil Dumatrait, Jorge de la Rosa, Anastacio Martinez, Josh Hancock, and Manny Delcarmen in the system.
''Boston's farm system is healthy,'' the former GM says, as the bagel shop becomes louder. A group of animated young women has gathered at a nearby table. ''And they have some good players coming along the way. Kevin Youkilis is a good player. Good third baseman. Good on-base man.
''The catcher we signed from Baylor [Kelly Shoppach] started off at Sarasota and finished at Double A. You know, those pitchers are pretty good that we traded. [Tomo] Ohka's pretty good. Sunny Kim could be good. Seung Song. They had the players available to make a trade when they needed to make a trade. We made a conscious effort to sign young pitchers so we had them there to supplement the major league ball club.''
Duquette talks a while longer, saying that anything is possible in baseball and that the Sox still may slip into the postseason. When he is asked why he wants to be president and CEO of a team, he says his Boston experience helped him aspire to a new level of management. Anyway, he always thinks of the advice his father once gave him.
''He said you ought to change jobs every five years. So you won't get stale.''
His father was a reading teacher, a principal, a supervisor, a superintendent, and a special-ed teacher. Duquette was an administrative assistant, a scouting director, and a general manager/vice president. Now he wants to run an academy, start a foundation, and be a big league boss.
The 44-year-old fan stands up, packs up his computer, and heads for the door. ''I'm still young,'' he says with a smile. ''Still young.''
Michael Holley is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story ran on page D1 of the Boston Globe on 9/15/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.
09-15-02 05:45 PM #2
09-15-02 05:53 PM #3
09-15-02 07:03 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2001
This writer thinks the Red Sox are fading in the AL East. You think?
If they gave out a Pultizer Prize for gross understatement, he wins hands down.
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