Dan Duquette 'enjoying' time away from game, but eyeing return to MLB

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SPRINGFIELD — Dan Duquette says not having a team to work for this baseball season has been relaxing. But the Dalton native, whose tenure as the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles ended at the end of the 2018 season, said that he's looking forward to another chance.

"I'm enjoying my time with my family, doing some consulting, and looking for my next opportunity in MLB," Duquette said. "It's 24-7, and I'm enjoying the respite spending time with my family."

Duquette, 60, spoke to the Walter "Rabbit" Maranville Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research on Monday night. The chapter invited Duquette to be interviewed by Red Sox historian, and former Boston Globe baseball writer, Gordon Edes. The session was held in the lower level of the Campus Center at Western New England University. The meeting was so successful, it had to be moved into a larger area to accommodate baseball fans who came to hear Duquette tell stories about his time in baseball.

But during a break in the presentation, he was asked about baseball, and whether he felt he was done.

"Absolutely," he said, when asked if he wanted to get back in the game. "I'm confident that I'll find another opportunity.

"A lot of this is timing. We've been able to field some competitive teams over the years, and I'm confident I'll get another opportunity."

Duquette ran the Montreal Expos and the Red Sox before a lengthy break from Major League Baseball after being let go by Baltimore after the 2018 season, a break that included four seasons running the Pittsfield Dukes of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

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Now, he's spending time at his Cape Cod home with wife Amy and his family. The question came up if he started to get the itch when teams reported to Florida or Arizona for the start of spring training. He smiled at the question.

"We love Florida," he said. "There's nothing like being in the big leagues in Florida. We miss Florida."

Obviously, when one is invited by the Society for American Baseball Research, the topic always turns to advanced baseball analytics, and how it seems to be more important than ever.

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For his part, Duquette said that advanced metrics have always been around.

"The metrics have always been a part of the game. Business data and the way to package it to help businesses has exploded with the technology. Sports are a reflection of the society we live in, so naturally, that's what's happening in sports."

Duquette, who worked his way up from a scouting assistant with the Milwaukee Brewers to becoming a general manager, said teams have used some sort of advanced analytics even before the current era of "Moneyball."

"The great players and the great managers and the great executives have always played percentage baseball to win," Duquette said. "How about Earl Weaver? Earl Weaver hit for Mark Belanger in the first inning, and then he put him in the field, so he tried to get one more at-bat out of that position before he put his valuable [shortstop] in the field. If you listen to Babe Ruth, and you talk about all of these home runs today, Babe Ruth said 'I swing as hard as I can and I try to swing through the ball. The harder you grip the bat, the more you swing through the ball, and the farther the ball will go. I swing big with everything I got. I hit big or I miss big.'

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"It sounds like today, right? Babe Ruth was a little bit ahead of his time."

Duquette has always been a proponent of advanced statistics and analytics in order to build baseball teams. Now many teams use it as the preferred way to create a team. Back when he was the G.M. in Montreal and then in Boston, it was more of a necessity.

"We used analytics with the Expos extensively, because we had to put together a competitive team and we didn't have the resources other clubs had," Duquette said, in response to a question. "We had to sharpen our pencils very carefully. We used analytics, and we developed our own analytics formula while I was with the Expos, with a couple of consultants.

"That 1994 [Expos] team that had the best record in baseball with one of the lowest payrolls. I think we were second in payroll and first in wins, which was a testament to the organization. We had done a lot of work with analytics."

One area where Duquette said the analytics should not be the be-all and end-all is in scouting and player development. Duquette, who worked as a scouting assistant with the Milwaukee Brewers under Harry Dalton, calls the men and women who cart radar guns and notebooks to high school, college, minor and major league games as important a factor as what comes from watching video and what might come out of a laptop.

"Scouts are part of the fabric of the game. [They are] talent evaluators," he said. "A lot of clubs are administratively evaluating talent, and it's going in that direction. But there's still a value of having people in the field, identifying good talent."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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