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Duquette out to prove 2012 wasn't a fluke

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- In his first year as executive vice president of baseball operations with the Orioles, Dan Duquette engineered one of the best turnarounds of the season, as they went from 93 losses in 2011 to 93 wins this year and an American League Wild Card spot.

That success didn't translate into personal recognition, however. Duquette received zero votes from his peers in The Sporting News Executive of the Year balloting. Oakland's Billy Beane won the award, followed by the Nationals' Mike Rizzo and the Rangers' Jon Daniels.

"Sure, it would have been nice to get that validation, since we did improve more than any other club," Duquette said at the General Managers Meetings at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. "But I think the important thing, and the good news for our fans, is that we know we have the core of good team. They came out and supported us, and we should also have a good ballclub next year."

He smiled and added that this will be motivation to prove that 2012 wasn't a fluke.

"That's right," said Duquette. "We'll have to go out and do it again next year."

Duquette had been out of baseball for a decade before being hired by the Orioles. He made sweeping roster changes, including almost entirely rebuilding the rotation by adding Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Miguel Gonzalez. The trio combined to make 70 starts.

"We have a more established roster this year than we did a year ago," said Duquette. "Some of the players we signed helped us improve the team, so we have a stronger team and a better pitching staff to build around."

In order to build on that success, the Orioles face a series of difficult decisions this winter. They have 15 players eligible for salary arbitration.

"That's a huge number, and a number of those players have earned raises within the system based upon the good years they had, so that's all good for the organization," Duquette said. "We've taken a look at it and we're confident we can have most of them on our ballclub."

One of those players is first baseman Mark Reynolds, who batted .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs. The Orioles have already declined his $11.5 million option. If they can't reach an agreement, Reynolds could be non-tendered. Even if that happens, the O's will continue to negotiate with him.

"We like the work he did at first base and the improvement," Duquette said. "We liked the player, but we didn't like the price."

The Orioles are also looking to improve their lineup and have inquired about players such as Royals designated hitter Billy Butler and Twins outfielder Josh Willingham. Duquette also hinted that an extension for manager Buck Showalter could be in the works.

"I believe that it's merited and that we'll get that done in due time," Duquette said.

Baltimore Orioles, Mark Reynolds