Regarding all the industry buzz that has the Orioles in hot pursuit of free agent slugger Prince Fielder this winter?
It might be time to cool it.
Baltimore issued its first public policy statement on Fielder on Tuesday, and in his introductory press conference as the club's new general manager, Dan Duquette sounded like a man more interested in devoting resources to the farm than to Fielder.
"Everybody wants to look at established major league players," Duquette said when asked specifically about big-ticket free agents such as Fielder or pitcher C.J. Wilson. "My success in the free agent market has been more signing players who can compliment the team [once core players are in place].
"When you can sign a player who can get you over the top, that's the time, I think, when it's right to go into the free agent market, personally."
From their perch at the bottom of the AL East, where they went 69-93 and produced the worst pitching staff in the American League, the Orioles do not look like they are ready to go "over the top" anytime soon.
Duquette's strength is in scouting -- both domestic and international -- and player development. He did sign free agents Manny Ramirez (2001) and Johnny Damon (2002) when he was in charge of the Red Sox, though those Boston teams were much further along than the current Orioles.
Duquette added Manny to a Red Sox club that had finished second in the AL East at 85-77 in 2000, then added Damon to a club that was second at 82-79 in 2001. Three years later, his instincts were proven correct: The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, and again in 2007.
Speaking in Baltimore on Tuesday, Duquette noted that when you think you're within a player or two of winning, or when you have a chance to sign someone who is "a good value for a long period of time, that's when you should go into the free agent market. I believe Orioles fans understand that."
Sure doesn't sound like an organization prepared to toss a blank check in Fielder's direction.