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Duquette looking to future09/30/2004 7:05 PM ET
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- There was no trace of bitterness in Jim Duquette's voice as he discussed the decision that led to his being replaced as general manager of the Mets on Thursday afternoon.
Duquette admitted his disappointment that he would no longer hold the job that was given to him on a permanent basis 11 months ago. But he also knew that, as part of the three-year deal Duquette signed last fall, New York principal owner Fred Wilpon could remove him from the position after one season.
So while the ultimate responsibility of reshaping the Mets will fall on the shoulders on Omar Minaya, the new general manager and executive vice president of baseball operations, Duquette knows he will continue to be an integral part of the club's front office as the senior vice president of baseball operations.
Minaya's hiring was announced at a Thursday afternoon press conference at Shea Stadium. Wilpon stressed Minaya's ability as a talent evaluator as the main reason for the move, saying that the move was not based on anything Duquette did wrong.
"That was part of the arrangement when I first signed my three-year contract that it was a one-year commitment as a general manager," Duquette said. "They had the right to reassign me and reduce my pay if they wanted to. Thankfully, they didn't reduce my salary. They kept me at the rate I would be paid as GM the next two years.
"As Fred said, it wasn't a complete surprise that we brought Omar over. We talked about it last year [before Duquette was hired]. I think Fred kept that alive. He didn't discuss that with me, but he kept it alive during the course of the season. "
Still, Duquette said that he was "completely surprised" when informed of the decision to bring over as the club's general manager.
"I don't want to get into details of my conversation with Fred, but I can tell you I was extremely disappointed in his decision," said Duquette, who added that he didn't think of the move as a demotion. "I voiced that to [chief operating officer] Jeff [Wilpon] and Fred Monday night. I was disappointed in their decision and their assessment of what they needed to do in terms of a reassignment. Whether it's fair or unfair at this point doesn't really matter.
"Having said that, I understand why they did what they did and I'm supportive of it because they've been talking about it for a while. It would be selfish of me to resign or leave because of a title. I still have a significant role and significant say in the organization, so I'm not going to get caught up in a title. I will say this: I feel like there's unfinished business and [I'm] looking forward to working with Omar."
Duquette said he wouldn't necessarily have done anything differently over the last 11 months, adding that there were more positives than negatives that didn't translate on the field.
The two worked together for several years, forming a friendship and a good working relationship, as assistants under then-general manager Steve Phillips. Therefore, Duquette said he doesn't expect his new working situation with Minaya to be an awkward one, and he plans on having a discussion with Minaya about how the duties will be divided.
"Because we worked together for at least five years, we know each other well and maintained a friendship," Duquette said. "I have a ton of respect for him as a person and as an evaluator. In this town you can create an argument to have two guys at the highest level build a club. Ownership said I will be heavily involved in crafting the makeup and philosophy of the club, and Omar will have the final decision on player personnel."
For his part, Minaya was adamant about having Duquette stay on and be as comfortable as possible with the move, taking every measure on Thursday to be respectful of his new senior vice president.
"When I took this job, most important thing was that I wanted Jim to be my right-hand man," Minaya said. "He's going to be a big part of this. He's going to be right there next to me. And I say 'I,' but I really mean 'we' when it comes to the front office. I believe that the front office has to work together. I was an assistant GM for a long while, so as a GM I know a large part of my success will be dependent on Jim Duquette."
If other clubs wish to interview Duquette for a general manager's job, a position Duquette said he would like to once again hold, he would have to discuss the interviews with Wilpon on a case-by-case basis. Duquette said that he wasn't looking to go anywhere and that he wanted to finish what he had started in New York.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.