December 27, 2010
The Week in Quotes
THE BOY PRINCE OF MILWAUKEE
"The main reason I wanted to get out, I mean, preferred to get out of Kansas City, is I wanted to be on a team that was trying to win this year, because as a pitcher you don't really know how long your career is going to be. And I really wanted to be in a place they were playing to win games right away. So Milwaukee is obviously that place."
"We have people we can put in those positions. And this was just too big an upgrade for the pitching staff to overlook that."
"I think I made that decision to put them on the list too quickly; I didn't think about it long. I knew Prince only had one year left on his contract and I wasn't sure what direction they were going to go in with him. But once they signed Marcum and didn't trade Prince, I knew they were in it."
"Our righties are different. They've got a lot of different pitches so where they're not the same guy the team will see the night before. So, I would rather just go with who we think are our top three or four guys and just go down the line that way."
"When I found out, I told my wife it was probably the happiest I'd been since I got drafted, like, 10 years ago - in baseball. I was happy when we got married, too."
WHAT COMPARES TO THE LOVE OF A PRE-ARBITRATION SHORTSTOP?
"Our guys like him a lot. Ned loves him. Ned believes in him and feels like his swing path and his approach are going to allow him to be a more consistent offensive player. He'll play all year at 24, and he's an exciting young player."
"There's haunting trades of players over the years: Sammy Sosa being traded by the Rangers years ago, Ryne Sandberg being a throw-in in a deal and becoming a Hall of Famer. I always live in fear of those kinds of deals. But every player that's played in the big leagues was young at one time and was a prospect. Trading younger players like we did in this particular deal, they'll go on and be good ballplayers. But the whole point of this deal was we got a young player back."
"There's no perfect deal out there. And the history of these deals will tell you, you're not going to get another Cy Young Award winner, and you're not going to get players that are going to compete for the MVP. But what we tried to do is get the right players that fit with who we are and what we have coming."
NOBODY WAKE THE SLEEPING STEINBRENNER
"We weren't going to exceed where we were this past year. But the bottom line is that now that the Lee thing has declared itself, it would be hard-pressed for us to get up to that level."
"I mean, it's definitely young. Me and A.J. are at the top, and Phil definitely proved himself to me last year, and to everybody else. We'd have Nova and we're really searching after that, I'd think. We'll just have to wait and see. The Yankees are a team that always makes moves, so we'll have to wait and see what happens."
"We typically win a lot of games and get in playoffs every year, but that isn't the be-all, end-all, and it isn't our major objective. It's tradition around here. People expect to do well. Developmentally, we have to make sure our players are playing in the right spot, they're getting at-bats and innings pitched at the level at which they're going to be challenged. When they show a significant amount of mastery, they move along."
ONE OF THOSE TEAM-FRIENDLY 154 MILLION DOLLAR DEALS
"I made a comment to Theo, 'Make the trade happen by itself, and I promise you during the season I'll negotiate. I'm not going to come here and be like, 'OK, we'll see you at free agency and see if you outbid the other teams.' We'll negotiate during the season. We're going to be fair. We won't be looking for record-breaking deals. We just want market value."
"We gave them our word that we were going to negotiate during the season in good faith. We're not going to go in there and ask for Albert Pujols' contract, something along those lines."
"We learned a lot about each other's positions, there was a lot of good faith that developed over the course of the negotiations. We got close to a deal, but in the end, the window lapsed and we didn't have a deal. There wasn't a single person who felt like, at the end of the day, we won't get a deal done when the time is right."
ARE YOU SURE YOU DON'T WANT TO JUST SPEND MONEY LIKE A DRUNKEN EPSTEIN?
"We don't want to be one of those teams that goes a decade without winning. When I say winning, I'm talking about having a chance to win. That happens when you have very big contracts for players who end up not being good. We just don't ever want to be that way."
"It's not something we anticipated. Especially in an offseason when we needed to remake our bullpen, it's not necessarily ideal. But you have to react accordingly and do what you can."
"We're in a better position to make more selections, but we're still going to be selective. We cannot be in position where we sign a player who does not outperform his contract. So we have to be very careful. The reason that we are prudent is very simple."
"The front office is working on putting our bullpen together. Speaking for our starting pitchers, you will never find a group that works as hard as we do. We will put a bullpen together, we will score runs and win games. Anyone can win a baseball game."
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN TOKYO
"I'm not sure that NPB has taken that same way of thinking. As you know, the name on the jersey is a corporation that owns a baseball team. I believe there's a disincentive to make money. I don't believe it's in the best interests of that club to try to make money. Because if they lose money, the parent company will write that off as an advertising expense. So what you have for the most part in Japanese baseball is this mentality, and I'm sure many read it last year, when a president of an NPB team says in an internal meeting, which got leaked, that 'fans are like carp, they'll eat what we feed them.' As a sports marketer, that makes me angry. Because they're not carp, they're your lifeblood. If you don't have fans, you don't have a job."
"We're not going to be the black ships and we've been asked to be the black ships. I've had presidents of not one, but two NPB teams come and say, 'You guys have to be the black ships. You have to come in and force this change.' We don't think, at the end of the day, that's a good thing to do. We don't think it's going to be beneficial for Japanese baseball today or Major League Baseball to come and say, 'We're going to change the way that baseball is marketed here.'"
"The Japanese players need to understand that every dollar they try to take for themselves is not going to baseball in China, baseball in South Africa, countries that need the development dollars. If we continue to talk to them, if we continue to exchange information and I think eventually they'll understand the compensation they're receiving is fair. Based on the amount of contribution to the overall pot, the actual Japanese player is making far more than the US player. The US is still contributing more money to the pot, but the US player is making less than the Japanese player."
"I texted GM Jon Daniels and said 'Go get Greinke, go get Cliff, let's have a party.' Why not have all the guys you can? But if you don't have those guys, that's fine. And Cliff wasn't as effective in the regular season as we hoped he'd be. He was good in the playoffs and he got us to the World Series but he didn't pitch as well in the World Series as he wanted to."
"I've been on him already about not getting fat and happy. When you're in the three hole, you're the focal point of the lineup. You're the guy they know they need to get out. You're going to get their best lefty when the situation calls for it. And a lot of those first-pitch fastballs are going to be sliders."
"I hadn't seen a club underachieve to the level that this club did. Hopefully a couple pieces here and there click next season, and some guys we were counting on last year like Figgins and Gutierrez have the kind of years we expect them to have. We think Erik [Bedard] can bounce back and be the guy we hoped we were getting a few years back. We may not have made a big splash like we did a year ago, but we addressed some needs."
"Right from the first offer, they told us that if we didn't accept, they were prepared to issue a press release at any time saying the talks fell apart. I was prepared to see it out until the end because things like that are part and parcel of negotiations, especially in the early stage. But then stories were coming out from over there, saying things like Iwakuma had asked for $105 million over seven years. It was completely untrue, and it was sad to see it. That's when I started to lose faith and got the impression that they didn't really want me. Some might go to the majors at any price, but for me, it's important that I'm actually needed by the team. After what went on, I wasn't going to go no matter how high they went with their offer."
"I think a lot of people wonder if I'm bitter. But I'm not. I'm blessed to have three healthy kids, a loving family and friends. When I was a rookie, did I have a vision of what my career would be? Absolutely. Has it gone that way? Absolutely not."
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.