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August 20, 2012

The Week in Quotes

August 13-19

by Hudson Belinsky, Jonah Birenbaum, Andrew Koo and Matthew Rocco

BOBBY CLEARLY NOT THEIR VALENTINE
“What Tom, Larry, and I heard in the player meeting was one overriding sentiment. Players felt responsible for the record. They weren't blaming injuries or anyone but themselves. At the same time, they openly spoke about what could improve in addition to their play. They made substantive points. We addressed those points. No one in that meeting, at any time, took the position that Bobby should be or needed to be replaced.”
—Red Sox owner John Henry, responding to a story from Yahoo which alleged that a host of disgruntled Boston players “blasted” manager Bobby Valentine in a secret meeting with team ownership back in July. (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)

“I understand that when the team isn't playing up to our standards that issues are going to be sensationalized. But what is important for Red Sox fans to know is that ownership, players, and all staff—especially Bobby Valentine—are determined to turn around what has thus far been an unacceptable, failed season. We are all on the same page in that regard and will not waver.”
—Henry

“There’s a lot of emotion flying around here these days. My job is to try to control that emotion and direct it in the right direction as often as possible.”
—Valentine, on the turbulent state of his clubhouse. (Matt Pepin, Boston Globe)

“I talked to [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick about it when he first came into the area, and I’ve also talked to [Celtics coach] Doc Rivers, when you come in and there’s a different culture and change is needed, it’s never easy.”
—Valentine, who has struggled to change the clubhouse culture he inherited since taking over as manager at the beginning of the season.

“I don't think Bobby should be fired. We haven't played well. That's the bottom line. I'm not going to blame anything on Bobby. It's on the players.”
—Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who got into an animated verbal altercation with Valentine in the dugout earlier this week. (Jeff Seidel, ESPNBoston.com)

“I don’t know that anybody is saying anything, and to be honest, I don’t care. I don’t play for them. I play for the Mets. My responsibility is here. Nothing I did yesterday does anything for today, and that’s going to be my stance for the rest of my life. ‘What am I going to do today? Yesterday’s gone. It ain’t gonna do (----) for me today.’ That’s my philosophy on life.”
—Mets catcher Kelly Shoppach, who was acquired from the Red Sox in a waiver trade, has moved on from his time in Boston. The New York Daily News reported that Shoppach was one of the players responsible for sending a text message to Boston ownership using Adrian Gonzalez's phone, although the catcher denied any involvement. (Andy Martino and Roger Rubin, New York Daily News)

REYNOLDS SOUNDS OFF
“It’s a shame they don’t have accountability. They don’t have any. If they make a bad call, it’s like, 'Ho-hum, next day is coming.' If we have a bad couple of games, we get benched or we get sent down. They have nobody breathing down their throats.”
—Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds, expressing his displeasure with the umpiring in Baltimore’s 5-3 loss to the Tigers on Friday night. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun)

“I don’t understand how an umpire can miss a play at home plate that’s right in front of him and see that play from home plate at first base. It’s embarrassing that they would overturn a call that obviously has an impact on the game in the middle of the pennant race.”
—Reynolds

“They have nobody; they are just secure in their jobs,” Reynolds added. “And they are probably over there right now laughing about it, because they don’t worry about it. This game is way too important right now, where we are in the season, for these kinds of calls to happen. And it’s very frustrating.”
—Reynolds

FELIX IS FLAWLESS, MASTERFUL, AND PERFECT
“It's always in my mind. Every game, I'm thinking I need to throw a perfect game. For every pitcher, I think it's in their mind. But today it happened, and it's something special. I don't have any words to explain this. This is pretty amazing. This does not happen every day.”
—Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the 23rd pitcher in major-league history to toss a perfect game. (Greg Johns. MLB.com)

“You could tell he was feeding off the energy from the crowd. And like [Justin] Verlander, he got stronger as the game went on. I'm sure he was using a lot of adrenaline, but was able to channel that and was still throwing things for strikes. ... He was as dominating in the ninth as he was in any other inning.”
—Rays left fielder Sam Fuld, the only starting batter who was not one of Felix’s twelve strikeout victims.

“I've been on the Rays before, I know their approach against Felix. It's to hit that fastball, and hit it early. You don't want to go to the secondary stuff, because that's what gets you out. I knew with a 2-0 count, he's hacking. He's thinking that fastball is coming. Felix, he had great command of all his pitches all day long. I didn't second-guess it at all. I just knew right away. Slider. This is the pitch to go with. No other one.”
—Catcher John Jaso, using previous insight to call for a slider behind in the count against the last batter, Sean Rodriguez. (Larry Stone, The Seattle Times)

“For him and [catcher John Jaso] to be on the same page the way they were, it was just outstanding. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone's stuff that good. For him to throw an 0-2 type of pitch for a strike when behind in the count 2-0, it's that type of thing. I was joking earlier saying I don't even think [Mike] Trout could hit Felix today. It was incredible.”
Shortstop Brendan Ryan (Josh Liebeskind, MLB.com)

“Stuff-wise, I think today, all of Felix's pitches were working. The Yankees was pretty good, but [Felix’s] changeup was going good against righties and lefties today, and everything was working. He didn't use his curve much against Yankees, but today it was just nasty. Everything was working. You throw any lineup out there, and you're getting close to same result today.”
—Jaso, comparing the perfect game to Felix’s earlier two-hit shutout against the Yankees.

“I'm never going to forget this moment. It's a special moment for everyone. Their pitcher was good, too. He just left that one changeup in the middle, and I hit it good. Thank God we got that run.”
Jesus Montero, who provided the two-out single that scored the game’s only run. Montero caught the Mariners’ combined no-hitter in June.

“Once we got to the sixth or seventh inning, I wasn't leaving. Amazing. You never get too emotional watching something like that. The eighth and ninth inning—whew!”
—Commissioner Bud Selig (Zach Meisel, MLB.com)

RANGERS BUILDING A DIVISION LEAD
“It was the Los Angeles Angels. When they kicked us in the stomach, the Angels woke us up. It was just a matter of time for the offense. But that was just a wake-up call. We got challenged and, really, we got embarrassed. We fought back, and now I don’t think there is anything that is going to take the fight out of us.”
Manager Ron Washington, distancing the Rangers from the competing Athletics and Angels. (Evan Grant, dallasnews.com)

“I’m just making my mind up that I’m going to try to focus better on taking more pitches and getting in better hitter’s counts. You see the difference. My third at-bat, I struck out. He didn’t throw me a strike. I asked the umpire, ‘Did he throw any strikes?’ He said, ‘No.’ That was the difference, being patient and getting in good hitter’s counts and knowing that if they’re pitching it there, you can hit it instead of trying to make something happen. Just take your base and score runs.”
—Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton on adjusting his approach after an unproductive July. (Richard Durrett, ESPNDallas.com)

“When I’m having fun, it shows in my overall game. I’m having fun in center. It might help, but I don’t think it has any direct impact.”
—Hamilton, on his center field calling card, and classifying correlation and causation. (Evan Grant, dallasnews.com)

“Being a corner-infield guy, he’s got instincts and you have to have instincts. It’s always just going to be a matter of reading the ball off the bat. I just want him to make the routine play and hit the cutoff man. He will grow into it as he plays.”
—Rangers outfield instructor Gary Pettis, mentoring call-up Mike Olt on playing the outfield. (Evan Grant, dallasnews.com)

“I’ve got the outfield covered. I’ve got first base and third base covered. I need second base and shortstop covered. We have Michael (Young), but we need more than just Michael.”
—Washington, on the possibility of calling up Jurickson Profar for infield reinforcement. (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)

“I did some things early in the year that were not very productive. I feel like I’ve made a good adjustment. My biggest attribute is my hands and my bat speed, and I wasn’t letting my hands fly through the zone. I was really fighting it. Right now, I feel like myself going up there. I don’t think I’ve completely turned the corner, but I expect that I have a long hot stretch in me before this season is over.”
Michael Young (Evan Grant, dallasnews.com)

MILLS GETS PINK SLIP FROM HOUSTON
“I tried to do the best job I could. I care about our players and wish them the best. I think the world of them. I appreciate their effort. I can’t sit here and say that these guys didn’t play hard for me the whole time.”
—Former Astros manager Brad Mills, who was recently fired. (Zachary Levine, Houston Chronicle)

“They’re a couple guys who worked their tail off day in and day out for these players. For this to happen to them, that probably hurts me more than anything else right now.”
—Mills, on the firing of hitting coach Mike Barnett and first base coach Bobby Meacham.

“It was about a week ago that we made the decision that we weren’t going to renew Brad for next year. Once that decision was made, thinking through the logic, it made sense to make these changes sooner rather than later—not to have a lame-duck administration.”
—Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who acknowledged that owner Jim Crane was involved in the decision to fire Mills and two others. (Zachary Levine, Houston Chronicle)

“It’s a mix, and that’s why it wasn’t just one change. That’s why we made three changes. We’re really trying to change the mix and create a new environment in there. That’s what’s needed.”
—Luhnow

“I can certainly see from a philosophical standpoint, if he doesn't agree with that, that's fine. Do it then or do it at the end of the year. To do it in August, come on. Those are hard-working people. Those are good baseball people.”
—Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca. (Mark Bowman and Teddy Cahill, MLB.com)

PLAYOFF RUN A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR PITTSBURGH
“We'll have the appropriate number [of young players] to help us be the most competitive [we can be]. We'll look at areas where we feel we need personnel to strengthen our club—a runner, a bat, a reliever, another outfielder.”
—Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on the Sept. 1 roster expansion, which will take on a whole new meaning for Pittsburgh. (Tom Singer, MLB.com)

“It can get absurd late in the season. One September, we played a team with 37 men. You can't out-manage them—they just keep coming.”
—Hurdle

“The noise, the interaction, the cheering—it all connects and resonates with the players. You take pride in going out there and playing well in front of your hometown crowd. Our fans, they've been loud, and they've been boisterous, and they've been very supportive this year. It makes a difference. There's no doubt about it.”
Hurdle on the Pirates' rejuvenated fan base. (Mark Emery, MLB.com)

TWITTER

—There has been some buzz about the Rangers calling up Jurickson Profar (as discussed on Episode 20 of Effectively Wild). The 19-year-old is the Texas’ top prospect, and may soon have a place as a backup in The Show. Also, he might own the Lakers some day. (Josh Norris, @jnorris427, The Trentonian)

—Now that he’s tossed a perfect game, Felix Hernandez has pretty much done it all, except make the playoffs. The Mariners have not been to the postseason since losing to the Yankees in the 2001 ALCS after a magical, 116-win regular season. (Jason Churchill, @ProspectInsider, ESPN/Prospect Insider)

—Angels skipper Mike Scioscia may be losing a few of those pounds as he sweats his way through the stress of his club slipping out of the playoff race. (Mike DiGiovanna, @MikeDiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times)

Terry Collins was not happy after umpire James Hoye forced R.A. Dickey to remove a pair of bracelets from his non-throwing wrist. (Andy Martino, @SurfingTheMets, New York Daily News)

—Super-agent Scott Boras responded to comments from Tommy John. John believes that Stephen Strasburg should not be shut down, while Boras believes in expert medical opinions. (Jon Morosi, @jonmorosi, FOX Sports)

THE REST
“You can be the best parent in the world. You can be world-class parents and your kid can still go south. We can’t follow these guys 24/7. It comes down to choices. He’s a veteran, a grown man. Our training staff and our conditioning coaches raise awareness. This is an unfortunate thing. We’ll continue to work on cleaning up baseball.”
—Giants manager Bruce Bochy on the Melky Cabrera steroid situation, now with a fraudulent website scandal. (Henry Schulman, SFGate.com)

“I think I said ‘good job’ about nine times. And that’s it.”
—Yankees catcher Russell Martin, who was decidedly succinct in his praise of teammate Hiroki Kuroda, who hurled a two-hit, complete-game shutout against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night. (Zach Schonbrun, New York Times)

“Early in my career, when I was about 170 pounds, it was a big thing. Boston preached walks, plate discipline. I was getting myself out a lot. Playing every day here has helped a lot. I feel comfortable here. [...] I don't want to get too pull-happy. I want to stay inside the ball. I have to connect perfectly to be able to backspin a baseball. I have strong wrists and good hand-eye coordination. I had confidence in my ability to drive the ball. I always felt I was a 20-home run guy, but I didn't think that was going to come this fast.”
—Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick on his hitting approach that has yielded offensive success, including 15 home runs at O.co Coliseum. (Lyle Spencer, MLB.com)

“When I try to throw max effort, it bothers me. I could go out there and pitch not at my best, back off a little bit, but what's the point? Might as well take a few days. Of course, it helps to keep my innings at whatever innings limit the have for me.”
—Rockies starter Drew Pomeranz, voicing his rookie pains over the long season. (Thomas Harding, MLB.com)

“As he's found his release point with his slider, it's created more depth in the pitch, whereas earlier it was horizontal when he wasn't able to find his release point. That is a power breaking ball. He's thrown that thing anywhere from 81 to 85 mph. That's a power breaking ball, and it has depth. And you're starting to see some of those ugly swings that we haven't seen for a long time.”
—Angels manager Mike Scioscia on tooling Ervin Santana’s out pitch. (Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com)

“These doubleheaders take a toll on you physically and mentally, especially the splits. There was a time when they outlawed the splits, back in our time. Then the gates got so big, they brought it back. If you had your choice, you'd rather just go wait 30 minutes and go right back at them when you're hot.”
—Reds manager Dusty Baker prefers single-admission doubleheaders. (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)

“Let me tell you something. A lot of guys have been shut down [for us] this year, through injury. We’ll overcome it. … You know, there are a lot of great pitchers on this ballclub. And they’re all having great years.”
—Nationals manager Davey Johnson on how the team will cope without pitcher Stephen Strasburg once he is shut down. (Amanda Comak, The Washington Times)

“I'm glad I did it. It was fun. I think mostly they wanted to know who Ozzie is. ... I like when people in this age like to talk about baseball. We let the people who love baseball get the chance to know us better, and I think that's great. Great opportunity for both. A lot of people out there, they don't know who I am.”
—Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, on being a guest Saturday at a lunch meeting of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research. (Jack Etkin, MLB.com)

Jonah Birenbaum is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jonah's other articles. You can contact Jonah by clicking here
Andrew Koo is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Andrew's other articles. You can contact Andrew by clicking here

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