September 10, 2012
The Week in Quotes
IN THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE BOBBY V SAGA...
“What an embarrassing thing to say. If I was there, I’d punch you right in the mouth. How’s that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing. That’s something that a comic strip person would write.”
—Perpetually beleaguered Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, responding to a question from Glenn Ordway of WEEI radio, who suggested that Boston’s skipper may have “checked out.” (Peter Abraham, Boston Globe)
“If anybody wants to know about my work habit, I can tell you this, that I took the job about Dec. 3 [actually Dec. 1], I started working Dec. 4. I took an apartment [in Boston] Dec. 10. I worked every day in the winter except for two for Christmas. I went to spring training early by two weeks. I had one off day in spring training and that day was a charity day, I did a charity event. Since the season started, I’ve had two off days.”
—Valentine, who maintains that neither his focus nor commitment have wavered throughout this trying season for Boston.
“Didn’t I go, ‘Ha ha?’ I think I did. I don’t think physical violence is necessary for 60-year-old people.”
—Valentine, trying to make light of his comments to Ordway.
“There’s been a lot of obstacles in my way, and I think I’ve jumped them and sometimes been knocked down by them. Just doing as good as I can do, all day long.”
“I’ll say ‘miserable’ because it’s turned out to be not what’s expected. It’s been a little misery, yeah.”
STRASBURG SHUT DOWN EARLY
“Honestly, I’m not too happy about it. I want to keep pitching out there. But as of right now, I think I’ve got some world renowned doctors; one of them, Dr. (Lewis) Yocum, he resurrected my career. I gotta listen to him and I gotta trust him.”
—Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg on his shortened season. He was expected to make one more start, but Washington determined that another start was no longer the best option. (Tom Schad, The Washington Times)
“I feel it’s hard for him, as it would be anybody, to get mentally totally committed in a ballgame. And he’s reached his innings limit that was set two years ago, so we can get past this and talk about other things for a change.”
—Nationals manager Davey Johnson
“I’m a firm believer that this game is 90-95 percent mental. And [Strasburg] is only human, and I don’t know how anybody can be totally mentally concentrating on the job at hand with the media hype to this thing. I think that we’d be risking more sending him back out.”
“After yesterday’s start, we just figured that mentally and physically, Stephen looked like he was fatigued. We said let’s pull the plug today and move on with the season and try and finish the season off positive.”
—General manager Mike Rizzo
“You don’t grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues to get shut down when the games start to matter. It’s going to be a tough one to swallow, but like I said, all I can do is be the best teammate possible to these guys. … It sucks. I’ve just got to move forward. I’ve got to be here for this team now.”
CHRIS PEREZ BITES HAND THAT FEEDS
“Different owners. It comes down to that. They [the Tigers] are spending money. He [Tigers owner Mike Ilitch] wants to win. Even when the economy [in Detroit] is down, he spent money. He's got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball."
—Indians closer Chris Perez, when asked why the Detroit Tigers, a division rival, have had more success than the Indians in recent years. (Anthony Odoardi, MLB.com)
“It's not just ownership. They don't make trades. It's the GMs. It goes hand in hand. ... Josh Willingham would look great in this lineup. They didn't want to [pony] up for that last year. That's the decision they made, and this is the bed we're laying in.”
“While we work to understand various perspectives, we strongly disagree with Chris' comments. Nonetheless, we are not satisfied with our recent results and our entire organization remains committed to fielding winning teams and that is the standard by which we will continue to operate.”
—Indians general manager Chris Antonetti, responding to his closer’s comments.
KNUCKLEBALLERS CHEERING FOR R.A. DICKEY
“I can tell you that every knuckleballer is rooting for him. … He’s on fire. He is having as good a year as any knuckleballer has ever had.”
—Phil Niekro, who said he checks the sports pages for updates on Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. The New York pitcher was the first major leaguer to win 18 games and could become the first full-time knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award. (Andy Martino, New York Daily News)
“He is doing our fraternity proud in proving to people that it is not a trick pitch. … It would put a stamp of legitimacy on the pitch, and that is one thing that R.A. wants to do.”
“When he was first at it, he tried to throw like me, (Charlie) Hough, Niekro. He has done his homework, studied the pitch, and you eventually embed your own personality in the pitch.”
“If I’m speaking about what it might mean, whether I did it or some other knuckleballer did it, I am in agreement with both of those guys in that I feel like it would give a real legitimacy to the pedigree of the pitch.”
—Dickey, on what Niekro and Wakefield had to say about the possibility that he might win the NL Cy Young Award as a knuckleballer.
“We all hope he wins it. But if he doesn’t, he’s certainly had a storybook season.”
—Mets manager Terry Collins. (Andy McCullough, The Star-Ledger)
HEADLEY STORMING IN SAN DIEGO
“It was a great feeling. Obviously, that's a number along the way that means quite a bit.”
—Padres third baseman Chase Headley, after he hit a grand slam, passing the century RBI mark, in Sunday’s 8-2 win over the Diamondbacks. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)
“To be honest with you, it was a tough time for me; I thought I was getting traded. I was getting asked every day about it. It was on 'SportsCenter.' You couldn't get away from it. I tried, but then you get text messages, and flipping through the channels you see something and say, 'Oh my gosh.' I couldn't listen to the radio. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”
—Headley on the past rumors circulating at the trade deadline. He has hit 15 home runs since August began. (Jay Paris, North County Times)
“We're seeing aggressive swings earlier in the count, taking the at-bat to the pitcher. He's being the aggressor. In previous years, they attacked him. Now he's attacking them.”
—Manager Bud Black
“Cashner looked good. It’s going to take a little tie for him to get all his velocity back. But his over-the-top fastball got on them quick and his secondary pitches were good. His change was real good.”
—Catcher Yasmani Grandal on Andrew Cashner, one of the two Padres excelling young starters named Andrew. (Bill Center, UT San Diego)
“The first three innings, he wasn't quite on the mark, you saw the elevated pitch count. Then Andrew, for whatever reason, got back in the strike zone. I like the way he ended it. The fourth, fifth and sixth [innings] were really solid.”
—Bud Black on Andrew Werner, who has thrown four consecutive quality starts to start his career.
—Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy suffered a severe head injury when an Erick Aybar line drive struck him on September 5, but he did settle his fantasy football lineup beforehand. McCarthy’s health status was still uncertain entering the weekend, but his recent tweets suggest progress. It remains unclear if Monday Night Football will affect his fantasy team’s fortunes this week. (Brandon McCarthy, @BMcCarthy32, Oakland A’s)
—Martinez has a .600 OBP since returning from his inflamed boil injury. Coincidence? (Zachary Levine, @zacharylevine, Houston Chronicle)
—Maddon’s club is right in the thick of the playoff race, but there’s always time for humor with the Rays’ skipper. (Joe Maddon, @RaysJoeMaddon, Tampa Bay Rays)
—Stephen Strasburg made his final start of 2012 on Friday, and it didn’t go particularly well. The Nationals’ ace was vocal about his disappointment after being shut down, and the club will now attempt to win without him. (Adam Kilgore, @AdamKilgoreWP, Washington Post)
“I’m not so sure it’s a matter of flipping a switch. If we had a switch, we’d have it flipped on all the time. … It’s a perfect storm. Your confidence builds, and your ability to play in the moment increases. Some of the anxiety you might’ve had at different times in the season, you get it out. It’s getting back to that place where you’re 6 and you’re playing in the back yard. It’s something we need to recapture. We know it’s in here, but it’s taking it out on the field and playing a complete game.”
—Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on the need for Pittsburgh to string together wins with a wild-card berth still within reach. (Rob Biertempfel, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
“When you sign up for this job and you don't win, you know you can be in the crosshairs and you can lose your job. That's just the way it is. The blame and disappointment and all those things fall squarely on my shoulders, and I fully understand that.”
—Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, during an interview on 790 The Ticket. (Joe Frisaro, MLB.com)
“Honestly, this is what the ‘90s must have been like here.”
—Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, on the electric atmosphere during Baltimore’s dramatic 10-6 win over the New York Yankees at Camden Yards on Thursday night. The Yanks remain a game ahead of the Orioles atop the AL East standings after shellacking the O’s 13-3 on Sunday to complete a thrilling three-game series. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun)
“I wanted to write this book because there's a story that answers the question I got asked at the end of last season: How did your club win the world championship, especially when you had to come from so far behind? This is the first time I went back and realized everything the club went through and overcame to be the champion—big, big difference looking back instead of looking forward.”
—Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose book, One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season, is due to be released Sept. 25. (Mark Newman, MLB.com)
“I don’t like to argue strikes and balls. I’m not that kind of player. I don’t like to talk bad about umpires. They have a tough job. But sometimes right now, with all the emotion we have right now you want to do good. You don’t want to take one at-bat away because every pitch they call strike or ball counts right now. So (I’m) kind of frustrated, but you’ve got to go out there and try to control yourself and try to be in the game and try to help your team to win games.”
—Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who was ejected in the fourth inning of Saturday’s contest against the Los Angeles Angels after arguing a called third strike. Detroit proceeded to lose 6-1 and consequently fall two games behind the Chicago White Sox for first place in the AL Central. (John Lowe, Detroit Free Press)
“That shows nobody's perfect. He's been as near prefect as anybody the last few months.”
—Reds manager Dusty Baker, on closer Aroldis Chapman's blown save to end a streak of 27 consecutive saves, which is a franchise record. (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)
“I learned from Scioscia the importance of open dialogue. To me, the meetings with the coaches are one of the highlights of the day. We don’t always agree and I encourage the coaches to speak their mind. There’s a lot of interaction about strategy and a number of items... who needs a rest, who needs to play.”
—Padres manager Bud Black, on his coaching influences, in a day-in-the-life profile. (Bill Center, UT San Diego)
“There is so much more to building a championship team than just exorbitant salaries. You look to the AL East as a barometer for years. It's not as if the Yankees just started spending a lot of money. They always have, and there have been plenty of winners that have come out of the AL East.”
—Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall, on the acquisitions of the division-rival Dodgers. (Nick Piecoro, azcentral.com)
“There's a noticeable difference in the ball being down in the zone more. If he was missing today, he was missing down or he was missing just off the corner. He didn't make too many mistakes in the heart of the plate. Even though you're maybe not looking at any velocities or any break on pitches and saying, 'Hey, this is a new guy' he's making pitches, repeating them. His command is much better.”
—Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on Dan Haren, a better pitcher as of late. (Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register)
“[Playing left field] was a struggle for a while. Now, certainly, it's not an issue. This is a great athlete. That's what you're seeing. Nothing he does surprises me anymore. He has the ability to do whatever he wants in this game.”
—Athletics manager Bob Melvin on Yoenis Cespedes, who has been a key player in keeping Oakland competitive in the wild card race. (Susan Slusser, SFGate.com)
“His use of Twitter is a step back to being normal again. It's exciting to hear from him and hopefully he's improving.”
—Athletics reliever Tyson Ross, on teammate Brandon McCarthy’s usual pleasant Twitter spirits after being undergoing surgery for a skull fracture. (Taylor Soper, MLB.com)
Jonah Birenbaum is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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Andrew Koo is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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