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March 31, 2008
The Week in Quotes
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
"My job description does not include enjoying things. But I'm enjoying it nonetheless, kind of on my own."
"I haven't heard anything but raves and euphoria. Maybe it's because it was cold and people were buying lots of beer."
"This is special. This is like a (art) gallery. I do not even want to touch anything. There are so many things I can use. We're in the weight room. How cool is the weight room? And when you are done with the weight room you can grab a bite to eat. You can hop in the sauna. You go into the hot tub. Before, there was down time; now, there is something to do. It is unbelievable."
"We've waited for so long for a place that can be our own. There are just too many people on this team that are tired of being mediocre."
"I'm hoping the car will be there after the game."
"No. They don't exist."
WHO LISTENS TO THE TALKERS?
"Eric Wedge, Ron Gardenhire, Ozzie Guillen, Tony La Russa, they're all giving the same speech this weekend, in a lot of ways. It's a matter of who it sinks into, or who hears you. All our teams are going to listen, but which one of the teams hears it? That's going to be an important thing."
"I lay in bed last night thinking about what I wanted to say, and I made notes. I think it's a very important meeting."
"Somebody told me last night they're shutting down some offices downtown. I mean, that's wonderful, but for me, it's business as usual. You've got introductions and all that time-consuming stuff, and you're glad to be a part of it, don't get me wrong. But I don't really see what's going on outside, people partying and all that."
"There's no excuses. This man [owner Mike Ilitch] has gone above and beyond. It's all on us now, because this man has done everything asked."
"I think, from my perspective, this will be a tremendous year for fans from a second-guessing standpoint. From that perspective, it's going to be very interesting. I think there's going to be a lot of decisions to second-guess from a pitching standpoint because of Zumaya and Rodney."
SECRETS OF AN EMPIRE
"I don't want to name a player, but for instance, there's a left-handed reliever with some arm strength that I know earlier in my career I would have gravitated to more because he's left-handed and the arm strength was there and he had a reputation. But when you walk through the statistical analysis of the actual consistent performance of that player, it kind of broke down those perceptions, and reality set it. It made me stand down, and I saved more than a few million dollars and a player that was a young prospect who's considered an asset. Early in my years that was something I probably would have finished off rather than did the extra time to study and dissect and then back down or stand down."
"It'd have to be Mike Lowell to the Marlins for three pitching prospects (Ed Yarnall, Todd Noel, and Mark Johnson) as we rebuilt our system. We did like those three pitchers we got back, but they went up in smoke with injuries and a lack of performance. That turned out to be… we re-signed Scott Brosius to a three-year deal. In an attempt to rebuild the system with something we were lacking heavily at the time, we weren't good at producing pitching, so we tried to go outside the organization to acquire pitching, and we acquired some high-end, talented pitching that didn't work out. That was a bad deal."
"I'll read blogs now and then. You can get a good idea in many forms. It doesn't matter to me if it's someone who's a member of my coaching staff, my pro scouting staff, a member of the media, Joe Fan. If it's a good idea, it's still a good idea. It doesn't matter where it originated."
"I write everything down and I crosscheck that information after and I keep a list of who tells the truth and who doesn't tell the truth and here are the examples. I'll call out the agents on it. I'll say, 'I found out you lied to me. I talked to Joe Blow, and they said that's not true, and you said it was, and I'm just letting you know I take notes to this stuff. Now I know that you're a bullshitter.' Or it builds your credibility. If somebody says they got this and for five years every time I crosscheck the guy's never been wrong, he's always told the truth, then he goes up the credibility scale."
"I'm still more engaged with George Steinbrenner and Randy Levine. I certainly keep Hal and Hank abreast of every situation that develops but we're not in touch on every little aspect. It's more, 'Here's a decision that might be coming. Here's something that was just presented.' You do approvals on the following issues. 'What do you think? Here's my recommendation. The media, should we take them (on the charter) to Virginia Tech?' I would call and ask Hal and Hank if they minded that. Stuff like that. But on the little stuff, no."
"You can talk about Alex. You can talk about Roger. You can talk about David Justice. I can't pinpoint one, to be honest. We're involved in so many."
A 29-YEAR-OLD ACE MUST FEAR THE EVIL SIDE OF 30
"It's my opinion that his changeup is definitely not a strikeout pitch. He has fallen in love with it. I don't like what I see, because I love his slider and his 95 mph fastball. His go-to pitch is what I consider his third pitch."
"If you look at last year, compared to the rest of his years with the Twins, he gave up a lot more home runs. The majority of those home runs were changeups over the plate. If the AL is catching up to his pattern, if baseball is catching up to him, then he's going to have to reinvent the wheel."
"If the NL doesn't understand him, or doesn't scout him properly, he'll succeed. But if they get his pattern right away, Johan is going to have to adjust, not the hitters."
THE YOUNG ONES MUST WALK BEFORE THEY CAN RUN
"They're going to pitch around Prince because of the intimidation factor. Then they're going to get to Braunie. If Braunie stays in his game, Corey Hart is going to have a hell of a year. We've talked about it. The key is Braunie being selective. Because if he's not, I've got to change the order and put him in front of Prince."
"In order for them to be successful, they're going to have (to draw) 100 walks per year. They'll get there. It's a learning process. It's how you learn to be a complete hitter."
"Prince made great strides last year. You don't hit 50 home runs without dramatically increasing your walk totals. If you stay disciplined and stay focused, and swing at strikes, your numbers do nothing but go straight up."
"A lot of players would take a year like Prince had last year, 50 home runs, and be satisfied with that. 'I'm a 50 home run-a-year hitter.' That doesn't satisfy Prince."
"It's a tough situation that they put not only all of us in, but me too, because you sign here for one thing, a five-year deal, and you put up the same numbers you put up every year, and it seems like it doesn't hold any weight or anything."
"It's spring training. I bat .200, but then I get 200 hits and do my thing. I work what I need to work on. I bunt a lot... [But] if they go out and put a lot of weight on spring training, then it's justified for them to do whatever they want to do with me."
"He's a professional. Before it's all said and done, he'll be contributing. I wouldn't want anybody on the bench accepting of it."
"Is he a bench player or is he not starting tomorrow? It's a long season. You've got to compete, you've got to play. I understand the build-up to Opening Day. But you look at a lot of Opening Day rosters and there are players you can't even recognize. It changes day by day."
THEY REALLY WORKSHOPPED THAT 'NO'
"It's something that was a collaborative process, and we spent a lot of time thinking about it. It wasn't a unanimous decision."
"It's a tough thing to swallow; just go back down and keep doing what I'm doing. They didn't give me any timetable; it's really up to me."
"This young man is special, and he's going to be special here for many years to come. So for us it's a difficult moment, but we had to do what we perceived to be the right thing to do right now and not what anybody outside this organization thinks is the right thing to do."
"I didn't leave anything unsaid."
"It's something that for us is virtually irrelevant in this. As we've demonstrated with Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli and James Shields and Carlos Pena, we are committed to signing our good young players long-term. We've demonstrated it in the past, and will continue to demonstrate it. If and when that does happen, it would render that irrelevant."
"Injuries, lack of performance, time for different personalities to mesh, it was Murphy's Law the two months of the season. We sat down as a leadership group in May and said, 'This is unacceptable. Where are we going to go from here?'"
"That's my fault, because I had the wrong guys out there. I won't have the wrong guys out there the next time. You have to be able to make the routine plays. If you can't make the routine plays, it's the big leagues, you shouldn't be out there. I don't mean to be disrespectful to anybody, but come on, it's late in the spring, and when things like that happen, that's not acceptable."
"Wasn't he a number one pick a few years back?"
"We tied in China, California, Arizona, and Florida. Nobody's ever done that before. Nobody."
"That's a great decision by David. I tell the young guys that baseball has to come first, second, and third."
"It's a privilege to share this with the Boston Red Sox. Excuse me--the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. For some reason, that doesn't bother me anymore."
"There's a pretty good generation gap. I'm used to coming into spring training and you golf four or five times a week. Here, they play video games. They go back to each other's houses and they have the internet and they play each other over the internet. I played golf once all spring."
"Back in '99, if I had stopped playing, I wouldn't have had eight more years in the big leagues. I think I can still play in the big leagues. I believe I can still help a ball club off the bench. I just want to play till I'm 50. I believe God is going to give me that opportunity."
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.