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June 23, 2008
The Week in Quotes
A MODEL ORGANIZATION
"It got to the point over the last month or so that whenever I saw the word 'sources' in a story, I knew either me or someone on my staff was going to be declared on the verge of unemployment."
"He said it was time to make some changes, and I waited for him to talk about whacking Rick and Tommy, but he just kept talking, for a minute or two, maybe longer, about how the team was better than it was playing, about all the stories that were out there and the cloud hovering over the team."
"I actually asked him. I said: 'Omar, do this now. If you're going to do this, do this now. I know you've got a lot of pressure on you, but if I'm not the guy to lead this team, then don't let me get on this plane.' I did say that to him."
"I love Willie Randolph. Willie Randolph is my friend. But this isn't about love."
"I stood up and shook his hand, told him I wished him and the team well. Then he handed me an envelope, a little parting gift, and told me to make sure I reviewed it with my agent, Ron Shapiro. It was a copy of my Met contract that basically says I better not say anything detrimental about the team, or I might jeopardize the rest of the money I have coming to me."
HIRE THIS MAN
"I'm saddened, of course, to be told that I'm no longer welcomed in that home, but I don't have any animosity. I believe in looking at the best in people. Even Ebenezer Scrooge found his way on Christmas Eve."
"I prefer to look back on my experience at all the positives. Things like helping Tommy Glavine make the changes he had to make because of what QuesTec had done to his strike zone."
"And, in the end, I was frustrated by the fact that I was failing in making a difference with Mike Pelfrey, who was constantly having great bullpen sessions and pregame warmups only to hit some obstacle in the games. I finally had to change my view and I said to Mike: 'You have this unbelievable gift that only the top pitchers in the game have. Just relax and make those same pitches in the game and make a difference in your life.' My everlasting memory will be that last game Mike pitched when he said to me right before he went out to the mound: 'Let's make a difference today.'"
"The Eastern language writes in symbols, and the symbol for crisis they also use for opportunity. I've been given a great opportunity here, and as I walk out that door, I seek my next opportunity. I walk out in peace, and I wish everybody else here the best. … Hopefully, the Tuscany tile will do a lot better than a hardwood floor."
"More than anything. I feel good about the fact that we never had any pitchers go down with arm injuries."
MEET THE NEW BOSS, SLIGHTLY MORE VIOLENT THAN THE OLD BOSS
"Next time he does that I'm going to get my blade out and cut him. I'm a gangster. You go gangster on me, I'm going to have to get you. You do that again, I'm going to cut you right on the field."
"I addressed it in our pitchers' meeting. I said, 'For me, this is a team. There are no Latins, no blacks, no whites, and at some point we're going to have to get together.' Actually, I think we are together. I had guys showing me pictures of a little fishing trip they took on the offday here Thursday, and it was a mix of guys from different nationalities--Santana, Wright, Schneider, Martinez."
"We're so far in it now that it's going to take some time to create that change and create that mindset with the people we have. Hopefully we can do better because I do believe that you should pitch seven, eight innings, 120, 130 pitches."
"We've got to make sure that we're careful with it and we don't fall into the trap of maybe injuring some arms and damaging some things. But I would really rather see a guy get the ball and say, 'Don't take it from me until the game is over.'"
HE MUST HAVE MADE QUITE THE IMPACT ON THE WAGNER FAMILY
"Tony Bernazard should be an asset for us because of his great relationship with players and his baseball knowledge. Tony Bernazard has helped this organization in the recruitment of premium players--not only Latino players. Billy Wagner ain't exactly Latino."
"He comes around and talks to everybody, but I'm not even sure what his job description is. I don't have a problem with him being in here, as long as he's not disrupting the team. He's part of the front office, I guess he has the right to be in here."
"I like watching batting practice. After I watch BP I have a good idea of who's going to do what. You might see something that you compare it to, the game, or the next day, or the following day. Next week, next month, last year. It's what I do. My knowledge and expertise is baseball."
"I want to be the best. People that know me say I talk baseball 24 hours a day, and it's because I always want to get better. This game is simple but it's very complicated at the same time. Not everybody knows all parts of the game. I want to be an all-around person, in baseball and outside. Not all people are leaders."
"There is no division in our clubhouse. This is a family. We came here to win a championship. That is my focus."
SETTING THE GOLD STANDARD IN MISMANAGEMENT
"We could have done this at three in the morning and done it right."
"You've got players in that clubhouse who should be team leaders--guys like Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Erik Bedard, even Ichiro--who care only about themselves. When your best players are hitting 50-60 points below their career averages and won't take extra batting practice, what message does that send?"
"A little divided, pitchers against hitters."
"You had pitchers complaining about having to throw to Kenji Johjima all spring, then saw him get a three-year contract extension in April. You had guys watch Felix (Hernandez) work his (butt) off in camp and watched Bedard do the minimum--and Bedard was the Opening Day starter."
"For whatever reason, I've still got confidence in myself."
"Arthur Rhodes started sitting on the bench when players were taking extra hitting, extra infield drills, and shouting, 'Where's Richie? Anyone seen Richie Sexson?' because Sexson was never there."
"We played with passion, we played hard. We hustled, we do a lot of things right, but we don't win."
"When Bedard started setting his own pitch counts, and sitting in the clubhouse during games he didn't start. Mac tried dealing with that--we all did. How do you make the highest-paid players on your team work harder if they decide they're not going to?"
I GUESS WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS THAT I...HAVE BECOME COMFORTABLY NUMB
"I'm beyond those kind of motions. I've surpassed those emotions. I don't even know if I'm to a point where I can tell if that's how I feel. The last few years have been somewhat similar."
"Well, if you think about it, if nothing changes things will continue to be the way they are."
"He has let me know of his feelings. He's probably disappointed, like all of us."
THE NEXT MARINERS GM?
"Do you know the guy really doesn't like baseball that much? Do you know the guy doesn't have the passion to play the game that much? How much you know about the player? There is a reason why you are attracted to some players, and there is a reason why you're not attracted to some players. I think you would not be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here."
"We've done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn, and there is a reason why we don't want Adam Dunn. I don't want to get into specifics. He is a lifetime .230 to .240 hitter that strikes out a ton and hits home runs."
"I have a lot more important things to worry about than some windbag GM in Canada says about me. It is very unprofessional. He can talk about his players all he wants. If he said that about anybody on our team I'd be angry because he has no right to talk about anybody other than his own team."
"Passion? He can say what he wants about the strikeouts and that I don't fit in their scheme, whatever, but you can't tell me about something you have no idea about. You're not even in the US, you're in Canada. He can't tell me I don't love the game, or I wouldn't play 160 games a year."
"He apologized to me, the organization. He wanted to talk to Dunn. I don't think Dunn wanted to talk to him."
"He told me he was going through a lot of stuff because he was going to have to fire his manager and coaches."
HE AND ADAM DUNN CAN START A CLUB IN A TREEHOUSE
"The word 'disappointment' doesn't fit. The word 'shock' doesn't accurately describe how I feel. I understand that, when a team is not performing, the manager's job is on the line. When we're not hitting, the hitting instructor's job is on the line. Usually, if the manager is fired, the bench takes over or the bench coach is fired. This is difficult to accept or to understand."
"J.P. Ricciardi wanted me to quit last year by re-assigning me. He has wanted to get rid of me for a while. All the time I was there, he never once asked my opinion. Gibbons would, as a game would unfold."
"The saddest part is that the GM says: 'I'm responsible... I put the team together.' But he still has his job."
2004: SO LONG AGO WE BARELY REMEMBER IT
"If you're drafting [in slots] 20-30, you're not going to get Evan Longoria. The fact that we got a guy like Chase Headley in the second round I think says more about the way we're approaching things than the fact that we took Matt Bush with the first pick in the country. That's ancient history around here, and the problem is, people don't understand that."
"There was a kid in the draft who, [people ask] 'why did you pass on this guy, why don't you take him?' Well, one of the kids that they were talking about has... I mean, there were several issues related to, uh, not typical scouting issues. You can't expect people to know that, but when they pop off with the absence of information, it's frustrating."
"From my standpoint it was the Eric Walkers and the Bill James who I think were able to very adequately support the Earl Weaver approach to the game in terms of overall success and what created the highest probability for success. That tied in nicely because to me the home run is like the 80-yard pass, like the three-point shot. It's the kind of thing in which you can enjoy the anticipation... There are a lot of things in baseball and other sports that are more athletic, and more immediate, and more reactive, but you don't have the same sense of anticipation. I like home runs--people like home runs--and so it was nice to see the concepts support that notion."
"I have the utmost confidence in Ned and his group. We've come light-years in terms of having more of a team in the front office. We have never made a decision during my ownership based on immediate, near-term, win-loss results. That's not how we're built. That's not what we're about."
"I didn't realize that. Those are those senior moments. I had forgotten that Fontenot [homered]. I would have let him hit."
"Let me clarify an error: We have not had Josh Hamilton as a client since his draft day. He was a client of ours only since he was acquired by the Reds. He was introduced to us by a rather sketchy financial advisor. That bad link was a bad omen. Let me also say, I like Josh Hamilton and I wish him nothing but the best. But once you use the Christian- or God-card, it's impossible to take that back. In the days prior, Josh and his wife were very complimentary of us. They were very happy with the work we were doing for them. We were supposed to fly out and meet with them a few days later, but the next day, we were notified that we were fired."
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.