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October 5, 2009

The Week in Quotes

September 28-October 4

by Alex Carnevale

THE BOOBY PRIZE IS A TRIP TO YANKEE STADIUM

"We've played 161 games, and it's amazing to see it come down to one day like this. If you're not nervous, why are you even here?"
-Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird; his team will play a one-game playoff against the Twins on Tuesday for the AL Central title.

"For the last day or so, they've been disappointed. Most people when they're disappointed, they express their disappointment in the form of boos. There's nothing wrong with that."
-Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on the home crowd's treatment of the team's final weekend.

"This was nothing more than a great series until, for some unknown reason, a foolish pitch by a Minnesota pitcher. I'm so sad to see the Tigers paying for it more than the pitcher who threw the pitch."
-Leyland, on the suspensions handed out to Jose Mijares of the Twins and Jeremy Bonderman of the Tigers.

"Trust me, Delmon wasn't at all upset with the Tigers. He knew what was going to happen, and he was angry at our teammate. I probably would have felt the same way if I had been the first batter up in that inning."
-Twins outfielder Denard Span, on his teammate getting hit as retaliation for Mijares' actions.

"I want to make this perfectly clear-our pitcher lost his cool and threw a pitch behind one of their players, and you don't do that. We told them that we screwed up, and that we know they did what they needed to do, and that it is over. I talked to Mr. Leyland, and I told him that."
-Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, on Mijares' pitch. (ESPN.com)

THE BLUE JAYS ARE INTERESTED IN HIRING THE LITTLE BOY INSIDE JOE TORRE FOR A FRONT-OFFICE POSITION

"It never gets old. You do it with different people all the time, just to see all these men turn into little boys-it's like what Roy Campanella said, you have to have some little boy in you to play this game, and we certainly showed that tonight."
-Dodgers manager Joe Torre

"We were tight, but there's tight, and then there's tight. Don Mattingly and I were talking about how tough it is to win in September with something at stake. But all year we played so well when we needed to play well. I was uptight, but they played well tonight."
-Torre

"What is there to make sense of? It happens that I keep coming up with the game on the line."
-Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier

"The sixth time was the charm for us. I felt good today. I picked the right day to pitch today. This feels pretty amazing. This is something I'll never forget and I'll savor the moment. It's awesome."
-Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw, on winning the NL West pennant. (Ken Gurnick, MLB.com)

HE'LL BE EATING IN THE TEAM CAFETERIA UNTIL CHRISTMAS

"I've enjoyed working with Kevin over the last six months immensely. I have great respect for him. This is not someone getting shoved out the door, but rather this is about a decision for the organization for the long-term. He's been told that he can office here, he can stay here for as long as he's comfortable being around. This is a person I care about, I've enjoyed working with, and I understand that there's a strong likelihood that he'll end up being a general manager elsewhere."
-Padres CEO Jeff Moorad, on parting ways with longtime general manager Kevin Towers.

"He never told me exactly what the reason was. I like challenges. Let's take something that looks like it's hopeless. Not that we weren't given resources, but we had to be creative. I never wanted to throw in the towel. One of my strengths is people skills, being able to turn on a dime."
-Former Padres general manager Kevin Towers

"The organization is indebted to Kevin for not only the 14 years he served as general manager, but for the fact that the club is well-positioned to go forward into the future. I think we need to build a better baseball operations department, better skilled at the areas we're committed to going forward."
-Moorad

"I'm not saying we always drafted well, but the focus always has been there. The last two months we've played with a $25 million team and we won nine series against contenders. We have 12 home-grown players up here with us. I can't remember a Padre team with almost 50 percent of its roster home-grown. It's starting to work.
-Towers

"I admire his ability to operate in that fashion. We want to operate in a more strategic approach."
-Moorad, on Towers' 'gunslinger' approach to general managing.

"I admire his skills very much and respect his relationships that exist around the game. But I think over the next period of time, our focus is on more of a strategic approach to drafting and development that has a chance to compete in the division year-in and year-out."
-Moorad (Tim Sullivan, San Diego Union-Tribune)

I'VE LEARNED A LOT FROM J.P.: FOR EXAMPLE, THIS WILL BE MY LAST INTERVIEW

"The arrow is pointing up with this organization. It may not seem that way right now, but there's a lot to look forward to. In terms of a direction and plan and so on, I'll probably have that for you guys down the road. I can't really give you a timeline right now. We're going to sit down with Paul and Tony and Cito and the staff and get everybody's input, and we'll have a direction going forward."
-New Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who replaces the terminated J.P. Ricciardi.

"The first thing really is to talk to the department heads, all the directors, get their input, talk to the staff. I certainly have some thoughts on what I'd like to do, but I want to have everybody's input. I have a head start on a lot of other people that would've gotten this opportunity, in the fact that I do know the organization top to bottom."
-Anthopolous, on his plans in the short term.

"This was a tough decision and a difficult one for me personally as I have enjoyed J.P.'s friendship and his perspective on the game."
-Paul Beeston, Toronto's acting president and CEO, on firing J.P. Ricciardi

"If you give a payroll and you just say, 'Go spend it,' you might might say that you're going to target pitchers and end up with hitters, or you might say that you're going to target hitters and you end up with pitchers. Let's find out what's out there, what direction we want to go and put it all as part of a business plan."
-Beeston (Jordan Bastian, MLB.com)

HE WAS GREAT AT EVERYTHING EXCEPT WINNING

"It was not one overwhelming component that led us to this. It was a large number of things occurring. I think we just reached the point where it was time to make a change."
-Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, on firing manager Eric Wedge after eight seasons of skippering the ballclub.

"The first question I got when I got here was, 'How's my boy John Farrell doing?' That was from everyone."
-Indians starter Justin Masterson, on his former pitching coach's potential candidacy for the Indians managerial position. Farrell has reportedly said that he's not interested in the position at this time.

"He's a blue-collar worker, a hard-nosed guy, extremely honest and consistent. This is an entertainment business and maybe he wasn't flamboyant enough. Fans want to feel the emotion, and Eric, to protect the players, didn't do that."
-Shapiro, on Wedge.

"We will look for somebody who has some of the strengths that Eric has. Eric was a very good manager. We'd certainly do well to get somebody who has some of those same strengths."
-Indians president Paul Dolan, on his fired manager. (Anthony Castrovince, MLB.com)

JOSE TABATA'S BIGGEST FAN

"There's no doubt that, between their payroll and everything else-look, the objective of revenue sharing is to get clubs to pour money into their baseball operations. It doesn't say where. Just make sure you're getting better. Well, I'm looking at some numbers, some charts, and the Pirates are one of our bigger-spending clubs on the draft. That's never happened until the past two years."
-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on the state of the Pirates, who finished with a 62-99 record.

"The economic myth that they're putting it in their pocket is just not right."
-Selig

"You know, I feel like I was in touch with the Pittsburgh fans on this, from reading the blogs and message boards, and I feel bad for them. Sano could have been a Pirate. And when the fans see the figure Miguel signs for, they'll know that."
-Rob Plummer, Miguel Sano's agent; the prospect from the Dominican Republic signed with the Twins this week.

"When the Brewers cut their payroll here and were developing their farm system, there was a lot of lipping here that went on, but they were spending money back then, too. Well, what happened? All of a sudden, here come all these kids: Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and on and on. I really believe that's where the Pirates are now. I think they're doing it the only reasonable way anybody can."
-Selig (Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

THEY HIRED GARRISON KEILLOR AS THEIR DIRECTOR OF ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE

"It would be nice if every player on the roster got a hit in his last at-bat or put up a zero in his last inning, but anecdotally, and based on the large body of evidence, it really doesn't matter. Even from a team standpoint, anecdotally and if you look at all the data that's out there, even finishing strong over the last weeks, two weeks, month, it actually has no bearing whatsoever on how the team performs in October."
-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on his team's struggles down the stretch.

"We all want to finish strong. It feels better. But the difference between how you feel and what actually matters, if you look at it, I'm sure there's evidence of teams finishing strong and going on to win the World Series. But for every one of those examples, there's an example of a team finishing strong and getting swept, or a team that lost 15 of its last 18 going into October and winning the World Series. So if you break down the numbers, there's simply no correlation."
-Epstein

"I feel like the last week or 10 days, 'Oh no, they're limping in, they're backing in again.' All that doesn't really mean anything. All that matters is how good are we and how are we going to play in October, and I think we're good. I think we're a really good club."
-Epstein

"How we're going to play in October, nobody can answer that. The track record of a lot of these players is that they answer the bell when it matters most. We'll see if they do or if they don't. I hope we do, but that's not based on a feeling any one person has at the end of the year. It's based on how good we are and whether we play well when it matters most."
-Epstein (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)

THE REST

"I told Dave earlier this afternoon, 'I think we're out of phase one.' And that's the most destructive and the toughest phase, where you're essentially tearing down, and you've got the real construction in front of you. You dealt off your more attractive players to other clubsor-at least some of them, anyway-and you've brought in a nucleus of young talent. Where we are now, in my estimation, is we're going to move back to the more traditional criteria of evaluating managers: wins and losses."
-Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail, on retaining the services of manager Dave Trembley. (Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Sun)

"Even when I was here last year, he didn't excite me. I think he got by out there a lot of times barely by the skin of his teeth. He didn't really have a live fastball like he used to have."
-Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, on former Jays closer B.J. Ryan. (ESPN.com)

"I told Dick when I got here today. He was hurt, and it was difficult for me, because you know how close we are. I'd rather be the one to tell him because of my relationship with Dick and my respect for what he's done in the game. It was a tough decision, an organizational decision. I don't want to get into specifics because I don't think that would serve a point."
-Reds manager Dusty Baker, on the team's firing of pitching coach Dick Pole. (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)

"I don't want to pitch for New York in the playoffs. I want to pitch for Kansas City in the playoffs."
-Royals ace Zach Greinke (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)

"It's the worst baseball I've ever pitched with in my life. The other guy was pitching with them, too. He did a nice job. It was part of the battle. I went out and battled. I had no feel for the baseball. That's about the worst thing you can have as a pitcher. They were brand new. They were absolutely not rubbed up. You can blame it on the weather but the balls were not rubbed up."
-Cardinals pitcher John Smoltz, after a start against the Reds. (Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

---

Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.

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