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December 31, 2009

The Year in Quotes

The Highs and Lows of 2009

by Alex Carnevale

SOMEHOW THIS PART OF THE YANKEE VICTORY PARADE HAS FADED FROM MY MEMORIES

"I knew I wasn't taking Tic Tacs. I knew it was something that could perhaps be wrong."
-Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, during his press conference in spring training to address steroid allegations.

"I love you and I look forward to putting this day behind us and having an amazing season. Because it will be the best season of our lives."
-Rodriguez, to his teammates, who attended the press conference.

"I told this to the players: we're sitting there watching Rodriguez yesterday ... and my son finally turned to me and he says, 'Daddy, this guy is stupid.' That probably says it all."
-Diamondbacks executive Ken Kendrick, on the Rodriguez press conference.

"I just know that for me, you know, putting everything out there and being honest was the most important thing."
-Rodriguez, on coming clean about his steroid use in an interview with Peter Gammons.

"It was such a loosey-goosey era. I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using."
-Rodriguez, on his steroid use.

IN THE END, A-ROD WAS JUST A VALUED TEAMMATE, A GREAT THIRD BASEMAN, AND A SPECTACULAR BOYFRIEND

"I used to just crush McDonald's, and I can't do that anymore. I got that from A-Rod. The one thing you can say about [him] is that he's really dedicated to his craft, and he always eats perfect. I saw him eating sweet potatoes one day and I tried it, and I wasn't hungry after, but I didn't feel too full. I was like, 'Wow, it's great to play like this.'"

-Former Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi

"Alex used to tell me negative things about other players around the league who were suspected. So it's... I feel very betrayed."
-Rangers owner Tom Hicks, on A-Rod's time in Texas.

"You know, I've always been a guy that raced my own race."
-Rodriguez

"Unless I'm just completely off base, I think there would be a hug involved. And I don't think it would be forced by either one of us."
-Yankees manager Joe Torre, on what would happen if he saw A-Rod.

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE CLUBHOUSE

"He's got an interpreter who's outstanding. We haven't missed a thing. Funny story. We had physicals in here the other day, and I'm in here, and he says to me, 'Where are the physicals?' And I said, 'Not here.' So I got him directions. He said, 'One problem-no gas.' No gas in the car? 'No gas.' So I gave him the keys to my car.' He's fit right in with the guys."
-Braves manager Bobby Cox, on new pitcher Kenshin Kawakami's adjustment to MLB.

"He's not going to punch the clock at work and tag out and say, 'See you all tomorrow.' He's on call 24/7 as a teammate. He exemplifies the definition of teammate. It's not just from when you show up at the ballpark until when you leave. Teammate means friend to him."
-Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on CC Sabathia.

"He wants to be liked, and he gets along so well with his teammates because he doesn't say anything negative to them. It's as if he validates them, a player of his state saying only positive things to them, so they must belong here."
-Dodgers manager Joe Torre, on Manny Ramirez

"I was just sort of walking around in the dugout, and they were like, 'Hey, go get your jersey and cleats on because... if Jason gets on second, you're going to pinch-run for him. So I ran up in all in a frenzy and the first thing that came in my head was, 'Road game, we're away.' So I got down there and [Francona's] like, you got the wrong jersey on. I was like, 'Oh my God,' so I had to run back up here, put the blue one on. Finally I got back down there-obviously I got back down there an at-bat late-but I went out there anyway."
-Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, on getting thrown out at the plate after pinch-running for Jason Varitek in the ninth inning of his team's Friday night win over the Rangers.

"It's kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you've got to figure, how much longer till you sink?"
-Free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, on his one-time Pirates teammate Nate McLouth after the outfielder was traded to the Braves.

"In our clubhouse, everybody makes fun of me. I'm talking about from the clubhouse kid, to every coach, Larry, Mike, Joe Torre. Every guy on the team. And I like it. I like taking it. I am not a good ragger, but I am a good receiver. That's really a compliment the guys feel that comfortable that they can actually make fun of me at any time. So did I hear A-Fraud? We joked around about a lot of things. Listen, 25 guys have 25 different nicknames. So to me there's no harm, no foul there."
-Alex Rodriguez, on the 'A-Fraud' issue discussed in Joe Torre's book The Yankee Years.

THE SOUNDBYTER OF THE YEAR RETURNS FOR AN ENCORE PERFORMANCE

"We've taken some educated gambles on pitchers that are geared to build that depth now, at the right price, rather than during the season, when it's very difficult to do and you have to give up prospects."
-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein before the 2009 season, on signing John Smoltz to a one-year contract.

"There's a tendency on the heels of some of those buy-low, one-year deals not working out to go in the other direction, and say we're not going to do that, we're going to avoid anyone who's coming off a bad season or anyone who's got health concerns."

-Epstein, later on in the year.

"But the reality is, you sign one-year, buy-low deals for a reason, because a lot of them don't work out, but they provide you flexibility. So when they do work out, hopefully you have an option and you can keep that player for next year. If they don't work out, you move on and you have flexibility both during that season and in future years to address needs."

-Epstein on his risks last offseason.

"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 before the 2009 playoffs. The Red Sox were eliminated by the Angels in the first round.

AT THE VERY LEAST, WE KNOW 24 SCOUTS ARE PLEASED AS PUNCH

"The biggest thing that people forget is that when Toronto won the World Series, they had the highest payroll in baseball. There's a direct equivalent to that. If we're going to play in the big man's division, and we're not going to spend that money, it's going to be really hard for us to compete with those teams."

-Former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi

"I don't wake up every day and say, 'Oh my God, I'm holding on.' That's working in fear, and I've never done anything in fear. I'm proud of what we've done here, and if it's not good enough, it's not good enough. There's too many good things going on here that we made good decisions on to shake my confidence."

-Ricciardi

"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."
-Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who replaced the terminated J.P. Ricciardi.

"Let's say the value of our franchise is $500 million. The Yankees spent that on three players last off-season. So it doesn't matter who sits in my role, the division is not going to change, that's the reality."

-Ricciardi

HINDSIGHT AND ALL OF THAT

"Let him be around a little more and see what transpires before he makes assumptions. I've lost total respect for this guy. If he had something to say, let him say it to me. I don't have much respect for Steve Phillips."
-Cubs manager Lou Piniella, on comments by the former ESPN analyst on his handling of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome

"They all told me none of them ever saw it in the clubhouses, and that their players never spoke about it. Sandy Alderson, as good a baseball man as you'll find, was convinced it was the bat. Others were convinced it was the ball. So a lot of people didn't know."
-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, on what other people in Major League Baseball told him about the "Steroid Era."

"I'm really more worried about how I'm doing than how McCarthy is doing. I know he's had some health problems, so I wish him the best, and hopefully, he can stay healthy."
-White Sox lefty John Danks, on the pitcher he was traded for, Brandon McCarthy of the Texas Rangers.

"That's all crap. Wake up and smell the coffee. If he's on national television on ESPN and throws 91 on the 22nd pitch, why would you think if he comes in in the eighth inning protecting a 4-3 lead [he'd throw 96]? Stop, he's a starter."
-Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on whether Joba Chamberlain's stuff plays up out of the pen.

"I went in his office one day and I said, 'We want to get to your contract here at some point.' And he said, 'I'm not worried about it. I know when the club plays well, you get rewarded for it.'"
-Astros general manager Ed Wade on the contract extension he eventually did offer to Cecil Cooper before terminating his employment this season

MY PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN ROUNDLY UNDERRATED

"We did take the loss, but I think that my pitching was not completely bad."

-Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, on a seven-inning, one-run performance at the beginning of the season.

p>"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 Eric Wedge

"Dunn was the most misunderstood player I have heard about in recent memory. The way he was misconstrued was almost unbelievable. He plays banged up. He'd go out there 162 games if you'd let him... He's not a cheerleader, but if there is still such a thing as a leader by example in this game, he is it. He's a pillar in the clubhouse. He really wants to learn to be a good first baseman."

-Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, on Adam Dunn.

"For a guy that did a pretty good job around here, I caught a lot of shit. There was a lot of people hanging around who haven't done quite the job but don't catch the shit at all."
-Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston on his time in Toronto.

A GREAT YEAR FOR QUOTES IN QUEENS

"I know he did have a team meeting with them. It was not a 'you-guys-have-been-great meeting.' I know he spoke to them in a stern voice. But as far as what he was wearing, what kind of shoes he was wearing, I don't know anything about that."
-Mets GM Omar Minaya, speaking to the media about Tony Bernazard's behavior during a reported incident where he challenged everyone in a minor league clubhouse to fight him.

"Earlier in the process, when the reports came out, I had to kind of tell myself, 'Wow, this is coming out.' And I say this because coming from Adam Rubin-OK? And Adam-you've got to understand this-Adam, for the past couple of years, has lobbied for a player development position. He has lobbied myself. He has lobbied Tony. So when these things came out, I was a little bit... I had to think about it. And I was a little bit, somewhat, 'Let's find out about this. We really have to do a thorough investigation of this.'"
-Omar Minaya asserting that New York Daily News reporter Adam Rubin wrote negative stories about the organization and Tony Bernazard in order to secure a role in the team's front office. Bernazard was terminated for his role in the incidents.

"Jerry's a very smart man. He'll never just blurt anything out for the sake of blurting it out. He'll always let you know what he's thinking, and as a player that's a good thing. You always like to know where you stand."
-Former Mets catcher Brian Schneider, on his manager's approach.

"When you reflect back on what we've lost, then you have to feel good about where we are. When you reflect back on some of the losses we've had, then you've got to be somewhat discouraged about where you are."
-Mets manager Jerry Manuel

"Let's be clear-we have an edge. Our edge is different from maybe other teams. There's different definitions of edge or leadership. We play the game different from other guys. Some guys are serious. Some guys are happy. Some guys are blue collar."
-Omar Minaya

"Yankee Stadium is somewhat palatial-it certainly wants you to think so on the outside. It's very grandiose. The architecture at Citi Field is much more casual to me, and relaxed. But again, there's always been something much more relaxed and casual about the Mets."
-New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger

IS THE MEDIA PART OF THE PROBLEM? LET'S ASK THESE PLEASANT FELLOWS

"What kind of stupid question is that?"
-Giants starter Randy Johnson, after being asked "Do you think you're misunderstood?" at the Giants Fan Fest.

"I will also carry with me the cold, hard realization that my life has been turned upside down by a news media that prints entire stories attributed solely to anonymous sources who refuse to be identified and who are free to allege anything they choose for any purpose without fear of retribution. One can only understand the impact of false allegations, insinuations, and innuendos by the press if they themselves have been the subject of those false allegations."
-Former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, upon his firing

"I think I always had the Yankees in my sights, and one thing that my agent and I had asked every single team is, we're not going to negotiate through the media, and we ask you not to. The Yankees were really the only team that did that. The other teams went out and told everybody their offers, and told everybody they're gonna talk to me, that they've made this call, and they made that trip, and they did that. The Yankees just kind of kept quiet. We talked with them all throughout the offseason, and when they were ready to make their final offer, it was a great offer, and my wife and I were very excited about going to New York."
-Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira

"I can see already I'm going to be 'that guy' that since nothing else is going on in here, 'We're going to harp on Bradley all year and see if we can get him to snap.' I'm not going to go for it. You can't get a good story if I don't talk to [the media]. You'll make something up, like you always do."
-Former Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley, on the challenges of playing in Chicago.

"Are you the only one who still likes me?"
-Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, to Jon Heyman, after his notorious press conference.

IT'S NO 'SCIENCE OF HITTING', BUT THEY MIGHT BE ONTO SOMETHING

"I told somebody in the dugout, only me could rob me. But when he went up and I saw the ball disappear, I thought he caught it. I put my head down and acted like I knew it was a home run."
-Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, on bopping three homers in Saturday's game against the Padres.

"It's impossible to prove that. Please analyze it among yourselves. I cannot."
-Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, after he was asked if he was more locked in at the plate than ever before.

"I wasn't thinking to pull the ball at all. He was throwing me off-speed inside, and I kept hooking it, so I said, 'Just stay on the outside pitch.' And when it got 3-2, I was just thinking of getting on base and trying to win this game."
-Gary Sheffield on his 500th home run. It came in a Mets uniform.

"The stiffness is the beginning of the process."
-Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on the decision for Alex Rodriguez to have surgery on his ailing hip.

"Probably the most relaxed I've been. I was on a lot of drugs during the game, [and] I don't remember a whole lot."
-Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate, on logging 3 1/3 scoreless innings after taking medication for an ear infection.

"It's tough, because number one, he's a position player, and you don't want him to get you out, and number two, you don't know what he's going to throw."
-D'backs infielder Mark Reynolds, on homering off of Padres infielder Josh Wilson in the 18th inning of a game on Sunday.

"If you're going to make it up here, you can't miss spots by a foot to a foot and a half and expect to have success. We're up against it right now, but he's got to pitch. If you miss, you have to miss in the right area. You certainly can't miss by a foot-and-a-half to two feet. That's ridiculous. I know it's not easy, but this is the best of the best, and only the ones who execute survive."
-Indians manager Eric Wedge on reliever Jensen Lewis.

"I would add nothing at all. Down the line, if there's an injury, you can add something. Right now, we're fine. You tell me what we need for this team. Big bats aren't always the answer. If something is missing, please tell me, because we had the big bat last year, and we didn't win it all. The chicks-dig-the-long-ball era is over. You want athletes, guys who can play and stay healthy, and that's what we have."

-Angels center fielder Torii Hunter on what the Angels should have done at the trade deadline.

SO MANY WAYS TO PLAY THE SAME GAME

"In this profession, we are all teachers at heart, and because of that we study methods and techniques of other coaches, and leaders in other fields. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, so we all try to find something that we think will work for us to maximize the efficiency and production in our own situations. To Joe's credit, he is doing something about it. I had never thought of a billiard tournament. That's pretty good."
-New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, on the incredible leadership Joe Giradi showed by taking a trip with his team to play pool.

"A big thrill for me. I really enjoyed that. I had a nice, long talk with him. We compared notes about what we do, how we do it, how many meetings we have. He's a brilliant guy, so down-to-earth. He seems to have that star-like Brady-but he seems to have some dirtballs that really play the game right. They're winners, you know? He seems to know how to get those guys. I thought that was very interesting.""
-Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on his outing with Bill Belichick and Tony La Russa.

"Asians are not as physically strong as their western rivals. Nor are they as explosive. But strength sufficient is not enough to defeat the reflexes that their players have developed; and explosiveness in itself cannot compensate for the methodology and sangfroid of their athletes."
-Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, on his team's loss to Korea in the World Baseball Classic.

"When you don't give the other team any runs, that is a shortcut to victory."
-Japanese manager Tasunori Hara, on Japan's winning ways in the World Baseball Classic.

CHAOS IN YOUR LOCAL FRONT OFFICE

"Just a terrible idea by [Red Sox senior vice president] Sarah McKenna, that was the person who came up with this idea, very stupid of her. And if she pulls another act like that, she can go down to Pawtucket."

 -Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, on having to walk through the stands to get to the field on Opening Day.

"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.

"First, I'd rather live in my world than yours ... is it sunny out today? No you're right, it is 30-something degrees, my girlfriend dumped me, and my car won't start. First, it is not that we stink (unless you ask yourself these questions in the mirror). We make decisions based on scouts, stats, and other information. If we thought [Khalil] Greene was going to hit .213 we would not, I repeat, not make the deal. Go back to your world, and I hope by midsummer you're ready to come out for air."
-Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, during a chat on St. Louis Today.

BUT BUD SAID THERE WAS NO RECESSION BETWEEN APRIL AND NOVEMBER!

"Our goals are no longer financial."
-Angels owner Arte Moreno

"As we were planning for the season, we circled this series as one of the most compelling of the year. It's a rare privilege to host a rematch of the World Series, especially against a team with local connections. Based on all the information we had, we projected full houses. It's a huge miss."
-Rays president Matt Silverman, on the lack of drawing power exhibited by the Rays-Phillies series in late June.

"It would be a Florida Marlins kind of story. Everything would have to go right."
-Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, on his team's economic situation with respect to his moves at the deadline.

"Don't get me wrong, I don't feel bad, I feel guilty. I've been thinking about it. I'm making $10 million and doing nothing. It's like I'm just taking the Dodgers' money."
-Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre before Manny Ramirez' suspension allowed him regular playing time.

THE BEST OF THE REST

"My idea, when I saw him, was to say, 'What's up?' to him. But I got nervous. You know, he has that kind of aura about him. So I got nervous and I didn't say that to him. I was a little disappointed about that."
-Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, on meeting President Obama.

"I am extremely disappointed that someone I had a lot of respect for would make these types of comments in his upcoming book. I wish nothing but the best for Joe Torre and my former Yankee teammates, but with that said, it does explain why I haven't received any Christmas cards from Joe the last few years."
-Former Yankee pitcher Carl Pavano, on Joe Torre's book The Yankee Years

"He was raised in a Christian home. He believes that God don't make mistakes. ... And if that door in Chicago closes for him, he thinks another one will open. It always does."

-Charlena Rector, Milton Bradley's mom on her son's struggles in Chicago.

"I've had Albert Belle. I've had Carl Everett, Frank Thomas, whatever. I think from what I've learned, is that those men dealt strictly in truth."

-Mets manager Jerry Manuel, on dealing with his share of controversial ballplayers.

"Um, last night, I took a couple of drinks."
-Current free-agent infielder Miguel Tejada testifying before a grand jury, after the judge asked him if he'd taken anything in the past 24 hours that could affect his decision-making.

"I'll remember that for the rest of my life, I'm sure. He's one of the all-time greatest players, I think. One of the more respected players, too. That's why I got a little emotional when I struck him out."
-Marlins starter Josh Johnson, on striking out Derek Jeter to end a rally in Saturday's game against the Yankees.

"I have a lot of guys who think I'm out of my mind because I'm taking a lot of things not on the list. I take 10 to 12 different things a day, and on the days I pitch, there's four more things. There's a caffeine drink I take from a company that Curt Schilling introduced me to in '05. I take some Korean ginseng and a few other proteins out there that are not certified. But I haven't failed any tests, so I figured I'm good."
-Reds starter Bronson Arroyo

"I knew Cuba was a good team, but particularly there was nothing I was too worried about. While I was doing the warming up, did I look so fierce? I thought I had a smile on my face, did I not?"
-Team Japan starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, on striking out eight in his team's victory over Cuba in the World Baseball Classic.

"If you stop playing, people are going to forget about you, no matter who you are."
-Cardinals shortstop Julio Lugo

---

Alex Carnevale is contributor to Baseball Prospectus.

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