THE BIRDS ARE CHIRPING, THEO’S LECTURING THE MEDIA, AND BILLY BUTLER FANTASY OWNERS ARE GETTING PUMPED UP
“As a younger player, playing DH took a toll mentally on me every day. As you get older, you’re probably better able to adjust to it. You’ve already been around for a long time and have proved yourself a lot of years at a position. So you’re comfortable as a DH later in your career, not when you’re younger. Every day, you feel like you have more to prove. You put too much emphasis on every at-bat. So there was nothing tough for me about it. The tough part was DH.”
–Royals first baseman Billy Butler, on his expectations coming into 2010.
“I don’t subscribe to the theory that he needs to reinvent himself. I think he needs to be himself. And obviously it’s important that he’s productive. It’s about how he’s entering camp mentally and I’m very, very impressed with the attitude and the spirit that he’s come in with.”
-D’backs manager A.J. Hinch, on center fielder Chris Young.
“I think the velocity was better this time than it was last. I keep repeating myself, but I think it gets better every time.”
-D’backs starter Brandon Webb, on his recovery from right shoulder surgery. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)
“That’s the game. If you don’t get any action, you feel like it’s boring. It’s fun to be more involved. It’s fun when you catch ground balls, sometimes you go down and have to backhand the ball. That’s a great thing, especially when you can help a pitcher like that. I mean, why not enjoy it?”
–Astros third baseman Pedro Feliz (Chris Duncan, USA Today)
ALEX HAD A SPIRIT DREAM, AND DEREK WAS IN IT
“Derek Jeter was born to be a Yankee, and he was born to wear pinstripes. He’s our captain and we need him here, and I envision he’ll finish his career here. When you think of Derek, I can’t envision him wearing any other uniform.”
–Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, on Derek Jeter’s pending free agency after the season.
“We’ve had a policy in place for awhile. That comes from top to bottom. There are examples in the past – Mariano (Rivera), A-Rod.”
-Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on the Yankees’ policy not to negotiate with players or coaches in the last year of their contract.
“That’s their stance. I don’t have a problem with it. They have a right to make whatever rules they want.”
-Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter
“What’s the difference between him and Mariano? Is Derek any more important than Mariano? Is that a message we want to send? We have legacy-type people and we have a policy in place. Everyone understands it and it’s not an issue.”
-Cashman, on whether Jeter represents a special case. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)
HE’S ALWAYS HAPPY TO EXPLAIN IT TO YOU
“We have our own proprietary stuff that we use, but it’s all part of the same family. It’s just a matter of how well you adjust for context and how accurate that is. You can do the same thing for defense and base running. Defense you can have the same type of swing. You could have a two or three win player defensively who is worth three wins more than an average defender. … You say you like good players and don’t like bad players, the good players are the ones who contribute a lot of runs above what an average player or replacement could do offensively and defensively and run the bases OK.”
–Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on defensive value.
“When you look at the total package some of that is subtle. You don’t come away from the ball park every day saying, ‘You know what we really won that game because the center fielder got a good break on that ball in the gap and caught it without leaving his feet.’ But you come away saying, ‘Hey this guy hit a game-winning three run homer in the ninth inning.’ But those two plays might be just as significant to whether you win the game or not. It’s a well rounded player who does everything well that we are looking for.”
“I think that he is an above-average center fielder now, who is going to be a great center fielder. I know there is a certain number we don’t use that is accessible to people online that had him as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball last year. I don’t think it’s worth anything. I don’t think that number is legitimate. We do our own stuff, and it showed that he is above average.”
-Epstein, on 2010 left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
“In a way, they are relevant to one another. If you look statistically they are each other closest comps over the course of their career. Of course it’s somewhat relevant.”
-Epstein, on the similarities between Josh Beckett and John Lackey. (Dennis & Callahan, WEEI.com)
THERE IS ONLY ONE MARK CUBAN, AND WE FIND YOUR COMMENTS DISRESPECTFUL TO HIM
“I’ve not seen anyone pick us to do anything. There’s always a little frustration about that, but there is enough of the kid who grew up in the Bronx in me that likes the chip on his shoulder and wants to show everybody. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been told, ‘You can’t do that!'”
–Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, on the lack of attention paid to his franchise.
“It’s too much time and effort if it is just ‘show.’ I think Scott (Boras) is very busy and I am very busy and Doug Melvin is probably the busiest of the three of us. So, I don’t think there’s any ‘show’ about it. Ultimately, there will be a meeting of the minds or there won’t be.”
-Attanasio, on long-term contract negotiations with Prince Fielder.
“Mark wants you to do your job. And he expects results. That’s why we were hired. He’s a businessman, and he flat said that to me last year. He said, ‘I want to get people in the stadium and I want to win games. That’s what we’re here for.'”
-Brewers manager Ken Macha, on his team’s owner. (Adam McCalvy, MLB.com)
“They’re making a mistake. I think people will pay more money to see a Justin Verlander and a Jake Peavy match up.”
–White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, on his status as his team’s opening day starter. (Danny Knobler, CBSsports.com)
“People associated with that test believe it’s scientifically valid; other scientists in the testing community dispute that. The fact that there has been a positive [result] that an athlete has chosen not to challenge is a factor that raises the profile … But that doesn’t make it scientifically valid.”
-MLBPA president Matthew Weiner on the suspension of a rugby player who tested positive for HGH. (Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times)
“I don’t think that everyone else should pay for the mistakes of a few. There is a good reason behind the rule, I can’t deny that. The reason is you cannot trust 25 guys in a locker room to have the same respect and training as I do with a weapon. That I do understand. I’ve carried a gun for 10 years. I’ve carried them in the locker room, and nobody really knows about it. I know how to handle myself, and I stow it away where nobody really knows about it.”
–Orioles outfielder Luke Scott on new MLB regulations on firearms in the locker room. (Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Sun)
“I told Dick last year, ‘The reason I’m platooning you is to try and keep you healthy,’ which still didn’t work. Nobody said he wasn’t in the running. Maybe he feels that. You have to re-establish yourself. You can’t discount what Stubbs did that last month. You don’t know if he’s going to do it again. But you can’t discount what he’s already done.”
–Reds manager Dusty Baker, on the battle in the Reds’ outfield between Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson. (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)
“I’ve never seen a baseball preview in The Source magazine. I don’t consider myself a model of no type. I guess you get used to it. I don’t worry about it now. It’s not affecting my work.”
–Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, on the increased notoriety surrounding his career and love life. (Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times)
“This has nothing to do with the organization or baseball. It’s my life. I don’t know why people are making a big deal of it. All of a sudden it’s Ozzie Guillen. I didn’t know how famous I was. That’s pretty interesting. I thought people hate me. I feel like I was doing something wrong. People are treating me like I was a murderer or something, or stealing someone’s money or didn’t pay my taxes. Believe me, a lot of people must like me out there. I thought it was the opposite.”
-White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, on the controversy surrounding his Twitter account. (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.