REMEMBERING MICHAEL WEINER
“Michael was the perfect person for the union, at a time the game was as rich and robust and as economically healthy as it has ever been. He was the perfect consensus-builder. Marvin and Donald did a wonderful job building the foundation. Michael was smart enough to know that he couldn't improve on that foundation, but we needed to build up from there.”
—Michael Weiner’s longtime agent, Mark Rodgers. Weiner, the executive director of the MLBPA, passed away on Thursday following his battle with brain cancer. He was 51. (Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com)
“I think the biggest thing is he always made it a point to ask about your family and your personal life first before he ever talked about anything baseball related. It let you know that this is a man that has made a great living in baseball and has put a ton of time and effort into his occupation, and yet the first thing on his mind when he's talking to you is your family — that lets you know where his priorities were. It was just the idea that family came first. After that, he would get down to baseball stuff.”
—Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)
“You hear these clichés all the time. People say, 'This person is one of a kind,' or, 'They're extraordinary.' But to meet someone with that kind of prodigious intellect and mind who also has a warm heart and is a normal, down-to-earth person and so kind — there aren't a lot of those people out there.”
—Dodgers pitcher Chris Capuano.
“He was as dedicated as they come, and to have someone like that running the organization, it makes you feel good and confident you're in the best of hands … I think it's more about remembering everything he brought to the game and the legacy he'll leave behind. He really will never been forgotten for everything he's done for baseball.”
—Astros catcher Jason Castro. (Andrew Simon, MLB.com)
"He was truly a great individual, a brilliant lawyer and a thoroughly decent person. All of baseball — labor and management — has suffered a great loss. Michael was always viewed as the path to a reasonable resolution."
—Dodgers President Stan Kasten. (Bill Shaikin, Baltimore Sun)
"Michael Weiner worked through his sickness. He didn't look at it as an excuse to quit. He never gave up on us even when at his worst."
—Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. (Shaikin, Baltimore Sun)
“What I look for every day is beauty, meaning and joy. And if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, then that's a good day. I'll live each day for those things. And I'll live each day looking for those things. Because I don't know how much time I'll have.”
—Weiner, prior to the 2013 All-Star Game, which was one of his final public appearances. (Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com)
MAJOR SWAPS KICK OFF HOT STOVE SEASON
“I thought it would be good for everyone. I just wanted everyone to be happy. … I’ll take it. It’s a fresh start. I’m just happy to be with Texas, and hopefully we can have a good year.”
—Prince Fielder, on waiving his no-trade clause after the Tigers and Rangers agreed to Wednesday’s blockbuster deal. (Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News)
"Whatever I did last year, I'll do the opposite this year. It was cool. The season went fine. It is what it is. You can't take it back. We went to the playoffs. We didn't go as far as we wanted to go, but everybody is still alive."
—Fielder, on his struggles last season with Detroit. (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
“The quality he brings is an old-school gamer. He plays every game and wants to play every inning. Don't think he wants to take a day off or three innings off — he plays every inning of every game. You have to drag him off the field.”
—Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, on Fielder. (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
“I’m excited not to deal with the Detroit fans as an opposing player. It always has been a tough place to play. They have supported the Tigers extremely well and hated the opponent extremely well. That’s always good to have on your side.”
—Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, praising the tenacity of the team’s fans. (John Lowe, Detroit Free Press)
“My goal as an offensive player is to score runs. Whatever it takes to score runs or drive in runs, that is the name of the game for me. The Tigers have a lot of guys capable of doing that… One thing I definitely want to try to improve on next year is my ability to run, my ability to create with my legs, my ability move left and right defensively. It’s part of the game I pride myself on. I will work extremely hard on that this off-season. I want to be the same dynamic player as in the past.”
—Kinsler, on his offensive philosophy and his role on a power-hitting team. (Lowe, Detroit Free Press)
"It was kind of a frustrating year. But I learned a lot, and to be honest, I have a huge chip on my shoulder … You can call this a fresh start. You just close the chapter and move on. Going out to Anaheim, joining that crew, it's going to be exciting. I don't see this as something I'm frustrated with, getting traded. I'm truly excited."
—Angels third baseman David Freese on his struggles last season with the Cardinals and his reaction to being traded on Friday. (Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com)
"I don't think the snapshot you guys got of Kolten Wong is necessarily what's going to be his DNA. I think he's going to hit, and I think from an offensive standpoint, he will contribute."
—Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, on Wong’s struggles after being called up last August. Following the departure of David Freese, Wong figures to get the first crack at second base next season with Matt Carpenter moving over to third base. (Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com)
TEAMS WELCOME NEWEST FREE AGENT ADDITIONS
“Every time that you come here [San Diego], you want to stay here," said Johnson, who makes his home in Las Vegas. "The park is great, the city is great … the fans are great. That's pretty much what you want. The staff, the team … it's a perfect fit."
—Starting pitcher Josh Johnson, who signed a one-year deal worth $8 million on Wednesday. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)
“It's not my nature to oversell, but I think we've taken a huge step. We saw at the end of last year, having Kennedy, Cashner and Ross in the rotation, knowing where Luebke and Wieland have ended up this fall, adding Josh Johnson, the progression of Smith and Erlin … the guys who have yet to pitch in the big leagues.”
—Padres general manager Josh Byrnes, on the outlook of the team’s starting rotation.
“Not only to get back on the field but to perform at a high level. That's the one thing that I've taken pride in. I've never wanted to be and never will be a guy who just went out there [to] go through the motions and tried to get by."
—Starting pitcher Tim Hudson, on the challenges of coming back from a fractured right ankle that prematurely ended his 2013 season. The 38-year-old agreed to a two-year contract with the Giants last week. (Chris Haft, MLB.com)
“From a repertoire standpoint, if you pitch long enough in this league, you'll have to reinvent yourself a time or two. I've become more of a complete pitcher now. I throw a curveball and a cutter and a changeup and a split, a sinker. I throw some four-seam fastballs up in the zone. When I came up, I was more sinker-split-changeup, [with] an occasional breaking ball.”
—Hudson, on evolving as a pitcher and dealing with decreased fastball velocity.
“We feel it’s important to sign guys with the mindset that they’re going to compete, give us innings and give our team a chance to win games. He was, really, one of the first targets that we had this offseason.”
—Royals general manager Dayton Moore, explaining the team’s signing of Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million deal. (Bob Dutton, Kansas City Star)
“Back up the (money) truck,” the executive said before the sides agreed. “He’s exactly what they need. I love Brian McCann. The offense – yikes. He might hit 35 home runs in that ballpark and he’s an awesome clubhouse guy.”
—An unnamed baseball executive, after the New York Yankees reached a five-year, $85 million deal with former Braves catcher Brian McCann. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)
OFFSEASON RUMOR MILL
"I have no idea. I only know what we've offered him and what he's asked for. What he does in between is his business."
—Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on rumors of Robinson Cano’s meeting with Detroit Tigers brass. (McCarron, New York Daily News)
“I can tell you this. We have had no talks with any club about trading Billy Butler.”
—A Royals official, who has dealt with speculation that Vargas’s contract has hamstrung the Royals financially. The team recently designated backup catcher George Kottaras for assignment. (Bob Dutton, Kansas City Star)
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) November 24, 2013
People really don't understand how this works. We thought 50 games would be a deterrent. Obviously it's not. So we are working on it again.
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) November 24, 2013
I had 2 major surgeries in 5 months and made it back clean, nothing pisses me off more than guys that cheat and get raises for doing so
—Brad Ziegler and David Aardsma voiced their opinions on Jhonny Peralta’s four-year deal with the Cardinals.
“We were working on throwing a circle changeup grip, and I tell you, I looked like Rick Vaughn [from the movie 'Major League.'] I was missing by 10 feet. I couldn't throw it. I was trying my hardest and couldn't do it. So I told Garvin [A’s Minor League rehab pitching coordinator Garvin Alston], 'Let me throw a split-finger.’ The first one was so nasty that it kind of handcuffed him with the glove and hit him in the shin He goes, 'All right, you got a splitter.' I don't want to toot my own horn, but it's disgusting. I've had catchers tell me not to throw it.”
—Athletics prospect Jeremy Barfield, who recently made the transition from outfielder to pitcher. Barfield’s fastball currently tops out at 93 MPH, and the southpaw compliments it with a slider and splitter. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)