HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL
“When we spoke at the end of the year, I felt like he wanted to be back here. Not only does he like it here, he has the faith we will get better.”
—Jim Hendry, general manager of the Chicago Cubs, on signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a new five-year deal. (ESPN.com)
“He proved to Chicago that when you leave $20 million or $30 million on the table, it’s where you want to go. Both sides gave a little bit at the end.”
“If he hits the market, we’ll be looking at Beltran money.”
–Ramirez’ agent Paul Kinzer, before Aramis signed with the Cubs.
“He threw last week. He’s coming along very well. His arm is looking good. It’s a long way from spring training. But we’re very encouraged on how he is throwing the ball.”
–Hendry, on pitcher Kerry Wood, who the Cubs also re-signed this week.
“To go out and find someone who you know can hit 3-4-5 to take Aramis’ place is no small task.”
NED, PUT DOWN THE BREADMAKER. LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS
“At some point, you make those commitments, and you stick to them.”
–J.D. Drew, late in the season.
“I’m surprised how it came down. Everything that we had heard… indicated that the player loved being here.”
“There’s no question he was happy in L.A.”
“If you have a five-tool outfielder who drove in 100 runs in a rather weak center-field free agency market, that matters.”
–Drew’s agent Scott Boras
IF HE’S NOT MOVING ON, WE’RE STAYING PUT
“He wants out. He can have out. If he’s moving on, we’re moving on.”
“I never said anything like that when he didn’t exercise the option on Eric Gagne, it works both ways.”
–Scott Boras, on Colletti’s reaction.
NEXT UP FOR BID IS A PICTURE OF MATSUZAKA AND HIS MOM…ISN’T THAT DELIGHTFUL
“There’s a lot of buzz about him over here. But it’s a different game. I have thrown 89 mile-per-hour fastballs right by hitters here. Some guys have been blown away by 86 mile-per-hour pitches. He won’t get that in (the States).”
–relief pitcher Ray King, on Daisuke Matsuzaka (Denver Post)
“It’s a hard, late-breaking slider. It almost falls into the trick-pitch category. It has a little bit of a backspin. It kind of sits there and breaks late. It looks like a fastball but has a late break to it and it breaks down.”
–Matsuzaka’s agent, the ubiquitous Scott Boras
“He’s someone you can’t focus on one pitch.”
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, NOT HAVING A MANAGER ISN’T EXACTLY BOTHERING ANYONE IN THIS ORGANIZATION
“We started the process about a week after our playoffs ended. The Rangers had called about Ron right after the season, when they let Buck Showalter go. He was definitely a candidate here, but we’re not in the business of ranking guys before we interview them. It was the same with Bud Black. He interviewed very well. We thought highly of him, and we knew San Diego was interested. But we weren’t going to rush.”
—Athletics general manager Billy Beane
HE’S AN ENERGY GUY WITH A MINOR-LEAGUE SENSE OF THE GAME. WHAT’D I SAY?
“We had committed to interviewing Manny, and we weren’t going to change that.”
–Billy Beane, on letting Bud Black and Ron Washington take jobs before the A’s managerial search concluded. (The New York Times)
“I think he’s an individual with intellect as well as an instinctive feel for the game. He understands what we’re trying to accomplish here in San Diego, which is to win as well as develop players at the minor-league level.”
—Padres chief executive officer Sandy Alderson, on new manager Bud Black
“He’s a good man with a lot of energy. He’s a good communicator with the players.”
–Beane, on new Rangers manager Ron Washington
“If it’s not the right fit, so be it. You do your thing, and if it’s the right fit, everything comes together. It seems like they have a good plan in place.”
–Indianapolis Indians manager Trent Jewett, on interviewing for the Washington Nationals managerial position. (Indianapolis Star)
PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THIS NEW OFFSEASON
“This is exactly the kind of deal they needed to make. They’ve got Philip Hughes and pray for rain, and now they get to replenish their young pitching corps. Sanchez needs a little refining and discipline, but he could emerge for them. I don’t know if they had a chance to deal Shef to the White Sox for one of their established guys, but I think this is better because they need to get younger.”
–AL scout, on the deal that sent Gary Sheffield to the Tigers (The Boston Globe)
“Nobody, pound for pound, hits the ball as hard as this guy. He would be great for this team. He would be great for this city. He would be great in this ballpark.”
—Phillies coach Davey Lopes, on free agent slugger Alfonso Soriano.
“I don’t think he’s the main guy that you want. But he can be a missing piece.”
“He hasn’t responded to us very well.”
—Doug Melvin, on the reactions of Tony Graffanino‘s agent, Dan Lozano, to his contract proposals.
“Kris believes that the Orioles are on the verge of turning this thing around. I think the only frustration was the losing. It’s a tough division to compete in, but he loves the city, loves the fans, loves the park. He likes the pitching coach, the manager. There were so many good variables that really supported his decision.”
—Kris Benson‘s agent Gregg Clifton, on Benson not demanding a trade (Baltimore Sun)
“I will tell you this: Dave likes Colorado, he respects O’Dowd and Hurdle. But starting (today) we will separate the true players from the ones that don’t like the sticker price.”
—Dave Roberts‘ agent, John Boggs
OBVIOUSLY THIS MAN HAS NOT READ DAVID WELLS’ AUTOBIOGRAPHY, PERFECT I’M NOT
“Brian’s really quarterbacking this whole issue. Mr. Steinbrenner’s health is fine, and it has nothing to do with that. It’s just Brian’s in charge of baseball operations, and he’s the guy players and their agents should be dealing with–not the owners.”
—Steve Swindal, Yankees partner, on George’s refusal to talk directly with Gary Sheffield (New York Daily News)
“I think it’s very obvious to everybody: He doesn’t have a no-trade clause, and he’s trying to pretend that he does. But he doesn’t.”
–Yankees president Randy Levine
“I don’t blame him for attempting to provide leverage. The truth is, he has none.”
I MEAN, ONE OF THE UMPIRES EVEN TOLD ME HE PLAYED JENGA IN A HOTEL ROOM FOR FOUR HOURS. OUR JOB IS TO MAKE SURE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN
“Umpiring is a very tough profession. Guys fall into a lot of things on the road and we just want to be able to provide people with an opportunity to hear God’s word. Also, we want [umpires] who are Christians to feel like they can come into this job and keep their faith and be open about it. Ultimately, we just want to encourage each other as umpires and as believers.”
–Umpire Ted Barrett, co-founder of ‘Calling for Christ’, the professional umpire ministry. (MLB.com)
“During the season my focus is umpiring, but also, I feel like God’s called me to the ministry. As I get around to different cities, I try to visit with different pastors, try to encourage them, and try to minister to people I come into contact with.”
“I do it while I’m on the road and while I’m at home. I can do everything online. I actually haven’t even been to the campus, but I plan to.”
“We just kind of picture ourselves going around in a motor home and traveling the world, but also realize that might not be God’s plan. So I’m just staying open to whatever He wants me to do.”
“There were some concerns about how long his (post-concussion) condition would persist. As we saw, it’s a very difficult thing to get a handle on. Fortunately, Jim was able to be a major factor during the postseason. I don’t think we win it without him.”
—Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty, on re-signing center fielder Jim Edmonds (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“There’s always that chance, because he’s going to be playing at 37 and 38, and the nature of pro sports is what it is. But I don’t think it’s definite. If he feels good in two years and he wants to play, then he will.”
—Paul Cohen, Edmonds’ agent, on whether he’ll retire at the end of his contract.
“Look at the White Sox. They thought they got better when they got Jim Thome and Vazquez. And they didn’t even get into the playoffs.”
“We did the same thing after 1996, when we were one game away from going to the World Series. I really made only one change, and the next year was something of a disaster.”
WE ALSO USED GERBIL LIGAMENTS IN THOSE DAYS-TO THINK POOR LEMMIWINKS DIED FOR NOTHING
“From the very beginning, when we referred to it in the office, we didn’t want to have to say ulnar collateral ligament transplant. We just said T. J. surgery or Tommy John surgery.”
—Dr. Frank Jobe, 81
“We haven’t kept track of them. I wish we had. At the time we didn’t think it was important. Now it’s way in the thousands.”
“I called Terry Ryan. I told him the best time to have the surgery is from September to November. You’re going to lose the entire next season, but you have a full winter and spring to get ready for the next season.”
–former pitcher Tommy John, on Francisco Liriano‘s Tommy John.
“Guys try to come back too soon because of their competitiveness. They want to be the first to pitch in seven months. It doesn’t work.”
THAT’S SILLY TOMMY, THINGS WERE BETTER IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHEN THEY PITCHED COMPLETE GAMES AND THREW IN RELIEF THE NEXT DAY
“They have radar guns and kids throw as hard as they can for however many pitches they have.”
“We see it happening in younger pitchers whose bones aren’t as hard. We see a lot of it in youth baseball. That doesn’t take nearly as much stress to do damage as for a mature pitcher. In a mature pitcher, chances are he’s been having a little bit of a problem for a long time until one or two pitches make it give way.”
“The younger you are, the less stress it takes.”
HE’D ALSO PLAY CENTER IF THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED ITSELF
“If he doesn’t play for the Giants, whether a team is in the American League or the National League will have no bearing on where he winds up. Plenty of American League teams have expressed interest in Bonds, not only as a DH, but also as a left fielder.”
—Jeff Borris, Barry Bonds‘ agent
“Absolutely. I’ve been involved with Mark on getting Buck here all along. Buck is a very bright baseball man. We’re looking for any way to get better and having a set of eyes as astute as Buck will be a huge asset to our team. It’s really no different than when we had Grover [Mike Hargrove] here to do a similar thing. This isn’t about ego. This is about getting better as a team on the field.”
–Indians manager Eric Wedge, on Buck Showalter’s joining the organization.
“There were times when we had only maybe two guys available (to pitch). I didn’t say nothing to (the media), but it happened a lot.”
–Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on the Phillies’ offseason needs.
“We’d like to leave Aaron at second base, but this might be a matter of necessity. David Eckstein has played shortstop for a couple of World Series winners. Sometimes, I think we all have a tendency to overrate some things when we look at these guys. Aaron is a solid ballplayer, period.”
—Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi (Toronto Globe and Mail)
“My wife is from the South. I played here, I love Knoxville, and it’s a nice place to live. The cost of living out there is outrageous.”
–Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, on why he doesn’t want to live in San Diego during the offseason. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
“I dealt with Dunn when he was in the Reds‘ minor league system, so I have an idea with him. I’d say 194 strikeouts is a big issue. If you put the ball in play, you have more RBIs, and more hits. It could be approach, it could be mechanical. We’ll sit and talk and I like to think something can be improved with him.”
–New Reds hitting coach Brook Jacoby on one of his new pupils; Dunn scratched out a .234/.365/.490 season in 2006 (Dayton Daily News)
“I might be sitting in there playing some cards, playing some dominoes. I might be in there dropping a little dance or something. Because I want them to have fun. They know I’m the manager. They’re going to give me my respect. But when I do things like that, I’m letting them know I’ve got respect for them, too.”
–New Rangers manager Ron Washington, on his clubhouse managerial technique (Dallas Morning News)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. You can reach Alex by clicking here.