FROM A MARKETING PERSPECTIVE
“The laundry list is incredible. From a marketing perspective, I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s as much as after a World Series victory.”
—Patrick Klinger, Twins PR guy, on Justin Morneau‘s 2006 Most Valuable Player award, and Johan Santana‘s Cy Young.
“I’d be lying to say there’s not an anti-Jeter sentiment in the Midwest. It’s there. But the fallacy here is that the writers would allow that type of feeling among fans get in the way of their voting for the MVP… We’re the ones who make a mockery of guys who don’t play the game right. More than anybody, we appreciate a guy like Jeter, and the way he plays the game. But it’s not like he got beat by some joke of MVP pick. Morneau was a legitimate pick.”
—Joe Christenson, Minneapolis Star-Tribune Twins beat reporter
“To me, Jeter is a special player. I just think Morneau sustained a higher level of production.”
–BBWAA voter Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune
WHEN CHARACTER WAS KING, YADA YADA YADA
“Justin used to go to the batting cages and his hands would bleed. He’d say, ‘Dad, you got some tape so I can tape my hands up?’ I’d tape him up and he’d keep on hitting, even though his hands were bleeding. He’d hit 300 (balls) off the tee and 200 live. Every day.”
—George Morneau, father of AL MVP Justin Morneau (Ottawa Citizen)
“I said to him, ‘Why are you doing this?’ They don’t care if you don’t play ball tomorrow. They don’t care if you have a job tomorrow.”
–George Morneau. His son hit .208/.274./416 in April and in May, .274/.333./505.
“This is your job. If you don’t want to play ball, quit ball and go drinking with your friends. And I said, ‘You got to grow up.'”
–the elder Morneau, on what he told his son in May.
“I gave him the advice any caring father would give his son. I’d thought it was between us.”
–George Morneau, on the Globe and Mail quoting him as telling Justin to quit the partying.
“But you have to remember, I’ve seen an awful lot of Jeter the last few years. If you don’t get to see a player all the time, you have to focus on the numbers. If you do that, it’s hard for Jeter to win the MVP.”
— Tony Massarotti, Boston Herald reporter.
IT’S A QUIETER DEBATE, CAPABLE OF APPRECIATING THE FINER POINTS, OVER HERE ON THE SENIOR CIRCUIT
“I was kind of proud of walking a hundred times, actually. It was the first time I ever had a hundred walks in a season. That’s a feat for me; walks have always been hard to come by because I usually swing at a lot of pitches.”
—Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, NL MVP
“In the second half pitchers were very careful, and I had to be patient. The hard part is, you’re coming up there knowing they’re not going to give you much to hit–so when you do get a pitch, you have to be ready to jump all over it.”
“I’m a very competitive person. When they’re taking the bat out of your hands by walking you, it’s frustrating. But at the same time, they’re putting you on base. You just hope the guy coming up next picks you up.”
LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER AND YOUR LAWYER AND STAY THE HELL INSIDE
“I don’t let him go out at night. It’s too dangerous.”
—Felix Hernandez‘s mom Miriam Hernandez, on life in his hometown in Venezuela. (Seattle Times)
“We try to give him advice all the time, to explain to him how the situation is in Venezuela and what he should be doing. Or shouldn’t be doing.”
–Felix’s dad, Felix Hernandez Sr.
“We listen to music, have a couple of drinks. We’ll talk about baseball, about women. Baseball, women, and beer, that’s what we do.”
–Felix Hernandez, on what he does to relax in the offseason.
IF I AM BILL BAVASI, FELIX IS TIED UP IN MY BASEMENT UNTIL PITCHERS AND CATCHERS
“Sometimes, we do see a difference. Some people will ask us for signed balls and other things from Felix. I don’t know what to think about that, really.”
WHEN YOUR NEIGHBOR THROWS 95, COZY UP WITH A FRUIT BASKET OR SOMETHING
“When Felix was younger, sometimes I would take him and Moises to baseball games and I would tell them no soft drinks. We had money for the tickets, but not for the drinks. For many years, nobody around here helped us out, but now they want us to do things for them.”
BETTER HOPE 2/3 OF THE REASON THEY’RE ALWAYS VERY GOOD STICK AROUND
“I won’t disappoint you. Let’s go for the championship.”
–Carlos Lee, who signed a six-year, $100 million dollar pact with the Houston Astros.
“I know this is a team where I have a good chance to win a championship. I’ve always liked this team, they’re always very good, and I like this ballpark. I like a lot about Houston. That’s why I told my agent this was one of the places I’d like to play.”
“They obviously know we’d love to have both of them back. But it’s up to them, and I’m sure they’ll let us know if and when they make their decisions. But we’re going to pursue other targets in the meantime to try and get better.”
–Astros GM Tim Purpura, on flirting with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.
“We feel like these are two big questions that have been answered for us. Carlos will fit very nicely in the middle of that lineup–oh, my goodness, that’s going to be nice. I’m sure that Berkman is over there enjoying his turkey dinner a lot better right now, knowing there’s just no way now they’re going to get around him. By adding these two guys, we’ll be definitely better.”
–Astros skipper Phil Garner
HE DIDN’T MAKE US AWARE OF THAT PREFERENCE, BUT THE CLUBHOUSE ATTENDANT HAS ALREADY BEEN TOLD TO HAVE LOTS OF YOO-HOO AND HGH ON HAND
“We felt he could do the most damage in that role. Very few guys that have played this game bring to the table, in that first spot in the lineup, the things he brings. He was very glad to hear that. We did not know that was his preference, but that certainly was a positive in our favor.”
–GM Jim Hendry, on where Soriano will bat to help justify his $136 million dollar deal.
“I think I help the team more. I can use my legs or I can use my power. It’s up to the manager, though, and if he wants anyone different batting at the top of the lineup, that’s fine too.”
—Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, on where he prefers to bat in the lineup.
“We certainly can’t outspend them. But even though they’re stocking up, I’m not afraid of them. We’ll just have to put the best defensive club we can on the field and pitch to them. Good pitching still stifles good hitting. They’ve definitely added power to their lineup and the ability to score runs. We just need to shore up our defense and be a better base-running and bunting club, play situational baseball a little better, and capitalize on our scoring opportunities.”
—Brewers GM Doug Melvin, on the Cubs.
GOOD THING THEY WENT WITH PLAN B-PLAN A WAS ‘WE HAVE A RICH TRADITION OF LOSING’
“The first thing he said was they want to win. I want to win too. That conversation helped convince me… I haven’t played for him, but I have a lot of friends that have played for Lou, and they say he’s the best manager in the world. He’s a pretty smart guy, and he likes to win, like me.”
“Outfield, for me, is all the same. It doesn’t matter to me if I play left field, right field, center field. That’s the decision of the manager.”
IN OUR SUPER-SECRET TRIBUNE LABORATORY WE CONCOCTED A DEVILISH PLAN: JACQUE JONES PLUS NEIFI PEREZ EQUALS MULTIPLE WORLD SERIES OPPORTUNITIES
“Where we were [in 2003-04], we thought we had it going. [We] got derailed and none of us saw it coming. We have a lot of good people coming through the system, a lot of good arms, but for the first time in a while we need some more pitching, and some more position players, either in a regular role or bench help.”
–Cubs GM Jim Hendry
“I’m happy right now. I love this team and I like playing here in Chicago. Chicago’s fun. I love it here.”
“Basically, we just asked him to trust us to put the rest of the ballclub together. He wasn’t concerned about what spot in the outfield he was playing. We just assured him that when we got the club together, we would find one spot for him and leave him there. I think he was comfortable with that.”
NOT THE EASIEST ISSUE TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND ABOUT…
“I do. Why should baseball have to try to prove when started using? They used ’em, and they knew they were wrong.”
—Frank Robinson, on steroid usage.
“Let’s take Barry Bonds. You don’t get better as you get older.”
…BUT I’M SURE THEY’LL GET IT RIGHT
“I don’t see how I can start picking and choosing when, in fact, baseball allowed all of this to happen.”
—Jayson Stark, ESPN.com baseball blogger. (Baseball Around the Horn)
“Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro will be on my first ballot, I don’t believe he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He had a fine career, but he hit about half of his home runs in a five-year period when he was allegedly on steroids. He had too many off-years to be considered on the same ballot as Ripken and Gwynn.”
—Bob Nightengale, USA Today baseball writer
“Although the Times does not allow us to vote, I would probably not vote for McGwire.”
—Murray Chass, Times columnist.
IT’S A REAL SHAME THIS WISDOM IS NOT A PART OF THE VOTING PROCESS
“I usually vote for anyone with 500 homers, but 600 might be the fairer benchmark in judging players from this era.”
—Pat Borzi, New York Times baseball reporter.
MOST LIKELY FUTURE BBWAA PRESIDENTS WITH THIS KIND OF SHARP LOGIC
“The McGwire vote is easy. The man had 1,600-odd hits. The only category in which he excelled was home runs. Vince Coleman had only one standout category (steals) and he isn’t in. Mark Belanger had one standout category (defense) and he isn’t in. McGwire’s uneven career, to me, takes steroids out of the equation. That’s not to say he shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame eventually. Just not on the first ballot.”
—Mark Whicker, Orange County Register reporter.
“McGwire … 1,626 hits in 16 seasons. That total is not enough for me to vote for McGwire–clean or dirty, which to my mind have not been proven–when ballots come out in a few months.”
—Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun reporter.
“I will, without question, vote for McGwire. I’m not interested in moral arguments; I’m not electing a prime minister, mayor, or pope. I would not vote for Pete Rose, because I believe that any manager or player tempted enough to bet on a game might be equally tempted to do something that would knowingly affect the outcome of a game.”
—Jeff Blair, Toronto Globe and Mail reporter.
HIS FACE LOOKS WHITE. HE’S GONNA FAINT, SOMEBODY GET HELP
“It’s likely that we won’t talk trade for any of those four starters. I just think it’s too valuable a commodity, and I have a lot of faith in these guys becoming even better and helping us go where we want to go. You never say never, but I’d say trading any of them is unrealistic.”
—Pirates GM Dave Littlefield
“I’d say we have a fair amount of strikeouts in our lineup, and I’d like to have someone with less strikeouts who gets on base, ideally. But you have to deal with what’s available.”
JUST SAY NO DAVE
“Obviously I know from my time in Boston what a factor Tek (Jason Varitek) was to our pitching staff. I know Brad (Ausmus) a little bit, but I know how valuable he is to a pitching staff. He’s a valuable tool for our pitching program.”
–new Astros pitching coach Dave Wallace
WE SO WILL SIGN WITH ANOTHER TEAM, NO JOKE, SERIOUSLY, WE’RE GOING TO, WE’RE SIGNING, STOP US NOW
“We have no problem waiting, and I’m not saying it has to be done before then, but there’s a danger in that. It takes one call from a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Angels to blow any offer out of the water.”
—Barry Axelrod, Rich Aurilia‘s agent.
“If it comes to the point where I left a lot of money on the table, it means I’ve pitched well, and there are other things more exciting that will be happening. I’ll still have security, and I will still have a chance to sign a major free-agent contract.”
—Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis
THIS DID NOT WORK OUT WELL IN ‘LOST’
“You spend so much time away from your family when you play baseball, and no amount of money can make up for that. This move is a way for me to accommodate my son and be around him more.”
–New Angels center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., he of the career .267 EqA, on being able to see his son more often now that he plays in Anaheim.
“This man gets on base an awful lot. He gets 200 hits or more, is a great guy on a club and, like Nomar, has great qualities as a human being.”
—Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on the lucrative five-year deal for center fielder Juan Pierre. (The Los Angeles Times)
“Following a team through the course of a season is a commitment–it’s like having a girlfriend. People want something to show for it.”
—Brendan Steiner, Steiner Sports rep.
“We went to a back field and did a drill with a net where I was supposed to swing at a ball but not hit the net. It controls the length of your stride and your swing. Everything you’re trying to control is in that drill. I was blown away.”
—Andy Phillips, on new hitting coach Kevin Long (The New York Times)
“Last year, if I had a good April and May, I would have hit 100 home runs.”
–Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez (Chicago Sun-Times)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. You can reach Alex by clicking here.