THE PERILS OF DOING ALL YOUR OFFSEASON BUSINESS WITH THE BORAS
“We have sent a formal offer to Matsuzaka and his agent Scott Boras. I believe it is fair and comprehensive, and offers a great deal of security and a substantial level of compensation.”
–Red Sox executive Larry Lucchino
“I assure you that the notion that this is a primarily defensive maneuver is preposterous…[It’s] obviously a historical number, but we are talking about a national living treasure and an exceptional baseball player.We know it’s been his dream to play in the major leagues, and we are proud that he will live out his dream in Boston with the Boston Red Sox.”
–Lucchino, on negotiations with Japanese righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox are also reportedly in the midst of negotiating a five-year, $70 million dollar pact with Boras client J.D. Drew.
“That would not be allowed. The deal is that the Red Sox are to pay the Lions the posting fee. They are to negotiate free from any other negotiations that might be going on.”
—Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB executive VP, addressing rumors of an under-the-table deal that would allow the Seibu Lions to put some of the posting fee towards Matsuzaka’s contract, to ensure a deal gets done.
“I’m not going to have any comment on that. It would be grotesquely unfair of the media to say that before a new player ever came to town. The last time I remember that happening was for a player named David Ortiz.”
–Lucchino, on J.D. Drew.
THAT WEIRD TINGLING FEELING IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET OUTSPENT, BRIAN
“We have been following Kei Igawa’s very successful and accomplished career in Japan, and we are excited about the opportunity to begin the negotiating process with him.”
—Yankees GM Brian Cashman, on the $26 million dollar posting fee that secured exclusive negotiating rights with the lefthander.
“He isn’t overpowering, his fastball was at 88 to 91 mph range. I heard he has thrown harder, but I didn’t see it. His breaking ball was inconsistent. David Wright hit a homer off a breaking ball I thought was going to go out of the dome. His best pitch is a change-up. He is a serviceable guy, but not a Matsuzaka.”
–unnamed scout, on Kei Igawa
“We were a little bit short again, it looks like, but it didn’t surprise me.”
—Padres GM Kevin Towers on the Padres’ reported $16 million dollar bid for Kei Igawa falling $10 million short.
“That day he had an average fastball, between 88 and 90 mph, an average slider and a very good change-up. He located pretty well. But not pitching for six weeks, his endurance wasn’t where it would be during the regular season. He shut us down the first time through the order and that was a pretty good lineup we were (using).”
—Mets 3B David Wright (George King–New York Post)
SAY WHAT YOU WANT ABOUT STAN KASTEN-HE’S NOT THE GUY YOU TAKE WITH YOU TO SPRING BREAK CANCUN
“I just didn’t know. It was impossible to predict. We had a chance, but this worked out just fine for us and way beyond fine for Alfonso.”
—Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, on whether he thought the Nationals would sign Soriano.
“Let’s face it, we have a building job that we need to do. We are not happy that we need to do it. That’s the situation that we find ourselves in. To ignore it would be foolish. To pursue a free agent–even to pursue our own free agent–at that kind of money and not improve our team, what would be the point of that?”
“I’m not going to go through the blow-by-blow. But there were numerous conversations from the day I got here to the very end. It is true that they did not get back to us with their final number. I can confirm that. It’s clear we were not going to be able to be in that ballpark.”
–Stan Kasten, on negotiations with Soriano, who eventually signed an eight-year, $136 million dollar pact with the Chicago Cubs.
“I think he has done a very good job. We all know we have our limitations. We also have some very exciting opportunities in Washington. He has done well within our limitations and opportunities. We haven’t even begun to talk about the Pacific Rim program that we are starting to put in place. Jim has been aggressive doing that. When I named him our GM, the most [impressive] single thing about him is how resourceful he is. He will look under every rock to try to bring assets to our club, and, so far, that is exactly what he has tried to do.”
–Kasten, on the performance of general manager Jim Bowden. (Bill Ladson, MLB.com)
YOU MUST NOT BE FROM AROUND HERE
“Where I come from, your word means something and your handshake means something, and unfortunately in this case it didn’t. I’ll leave it at that. We had more than a handshake.”
—Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, on dealing with Rod Barajas and his agent Dan Lozano. Barajas was all but a Jay when Lozano called Ricciardi and told him that Barajas would not be taking his physical exam.
“I think maybe it was more like he maybe thought we were bluffing. I wasn’t real worried if he was bluffing or not, because we were going to go in a different direction but there was a slight crack and we just opened the door and it worked out. I think the one thing that maybe happened to Zauny-and it’s human nature-is that he realized it’s not personal, it’s business. When you’re representing yourself, sometimes it’s hard to separate the two.”
–Ricciardi, on his next move, re-signing catcher Gregg Zaun.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Gregg Zaun. He’s a good guy, he wears his heart on his sleeve and I don’t take his comments personally, I take them more as him trying to defend himself. So we just hit a snag there at one point. I called him (Monday) night and said, ‘Zauny, if you want to be a Blue Jay, you’ve got to make it happen now.’ He was great, and we were able to work it out. We want guys who want to be here. If you don’t want to be here, that’s fine.”
–Ricciardi (Allan Ryan, Toronto Star)
STARTING TO GET THE SENSE THAT THE WORSE THE AGENT, THE MORE HE TALKS TO THE MEDIA
“The Reds wanted to bring him back for the $2 million option. With the way the market is with what DeRosa and Valentin signed for, Richie could get twice that.”
–Larry Axelrod, Rich Aurilia‘s agent. Aurilia had his best season at the plate in six years, hitting .300/.349/.518.
“With the year he had–hitting .300 with 23 home runs and playing four infield positions–it’s risky. He has a strong arbitration case.”
–Axelrod (John Fay, Cincinnati Enquirer)
“The Brewers initially were Tony’s first choice, but Doug indicated to me that Counsell now is their first choice, and they’re waiting to get an answer from him. That leaves us talking to San Diego and a few other teams about utility roles.”
—Tony Graffanino‘s agent, Dan Lozano, doing a complete 180 from a few weeks ago. The Brewers offered Graffanino arbitration this week.
WE’RE ALSO GOING TO BE MEETING WITH THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND ABOUT POSSIBLY KNIGHTING TEDDY
“We’ve had an offer [from Chicago], and we’re considering coming back with another counter offer. I’m planning on meeting with [Cubs general manager] Jim Hendry down at the Winter Meetings in Orlando next week, but we’re also going to be meeting with [Toronto general manager] J.P. Ricciardi.”
—Ted Lilly‘s agent, Larry O’Brien, on his plans for the next month.
“Once again, it’s just going to come down to, ‘Does Ted want to stay here?’ We’ll see. He knows what he’s got here. The Cubs’ situation is different than our situation. We’ll see how it plays out.”
–Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi
“The Cubs are obviously up there. They’ve been very diligent, as far as pursuing Ted. I think they’d really like to have us come there, and they’re definitely one of the teams that we’re considering.”
“I’ve always pointed to that contract as something that I thought would be something that we should be able to achieve. With what Chicago has offered us, and some other conversations that we’re having with a few other clubs, I think that number is definitely achievable. Who knows, it might get richer than that.”
–O’Brien, on the contract the Mariners doled out to Jarrod Washburn. Washburn signed a four-year, $38 million dollar deal last offseason.
“I talk to J.P. almost every day. He has always indicated that he wants Ted back, and he’ll do whatever he needs to do within reason. I think he’s got some additional funds that maybe he didn’t think he had four to six weeks ago. He’s told me that they’re going to aggressively pursue Ted and Gil Meche.”
“I just don’t know. With what the Yankees have done–now they’ve got the rights to that left-handed Japanese kid–they might not be in the mix anymore.”
–O’Brien (Jordan Bastian, MLB.com)
PISSING OFF 6’7″ GUYS WHO THROW 95 ISN’T EXACTLY MY FAVORITE STRATEGEM, BUT GO FOR IT
“He doesn’t like to pitch out of the bullpen, and that leaves us with two alternatives. Either put him in the rotation in Chicago, or put him in the rotation in [Triple-A] Charlotte.”
—White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, on Brandon McCarthy‘s desire to be in the rotation.
“If a guy’s heart isn’t in something, you are not going to get the best out of him. So, [pitching out of the bullpen] is not an option.”
“I’m most comfortable starting, and that’s where I think the team will get the best out of me and see the most success. But I’m not putting a gun to anyone’s head and saying, ‘I have to start or they are not going to get my full effort.’ That sort of talk is best left up to Randy Moss. I’m going to pitch my heart out wherever they put me, and I don’t think I was beyond awful as a reliever.”
WHEN THE ARBITRATION CLOCK’S TOCKING, DON’T COME A KNOCKING
“I’ve said it a million times. I always want to start, and I hope the opportunity is presented to me, because I’m ready to do that now. But I would rather be in the big leagues than in Charlotte. At this point of my career, with two years in the Majors, to go back there next year… it’s certainly not something that excites me.”
“It is a bit disconcerting and bugs me a little bit, just knowing myself, and maybe nobody else does. If given the choice, I would always take starting 100 percent of the time at the big-league level, but I care just as much working out of the bullpen as I do as a starter. I always was ready to pitch and tried to throw at my absolute best. Anything less would be a disservice to me and the team, and not what I want to do.”
“No. We aren’t going to do it just to create room because Brandon wants to pitch out of the rotation. That’s not the way this works.”
–Kenny Williams, on the motivations behind his potentially dealing a starting pitcher (Scott Merkin — MLB.com)
SOMEBODY CHECK KENNY’S MEDS
“It’s kind of curious that we are even having a conference call to announce an arbitration-eligible player’s signing. I’m a little perplexed as to why it’s such a big deal. Being that as it is, we signed our left fielder.”
–Kenny Williams, on coming to terms with LF Scott Podsednik, who hit .262/.331/.354 with a -9.9 VORP in 2006.
“We examine the free-agent market, the trade market, and the international market to see if we can upgrade at any position. We’ve done that. We came back to the conclusion that nothing would provide us with the concrete, significant answers in the way that this guy does. In Scott Podsednik, we know what we have and are comfortable in it. We know he can lead off and lead off on a championship club.”
–White Sox GM Kenny Williams
“I’m the team’s general manager, not the team’s psychologist, and each player has to deal with success and failures in his own way. Is Scotty hard on himself? Well, he was no harder on himself then when he stole how many bases [59 in 2005] and hit [.290 in 2005] and hit a home run to help win a World Series.”
–Williams, on Podsednik’s poor season.
BY THAT INCONTROVERTIBLE LOGIC, ADDING JIM THOME WAS PROBABLY A HUGE MISTAKE
“Sometimes the same things that make us succeed make us fail. You better be very careful of trying to change your overall makeup, because you might find yourself in a worse position.”
“This signing says I support him as our leadoff hitter and primary left fielder. We really didn’t see much of a need to spend three times as much in some cases on the same type of player, on the same type of guy. We surveyed the landscape and came to the determination he is the best fit for our team right now.”
–Williams (Scott Merkin, MLB.com)
I’M TELLING YOU, THE TUG BACK TO NEW YORK WAS $O REAL
“I’ve been more than honest about my desire to be with my family, and how important they are to me, and being here in Atlanta with them as a player would have made life a whole lot easier…I think we, my wife and I, were surprised at the tug to go back to New York.”
–Mets starting pitcher Tom Glavine, who re-signed with the Mets for $10.5 million after the club bought out his player option for 2006. (Mike & the Mad Dog, WFAN.com)
“The Braves are I guess in a situation where they’re strapped.”
TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROAD…
“The information I have is it came down to Counsell is from Wisconsin, lives in Wisconsin and wants to be closer to home. I can’t fault the player for that. If it came down to wanting to be closer to his family, I commend him for that.”
–Padres general manager Kevin Towers, on Craig Counsell‘s reported deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. (Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune)
“It was more attractive because I’ve been here before. I knew the situation…Money being equal, I’d rather be here.”
–new Rangers OF Frank Catalanatto, on returning to Texas. (Jamey Newberg, The Newberg Report)
WITH THAT SAID, I REALLY FELT LIKE WE WERE THIS CLOSE TO SIGNING CLEMENS LAST YEAR
“One of the first things we do is take a look at the free agents who may be willing to come here. It doesn’t make any sense to get dragged into negotiating with players who are looking to move the bar on contracts.”
–Brewers GM Doug Melvin (Sean McAdam, ESPN.com)
“You know exactly where you’re at and you know the house you live in. You know you just have to be creative.”
–Red Sox special assistant to the GM Allard Baird, on his tenure as general manager of the Kansas City Royals.
SCOUTS ALSO LOVE CATCHING LIVE MICE IN THEIR MOUTHS, IT’S A COMMONLY USED MOTIVATIONAL TOOL
“I turn the tables and challenge our people, our scouts, and they respond. We had a meeting with our scouts this week and told them [we] will use and value their opinions. That perks them up.”
“So, I guess you could say that we turned a $20,000 investment [the price of Podsednik’s waiver claim] into a $100 million player. We take a lot of pride in finding bargains.”
–Melvin, on his trade with the White Sox that brought Carlos Lee to the Brewers.
“I said to Brian Cashman recently, ‘You have to look [at] every player out there. You start at the very top of the list and go from there. I go the other way, and start from the bottom, eliminating players.'”
OK LYLE, YOU MAY HAVE ONE EVENING WITH MY WIFE, BUT I CAN ONLY HOPE YOU PRACTICE THE SAME KIND OF DISCIPLINE THERE AS YOU DO AT THE PLATE
“He’s going to be good with the change, though. He said he might go for 11, one of the old numbers. I’m going to do something special for him.”
–Blue Jays DH Frank Thomas on trying to get his no. 35 with his new team from Lyle Overbay. (Allan Ryan, Toronto Star)
“Actually, I talked with [Lyle] Overbay a few days ago. It was a great conversation, went on 20 minutes. He was going on, `Well, I just don’t know what I’m going to do now. They forced 35 on me, (and) I had a great year in it.'”
WHICH ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER
“I think if you don’t know my work ethic and my desire to get better and to win, then you have to look at the numbers. Over the last three years as far as runs scored and doubles and home runs and RBI, there has been a steady progression. The average fan, or maybe somebody in the media who doesn’t really study the game, might not notice that right off the bat, but if you look at the last three years I’ve made a steady progression every year.”
–new Angels CF Gary Matthews Jr., who hit .275/.350/.461 in his Age-29 season, .255/.320/.436 in his Age-30 season, and .313/.371/.495 in his walk year.
“I plan to retire. Other than Kenesaw Mountain Landis I think I would be the longest-serving commissioner. My contract runs for the next three-plus years. I’ll be 75 years of age, and I want to teach and write a book and do some other things.”
–MLB commissioner Bud Selig (Boston Herald)
“Kip is a pitcher that we’ve had our eye on for a while, and I can tell you that Dave Duncan is especially happy with this move. For years, Dunc has tried to persuade me to acquire Kip Wells at some point, so we finally have done that.”
—Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty
“It’s a misconception that our turf is like the old turf, that you’ve got to be faster, quicker, whatever. It’s very much like grass-even slower than grass sometimes.”
–J.P. Ricciardi, on whether SS Royce Clayton will struggle with the speed of turf.
“When I began, I was, of course, aware that I do not have the power to compel testimony or the production of documents. From the outset I believed that the absence of such power would significantly increase the amount of time necessary to complete the investigation, and it has.”
–former senator George Mitchell, on his probe into steroids in baseball. (MSNBC.com)
“I’m only 38 years old. … I’m an exciting player, and I’m looking for a chance, and if I get that chance, you never know. I might hit you 40 or 50 [home runs], you never know.”
—Sammy Sosa (Outside the Lines)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. You can reach Alex by clicking here.