SAW IV: YANKEES GO DOWN?
“He is a surgeon on the mound. It’s not just his power. He’s almost like a surgeon with a chain saw.”
—Scott Boras, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s agent. (Jackie MacMullen, Boston Globe)
“If you have a pitcher that can log the amount of innings that Daisuke can, that can go deep into games, it’s a huge, huge advantage. He’s been conditioned to do it. He had 14 complete games this year. So it’s nothing that’s foreign to him. He wants to start the game and finish the game, so again, it’s up to Tito and John. But I don’t envision him coming into the league, and being a guy that’s five or six innings and out. He’s very healthy, very strong. He has great mechanics. He repeats his arm action on almost every pitch. Those guys usually have longevity.”
–Red Sox vice president of professional and international scouting Craig Shipley (Karen Guregian, Boston Herald)
I WAS RESEARCHING HIS PERIPHERALS WHEN I WAS ELEVEN
“I think the baseball world has been aware of Daisuke since 1998. Jon Deeble in particular, our Pacific Rim coordinator who has been scouting Matsuzaka since 2000 in Japan at the Olympics. For several years now, as John mentioned, he’s been a real target and we’ve been trying to keep a low profile. I don’t think we were mentioned very prominently among the suitors, and that was by design. We were kind of rooting against him at the World Baseball Classic that he didn’t pitch too well because we didn’t want his profile to rise anymore.”
–Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on the history of interest in Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“Craig Shipley and his staff really scouted him heavily this year in anticipation of a post. And we knew going into the posting process, we were going to be very aggressive trying to come up with a total number and contract that made sense and the ultimate decision was how much did we have to attribute to the post in order to assure that we could get him and the challenge of working out a contract.”
–Epstein, on their strategy going into the posting process.
“The Japanese team, they’re the one losing the player. Whatever is finalized is going to be weighted heavily toward the benefit of the Japanese team. They’re the one that identified the player, signed the player, developed the player, and have all the interest in the player.”
—Dayton Moore, Royals general manager, on the posting process. (Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star)
AND THE GUYS WHO ARE PITCHING THE WORST WILL HAVE THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT ROLES. IT’S A SIMPLE PLAN, REALLY
“It’s too early to start assigning exact roles other than to say that they guys who are pitching the best will have the most important roles.”
–Theo Epstein, on his bullpen.
“We’re going to find a closer, whether it’s internal or external, before we break [spring training].”
“Romero is a talented guy who had a difficult year. He had trouble getting into a rhythm all year along. He’s a couple of adjustments away from being a very valuable addition to our bullpen.”
AARON HEILMAN HAS JUST PUT HIS FIST THROUGH A WALL
“I don’t think there’s any question that physically [Braden Looper] can handle the demands of being a starting pitcher. The question is, ‘Does he have the pitches to be an effective starting pitcher?’ [Jocketty and La Russa] had to think about it. I can understand that. We felt it was not that crazy of a thing to do. It’s just something that has enough of a chance to work that it’s worth trying.”
“He’s durable. He’s stronger. He has three or four quality pitches that he could better use in a starting role. Dave Duncan feels very strongly that he has all the assets it takes to be a quality starter.”
–Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty
“I know some of it will be feeling my way through. And I know that if I make a start (the opponent) is going to put as many lefties as possible in there against me.”
“The Mets need starting pitching, but they won’t put him in the rotation. So what does that tell you? If the Mets don’t look at him as a starter, then any team looking to trade for him might feel the same way.”
–an executive with another organization, on Aaron Heilman (Buster Olney, ESPN.com)
THE BEST PROSPECT IN HIS OWN FARM SYSTEM
“This is a guy who’s a GM prospect. He’s of the ilk of the Doug Melvins, the Dave Dombrowskis and the Walt Jockettys of the world. He’s an exceptional leader, and he’ll be the first one to tell you you’re only as good as the people around you.”
—Roland Hemond, former GM of the Orioles, on Logan White.
“You have to make sure all their voices are heard. We’re scouts, which means all we want to do is give our opinions and have someone listen. The hardest thing for me when I became a scouting director was making sure I adapted to my scouts rather than the other way around. Some are high-graders, some are low-graders, some just love everybody they see and some don’t like anybody. So you take all those personalities into account and work with their strengths.”
—Dodgers AGM for scouting Logan White, on his management style.
“This is a people business, and as such, figuring out what a player’s ceiling is between the tools and the makeup is a huge undertaking. And we want our scouts to be challenged here. Assessing the makeup with the criteria we have in place certainly does that.”
“Every one of those players is currently on their 40-man. You kind of have to wonder what kind of magic he’s using in that wand of his.”
–unnamed NL scouting director, on Logan White draftees. (Chris Kline, Baseball America)
SPENDING TIME AWAY FROM YOUR FAMILY: IT’S THE DODGER WAY
“He’s the most underrated scouting director in baseball. Nobody really knows the value of this guy. He travels more than anybody. He’s a workaholic that spends endless hours away from his family. But luck is a factor of design–he’s been able to do what he’s done out of nothing but hard, hard work.”
–former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda
“The difficult issues were more industry-wide than just us. That was the time when you had statistical people versus traditional scouts, Ivy League versus the so-called ‘old school’ way of thinking.”
THAT EXPLAINS THE AUSTIN KEARNS DEAL-TOO MUCH PILLOW TALK
“I’m not included in any of the discussions and, in fact, when I walked into the suite during the Winter Meetings, Wayne and his people would lower their voices to a whisper or take their discussions into the bedroom.”
–now former Reds director of player development Johnny Alamaraz, who resigned from the organization he spent the last 17 years with.
“On behalf of Bob Castellini and the entire Reds organization, I want to thank Johnny Almaraz for his hard work, loyalty and dedication to the Reds for the past 17 years. In the 10 months since I’ve become general manager, I have had the opportunity to work with Johnny and I’m proud of what we have accomplished with our player development system. We enjoyed a successful 2006 Minor League season due in large part to Johnny’s direction and leadership.”
—Cincinnati Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky
CAPPING OFF SCOTT BORAS’ WORST DECEMBER SINCE HE DIDN’T GET THAT OFFICIAL RED RYDER, CARBINE ACTION, TWO HUNDRED SHOT RANGE MODEL AIR RIFLE
“I thought the phone would be ringing off the hook the next day.”
—Bob Costas, on A-Rod’s comment.
“I believe he was speaking honestly from the frame of mind that he was in at the time. He was very matter of fact and there was no anger in his voice. It was a tone of resignation. He said a lot of the joy of the game was gone, and even if had a reasonable shot at breaking records, he would walk away from the game.”
“He has never said anything along those lines to me in all my conversations with him. I just had a meeting with Alex, and he is very enthusiastic about next year and the rest of his career.”
–Scott Boras, on Rodriguez’s future plans. He can opt out of his contract after 2007.
IF I DIDN’T SIGN, J.P. WAS GOING TO RIP ME IN THE NEWSPAPERS FOR NOT BEING A COMPETITOR. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
“How can you not be happy? Like I said, my family comes first. Obviously this gives me an opportunity to set my family up for a couple of generations. That’s the biggest part of this thing. And this gives me a chance to do something special in Toronto that hasn’t been done in a while.”
“It’s exciting. Vernon’s a big part of our team and we’re definitely better with him on our roster. I’m sitting around waiting for it to get done like everyone else … because we’re trying to go for it this year.”
“We looked at him at fourth and fifth, but I don’t like hitting him behind guys who aren’t very good baserunners.”
–Gibbons, on where Wells will bat in the lineup.
A MAN CAPABLE OF CRAMMING THIS MUCH MISINFORMATION INTO ONE SENTENCE SURELY DESERVED MORE THAN 4/40, THEO
“Joe’s going to have to deal with having to shuffle him around. It seemed like when he played, things happened. Guys didn’t try to score on him. He played left field flawlessly, and his numbers from the leadoff spot were pretty solid, too. I would love to see him play 120, 130 games. We’ll find a way.”
“He deserves to be in a Yankee uniform. Whatever I need to do or anybody else needs to do to have him come back, it’s a no-brainer for us. If I have to go play first base, I’ll do it for a few games here and there just so we can work Bernie in.”
–Johnny Damon, on Bernie Williams.
“I got a great offer and a great contract from the Yankees, and I’m happy. You can’t always look back and say what could have been. Maybe they learned a lot from what happened last year. They finished in third place. They definitely needed to go out and make a statement. It seems like they’re kind of doing that. It’s definitely going to be another great year in the A.L. East.”
–Damon, on his old team.
ENCYCLOPEDIA GWYNN AND THE MYSTERY OF THE FORGED EIGHT-BY-TENS
“I went into the shop and as I walk into the store I see a picture in the window with Cammy (Ken Caminiti), (Steve) Finley and I. All of them are autographed, and all of them are forged. All of the stuff, every last 8-by-10 forged. I knew it right away because the T wasn’t looped. I always looped the ‘T’ on 8-by-10s. I see Caminiti’s and Finley’s every day. And I know it’s not mine. Over the course of the next couple of years I’d seen instances where they were fakes — straight-out fakes. It just got me thinking the average fan has no idea what a guy’s autograph looks like unless he’s there when the guy signs it.”
— former Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, on fake autographs.
“When the player notices, it’s huge. The great thing about guys that care, they want to do something about it and don’t sit passively by. They really allowed us to have a face that people could identify.”
—Colin Hagen, Major League Baseball’s vice president of licensing.
AND THAT LITTLE BOY WAS A MEMBER OF AL QAEDA
“We had just had about 10 or 12 dozen bats stolen from our storage place at Qualcomm. This little boy comes up to me asking me to sign his bat, and it’s my bat. It’s got my signature on it —- our equipment manager’s marking on it. I asked that kid and he said he bought it from a card store in Del Mar.”
“I kind of made it a point. I sign 8-by-10’s a certain way. I sign baseballs a certain way and I sign bats a certain way. I just had these little things I would do so that I would be able to tell whether it was mine or not. And sure enough, we get into this era where autographs are blowing up, and I had more and more people asking me, ‘Is this your signature?'”
–Gwynn (Dan Hayes, North County Times)
“It is overrated. I know people talk about it, but there is no evidence anywhere that proves that having a more capable hitter behind a hitter in a lineup will dramatically improve that hitter’s performance… . I don’t know what kind of year Howard will have next year, but if I was projecting that on one hand he had Albert Pujols hitting behind him and on the other hand Corey Patterson is hitting behind him, I project his numbers to be the same either way.”
–Red Sox special advisor Bill James, on giving your middle of the order hitters ‘protection’ by ensuring that another slugger hits behind them.
“I have no doubt that there are some managers who are able to interfere with their team’s ability to win, but if I was evaluating a manager, I wouldn’t put much weight in that because I don’t have much confidence in my ability or anybody else’s ability to say for sure whether he made the right decision in a situation.”
–Bill James (Todd Zolecki, Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Right after the season, when John McDonough became the president, we went down and met with our superiors at the Tribune Tower, and we made a decision that we were going to try to go after the best guy. The good thing about having a bad ballclub is, the last two or three months of the season, we were off our regular coverage; there wasn’t any advance scouting. We took all of our major-league scouts and a few of our other talented scouts and really went after, hard, a two- or three-month scouting project of all the free agents, all the five-plus potential guys to trade for, guys with larger contracts that are five-plus guys that might be available. We just went about our business, probably from the middle to end of July on, with the mode of ‘We’ve got to get better in ’07.'”
“We had made some decisions already about ranking free agents and priorities and how to set up the club right after the season. We decided that, you know, we never have landed the best guy. We were going to go after the best guy. And our guys clearly felt that Soriano was the best guy. It worked out well from there. We had a good plan.”
“It was with a great deal of interest and agreement that I read your November 21 column ‘Moment Is Right for Miller to Move from Ballot to Hall.’ I too believe that Marvin Miller highly deserves to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the huge role that he played influencing the game and the business of baseball. I will support you in any way necessary or possible to see that his election is brought to fruition.”
—George Steinbrenner, in a prepared statement, on Marvin Miller. (Murray Chass, The New York Times)
“Last year I felt as good as I’ve ever felt. I do like the game, I do like the competition, I do like wearing a major league shirt.”
—Greg Maddux, who posted the lowest K/9 of his career in action with the Cubs and Dodgers.
“Some of these things are unpopular, but you know what would be more unpopular? If we did nothing, got too old, too expensive and had to go scrounging and overpaying for leftover and mediocre talent.”
“We have no problem with players participating. We’re not concerned.”
–MLB spokesman Rich Levin, on a potential conflict of interests when major leaguers play fantasy baseball. (Christian Red, New York Daily News)