A LEGEND ASCENDS TO HIS RIGHTFUL THRONE
“Carlos Pena is the greatest player to ever put on a Devil Ray uniform. This will be kind of a litmus test for ownership. He’s a complete player. He’s a young player. We’ll certainly listen to what they have to say, if they want to say anything.”
–Agent Scott Boras, on his client, Carlos Pena. Pena is under club control for the next two years, but seeks a long-term deal.
“I think they got more than a $10 million benefit this year by getting a player who had probably a $15 million season for about $1.2 million, and good for them. They made the right decision, someone else made the wrong decision.”
–Boras. As of Sunday, Pena was hitting .276/.401/.608.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that Tampa’s ever committed that kind of dollars to a premium player, and we’ll just wait and see if it’s in their framework to do it. And I’m sure their fans are waiting to see that, too, knowing also that Tampa Bay is one of the most successful economic franchises in the sense that their payroll is so low (about $25-million) and they’re generating probably $140 million worth of gross revenues. When you count revenue sharing, the national TV package and licensing you’re almost talking about $80 million before they even sell a ticket.”
–Boras (Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times)
THERE HASN’T BEEN THIS MUCH SPIN SINCE ERIC GAGNE POSTED A 7.36 ERA AFTER THE ALL-STAR BREAK
“We knew the expectancy level was going to be one that was very high. The one component that we felt J.D. was going to be the greatest contributing factor when he came to Boston is that he was going to bring their defensive acumen to the highest level. When you look at the Red Sox, you look at their outfield defense, you have to understand that this is something the team wanted to improve and shore up, and the reality is that he is in a position where we’re talking about one of the better defensive teams because they have two center fielders in the outfield.”
–Scott Boras, on his client J.D. Drew, who is hitting .261/.365/.404 this season.
“One of the other things we knew was that J.D.’s a lifetime National League player, and any time you take a player and put him in a new league there is going to be an adjustment period… . The lack of familiarity with the pitching is going to take time.”
“I realize that everybody is characterizing J.D.’s season as disappointing, offensively. but I would also say that a number of our clients who switch leagues, and we told this to Theo and they’re not surprised, that it’s going to be an adjustment period.”
–Boras (Rob Bradford, Boston Herald)
AND THEN A HERO COMES ALONG…
“Eric Gagne is a lifetime closer, that’s all he knows. Also, Eric Gagne is one of the most competitive and conscientious players I’ve known. Now Eric Gagne is in a different role. You can go back and look at closers who are in a different role than a closer’s role. Closers have difficulties in non-closer situations. This is not only true of Eric Gagne, but this is true of everyone involved. You can go down the list. I can name a lot of my clients who have had this problem.”
–Boras, on his client Eric Gagne’s move to the Boston Red Sox.
“But that did not stop Gagne from being in a winning environment. It did not stop him from maybe learning something new about himself and his career. And I admire him for that.”
“The reality of it is that Eric Gagne wanted to do this because he had a chance to win and he wanted to be a part of something that was special. It’s been very challenging for him, but on the other hand the fact his arm strength has returned and he is throwing in the mid-90s. But the thing I don’t think fans understand is how closers often struggle in non-closer situations and that’s exactly what’s going on this situation.”
“We score about a run per game more at home than we do on the road. That’s not insignificant.”
–Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on his team’s lackluster second half.
“There are psychological reasons to want to win the division, and there are practical reasons to want to win the division. They’re not extreme reasons, it’s not a do-or-die thing but from a psychological standpoint, some people would argue these are very nominal, some would argue they’re very significant. I tend to focus more on the practical reasons. But the psychological reasons are we
haven’t done it since 1995, and we’ve been in front pretty much from the second week of the season on, so you feel in a sense like you’ve earned it. … [It’s] not a good thing to feel like you’ve earned something over 5 1/2 months and then give it away over two weeks.”
“This is a guy, for starters, that’s never failed.”
–Theo Epstein, on Eric Gagne.
“When I look at the process of that deal, I think it’s extremely sound. We anticipated the need for another reliever, because we expected [Hideki] Okajima to either falter or fatigue or both the rest of the way just because we were asking him to do things he’s never done before and he was ridden extremely hard, justifiably, in the first four months of the season.”
–Theo Epstein, on the trade that cost the Red Sox David Murphy and Kason Gabbard, among others.
“We’ve lost a lot of games, and people are thinking that we’ve lost them because we’re somehow pulling the reins back or not trying 100 percent or balancing our short and long-term interests.”
“[Gagne] still runs his fastball up there 93-94, still has a really good changeup, and the ability to flip a curveball for a strike, and was healthy, and we scouted him extensively and had good uniformity in our reports from a variety of scouts, probably a half a dozen guys, had seen him and written up the same thing.”
“Gagne’s had a difficult adjustment from a lot of different standpoints, probably trying to do too much, probably trying to overthrow, the adjustment to the eighth inning has been bigger than we had anticipated. And it’s been hard to adjust to him too. He’s a guy whose calling card is a swing-and-miss changeup. And we haven’t been in position to really get the most out of that pitch because he’s falling behind in counts, it’s kind of taken us a while to get to know him as a pitcher, and that’s our issue.”
–Epstein (Steve Silva, Boston Globe)
BORRIS DOES HIS BEST BORAS IMPRESSION
“I think a classier move would have been to give Barry a little more notice so he could have had the appropriate amount of time to say goodbye to his fans and have some closure. It is what it is.”
—Barry Bonds‘ agent, Jeff Borris. The Giants announced they would not sign Barry Bonds for another year.
“I keep hearing that the Giants’ goal is to get younger for the future. Obviously, Barry is their oldest player. But it seems sort of contradictory to get rid of your oldest player when he’s the best player on the club.”
“He’s not horrible, but he’s below average by major league standards now. I would think if you wanted to get the most out of him as a hitter, you’d want him to be in the American League where he could DH at least some of the time.”
–anonymous scout, on Bonds’ lack of range in left field. (Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com)
JEFF KENT, CONNECTING TO A NEW GENERATION OF LOGAN WHITE’S GUYS
“If you take the younger guys away, do you have a team?”
—Matt Kemp, Dodgers outfielder.
“The younger guys, we work hard, we play hard. We’re trying to make a name in the game for ourselves. The older guys, they’ve already made their names for themselves. We don’t want to get that bad rap, that we don’t want to win or we don’t want to play hard, because you won’t make it far in this game.”
“I don’t really have anything to say on that.”
–Loney, on whether manager Grady Little has been effective in bringing folks together.
“Are there no reasons we lost?”
–Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent (Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times)
THE WIT AND WISDOM OF A LOSING MANAGER IN SEPTEMBER
“I don’t think I have a choice there.”
—Rangers manager Ron Washington, on whether or not Vicente Padilla will pitch for his ballclub again. Padilla is in the middle of a seven-game suspension for a brawl with Nick Swisher, and has had confrontations with his teammates and coaches.
“I’m not saying C.J. or Benoit can’t do it one day, but they don’t have the experience. They have the stuff to do it, but they have to earn their way to that position.”
–Washington, on the closer role in Texas.
“We certainly need a closer. You’re not going to go into a season expecting to win without somebody who can close a ballgame down.”
“If a young player is sitting in that DH spot, he’s got to be a hitting machine.”
–Washington (Gil LeBreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
THE HOTHEAD MIKE WINTERS STRIKES AGAIN
“Everyone is going to make a twist that Milton Bradley blew up again. This kid [Bradley] is doing a great job holding it together. He’s not going to get thrown out because he knows his team needs him. But there’s no possible way a man is going to stand there and take what he said to Milton.”
—Padres first base coach Bobby Meacham, on Milton Bradley’s encounter with umpire Mike Winters.
“In 26 years of baseball, I couldn’t believe my ears the way that he spoke to Milton. [It] was so disrespectful, so angry, so vindictive. The boiling point is when he called Milton a name. Milton did not say anything to him to get him to do that.”
“If he had said that to me, I would have charged him.”
–Meacham. Bradley sprained his knee while being restrained by his manager, Bud Black.
“It’s terrible, and now because of him my knee’s hurt. If he costs me my season because of that, he needs to be reprimanded. I’m going to take some action.”
–Bradley, on the upshot of the argument. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)
AND NEITHER OF THESE GUYS PLAYS IN PHILADELPHIA?
“This offseason we tried to work out together, and it got so bad we started going to the gym at separate times. We’d warm up playing basketball, and the next thing you know we were going full on. We can’t do that, we’re going to get hurt.”
—Chris Duncan, Cardinals outfielder, on working out with his brother Shelley.
“I’d go and then he would put another plate on, then I would go and I’d try to slip one on, and the next thing you know we’re like blown out. We can’t work out together, it gets too competitive.”
“He feels like he can still play. So did I, and I wasn’t very effective. Hitting a baseball is a hard thing to do when you’re 100 percent.”
–Chris Duncan, on playing through injuries. (ESPN.com)
TEAM CHEMISTRY HAS NEVER BEEN SO DEADLY TO THE AMERICAN BEAR
“[It was] just a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially going with Jimmy. When we got out there, the guy said we could hunt [separately]. But my main thing [was], I wanted to be in the stand with Jim Thome. I turned down hunting by myself to be with him.”
—Mark Buehrle, White Sox starter, on hunting bears with Jim Thome.
“When [Thome] first signed and got traded over, he actually called up and left me a message saying, ‘I’m happy to be your teammate, and I hope we can get together and hang out.’ I saved it forever.”
“I was so excited Jim Thome called me. I was showing my buddies, and [my wife] Jamie still laughs at me to this day how excited I was. Just him being a hunter, and he’s a great guy. He hit 500 home runs and is a future Hall of Famer, hopefully. Just everything, it kind of adds up. Just to be out in the woods with him was awesome.”
–Buehrle (Scott Merkin, MLB.com)
I’LL ONLY MOVE OVER FOR A TOP SHORTSTOP, A GUY LIKE JUAN URIBE OR ADAM EVERETT
“I can play first base, but my question is, ‘Who are they going to bring (in)?’ If they’re going bring in a shortstop, he’d better be a Gold Glove and a pretty good hitter, because we’ve got Santiago.”
—Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen, on the team considering alternatives to Ramon Santiago so that they can play Guillen at first base next season.
“I said I’d play first base at the end of the contract–not at the beginning.”
“I just want to win. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice. I understand.”
“I don’t have a problem playing first base. But if you bring (in) a shortstop, he’d have to be a really good shortstop.”
“I heard a lot of rumors about Jack Wilson. I don’t know what his numbers are. He didn’t win a Gold Glove.”
THE RAYS SHALL UNLEASH THEIR SUN-BASED DEATH RAY AT FENWAY IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE
“I do like that. I’ve gone through that in my past–in my previous life [in the Angels‘ organization]–and hated it. And then when you get a chance to do it yourself, you know what it feels like. So I’m good with our guys seeing that, because that’s our goal, to be jumping up and down on the pitcher’s mound. We just have to get to the point where these games mean more to us than the other team, and then you’ll see us doing just what they did to us tonight.”
—Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays manager, on the Red Sox celebrating their
trip to the playoffs in Tropicana Field.
“Believe me, all of us in here, we were hurting. Obviously we wanted to come out of this with a win. We’ve got pride. We want to win every single one of those games. We see the Red Sox celebrating on our turf and we hate it. We really do.”
“These guys give a lot of teams a hard time. And it comes down to their inner resolve. When you’re truly playing for the cup and you want to get to the dance, there’s a difference. And when you’re playing this time of year with the pennant feeling, it matters. I just loved the way we played, and that’s unfortunate about what happened in the ninth inning. And they’ve done it before. That’s the third time they’ve done it to us this year. Again, they have this thing–good
veterans that really care. And they beat us, pure and simple.”
–Maddon (Bill Chastain, MLB.com)
“It can’t hurt. We’ve got to come out with good intensity. I think an intense brand of baseball is better than urgent. Urgent sounds like you’re panicking, and I don’t think we’ve ever panicked, even when he hit that rough patch. That’s the sign of a good team.”
–Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, on going into the playoffs on a good note. (Rob Bradford, Boston Herald)
“We took him out after 80 pitches, because although he has thrown 90, it wasn’t in competition. We thought it was important to get him out on a positive note and not overextend him… He pitched pitcher-ish. Pitcher-esque? Maybe?”
—Reds manager Pete Mackanin, on Homer Bailey‘s start this week. (C. Tren Rosecrans, Cincinnati Post)
“Frustrated? I’m frustrated that we don’t have him back in the lineup. I told him that yesterday. I said, ‘You’re so damn good, we want you in there every day.’ It’s hard for me to give him a day off in the season, just because of his presence. But he’s just not ready to play. His work ethic has been very good. I know that over the course of the years, there have been some hiccups with him. I know, I’ve been a part of some of them. But this isn’t one of them.”
–Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, on the injury to left fielder Manny Ramirez. (Gordon Edes, Boston Globe)
“I don’t think whether he waited a week or not was a deciding factor, as far as recovery time to get ready for spring. One main factor was that Dr. Andrews, who has been a very busy guy, has the opportunity of looking after it at the beginning of the week.”
—Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey (Jordan Bastien, MLB.com)
“A lot of people just thought I’d be a .260 hitter all my life. Last year, I was just 22 [years old]. I was kind of like, ‘Let me make some adjustments and let me learn the game a little bit.'”
—Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur, on changes to his approach at the plate. (Mark Bowman, MLB.com)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.