IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE FOR NEAL
“At this point, with an empty apartment to go to, I’d rather stay there and work than go home. I don’t really envision this as work. I am so excited to see the changes that are going on, and to see where this team is going, that it doesn’t seem like work to me.”
–new Pirates GM Neal Huntington, whose family is back in Cleveland, on the changes he’s already made to the Pirates organization.
“I think the biggest thing that caught me off guard the most was the fact that we needed the amount of changes that we needed to make. I knew we needed to make some changes, but I didn’t realize the extent of the changes that were going to be necessary.”
“Obviously, the changes that we made led to a lot more work. And for me, it led to more time because I was wearing a lot of hats for a while.”
“There are 37 calls that have come in to me over the past few days that are going to go to [scouting director] Greg [Smith], 54 calls that are going to [farm director] Kyle [Stark], and about 15 calls that are going to [director of baseball operations] Bryan [Minniti]. There are a lot of people who want to come to the Pittsburgh Pirates.”
“We are going to utilize several objective measures of player performance to evaluate and develop players. We’ll rely on the more traditional objective evaluations: OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage), WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Runs Created, ERC (Component ERA), GB/FB (groundball to flyball ratio), K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts to walks ratio), walk percentage, etc., but we’ll also look to rely on some of the more recent variations: VORP (value over replacement player), Relative Performance, EqA (equivalent average), EqOBP (equivalent on-base percentage), EqSLG (equivalent slugging percentage), BIP% (balls put into play percentage), wOBA (weighted on base average), Range Factor, PMR (probabilistic model of range) and Zone Rating.”
–Huntington, on what statistical markers his organization will be looking at. (MLB.com)
“My wife, Becca, has been an absolutely amazing part of this. And the kids are getting used to Dad being gone.”
“There are times when I feel like I’ve been here for a very long time, and there are times when I feel like I just got here. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for only two months, but there are other times when I think about how much work we have left to do.”
–Huntington (Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com)
HE’S THE OZZIE GUILLEN OF OWNERSHIP
“He’d be, by $4 million a year, the highest-paid relief pitcher. To say that’s a strong offer would be an understatement… The ball’s in their court. If they still want to look for more somewhere else, that’s up to them.”
—Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner, on negotiations with Mariano Rivera.
“[Rivera and his agent, Fern Cuza] haven’t rejected it outright, as far as I know. It’s pretty much known that they’re seeking a fourth year, or more [money] for three years. I want him back, and that’s why the offer is as high as it is. We don’t have to change anything. Everyone in baseball knows it’s a great offer; we’ve even gotten a couple of complaints about it.”
“That’s his age. There’s nothing I can do about that. It’s not a big deal. Nothing was really meant by it. If I didn’t want him, we wouldn’t have made that offer.”
–Steinbrenner, after he offended Mariano by referencing his age during negotiations.
“We’re making good headway on everything we need to do. I’m pleased. Hopefully, Mariano and Pettitte will come back and we’ll be set.”
–Steinbrenner (Ken Davidoff, Newsday)
WHY DID THEY KEEP THIS GUY UNDER WRAPS FOR SO LONG?
“I can deal with Boras. I don’t know why others couldn’t. He’s not going to get anything out of me that I’m not going to give.”
–Steinbrenner, on whether the A-Rod situation ended the Yankees’ dealing with Scott Boras.
“It’s simple. I go to what I want to go to for a player.”
–Steinbrenner, on his negotiating philosophy.
“When it’s all said and done, he’s going to be more entertaining than his father.”
–An anonymous “friend of A-Rod’s,” on Hank Steinbrenner
POSSIBILITY ‘SCOTT BORAS’ IS JUST A COSTUME A-ROD WEARS IN THE OFFSEASON?
“I love New York. My family has felt very comfortable in New York. The last four years have been sometimes rocky, sometimes amazing, but after knocking our heads into the wall for three years, we felt we figured it out.”
–Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, after agreeing in principle to a contract to return to the Yankees organization.
“It’s important for my fans, for the New York Yankee fans, to realize exactly what happened from A to Z.”
–A-Rod, on his desire to one day tell the legend of Mr. Optober.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy. I probably don’t have the greatest image in the world, and that’s OK.”
–A-Rod, on whether he’s concerned with his image. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)
THEY SEEM TO HAVE THINGS UNDER CONTROL
“We’re still on a mission to try to find it and cure it. If that fails, we’ll try to improve the club, even if it means the 25th man or the last pitcher. Right now, trade-wise, its a lot of bait and switch. We thought we had a deal the other day, but they got cold feet at the end.”
—Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, on his offseason plans.
“We’re curious to know what their interest level is in playing here, and what it’s going to take to get them here. They’re all accomplished and all bring something to the table.”
–Colletti, on free agents Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, and Aaron Rowand.
“We have some depth in some areas. If we improve in one area via free agency, it may open a trade route for us. Or we can improve ourselves with just a trade. The way it’s shaping up, we can sign a free agent and it may cause a domino effect that can make someone expendable on our part to make a trade.”
“Right now, we’re looking to see what we can do offensively. And any time you can add quality pitching to your staff, you do it. I don’t know if there are any gaping holes from what I’ve heard. I’m more familiar with the names of our guys, the Kemps and [Andy] LaRoches and Loneys.”
–Dodgers manager Joe Torre, after answering “pitching” when asked about his team’s weaknesses when he got the job. (MLB.com)
THE SWEET SCIENCE
“We always try to identify starters with someone else’s system we think could be relievers with us. We look for guys who pound the strike zone with good mechanics. That’s how we got Linebrink.”
—Padres general manager Kevin Towers, on how he puts together his bullpen.
“It’s no different than catchers who can’t hit. You put them on the mound because they have a good arm. A lot of times guys get caught up in being labeled. ‘Oh, he’s a starter.’ But maybe because of attention span or stuff or whatever it is, he’s better cut out to be a reliever. Heath Bell is like that. Some guys are much better when they can just go out there and air it out for one inning.”
“The first time you get here you may get the fifth or sixth. If you handle that you graduate to the seventh. And if you show you’ve got [guts] you’ll graduate to the eighth.”
“I like relievers with deception. I think that helped make [Hideki] Okajima so tough. With us, look at Meredith and Thatcher. Some quirk in the delivery can be effective.”
–Towers (Tom Verducci, SI.com)
WE’VE HEARD THAT THE BALL MAY BE JUICED
“This is just another story related to the big picture that Americans don’t like cheaters.”
—Scott Burns, deputy director of White House drug policy, on Barry Bonds‘ indictment this week.
“It’s not fair that some goon who can hit a ball that’s still rising as it leaves the county gets paid 12 times as much as I do, and I’m a shortstop that’s at least as skillful as this other guy. There’s a fraud on the public, a fraud on the players.”
—Dick Pound, leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency. (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)
“My guess is that this will go to trial, and it will be a fairly quick trial. It’s not a complicated case at all. The government is ready to go. They could try it next week if they had to.”
–former U.S. attorney Kevin Ryan who opened the BALCO probe in 2002.
“This is a very a sad day. For many years, Barry Bonds was an important member of our team and is one of the most talented baseball players of his era. These are serious charges. Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law.”
—Giants owner Peter Magowan (Bob Nightengale, USA Today)
LARRY NEEDS YOUR MONEY TO FILL HIS CAR WITH GAS
“We need revenue to fuel the vision that we have, and the vision is for a competitive, entertaining, winning team year in and year out–I say winning, I don’t necessarily mean winning the World Series–and to preserve, protect, enhance, improve Fenway Park. In addition, to restock our minor league system is the gasoline that makes the car go in those three directions.”
—Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, on increasing ticket prices by nine percent.
“I don’t have a problem with it. The premium seats could go for more but they’ve been very careful with the prices of the other seats. With the previous ownership group, it was like the Stone Age. As long as they stay competitive, the market will bear it. Fenway is a unique shrine and they are taking advantage of it.”
—Joe O’Donnell, season-ticket holder.
“We held ticket prices last year at least on all the non-premium seats. And on some of these categories, we’ve held them at the same price for several years, especially the bleacher seats and the lower-price seats. It was our view that this was time. It seemed appropriate to make some changes, increases. We’re also aware that there will be some major changes within our division. The Yankees are about to go into a new ballpark in 2009, and I believe they will have a gigantic increase, allowing them to do what they’re able to do.”
–Lucchino (Amalie Benjamin, Boston Globe)
“I think it’s wrong. At that point, it has nothing to do with the player’s performance. The award is not a popularity race. I don’t think there was any way he wasn’t one of the top three rookies in the league. … And how many other rookies in the history of the game played 162 games like he did?”
–Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, on a few writers leaving Rays’ right fielder Delmon Young off their Rookie of the Year ballots. (Eduardo Encina, St. Petersburg Times)
“There’s not enough proven chips to get a big-time guy. I spoke with a few guys, and the consensus is [Mike] Pelfrey’s not the end-all that Boras has touted. The problem with [Carlos] Gomez and [Fernando] Martinez is, when you’re making a blockbuster deal, you better get recognizable names in return, not just names out of Baseball America. You’d better get guys that have been on TV.”
–Anonymous scout (Ken Davidoff, Newsday)
“When it finally hits you what happened, that we blew it, you start thinking about every game you played, start thinking about all those games you gave away. You don’t really second-guess yourself. You just think about all those little things. It’s an empty, horrible feeling.”
—Mets manager Willie Randolph, on his team’s collapse. (Wayne Coffey, New York Daily News)
“I was really glad that we only came out with two jerseys and didn’t try to throw a lot out there. We didn’t try to throw out an alternate jersey or a Sunday jersey. Fans are going to tell you what they want. The key was pushing the Rays brand out there and telling people this is the palette we’re working from.”
–Rays’ senior vice president Mark Fernandez (Eduardo Encina, St. Petersburg Times)
“We’re wearing the ‘T.B.’ on our hats for all 162 games, so we’re really happy with that as we continue to gauge what the fans like.”
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. He can be reached here.