GOD TRADED JOHAN TO THE METS
“We got creative, because [agreement] was something both sides wanted. He’s extremely happy. We’re all very happy. We’re still kind of pinching ourselves to make sure this is really true. This is a match made in heaven.”
—Peter Greenberg, Johan Santana‘s agent, after his client signed a six-year, $137.5 million dollar extension upon being dealt to the New York Mets.
“We were looking at our watches all the time.”
–Mets general manager Omar Minaya
“The figures were where, 10 years ago, I never thought they would be. It’s either pay now or pay more next year [when Santana could have become a free agent]. And there was no guarantee he’d be available then.”
“We wanted to use the little time we had in the best way possible.”
–Mets president Jeff Wilpon
“It’s very strange when you have a player in the room. I asked him, ‘Are you a math teacher? How much do you know?'”
–Minaya, on negotiating face to face with Johan. (Marty Noble, MLB.com)
“At one point, with Jeff, Johan and I sitting in the room, Johan told him, ‘I know what I can do, I know what I’m worth, I want to bring a championship to this team.'”
“I think we almost exceeded our expectations. I can’t wait to go to spring training. I can’t wait to have Johan join us.”
–Minaya (Ben Shipgel, New York Times)
REASONABLE MEN CAN DISAGREE
“I hope the new ballpark will allow us to keep our core players longer. But you’ve still got to make good baseball decisions, regardless of payroll. And I think you’ll find that this organization has made pretty good baseball decisions over the last two decades.”
–Twins general manager Bill Smith (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com)
“I think the Twins are wrong. They’re going into a new stadium, a taxpayer-funded stadium. Their owner [Carl Pohlad] is the richest owner in baseball. And this guy [Santana] isn’t just another player. Since Kirby Puckett, has there been a more important player on the Minnesota Twins than Johan Santana? I don’t think so.”
–anonymous team official
“You don’t know where those picks are going to fall. You know they’re not going to be in the top 15 picks, anyway. And they might be two sandwich picks. Plus you have to pay for them. You have to sign those kids, and that’s not cheap anymore. At least when you make a trade, those guys are already signed. They’re already paid for.”
–anonymous NL executive, on the Twins preferring the Mets’ package to compensation draft picks for potentially losing Santana to free agency after the 2008 season.
“Remember, the sport is making a fortune. They’re taking in a ton of money from the central fund, [the internet], and revenue sharing. So it’s not that they can’t do it. They choose not to do it. I don’t know for a fact whether the Twins can afford a contract like that or not. But it’s not sensible to do it, whether they can afford it or not. Just because a team from New York does something doesn’t mean it’s smart for every team to do it … because even if you can afford it, your cushion is so much less.”
–anonymous executive (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com)
THE OTHER 29 TEAMS ARE SHAKING WITH FEAR…WAIT, WHAT?
“It isn’t the worst outcome for the Red Sox. We hold on to our deep farm system, and Santana ends up in the other league.”
–Red Sox chairman Tom Werner on not trading for Santana. (Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune)
“We’d better enjoy [Josh] Beckett the next three years. Because we won’t be able to sign him after his deal is up after 2010.”
–anonymous Red Sox official, on Josh Beckett.
“Obviously the Mets adding Santana is huge for them. [Santana] is arguably the best pitcher in the game right now. They have every reason to be excited about their team. But so do we.”
—Tom Glavine (Marty Noble, MLB.com)
“When Randy Johnson went to the Yankees four years ago everybody was ready to hand them the World Series trophy, and it never happened.”
“I just know he’s 29 years old and he’s got two Cy Young Awards. He’s elite. But we’ve got guys who are elite, too. It’s gonna be fun.”
–Braves catcher Brian McCann, on Santana. (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
IT IS ALSO SUNNY IN GEORGIA
“We like our pitching staff. We think we were able to add the depth we didn’t have the last couple of years.”
–Braves general manager Frank Wren
“We really feel like we go about nine deep in spring training for our five spots. That’s a good feeling. Pitching help is always precarious. You just hope you’ve got enough guys to weather any down time.”
“I feel good about our team, top to bottom. I like where were are, as a team and a [pitching] staff. We can’t be consumed by what other teams are doing. I think we’re pretty good ourselves. I feel real good about our team. I don’t care what other teams are getting.”
“We’ve just got to worry about us, regardless of who all the other team’s got. I think we’re in good position to win. Obviously Santana increases their chances of winning every time he’s out there. But every team’s got a No. 1, and that’s what you’re supposed to feel like when your No. 1’s out there.”
CAN RAMIREZ PLAY INSIDE LINEBACKER?
“Every year is the same. I look forward to ’08, ’09 and maybe move on.”
–Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez, on his plan to arrive on time for spring training.
“I want to be like Julio Franco and play until I’m 48. And if you want to do it, this is the right place to come. It feels much better when you work with people who know what you’re doing. I love it. I’m going to come here every year.”
“I haven’t started hitting yet. I haven’t hit at all. It’s great if you have somebody who really knows you and knows what you’re doing when you’re hitting. I don’t have anybody out here who really knows me who can throw to me.”
WHEN THE CASHMAN TESTIFIES, A FAITHLESS MAN BELIEVES
“It’s hard to imagine him going somewhere, because he understands this unique environment, but it’s also demanding.”
—Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president for player personnel and “a co-worker of Cashman’s for 20 years.”
“The big question is going to be how he relates to the new leadership. Hank is different than his brother, Hal, and they’re both different than Steve Swindal and Joe Molloy. All those people we were working for, each one of them had a different style. It remains to be seen how he adjusts to them and how they adjust to him.”
–former Yankees GM Bob Watson, on Cashman’s position.
“Brian is classy, straightforward, and honest. But it’s got to be uncomfortable to finally get in the position where he had more authority, and now it seems like it’s kind of gone back to the way it was before.”
–anonymous team official
“What it does is erode some of the confidence of the people working for you. There’s a chain of command and a code of conduct that has to be followed by every member of an organization. When that’s broken, it’s not good.”
—Phillies general manager Pat Gillick
“I don’t think anyone in sports has the record of excellence in their jobs as Brian. Everyone, even Bill Belichick, has had a few down seasons. But Brian gets to a championship threshold every year under the highest scrutiny possible and in the biggest city in America.”
–former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi (Tyler Kepner, New York Times)
AT LEAST SOMEONE’S HAPPY TO BE THERE
“I am like a kid in a candy store.”
–Twins outfielder Delmon Young
“That was the first year. You are going to get better just by overall repetition. It is rare for guys to just come in and put up ridiculous numbers.”
–Young, on his strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“It takes a couple of years. It just doesn’t happen like that. It would be different if this was my fifth or sixth year.”
–Young (John Sullivan, The Record)
HE WINKED TO THE REPORTER WHILE SAYING ‘LIFTED’ AND ‘SPIRITS.’ MAKE OF THAT WHAT YOU WILL
“He seemed to relax and enjoy himself. I think it really lifted the spirits of our young players. I visited with several of them and they said that was a great thrill.”
—Astros owner Drayton McLane, on Roger Clemens attending a team minicamp.
“I’m not going anywhere. I love to do these things. If I can share any insight with these young kids, it’s all the better.”
–former pitcher Roger Clemens, on attending his first Astros minicamp of the year.
“My biggest talk to them is, ‘If you can handle failing, you’re going to be all right, because you’re going to do a lot of it.’ You have to pick yourself up off the ground and go forward.”
–Clemens (Chris Duncan), Boston Globe)
“On-base percentage is the highest thing on the list. If you’ve proven that you can get on base, that will give you the best chance to lead off. It doesn’t mean it’s the only thing. Say [Molina] has an on-base percentage of .700 in Spring Training. I don’t think I’m going to lead him off because he clogs those bases a little bit. But I’m going to wait, let guys play.”
—Cardinals manager Tony La Russa (Matthew Leach, MLB.com)
“He’s off the charts in the clubhouse.”
–anonymous Red Sox official, on the acquisition of first baseman Sean Casey.
“He looks better than before. Because he didn’t have as much [pitch variety] a long time ago. Now he’s got cutters and other stuff.”
–Braves coach (and former Braves catcher) Eddie Perez, on Tom Glavine. (David O’Brian, Atlanta-Journal Constitution)
“He’s fine. He’s 100 per cent. He has no restrictions going into spring training.”
–Braves GM Frank Wren on starter Mike Hampton. (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“What if I told you I’ve got interviews today at Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond? I heard they’ve got guys from the Olympics working at Home Depot. So I was, like, ‘Dude, I can carry a safe.’ I have to believe I’d be one of the more agile people working there.”
–Yankees non-roster invite Morgan Ensberg (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.