WE’RE TRYING AS HARD AS WE CAN: WE’RE JUST FAILING REALLY BADLY
“I’d respond that that’s nonsense. Look at the payroll. If you split the big-city markets with two teams [New York, Los Angeles, Chicago], Seattle is the 18th-biggest market in the league. The payroll as of the All-Star break was sixth or seventh. That’s commitment of ownership.”
—Mariners president Chuck Armstrong, on accusations the Mariners franchise isn’t trying.
“I keep scratching my head—what more could ownership do? If we’d made the right decisions along the way, we’d be right there. If what we were worried about was making a profit, we’d lower payroll, not raise it.”
“I’m greatly heartened by our fan base and how they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin. They are very savvy baseball fans, and I think that we’re sixth in the American League [in attendance, and it’s] a reflection on the fans and their knowledge base.”
—Bob Aylward, the Mariners’ executive vice president of business operations. (David Andriesen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
IF YOU WERE WONDERING, THEY ALSO WANT TO WIN
“I just wanted to let [the players know] that ownership absolutely believes that we’re in this. We absolutely believe we’re in this fight, and that we’ll be in it until the end. Winning takes determination, courage and heart, and it’s time to bring that into the open in a big way. I just told Derek, ‘It’s got to start with you. You’re the captain.’ And he knows that. It was a good meeting. Very positive.”
“I can only speak for myself—I know we’ve got a good team. I know we’ve got a good team, and I wanted to convey that to Derek so he could convey that to his teammates. He knows he’s the captain. He knows it has to start with him. It’s like that in any sport, in anything in life.”
“He realizes that. He realizes his responsibilities. There’s no more class act than Derek Jeter. Derek Jeter’s not the kind to not give 110 percent, and that’s in anything.”
“I think if you say you need to do more now, it implies that you’re not doing your job at different times. I don’t think you just say things when people are struggling or things are going bad. You try to do the same things all the time.”
—Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, on his level of effort.
“I think the expectation level remains the same. The Steinbrenners still give us every opportunity to win, just like they always have. Just because Hal and Hank are more upfront now doesn’t change the expectations.”
“That’s why I have to point out the injuries. Because the media sweep that under the rug and say we’re playing poorly. But next year, in a new stadium, we’ll be much better. We’ll add players. We’re gonna be very tough (next season).”
—Hank Steinbrenner (Kat O’Brien, Newsday)
AFTER THAT, MIKE MUSSINA TOOK A KNIFE TO CARL’S TIRES
“All the guys on the bench, they’re all talking to each other. And I’m like, ‘You guys don’t even tell me what’s going on out there?’ And they’re like, ‘We didn’t know, we thought it was the third out.'”
“I see the ball in the dirt. The hitter walked toward the dugout to throw his bat and helmet away. He, in doing so, has abandoned his effort to reach the next base. He’s called out, according to the rule. I didn’t see him, because I’m watching Pudge with the ball. So that’s why I had to ask for help. ‘What did [Mora] do?’ And they all agreed that he abandoned his effort to go to first, and that’s why he was called out.”
—Umpire Joe West, on calling Melvin Mora out despite reaching first successfully after the catcher dropped the ball.
“I’m walking to the dugout, I’m looking in the stands… and then I go to put my glove down, and I turn around and everyone’s still on the field.”
—Pavano, on the disputed play.
“I’m behind in the count almost every guy. They hit the ball, they made good swings, but a lot of their hits were finding holes, and that’s what happens when you’re behind in the count and you’re using soft stuff.”
—Pavano (Amanda Comak, MLB.com)
YOU WERE HITTING .322/.360/.539 AS A DWARF FROM THE MISTY MOUNTAINS, THOUGH
“Kind of grown out of it, got a little bored. It’s time for me to do something more productive with my mind and body. And I feel like chess is a little better for problem solving, and to just sharpen your mind.”
“In Pence’s case, it’s more about the mental side of the game—a couple of instances on the bases that are a little frustrating, I think to us and him.”
—Astros manager Cecil Cooper, on Pence’s season.
“It’s something I want to pick up and start playing. Just reading about it, it seems like a fun game… and, anything to sharpen your mind.”
—Pence, on his desire to play chess. (Jon Blau, MLB.com)
THEY’VE NEVER HEARD OF A DESIGNATED HITTER IN ARLINGTON
“It was the only way to get both guys in the lineup. We’re committed to Chris as a big part of our club going forward. If he shows he can play at third base, that gives us an option. It’s hard to imagine a 2009 team without him in it.”
—Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, on moving Chris Davis to third base for the remainder of the season.
“For them to say, ‘Go ahead and play first so you can stay on the field’ is real exciting for me. I hate to be healthy as a hitter and not be able to play. I hate that.”
—New Rangers first baseman Hank Blalock. His shoulder won’t allow him to play his customary third base.
“Coming off the All-Star break, I thought I would be able to play third base for the rest of the year, but that didn’t happen. Now, I want to finish the season strong. I’m excited to be back in the big leagues and playing with the guys. My body feels great, now I just want to go out and have some fun.”
“I know if they throw one in the wrong spot, Hank will take a hack at it. If they hit a ground ball at him, he’ll catch it. If they throw a ball at him, he’ll catch it and step on first. That’s all he needs to do. Hank’s a pro.”
“We need Hank’s bat in the lineup, however we have to get it in there. I’m more than capable of going over there and playing.”
—Rangers third baseman Chris Davis
“If I do well at third and that’s where they need me, then that’s where I’ll play. They haven’t told me as far as next year. They said for right now, that’s the move that needs to be made. We’ll see what happens down the road.”
—Davis (Richard Durrett, Dallas Morning News)
THE SPECTER OF REPLAY APPROACHES ON LITTLE CAT FEET
“Major League Baseball and the media, they want instant replay, and we’re going to have instant replay, so if it delays the game, then there’s nothing we can do about it.”
—World Umpires Association president John Hirschbeck, on the in-season move to instant replay on home-run calls.
“I’ll comment after I hear what he says. I know they were doing some tests on things, that the commissioner and Jimmie Lee [Solomon] were working on it. I’ve been talking to [Solomon] about other things. That’s been the furthest thing from my mind.”
—MLB vice president Bob Watson
“Hopefully, they [let] the pitchers have a few pitches just to make sure they’re loose.”
“I thought it was going to be in the dugout. I thought it was going to be [in] a camera well, but it sounds like it’s just going to be away from the field.”
“It’s one play a week, maybe, where it’s a borderline home-run call. It’s not something that’s going to slow down that many games. There won’t be any argument from either side. You can’t really argue with videotape.”
LOSING WITH DIGNITY
“Listen, the performance lately has been a little rougher than anyone would like to go through. But we didn’t make any bones about what we were going to do when we said we were going to go through a rebuilding.”
—A’s general manager Billy Beane
“I’ve seen all of their minor league guys, and believe me when I say this: Billy did a good thing. Of all the organizations I’ve seen, they have the best talent I’ve seen this year. He has a plan.”
—Anonymous scout, on the A’s farm system.
“I have five different reports on Gallagher over the years, from the Midwest League to the majors. Before we make a trade we have three, four, five different points of view. We had Billy Owens see him, Pittaro and [Oakland-based pro scout] Will Schock. From a scouting point of view, that’s critical to us.”
—A’s assistant general manager David Forst, on how much homework they did on Gallagher before the Harden deal.
“Part of it is that we played so well before the break, it seems like rebuilding happens overnight, and it doesn’t. Last year, we were in third place, our payroll was growing beyond our means and we had no farm system. Now we’re in third place but have the system we wanted and our payroll has been reduced to the point that we have more flexibility to do some other things.”
“One of the things that Billy Owens does is sit behind the pitchers and talk to them constantly. Billy said Greg was an intellectual guy who understands the game. He understands his own ability and what he has to do to succeed. He’s not going to blow you away with his ability, but he was very impressed with what he does with his ability. What’s interesting is the perception of Oakland, because of the book, is that scouting is not a big part of what we do. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
—David Forst on the team’s scouting of left-hander Greg Smith. (Casey Tefertiller, Baseball America)
“Everything we’ve done since the Haren trade has been Billy’s vision. He recognized early on, even last season, that we were neglecting player development and scouting to the detriment of the organization. This has all been by his design.”
“We’re taking our licks right now, but we’re going to come back next year and be unbelievable. When everyone here figures out what we’re doing, we can pull off something like Tampa Bay has this year. No one here should have their heads down.”
IF HE STAYS ON MESSAGE, HE MIGHT GET SIGNED TO BE THE MARINERS’ DH
“That’s just the way it is. Right now, with two teams out of it, it’s all about pace of game, so they call a lot of first-pitch strikes so everyone starts swinging the bat. It’s a frustrating way to hit.”
—A’s designated hitter Frank Thomas, on getting more strikes called on him because his team isn’t in contention.
“Enough is enough. If I’m not patient, I’m not doing my job. If they continue to do that purposely, I don’t have time for that. But that’s the way it’s going to be the rest of the season, I’ve seen it happen before.”
“I was trying to finish the year strong, and instead I’m basically spinning my wheels. It’s tough, I want to make things happen. I’m not here just to be here. If I didn’t care, I’d just drag the bat up there and then drag it back to the dugout.”
—Thomas (Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle)
“I was Kedar Hunter all the way up until my senior year in high school. I had a guy come up to me and say, ‘Your name is Torii Kedar Hunter; go by your first name, or nobody will notice you’re African-American.’ So I kind of changed my name. I got drafted, and in the paper back home, it was all about Torii Hunter. And they were like, ‘Who’s Torii Hunter?’ I was like, ‘That’s me—Kedar.'”
“I think David Wright might have ran into my wallet that had seen better days, and he ripped it and tried to put it in the shredder. But he got me a new one. So, I thanked him for that.”
“I’m sitting there watching him, and I’m thinking, this is a major league pitcher, I know I can do this. Not to downgrade him, but once I saw him live and in person doing what he was doing, I knew that I could do it.”
“It’s always a pleasure to watch a player who has those unique abilities that Eric has. As a scout, you fill out the box with power, with fielding, with the ability to hit, ability to throw. With Eric, it was very easy. You filled out every box.”
“When I was 12, I think that’s like the first year they started doing it, when kids were 12, and Austin Jackson was in there as the number one kid at 12. I told my dad when I was 13, ‘That’s what I want to do. That’s my goal this year.’ So I went out, and every national tournament I went to, I played awesome. I pitched well, I hit well. At that time, it was like a big deal. Now when you look at it, it really doesn’t matter at all. What do you really care how good you are when you’re 13? But back then it was a huge deal. It was awesome.”
“We’ll be fine, bro. We go through this shit every year. At the end of the day, we’ll take another ring with us.”
“We’re trying to reward a guy who came through our system and has turned himself into a suspect at least. For a while, Dirk was a guy who we thought only had organizational value. But he’s continued to impress. He has three major league pitches, throws strikes.”
“These are very, very, very tough decisions, This is a difficult situation even for [Luis Castillo]. We’ve played extremely well without him, we’ve put ourselves in the pennant race. He wouldn’t want to mess that up for the team. It’s kind of touchy. But Luis is a [one-time] world champion who is accustomed to winning, so you can’t dismiss that, as well.”
“I would say it was the best one I have had this year. It was a special.”
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.