WHO HAD A WORSE YEAR, THE TIGERS OR GENERAL MOTORS?
“If you could tell me today what will happen to the automobile companies, I’d have a better answer. If they’re still in existence in a couple of months, it will still be a tough time, but we’ll be able to operate. If they’re not, it will be a different story.”
–Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski
“We know it’s a tough time, not only here but throughout the entire country. And we’re very aware of what’s taking place. But we hope we can provide people with entertainment and a release from those times, in a family atmosphere. We’ve always tried to do that, but now we’re more aware of it than ever.”
“How many games did those two guys win last year, 14? Next year, they might win 35. They have the capabilities. That’s another 20 wins right there. Now, you can’t assume those things will happen. But they could happen.”
–Dombrowski, on the chances of improvement from some members of his rotation.
“I’ve been with a lot of clubs that haven’t had good records. But most of those teams were teams that were in rebuilding situations. … They had bad years, but they were anticipated bad years. But this year was one we hadn’t anticipated. And that’s what made it so disappointing.”
–Dombrowski (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com)
THE GHOST OF BILL BELICHICK IS STRONG IN THIS ONE
“It could be an offseason where there is a significant change, or one where almost nothing happens. Quite honestly, it has the makings of an either/or scenario, depending on what happens with other clubs and the industry.”
–Pirates general manager Neil Huntington
“I think the starting pitching market had a lot of hype as being one of the deepest ever, and so we thought maybe we could get a guy who might be a great value. I don’t know that that’s going to happen, because I don’t know that the market is as deep as everyone believed when they began to actually apply present-day and projected abilities to this group.”
“We’re kicking the tires on every Four-A starter out there.”
“Last year, I made the mistake of saying in December that we had five starters and those would be the ones we’d go with, and it became that we locked in our rotation. We’ve now got seven, nine, maybe 10 players competing for the position.”
–Huntington (Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
TRUE LOVE WILL FIND YOU IN THE END
“The last three years I was looking for a situation that fit, but nothing fit like this one. I was [the first] one hired to wear the uniform, and now to be going back is pretty special.”
-New Rockies hitting coach and former Rockies manager Don Baylor
“It came out of left field. It was an indication of our relationship.”
–Baylor, on serving as Clint Hurdle‘s honorary coach in the last All-Star Game.
“It is funny how life works out. … As [I talked with Don] it became evident to me his passion for the game is in place.”
-Rockies manager Clint Hurdle
“It will be different, coming back as a coach, but with the relationship we have, I know I can tell Clint things and not worry about repercussions.”
–Baylor (Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune)
THE BULLPEN ARM THAT STARTED A WAR
“His fastball is a tad above average. His breaking balls are fine. The best thing he’s got going for him is that he has a real samurai warrior makeup, kind of like a young [Hiroki] Kuroda.”
–Anonymous scout on Junichi Tazawa, who will sign with the Red Sox.
“[Scouts] Craig Shipley and Jon Deeble did a great job with Tazawa. They’ve been working on this for a long time, and developed a very good relationship [with the player].”
–Anonymous Pacific Rim scout, on Tazawa.
“This was more than just a gentleman’s agreement, but rather an implicit understanding that the major leagues would do no such thing. That a handful of clubs from the majors is trying to break this gentlemen’s agreement is truly regrettable.”
-An understated NPB press release, on the signing of Japanese amateurs by MLB clubs. (Yahoo! Sports)
HE WILL TELL YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR SO THAT YOU WILL AGREE TO THE DEVIL’S TERMS
“It’s pretty easy to figure them out if you just sit back and go over the teams in baseball who win on a consistent basis. If your number one goal is to win, I would say there’s only a handful of teams year in and year out that have a chance to win. Now, there are no guarantees, but there are teams who have a better chance than others.”
–Derek Lowe, free-agent pitcher and Scott Boras client.
“I think I’m a lot better pitcher now, teammate now, than I was four years ago. Sometimes you have to learn, and I think getting out of Boston was the best thing for me. I was able to sit back and analyze what’s going on. What’s good, what’s bad. And I think hopefully that’s what happened. Sometimes you need a dose of reality as to why a team didn’t want to keep you around.”
“You have to be honest with yourself, and once you do that, it’s all right to say I may have made some mistakes in my time there, as long as you can change them and understand them. And I think that’s what has happened the last four years.”
“It’s night and day. The off-the-field distractions aren’t there. It probably makes it easier for them because they know, ‘Yeah, we know what he can do as a pitcher but how about this or that?’ All those doubts are gone, so all I have to do now is worry about playing the game.”
“Scott told me four years ago that I’d get another contract. I thought it was b.s. I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Here we are again.”
–Lowe (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)
A CANADIAN TEAM LEFT LONELY
“We’re trying to re-sign A.J. If we can’t, then I’m not sure what we would do.”
–Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, on his Plan A.
“It’s a possibility. We can spend $100 million, but if it doesn’t make sense, why do it?”
-Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston, on potentially not pursuing other free agents if they don’t wind up with Burnett.
“That’s not just the case in 2009. It’s in 2010, too. I mean, let’s say we were to move Roy this winter, and we get Shaun Marcum back in 2010 after Dustin McGowan comes back in May this year, along with Casey Janssen being there, too. We’d be in a position where we’d be trying to recreate what we already have in Roy.”
–Ricciardi, on why he won’t trade Roy Halladay. (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)
“Twelve teams need a player who can hit third, fourth, or fifth. Tex and Manny control the talent needs of most clubs. Only six free agents drove in 80 or more runs in ’08, so we know the demand is high.”
-Superagent Scott Boras
“You make an offer now, you’re just setting the basement offer for everybody else.”
–AL general manager, on free agency.
“Even given our circumstances, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t explore the possibilities. I think we owe it to our fans to at least talk to them and try to get a feeling for how important it is for them to pitch or play close to home.”
–Orioles president Andy MacPhail, on signing Mark Teixeira or A.J. Burnett. (Jack Curry, The New York Times)
“When I talked to my agent recently, Boston was the first team I mentioned. I don’t know if it’s in the cards, or if I squished my chances of ever returning there. I know the circumstances of my departure from there a few years back were blown out of proportion. I’ve talked to Tito several times since then and we’re OK. I’d love the chance to go back there, because that’s a winning organization and they’re committed to winning. They do things the right way.”
-Free-agent outfielder Jay Payton, on his ugly departure from Boston. (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)
“I just don’t see how he dominated the lower levels of the minors so thoroughly. He’s not overpowering at all. But he has a solid fastball and the curveball is OK. I don’t see what all the fuss was about, but he’s probably still a number three [starter].”
–Anonymous scout, on Phil Hughes’ performance in the Arizona Fall League. (Jim Callis, Baseball America)
“I’ve been greeted with a heavy dose of cynicism. Some people have asked how we can tell our fan base that we’re taking away jobs from US kids, that this reeks of desperation. But it’s just a chance to spread our wings a little and see what happens.”
-Pirates general manager Neil Huntington, on signing two Indian pitchers to contracts. (Alan Schwarz, The New York Times)
“Mr. Wakamatsu told me that, in fairness to his pitching coach, he wanted to be able to bring in his own bullpen coach. I understand that. That’s how it works sometimes. … I’ve been in this game a long time. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a teenager in high school. It’s a part of me and what I do.”
-Former Mariners bullpen coach Norm Charlton, on getting fired by the team. (Geoff Baker, Seattle Times)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.