THE HEAVENS PARTED, AND A PHONE IN SEATTLE RANG
“He said, ‘Look, if I’m able to do Halladay, would you be able to do Cliff Lee?'”
–Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik on the words spoken by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro that would set up a four-team deal between the Phillies, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Athletics.
“Kyle Drabek was a target for us and a must in this trade. Philly was very reluctant to give him up, but over time they relented.”
-Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos on the negotiations that led to the four-team exchange.
“We were in the process of trying to make it happen. They had a chance to get the best pitcher in baseball, too, and I can’t blame them for taking Roy Halladay over me.”
-Mariners starter Cliff Lee, commenting on negotiations between his agent and the Phillies before the trade.
“I thought Id be spending the rest of my career there. I was under the impression they wanted to keep me there for a long time.”
-Lee, on his magical half-season in Philadelphia. (Yahoo! Sports)
THEN HE STARTED SHAKING US VIGOROUSLY AND WE ASKED HIM TO STOP
“He was great. Our guys took him in, put their arms around him, and he put his arms around them.”
–Padres manager Bud Black, on his time with outfielder Milton Bradley, traded this week to the Mariners for Carlos Silva.
“Milton is a guy that’s very aware of his surroundings. He’s very observant, a good listener. You just have to keep him abreast of your thoughts as far as the team, and your thoughts as it concerns him. He does care about the team, and he does care about winning. For me, I kept him in the loop on what I was thinking on a pretty regular basis.”
–Brewers manager Ken Macha on his time coaching Bradley in Oakland.
“Again, the people that I talked to, and certainly they are people who were internal, had nice things to say about Milton. They thought he was a good teammate. They thought he was a guy that really cared and that he wanted to win. Sometimes, players need space and you just give players space.”
-Zduriencik, on his new outfielder.
“Milton is one of those guys where it takes time for him to gain your trust. But once he trusts you, he’s solid. We certainly knew the risks, but we felt the upside was worth the risk. We felt in our environment-San Diego, like Seattle, is not a huge media outlet-he could blend in, different than some of the other places. If Milton’s healthy, knowing Jack [Zduriencik], knowing the Seattle area and the fan base, and from what little I know of Wak, I think it will be a good fit. If Milton is comfortable and feels he has support from above, and he’s accepted in the clubhouse, he’ll do what he does well, which is play.”
-Former Padres general manager Kevin Towers (Larry Stone, Seattle
WE THOUGHT ABOUT SIGNING MIKE TO A FIVE-YEAR DEAL JUST TO SCREW WITH THE MEDIA
“Mike was someone we anticipated would be a free agent this offseason, so we scouted him a lot during this past year. We just think hes been an elite defender his entire career, someone who has been underappreciated from an offensive standpoint because hes always played at big ballparks, pitchers’ ballparks. And hes been one of the most consistent players in the game if you look. Hell get his 20 to 25 home runs every year, play outstanding defense, sees a lot of pitches at the plate. … We were one of the worst defensive clubs in baseball last year. We think Mike is a very important piece.”
–Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein on the two-year contract his club signed with free-agent outfielder Mike Cameron.
“That year our infield defense was a little dysfunctional. We made a couple of moves to save time and the effect of that move was to really solidify our defense and our pitching got better and we ended up going on a little run. In this case, I think there are a couple of parts that will allow us to throw a really good team defense out there which will help our pitching staff, help our run prevention.”
-Epstein, on the similarities between this offseason and midseason moves he made in 2004.
“I think Ive played a Gold Glove-caliber center field my whole career, I just dont get a chance to get recognized for it. The numbers speak for themselves. I still feel that Im able to move around pretty good and I played probably one of the better center fields this year that Ive played in a long time. Im not knocking the other years that Ive played because I try to play it well every year and thats just a part of who I am.”
-Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron, at his Fenway press conference this week.
“He was my hitting coach when I was in rookie ball and he always used to tell us that if we cant figure this out now-a little bit of it now while youre learning-that youll be one of the prime candidates to be working at 7-11. I always remembered that.”
-Cameron on Red Sox manager Terry Francona
JASON BAY, MEET YOUR NEW AGENT
“He said, ‘Do we have any business to discuss?’ and I said, ‘Lets talk about John Lackey,’ and he looked at me like there was no way he ever thought John wanted to come to Boston, maybe because of some things that had happened to him there. And I said ‘absolutely he does. I was able to finally convince Theo to take me seriously but the first time, he was very skeptical.”
–Steve Hilliard, John Lackey’s agent, on how negotiations with the Red Sox began.
“It didn’t help, for sure. It’s a business. You can’t let too much emotion into it. I get it. I’ve been around enough, but as a person, some of that stuff plays in, for sure. But the Red Sox stepped up and made my decision easy.”
-Red Sox starter John Lackey, on whether he was annoyed that the Angels were pursuing Roy Halladay.
“I don’t think we feel a sense of desperation. I think we like the pieces that we have right now. I think generally speaking it’s easier to add a bat during the season, so I think our pitching staff is going to be extraordinarily deep, so if we do go into the season with a mix similar to what we have right now, and if the need for a bigger bat does develop, I think that’s something we can address during the season. By no means am I saying we’re done, but I also don’t feel so rushed to go out there and do something dramatic.”
-Epstein, on his approach for the rest of this offseason. (Ian Browne, MLB.com)
BETWEEN HIM AND SWISHER, WE CALL THEM THE CHEMISTRY SET
“I’m excited. He’s just a great young man. Obviously we all know about his ability, but it’s his character that I’m equally excited about. He’s going to be a great, great fit in our clubhouse.”
–Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, on the acquisition of Curtis Granderson.
“Obviously we’re very excited about what Curtis brings to our club. Athleticism is something that I love, and that’s what we’re getting. He has outstanding character and I know he will be a leader on and off the field.”
-Yankees manager Joe Girardi
“I think earlier in his career, when he first came up, he was driving balls to left field, and I think he was tougher on lefties then. He was hitting the ball in the gap in left-center. Then he started hitting a few home runs and got a little pull-happy. I think that’s why lefties were able to stay away from him and throw slower stuff and have success against him.”
-Yankees starter CC Sabathia, on Granderson.
“I think the biggest factor for us is the Kevin Long factor. Any player you bring into our lineup has an opportunity to improve by 10 or 15 percent over what he did in a previous ballpark by coming here with our lineup, the way we talk hitting and our philosophies.”
-Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez
“Any time you can add a guy like that to the lineup that we have, it’s exciting. He plays a great center field and in this ballpark, he’ll probably hit 50 home runs. We’ll see.”
NEXT TIME YOU HEAR TWO YEARS AND TWENTY MILLION, JOHNNY, CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SIGN YOUR NAME
“We all love Johnny Damon. He was a big part of the reason we won that championship. But I think right now, theres just a difference of opinion as to what the pay is, quite frankly.”
-Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner
“The budget number is hard and set. As we move forward, we have Jeter and Rivera coming up next year. We were very aggressive in last years free-agent market and, it turned out, for good reason-there were terrific players available. This markets a lot different. Weve got to be careful, because we have a lot of commitments were locked in on.”
-Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on how he approached negotiations with Damon.
“Im glad Nick gets to come back to a great organization. He will love the guys and the new stadium.”
-Free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon, on the Yankees’ acquisition of Nick Johnson as their designated hitter. (Tyler Kepner, The New York Times)
WINNING THE DEAL YOU WERE BARELY IN
“We just think that not only is he a very good prospect and player now, he continues to get better each year. We think he’s a potential monster talent.”
-A’s general manager Billy Beane, on outfielder Michael Taylor, who he acquired from the Blue Jays by way of the Phillies for Brett Wallace.
“It’s a daily thing. I check my blood sugar, give myself insulin for any kind of carbohydrate I take, and stay on top of it. I try to stay away from complicated foods, and make sure when (the) game starts, I’m in my best condition to play.”
-A’s outfielder Michael Taylor, on dealing with his diabetes.
“Finishing .500 in the last whatever number of games is still a long way from contending in 162 games. The only way that can happen is continued development of young players and adding more players, and acquiring young players is the most difficult thing to do. That takes time.”
-Beane, on the way his team finished the 2009 season.
“We’ll be open-minded going into the spring. It will be somewhat dependent on some of the other things we do.”
-Beane on his approach for the rest of the offseason. (Susan Slusser, San
“I expect we’ll still add to the club in a few spots. We’ve been in regular contact with guys we’re interested in and I like our options. Fortunately for us, the market is relatively strong in the areas we’re looking at.”
–Rangers general manager Jon Daniels after a deal for Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell fell through this week. (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)
“It moves us from getting Boston’s first-round pick to their second-round pick, which in reality is not that big of deal when you consider that Oakland almost signed Scutaro and would have given us their second-round pick.”
-Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, on the Red Sox signing of John Lackey. (MLB.com)
“He’s a good example of a player who has a chance to go out and build some value by playing. He didn’t get an opportunity to play here, but he’s outstanding defensively, he’s somebody who’s a tougher out than the numbers indicate. He can hit really good pitching. He’s really tough to get to swing and miss. We think there’s a lot of offensive potential there. If we end up with him playing a lot of first base against right-handed pitching, we have a chance to duplicate or build off what he did in 2007, for example. That’s a great solution.”
-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on first baseman Casey Kotchman (Ian Browne, MLB.com)
“The acquisition of a franchise talent is not about a wristwatch. That’s about all I can tell you. It’s not a particular time. It’s about the club recognizing the benefit of having that player and how they’ll be dramatically impacted by the loss of that player. When that realization takes place, when there is recognition of the player’s place in the market, then you have an agreement.”
–Scott Boras, Matt Holliday‘s agent. (Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.