Some of the more notable quotes of the first two weeks of spring training:
“I’m just playing baseball this year,” he said later. “I get to be more of a kid again. Third base is more fun. I’m more relaxed. Catching was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
“Behind the plate, there is so much to deal with mentally. You have to deal with the whole pitching staff, and communicate with the pitching coach, and study the scouting reports.
“I’m not that smart,” Inge confessed. “The little-est amount of stuff going on in my head, the better off I am.”
This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard Inge will improve due to a vacuumous noggin. His offensive production last year was attributed to the fact that he “stopped thinking.” I’m sometimes skeptical about stories like these, but in Brandon’s case I might believe it. I’m not calling him stupid, but Inge is a tremendous athlete and could be better off relying on instincts. As a catcher all reports indicate that he did take a lot of pride in calling a game and handling the staff, which may have taken a toll. His splits last year certainly show that he performed better without the additional mental toll (238/280/410 as a catcher, 287/340/453 overall last year). The same seems to hold true so far this spring as Inge is off to a hot start going 5 for 11 with 5 RBI’s.
“It’s as good as Pedro Martinez’s,” said Larry Parrish, manager at Triple-A Toledo. “It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.
“He has what we call a Bugs Bunny changeup, the kind that reminds you of those cartoons where the batter keeps swinging and missing at the same pitch.”
This is one of those quotes that people instantly misinterpret, and then promptly discredit. Parrish isn’t saying that Fernando Rodney is as good as Pedro. He’s talking about one specific pitch. The same pitch that Baseball America ranked the best change-up in AAA in 2003 (unfortunately I can’t find the link). Parrish mentioned nothing of Pedro’s full repertoire and pinpoint control. Now I don’t know if Rodney’s change is as good as Pedro’s, but it isn’t a ridiculous statement. That being said, this is the year that Rodney has to get it done. He’ll be 28 this year, and hasn’t made a favorable impression at the major league level yet.
“We’re not a speed team,” Trammell said. “Inge, Infante and Guillen can do things that speed guys do — maybe Pudge in his own way — but the rest of the guys aren’t like that.
“That doesn’t mean we still can’t be efficient on offense. We have to run the bases well, get better secondary leads, score from second on hits — things like that are important to your success.”
I’m smiling after reading this for two reasons:
1. Trammell recognizes the type of team he has isn’t a speed team – thus he probably won’t try too many steals/hit and runs.
2. Alex Sanchez isn’t mentioned in there as a speed guy. It could be an oversight, or it could be a hint that he isn’t really “in the plans.” I have a feeling it’s more the former than the latter, but a guy can hope right?
However, you know who is really fast-Nook Logan. I know this isn’t shocking news or anything. I just bring it up because I say his speed on display on FSD’s replay of Bonderman’s shut out. There were two outs, Logan was at-bat, Guillen the runner at second and Monroe on first. Logan hit a shot into the rightfield corner. Guillen easily scored and Monroe was being waved home all the way. Unfortunately he was out by 10 feet. The remarkable thing is that when showing the replay, you could see Logan pulling into third, at the same time Monroe was 10 feet away from home. Now keep in mind, Monroe isn’t slow, Monroe had a lead at first base, and wasn’t being held on, there were two outs so he was running on contact.
“Pitching is the name of the game,” he said. “If it takes more money, we’re going to get pitching. If our young guys don’t deliver, I’ll have to focus just like Georgie Porgie (Yankees owner George Steinbrenner) does on pitching.”
This of course was Illitch talking about how he’ll spend to keep this team a winner, which is all well and good. What’s really important is that he called George Steinbrenner Georgie Peorgie. This makes me giggle.
In all seriousness, these are some of the more telling quotes from Illitch:
“I was committed,” he said of improving the Tigers. “The thing that motivates me is good people. When you know you have good people in the clubhouse, no prima donnas, you don’t have any selfish guys, that you have leaders, it gives you a lot of strength as an owner.”
“It’s the most secure I’ve felt from the standpoint of building a team with a good solid foundation,” he said of the Tigers “We’ve never had that, never could get it together.
“You don’t mind investing your money and doing everything you can to win when you have a team that really wants to win.”
He’s basically asserting what was suspected all along – that he would spend when he thought the team was ready to compete. Unfortunately too many years were wasted with Randy Smith trying to build that foundation.
-David Pinto of Baseball Musings is holding a pledge drive this month. David’s trying to make a career as a baseball blogger. I for one am pulling for him. Pinto’s blog is one of the few blogs that I check several times a day. He’s also been kind enough to link to my work several times recently, and I’m always appreciative of the extra visitors. Also, he was the source/creator/distributor of the Probabilistic Model of Range data that I wrote about several times. Because of all this, I’m going to encourage you to do two things: 1. Check out his blog and 2. If you like what you see, send him a buck, or two, or five, or 10.