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December 6, 2005

Buddy Bell


Q. Any activity in the works?
BUDDY BELL: We've been doing a lot of talking to a lot of teams that are interested in a few of our guys, mostly our bullpen. Probably our strongest part of our club. So it's interesting. You never know what's going to but we'll see.

Q. Would you like to keep that bullpen together?
BUDDY BELL: Ideally we would like to keep them together but we have to move forward, too. We have some holes in our lineup that we need to plug up and we're just not going to give them away. Ideally you'd like to keep them together but chances of that happening are not good just because they are who they are and they are the only guys who we can get something back for, unless we want to get rid of some are our position players and I just don't think that's going to happen.

Q. Have you heard anything on Billy Butler?
BUDDY BELL: Yes, I did, he's very impressive. He played in the Fall League, I saw him there, and he's an impressive kid, a tough kid, I don't think there's any question that he can play first. We have a little bit of a logjam there in Huber, young guys I'm talking about. Still question about whether Butler can play the outfield; we may have to move him in the infield. This kid can really hit. He's got great makeup. He's not far away. He's not far away. There's some things that he has to get better at. Obviously the speed of the game kind of speeds up for him defensively a little bit. Offensively, he's, I think, anyway, maybe this isn't fair because I didn't see him, 15, 20 at-bats, but he has a pretty good idea offensively. And we're going to get him some playing time. We just don't want him to come to big league camp just to get the experience. We want to be able to see him play.
You know, I know it took a long time to sign him and we would have liked to have seen him get out earlier but I think because of the experience he got in the Instruction League and the Fall League, I think that was good enough to where we can bring him into Spring Training and expect to see -- he's not going to bury himself I don't think?

Q. Is it unfair to say 2007 is too soon for a guy like him?
BUDDY BELL: No, I don't think so. The way they are pushing guys now, especially college kids, this kid has played in the College World Series, he's played under a lot of pressure. Just whether or not he can hit hard and soft. That's the biggest thing with these young kids, whether they can adapt to hard stuff and slow stuff and a lot of them get in between and can't hit. But this kid I think has been through quite a bit that he understands that.

Q. If you're going to part with a reliever, what would you like to get most?
BUDDY BELL: Well, that's a good question. Right now we're looking at second base, we're looking at a corner outfielder and just about everybody here is looking for that.
Me personally, I would like to get another big prospect, I think that's what I would prefer, you know, because of the track that we're on, because of the direction we're on. And ideally it's a guy that can be here now, but expecting just to take off in the future. Doesn't have to be a special player now but that kind of guy -- you know, the corner outfielders now, they cost an arm and a leg. Everybody's looking for them.
So we might have to go that route. Right now there's nothing out there but ideally that's what I'd like, just because I think it's important for us to stay in the direction we started out, or that this organization started out at the beginning of the year last year.

Q. What do you think about how much tougher this division has got the last couple of years?
BUDDY BELL: Arguably it was the best division. First of all, the White Sox, world champs, so that tells you something about the division. They did not necessarily run away with it. Cleveland almost caught them at the end. They lost probably Millwood, I don't know where Millwood is going to go and then we heard a report last night that they were looking to sign Hoffman. Minnesota is always competitive. They always put a solid team together. And Detroit, I personally thought had the best offensive team in our division and it didn't necessarily work out.
So, yeah, it's a tough division. You know, you've got to play each and every one of them, what is it, 12 times, 18 times?

Q. More than you want.
BUDDY BELL: So that's not going to be easy for us. You know what, I think if we -- in August, if we could have started this season over, I thought we would have been a lot better, record-wise, anyway. Once you get as far back as we did, it's tough to get your heart started but there's not a whole lot to play for.

Q. What did you learn last year with this team in particular and comparing it with your other managerial experiences?
BUDDY BELL: You know what, it's not unlike the other jobs I've had really. In Detroit it was pretty similar. Colorado, was a little different but the same, yeah, because we had different directions and just weren't quite sure.
Just because of the kind of deals we made, because of the money, we were kind of in between. You know, they are doing I think right now the best way of turning their organization around. They have got some good, young players.
So this is pretty similar to what I was involved with before. I just hope that we are able to stay with it a little longer than we did the other two. I think that requires patience. I have patience in some things; other things, I don't. (Laughter.)
But I do have patience with the plan, if that's the way we need to go, that I have patience with that. But, you know, I learned that I like being around young players and I like seeing them grow and I like to see them compete. And I like to see them feel like they belong in the big leagues, and guys like Buck and Teahen, guys that all of the sudden you see them walk around the clubhouse, and hey, you know, they have slowed it down a little bit and they feel like they belong.

Q. What is more difficult with teams that go young and as they kind of grow up together and they deal with expectation, or how difficult is that next step for young teams to go from all young and then a year or two in, then it becomes an expectation level, it not just good enough to be in the big leagues but now to now you have to start?
BUDDY BELL: I don't know the answer to that. I think it all evolves. I think if a kid belongs in the big leagues, he's going to evolve; it just happens.
Then you bring in veteran leadership, veteran guys that can kind of get them over the hump. I don't think they can do it by themselves. I think you need that veteran influence, and coaches and managers cannot do it all. I think veteran influence, and it doesn't have to be a lot, it doesn't have to be half and half. It's got to be maybe three or four guys that can kind of get those guys to the next level. I don't think it's necessarily a game that they play or a month that they play. I think it's just the people that are around him kind of help him more than anything.

Q. Along those lines when you talk to a guy like Reggie Sanders, how much does winning history impact a guy that you're talking about, that veteran guy?
BUDDY BELL: I think it's huge. It's something these guys can sit in the clubhouse and talk to these guys. Veteran guys have a way of slowing things down where they don't get too wrapped up in a loss or they don't get too wrapped up in a win, a winning streak, a losing streak or what have you.
So I mean just it's not so much maybe in what they say. It's just how they walk around, how they -- I don't know. It's hard to explain. But when I was growing up, when I was younger, I mean, I was able to watch guys like Ray Fosse, Gaylord Perry, Graig Nettles, it wasn't a whole lot that they said to me; it was just watching them go about their business and the pace that they were on just really impressed me more than anything.

Q. Are you still in the Reggie (Sanders) hunt?
BUDDY BELL: Yeah. Very impressive, very impressive.
I have not talked to Reggie. I know Reggie but I have not talked to him since his trip to Kansas City. I know how impressive he is. He's in great shape and, I don't know, what is he, 38, 39, something like that. But yeah, we are still interested.

Q. At some point do those young guys have to change their mental outlook from just proving they belong to doing what it takes to win? Is there a difference there?
BUDDY BELL: You know, probably. I think when a kid comes up to the big leagues, I think right off the bat they can't be in awe of everything. They have to have a feeling that they eventually are going to be able to do it.
Just like Tiger Woods, when he went on the tour, he knew that he could compete right away. There were some things that he had to learn, and he probably learned it from Nicklaus and Watson, guys like that, and it's kind of the same way with our players. They have to have a sense that they belong already, but then have the respect and intelligent enough to just learn from the guys around them. I just think it's a combination of things.

Q. How did you arrive at your coaching decisions?
BUDDY BELL: We had five guys and they were all terrific and they were all guys that I pretty much knew. So I wanted Allard (Baird) to meet with all five of these guys and they were all great. Mac (Bob McClure) interviewed with Allard, and I think just immediately, general manager and pitching coach, they have a little bit of a different relationship that be some of the other coaches. I don't particularly like it that way but that's how it evolves. They hit it off. And I was with him in Colorado and just really impressed with him. Actually the year that (Marcel) Lachemann left, Mac was considered. We chose Jimmy Wright because I personally thought it was the right process that Jimmy was the pitching guy, he did a good job with some of our younger guys, and he deserved it, even though Mac probably deserved it as much. He was ready even three years ago.

Q. As I understand, he does a good job of telling guys what they need to succeed, he doesn't sugarcoat it; is that accurate?
BUDDY BELL: He's very intelligent. You know, what he does, and what I like, he does a lot of things through the catcher. He works with the catcher a lot more than any other pitching coach I've ever talked to, which I like because as a manager I like to do a lot of things with the catcher as well. And our bullpen coach, Freddy Kendall, and Mac have a good relationship as well, so that's a nice combination.
You still have to have arms and you still have to have guys that compete. If we have that, I think Mac is going to be able to help them go to the next level as well as some of the other guys we bring up.

Q. What's your favorite Freddy Kendall story?
BUDDY BELL: I can't tell you that. (Laughing.)
You know what, though, I've been with Freddy -- I was with him in Chicago when I was a Minor League director and I was with him in Detroit and Colorado. He's a tremendous teacher and I played in the big leagues for 12 or 13 years. He's got a tremendous sense of humor, real silly like the rest of us. It's a really good combination, because Mac is more on the quiet side, and Freddy is more on the little rougher, rough edges. He's not afraid, Mac can be a little diplomatic, people know where he's coming from.
I'm looking forward to the new coaching staff. Bob Schaeffer did a great job, and that was hard. You know, going through that 19-game losing streak made me feel like, you know, there's a couple other guys that I need to be able to maybe talk to. Not that I couldn't talk to him, and Billy was doing the infield stuff so, there was kind of an overlapping of duty. It would have been nice if we could have kept him.

Q. Was that one of the hardest things?
BUDDY BELL: Yeah, considering the time, there was a lot of personal stuff going on. Yeah. Yeah. For me, you get to a point in your baseball life where you've seen everything and you kind of -- everything is not going to be great, so for me, I always knew that at some point it was going to end. I was hoping it would end a little sooner. But it was hard for me to look at those players every day because you couldn't -- you couldn't say, hey, it wasn't the effort. It was just that we didn't have enough ability. I like guys that try hard, but you need guys to try hard that are good. I can still try hard but I'm not very good. (Laughter.) We just didn't have enough of that combination.

Q. Firepower was a little short.
BUDDY BELL: A lot of crazy stuff happened, a lot of stupid, unbelievable stuff happened. But, you know, 19-game losing streak is never good, I don't care what anybody says. Made us realize that we actually before and after that, we played pretty good. So it certainly showed us that, hey, we are not even close. We just have to make sure that we stick with what we believe in that's going to work for us and our organization and our franchise. I think it will work out, hopefully the patience is there.

Q. At the end of last season, you said that there were going to be some changes as far as maybe an attitude in the clubhouse or that type of thing. What exactly does that mean?
BUDDY BELL: It wasn't so much the general attitude. It was kind of a couple individual attitudes that kind of made -- we're working on it right now. I liked it at the end pretty much but still needs some work done. It wasn't very good when I got there. It was kind of a weird combination.
I'm not worried about the attitude. I don't worry about that. I really believe that we're doing it the right way and it's going to be -- that's the way they want it.

Q. Burnett is going to sign it looks like a five-year, $55 million deal. You were here when you got Hampton for the Rockies, the risk of that long contract, beyond the injury thing, do you think that in Mike's case the expectation for the player is something that you also have to calculate when you give one of those monstrous contracts?
BUDDY BELL: Yeah, but you know what, everybody and their brother wanted Mike Hampton. I mean, we were not the only team that was going to spend a lot. We spent a lot more Mike Hampton but there were 20 other teams that would have spent close to that; not what we spent, but, you know, and the reason for that is Mike's makeup, he's tough, can pitch, pitched in the World Series, could pitch in all kinds of pressure situations. You'd think Colorado is going to be a piece of cake for him.
Well, you know, I don't know exactly what happened. I think Mike might have had a few arm problems and all of a sudden didn't feel like he could get his sinker over and things like that. I don't think the expectations with Mike affected him. I don't know if it affected the other teams. We thought we had this, and now all of a sudden we don't but I think this just evolves into what they are doing now; that they have to do it from the bottom up.

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