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December 7, 2005

Joe Girardi


Q. Characteristics and traits you look for?
JOE GIRARDI: Honesty, integrity, hard work.

Q. And any advice for today's young athlete?
JOE GIRARDI: Don't ever give up. You should never not fulfill your dream because you didn't work hard enough.

Q. Do you think the Marlins are going to be active at these meetings?
JOE GIRARDI: Our guys get nervous when we don't make a move in a day.

Q. You had told us before during your hiring process that you were aware the club was going to be young, but were you aware it was going to be to this degree so many starting players?
JOE GIRARDI: We didn't necessarily talk about the degree. I think that a lot of the reasons you're seeing this is the stadium deal is not done. It depended on how the stadium deal got done and I think the landscape will change again when it gets done. But for right now we're going young. My thought is if you're going to go young, go all young. They can grow together, learn to rely on each other, be accountable. And the competition is good. The competition for the spots is healthy.

Q. But had you known during the interview process that this is what the team would look like in December?
JOE GIRARDI: I still would take it, yes.

Q. What do you know about any of the three pitchers the Cubs are going to send when the deal become official?
JOE GIRARDI: The two kids in AA are very good. I don't want to say they dominated AA, but they were very, very good, and the potential is possible that both of them can be in our rotation, one of them. They could be in the pen. Sergio Mitre always had good stuff. I think he has a chance to be better than he has been so far. And I think he has a chance to be a rotation guy.

Q. Did you catch him at all in Spring Training?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I'm too old. I've always loved his stuff. I mean, he's got a great sinker. When you have a guy with a great sinker, you've got a shot.

Q. The bullpen seems very inexperienced right now, and obviously the rotation, too, but do you think we'll see more moves to address the back end?
JOE GIRARDI: There will be more moves but we're going to be really, really young. I don't think there's any question. And the bullpen guys are going to have to grow up just like the starters, just like our shortstop, second baseman, first baseman, right center and left fielder probably. It's okay. Just because a guy is young doesn't mean he can't play. It just means that no one in the public besides maybe farm directors and the press know who they are. They can still play. There's a reason that they are top prospects.

Q. You talked and you reiterated you anticipate you don't want to lose and obviously you anticipate winning, but how do you see with such a competitive division the team competing like that?
JOE GIRARDI: They feed off of each other and they feed off of the competition and the success that they have. A big part of my job is making sure that these guys understand that they belong in the big leagues and they can do it. That's going to be my message; that just because you're young doesn't mean you can't play. I expect you to do it just like you did in AA and AA. It's the next step up, but if you make your pitch, it's a good pitch. You don't make your pitch at any level, it's not a good pitch. It's pretty simple.
If you're a selective hitter in AA and AAA and selective in the big leagues, you're going to be successful.

Q. The mantra with the Marlins has always been you can never have enough pitching. Might you spend some of those off and address the need at second base or in the outfield?
JOE GIRARDI: I'm sure those are all options. That's something you should probably ask Larry. I don't think the team is done. I think there will be some more moves because we have to address second, center left field. And there's some kids in the organization that we've talked about playing second, center and left field.
But the Marlins have been open to trades and we'll listen to anything.

Q. So Willingham looks like he's a guy that is going to get a good shot at catching?
JOE GIRARDI: He's going to get a good shot.

Q. What do you know about him?
JOE GIRARDI: He's a hard worker. He's a very talented offensive player that put up big numbers. He has not had the chance to probably catch enough games to make a fair judgment if he can be an everyday catcher.
But the work ethic is there, and that's something that you cannot always teach.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk to Josh yet?
JOE GIRARDI: No, I will call him when I get home.

Q. How much of an influence is Joe Torre going to be on your manager style, being with him so much and seeing how he works?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I don't think it's just his style. It's just the influence on my life, the way he treats people and the way he handles players; that's big. Joe has the ability to get the most out of his players and put him in situations where they succeed. That's going to be really important for me in my first year.

Q. With so many young pitchers and a lot of organizations worry about bringing them along too quickly, obviously you'll be in the opposite situation where you have to; what are some of the pitfalls there that you'll avoid with some of the young guys?
JOE GIRARDI: Too many innings. A lot of these kids are not used to pitching in September and you start a week earlier in April and Spring Training is a few weeks longer. I think that you have to be concerned about the number of innings that they pitch.
If they are taking too many lumps, you might have to have them miss a start or two. The idea is we've got an abundance of young starters, so we have ways of being creative where you put the kids in a situation where they can succeed and if they are struggling a little bit, maybe they miss a start. Because we do have, like I said, an abundance.

Q. I think you said earlier today that you thought you had eight starters that are going to compete for those rotation spots.
JOE GIRARDI: It's a nice problem to have. Most teams would love to have that now. A lot of teams would probably like to have eight veterans. But we have eight young kids that have a chance to develop.
What I like about it is they have a chance to push each other. To me the accountability to each other is more important than accountability to anyone else in that room. And when they are pushing each other, I think you create a very healthy environment.

Q. By the same token you talked about -- guys like Dontrelle and some of the younger kids who have had different pitching coaches the last couple of years, is this a difficult thing? I think this is Dontrelle's third or fourth pitching coach in three or four years.
JOE GIRARDI: Well, it's always hard I think for anyone when you continually change coaches. Some guys get comfortable with a coach. We have a very good pitching coach coming in. Dontrelle knows who Rick Clemens is because of their Cub days, so there is a small relationship there.
He's a proven winner. The maintenance is the important thing for Dontrelle. It's not like you have to overhaul what he does. So his situation, I don't think consistency is probably as important to where he is in his career as it is with other guys.

Q. In many ways it's going to look like it's a Dontrelle Willis/Miguel Cabrera team, but for Dontrelle to not think he has to carry the club, how do you talk to him?
JOE GIRARDI: A lot of discussions and just sitting down and talking to him. My expectations of him is to be a leader and from everything I know about him, talking to him, he already is a leader. So that point is not going to change, the way he works, the way he carries himself, he's a leader. You talk about makeup, he's a 10. So I just want him to be himself. Don't try to do too much because I'm not going to let you do too much because it's my job to make sure that he doesn't get away from what he does and who he is.

Q. How challenging is this season going to be for Miguel from the standpoint of now he's going to be the most dangerous hitter in your lineup most likely and going to get pitched around even more than he has already; is this going to force him to be more selective than he's ever been?
JOE GIRARDI: You know he's going to have to mature more as a hitter. He might have to take his walks. But there's a lot of guys, almost in every lineup you say don't let this guy beat you. And that probably doesn't change much for him. If you look at the lineup, yes, Carlos Delgado is a very dangerous hitter, but the guy if I was watching, I'm not going to let Miguel Cabrera beat me.
In a sense it's going to change some, but maybe not as much as people think.

Q. Are you confident he's going to have protection around him?
JOE GIRARDI: I am confident. We have Jacob who had a very good month and he was playing in a pennant race. He's got power, he hit 11 home runs, he had 110 at-bats. I'm confident that he'll have protection.
Now, is he going to have Murderer's Row behind him? No. But how many people do. If you are facing St. Louis, who is not going to beat you? Albert Pujols? Same thing.

Q. Thoughts on Hermida, he's going to be a kid, if he grows up in a hurry?
JOE GIRARDI: I'm excited, I'm excited to watch him play. I'm excited to see him grow up as a player. Everything I've been told about him, there's nothing he can't do. So it's time for him to step up. A lot of these players are going to be asked to step up. There's nothing wrong with it. I don't believe in slowing people's progress down.

Q. Ramirez, what do you know about him?
JOE GIRARDI: He's going to have a chance to win the shortstop job. He's an exciting player, one of Boston's best prospects. I think we're fortunate to have him.
And we have a kid by the name of Robert Andino who is a good player. He's going to have his opportunities, too. Second, short, it's competition. No one is handed the job. I guarantee you that Miguel Cabrera will be in the lineup, but after that, there's not a whole lot of guarantees.
So Robert Andino is going to have every chance to show us what he can do, and where he belongs and how he fits in.

Q. Is Jacobs the type of guy from what you know can hit left-handed pitching?
JOE GIRARDI: A lot of times they don't get an opportunity at the big league level. They do it all through the Minor Leagues and then all of a sudden you start platooning him because he's in the big league level and everyone wants to win that game. I don't believe on putting limitations on anyone. He's going to get a chance. I want to give him a chance to play against everyone, because if he shows that he can play against everyone, what a treat.

Q. Bowyer came over from Chicago --
JOE GIRARDI: Minnesota.

Q. Larry considers him closing material, do you see him competing for that right away?
JOE GIRARDI: As of right now he's competing for it right away. Our landscape changes daily, so it could change, but as of right now he's competing. He's got a great power arm and we want to see it.

Q. Are you going to get the glove behind and actually catch some of these guys?
JOE GIRARDI: No, that's not something I need to do, but I will be there watching very closely.

Q. Tony Pena used to do that. Do you think there's a benefit to that?
JOE GIRARDI: I'm sure there. Is the best way to tell what kind of stuff a guy has is to get back there. I haven't thought about it. You've actually kind of sparked my interest a little bit there. I might do it just to see.

Q. You've got two coaching positions open, you want me to talk to you about that?
JOE GIRARDI: That will get done, shortly.
You know with all of the focus on the trades, to me it was important to find out what kind of team we were going to have before we had all of our coaches filled.

Q. Are you at the point where you're done talking to people and got your candidates?
JOE GIRARDI: I have candidates. We still have to talk.
Next week we'll address it probably pretty strongly, bench coach, hitting coach.

Q. But this team since Pierre came in '03 kind of looked different with the speed at the top, but those guys are gone now, so how is this lineup's makeup going to change?
JOE GIRARDI: We are looking for those type of guys again, to have the different kinds of ways to score runs. We have some people in the middle of the order that can hit the ball out of the ballpark. I'm a big believer in creating runs and when you get in the playoffs you have to find a way to create runs because they are not easy to come by. I want a team that's accustomed to doing that and we are looking.

Q. Do you still see a speed tandem at the top of the order if that's possible?
JOE GIRARDI: So that eliminates me.

Q. Is Petit one of the eight guys you were talking about?
JOE GIRARDI: Yes, definitely. Pretty much almost everyone that we've gotten in a trade, I would have to say about 80 percent of them have a chance to make our team and that's pretty good.

Q. Including a couple of the guys that will be announced shortly today?
JOE GIRARDI: Probably will, yeah.

Q. Since you got the job, talk a little about your study of the team, the players, what does that entail as far as getting to know them?
JOE GIRARDI: I started studying the team and then it started changing a lot.
You know, I've talked to the people about the players that we've acquired. You know, for me, I can do all of the studying I want, but I've got to see them in games. I've got to see them in Spring Training to start and then I've got to see them in big league games. A lot of times, people will stereotype a guy as one type of player and you might see him completely different when you see him. So my mind is really open to anyone who comes into camp.

Q. What kind of stamp or impression do you want people to get of a team with a Joe Girardi, Florida Marlins manager?
JOE GIRARDI: It will be exciting. Don't underestimate these kids. I use the example, Derek Jeter, you look at his stats, first year, 1996, and you look at his stats last year, there's not a lot of difference. Now, someone is going to say, well, he's a mature superstar now. But his numbers are not much different. So that's my point. Just because you don't know who these kids are, you know, because a lot of them came from other organizations that were highly touted doesn't mean they can't play. Derek Jeter hit .300 his rookie year, drove in 78 runs, there's not a big difference. Don't underestimate a young club.

Q. If it's that easy, great Minor League numbers would be a star in the big leagues.
JOE GIRARDI: I understand.

Q. So what is the secret or is that something that has to be instilled in these guys to make the adjustment?
JOE GIRARDI: You have got to play the game the right way, respect for the game, respect for your teammates, the accountability to your teammates, the integrity, the taking care of yourself, being prepared to play every day. Whether you're playing or not, you have to be prepared.
And my motto in life is no one should ever take your job because they work harder. That's what I want to instill in my players. You know, everyone is gifted with so much talent, and that's not something you can change. But there's no amount of hard work that you can't do. That's my job to teach them.

Q. Do you believe that some veteran leadership will be needed?
JOE GIRARDI: Sure, and we're trying to acquire those guys. We've talked about it and it seems like a lot of stuff will become more clear as midnight passes.

Q. How eager are you to get to Spring Training?
JOE GIRARDI: I can't wait. Can't wait. I just can't wait. To me that's when the fun starts. I mean, this is great and all. But what you live for is the games. Once you get to Spring Training, there's a limited amount of days before we start playing games.
You know, baseball for me, the off-season, was always really slow until January 1st and then it just flies. I always get bored after about a month and I'm past that month point, so I'm ready to go back to work.

Q. You're such an underdog, are you feeling that no one thinks you can win?
JOE GIRARDI: I love being an underdog. You know I've been on both sides of the spectrum now. Just because you have a high payroll doesn't mean you don't have problems. You have issues that you have to work through and things that have to get done to be successful.

Q. Can you talk about the importance that you're going to place on Dontrelle and the fact that he's going to be gone for part of Spring Training with the World Baseball Classic?
JOE GIRARDI: I understand that he's going to be gone and I understand the importance of World Baseball Classic to Major League Baseball. But on a selfish standpoint, that doesn't help me. I want my leader and the pitching staff around these kids. There's a chance they will be gone a whole month. That's the disadvantage for me, and other clubs are going to fall in that same situation. But I have to deal with it this year. I'm going to miss it.
And then I don't get to know him, either. Any time you hear a guy that has a 10 makeup, that's the guy you want to be around.

Q. From the other side of looking in, when you see Dontrelle Willis, hear about Dontrelle, what stands out?
JOE GIRARDI: Who he is. Not so much -- you can always look at -- you're only a great baseball player for so long and then you have the rest of your life to live. The thing I've heard about him is the type of person he is. To me, that's what stands out, because to everything I understanding, he's always going to be that type of guy. Those are the kind of people you want to surround yourself with.

Q. Was there a moment either in the World Series or playoffs where you thought this guy is doing stuff he shouldn't be doing?
JOE GIRARDI: He was in the World Series, what was he? 20 years old, 21? You think about players they have played their whole career and never got there. But you watch that Marlin team in 2003, he's not supposed to be this good, Cabrera is not supposed to be this good, Willis is not supposed to be this good. But they were. At one time they were top prospects in an organization and they didn't seem to be fazed.

Q. It has shown other guys that you can do it.
JOE GIRARDI: I basically came out of Astros and went to the big leagues. I don't see it being a problem. I think Astros sometimes is just a little bit more seasoned, but a lot of guys.

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