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December 7, 2005

Dusty Baker

Jim Hendry


Q. Talk about dealing from strength, obviously young pitching is the strength of your organization and that's what you dealt from to take this trade.
JIM HENDRY: Obviously you hate to give up quality young guys, but in this case, it's what you have to do. You know, we value Juan, he was one of best in the game, leading off the game, outstanding centerfielder, tremendous teammate, got to see way too much of him in 2003. Then obviously it's no secret that we needed to make some adjustments at the top of the order, so you know, the price of poker was high yesterday and a lot of teams were in the same boat we were in. It was something that, you know, we would have liked to have done a little cheaper.
The Marlins did a terrific job of scouting our system. They were very, very fair to deal with. They had a lot of action, and I commend them for under tough times, the way they have had to go about their business but they have done a great job of acquiring a lot of talent in the deals that they have. A couple years down the road, they are certainly going to be a strong factor again.

Q. Did you get this thing going at the general managers meeting and did things change a lot from then until last night?
JIM HENDRY: Well, you know, I've talked to Larry Beinfest numerous times about Juan and a lot of times he was never going to possibly be available. So Larry knew that it was a club that he could potentially deal with. We had some groundwork discussions in Palm Springs without going into names. I just told Larry that if he had to move him because of the circumstances, count us in.
I think as the week went on, you know, it doesn't take a lot of time to figure out that there's a lot of good clubs that are just lacking with that bona fide great lead-off hitter.
The last few days it was getting a little stressful. We knew the competition was very, very tough and it was just a matter of how far you're going to go to try to accommodate their wishes and at the same time hope that you're the one standing with the great player that Juan is.

Q. His on-base dropped a little bit from the year before, did your scouts see anything that might have accounted for that?
JIM HENDRY: No. Our scouts know him very, very well. We're lucky that we have a lot of history with him. Guys like Derrek Lee and Dempster who we think the world of played with him. His character and frontline quality as a teammate is off the charts. Gary Hughes knew him quite well even in Colorado. He didn't do quite as well in certain things as he has in the past but he's 28 years old; we're not worried about him on the decline at all. When you can find a guy that lines up 162 games every year and ignites a ballclub like he has in the past, we're just thrilled to have him.

Q. Dusty, you talk all of the time about how much you want speed. What does this do to the lineup?
DUSTY BAKER: It does a lot to the lineup. I just got a call from Brett Butler. He said, congratulations, this is probably the best lead-off man that I can remember that I've had since Brett. And speed does a lot for you.
I think not only what he can do, but I also think he can help our young players that are going to play with speed like Murton, Cedeno, those guys, he can help them get better jumps and read pitchers, because this guy is one of the best. I think he's going to help us in a number of ways, it's going to help Derrek Lee, the guys behind him get pitches. So I'm very, very thrilled to have him?

Q. Seeing he has one year left in arbitration and you have a kid in the Minor Leagues pushing to get up, what's your strategy?
JIM HENDRY: Our strategy, we certainly didn't look at Juan as a guy that we were going into it that we would have him for one year. We love Felix Pie and if Felix does what we hope he can do and we're fortunate enough to keep Juan longer, I see no problem with Felix being able to play somewhere else besides centerfield, too. We certainly did not go look at Juan Pierre as a guy that, oh, we'll just keep him for a year and move him along. We're thrilled to have him. If it works out the way we hope it will, we'll find plenty of room for our own guys, too.

Q. How different of a team do you think you are now than you were at the end of the season, or is that a fair question?
JIM HENDRY: Well, obviously I think we're a lot better. Hopefully we'll be better a month from now than we are today, too.
So, yeah, we're obviously disappointed with how it ended. Obviously our two glaring weaknesses that we felt had to be addressed soon were some guys that could pitch late in the game before Dempster and of course the leadoff thing, I think we were probably statistically one of the worst two or three in the game in the 1-hole last year with a very good situation 3 through 6.
So it was a priority. It was no secret we chased Furcal hard, and even if we'd have gotten him, we'd have been chasing Juan Pierre just as hard. We would have loved to have had them both, but we really, really wanted to come out with at least one and we were fortunate after losing Furcal to pull this one out.

Q. Dusty, do you envision a lineup that will be much different next year as far as the production goes? A lot of people talk about production from hitters that hit 40 and drive in 100, but this guy scores 100.
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, and those guys that drive in 100 might drive in 120 now. He puts pressure on the opposition. He's going to bring a lot to our lineup. He brings a different dimension to our lineup. Now you know we can score, play small ball and also still have D-Lee and guys behind him that can play long ball at the same time. I think it's going to add a tremendous dimension to our game. It's going to allow us, especially with the bullpen, that Jim just reassured us with and with the speed of Juan Pierre of winning and playing a number of close games.

Q. Will you talk about the makeup of Pierre and how important that is well as well as the type of individual you have here?
JIM HENDRY: Anybody that's ever been around him and played with him or been in the front office with the clubs he's been at, this is a top-of-the-line guy. When you have players that play for us like Derrek Lee and Dempster, they have gone out of their way to call me or talk to me before the season was over and said, hey, you know, if you get a chance, get Pierre, man, he's awesome. Like I said, Gary Hughes told me the other day that he's his favorite player in baseball. So when people talk about you like that, that's all you need, that's all the testimony you need.
We certainly have a relationship with a lot of the guys that worked for the Marlins. Years ago, I worked for the Marlins, and Gary helped build the original Marlins. Everybody speaks about this guy as there's not much better and we knew the same thing about Derrek Lee when we got him.

Q. Can you see yourself doing another outfielder?
JIM HENDRY: Yeah, we certainly are still in the market for another outfielder, absolutely.

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