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November 17, 1997
JERRY COLANGELO: It's a privilege and an honor to make an announcement today which we think is symbolic as it relates to establishing this franchise. There were a number, and are a number of outstanding free agents in the marketplace and as we looked at the list, something was as important to us as the abilities of the players, themselves, and that was the character of those players, and there was a young man who stood out as a great person, as well as a terrific player. And on Friday, I had a couple of conversations with Scott Boras's representative, who I'm going to call on in a few minutes, but at the conclusion of the day, we basically had something that we were working towards. And we're very, very pleased to announce that we have signed shortstop, Jay Bell, to a freeâ€‘agent contract, and he is an Arizona Diamondback.
JAY BELL: Thank you, Mr. Colangelo. I tell you, this is a great day. I was just over in the war room, and it's certainly exciting to be out here, and I'm happy to be a part of this organization. It's been a terrific career for me and for me to be able to come here and sign a fiveâ€‘year deal knowing that Mr. Colangelo's desire to have a winner is certainly exciting, from the aspect of playing for Buck, I played for a manager in Pittsburgh for eight years who I thought was the best in baseball in Jim Leyland. And from what I understand about Buck, he is certainly in that category. Not only is he a great manager, but I've known him for the last 20 years, too, I've known him longer than any other man in professional baseball. So I'm very pleased to be part of this organization, very pleased to be a part of this group of people.
I certainly didn't expect a press conference this size, I appreciate it.
Q. Jay, why an expansion team?
JAY BELL: Well, I tried to make that clear just a second ago. I think certainly my â€‘â€‘ originally I figured I would be closer to the southeast, but like I said, I've known Buck for a long time, talking to Mr. Colangelo on the phone certainly gave me a direction in which he wanted to go, and I think that certainly he would love to win, and hopefully it's been about eight years since I was on a winning club, and three in a row was wonderful, but we didn't quite make it to the World Series. Jim Leyland did it this year with Florida and I was happy for him, but I think that's what Mr. Colangelo's desires are.
Q. Jay, why 33?
JAY BELL: I appreciate you being here, too. Really it's basically this simple. My favorite number is three, and each organization I've been in I've not had the same number, and I didn't want to take three again, here, so I just doubled it. Plus I've got my third child on the way, so that's a good enough answer.
Q. You mentioned that you knew Buck for years, how did you know him?
JAY BELL: I don't know if he's let anybody know this, but he grew up in Florida, and it's right up the road from Pensacola where I grew up. And as a matter of fact my freshman year in high school, Buck had not gone to Spring Training yet and he announced my first hit, my first career hit in high school on the radio. So we've known each other for â€‘â€‘ since 1980.
Q. Jay, what kind of expectations do you think are placed on you immediately as being a veteran player coming into this team?
JAY BELL: I think the expectations are no different than any other organization, as a veteran player I'm expected to try and go out and do the best job I possibly can do to be a good example for the younger players. Certainly in this situation with the draft there are going to be some more veteran players that are going to come here, also, probably. So I'm not going to be the only veteran on the club, but my job, my primary objective is to play the best defense I possibly can for my pitchers. My secondary objective is to do as well offensively as I possibly can for the team, but one of the objects also is to lead by example out there and try and be â€‘â€‘ try and show the younger players what it's like to be a Major League player.
Q. Jay, you had indicated during the season that Tampa Bay might be a nice fit for you, you've got some family in the area. Did you talk to the Devil Rays at all during the process?
JAY BELL: I did not talk to the Devil Rays personally, Scott had talked to Chuck and it certainly would have been a great fit. The thing that I found about coming here was that Mr. Colangelo showed tremendous interest in me, and I was very happy about the situation here. It is a sacrifice to be this far west, but at the same time it would have been a sacrifice even if I had been somewhere as close as Atlanta. But nonetheless, Tampa Bay is my home, it will always be my home, but this is â€‘â€‘ Phoenix is my partâ€‘time home now.
Q. If the Marlins hadn't won the World Series and shown that a team could win a world championship in five years, would you ever consider that?
JAY BELL: Certainly winning is a primary objective of every Major League player, we want to win. To answer your question, it would have been a tougher decision for me to come out here if that had not happened. But what I think has been seen over the last several years because of what Colorado has done, also, and now what Florida has done, expansion teams can win quickly. And certainly that is our objective here.
Q. For Jerry or Joe or perhaps for Buck, some people would say this is a big investment on such an experienced player, what would you say to those people?
JERRY COLANGELO: I would say we've made a 300 million dollar investment to get in baseball. And I think the signing of Jay Bell is indicative of our commitment to putting a competitive product on the field, but I want to reemphasize what was said earlier, and I hope it doesn't go that unnoticed, and that is he's a terrific guy, of great character and when you're building a team, and you will probably have a lot of young people, Jay Bell could be a tremendous positive influence, and he's the kind of guy â€‘â€‘ I'll give you an analogy, when we drafted for the Phoenix Suns in 1968 the first player in the draft was Dick Van Arsdale, because he epitomizes the kind of individual you want to represent you on the court. We feel that way about Jay Bell.
Q. Jerry, regards to that I'm a little confused. Will Travis Lee or Jay Bell or the player you pick tomorrow be your original Diamondback?
JERRY COLANGELO: Well, Jay Bell is the first veteran as Dick Van Arsdale was the first veteran. Gary Greger was the first rookie and Travis Lee was the first rookie. Are you trying to trick me?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Jay made the club, Travis hasn't made the club yet.
Q. For Jerry or Joe. You're still involved I'm sure with a lot of other free agents?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: We're still having a lot of conversations with other free agents, and that will go where it goes. We're still talking to a lot of people.
Q. What kind of payroll do you expect to open up with, total team payroll?
JERRY COLANGELO: We don't have a number, Jerry. It's kind of a moving target. As things progress they kind of look over their shoulder and look for direction, and as I've said before, we're going to keep that number to ourselves. What we do feel we have the capability of doing is pulling the trigger when we believe it's appropriate. We're not telling anyone what our numbers are going to be. I think that's all part of the negotiations right now with some of the other free agents.
Q. Compared to what you've seen with the Rockies and Marlins, do you have any expectations of getting into the playoffs in year one, two or three?
BUCK SHOWALTER: No one has â€‘â€‘ we don't have to sign a player to lessen or heighten the expectations we have. And the Marlins or the Rockies don't have to get in the playoffs the next number of years or win the world championship the next number of years to change the standard we will hold ourselves to. Jay Bell, like Jerry said, is a piece of the puzzle. We brought that up many times in the draft, we're looking for pieces of the puzzle. At what time all those pieces come together is yet to be seen. But it's a lot of fun trying to put it together, especially when you have ownership that's willing to step out and listen to â€‘â€‘ about the intangibles that a player brings to a club and how important it is. And we think we found that guy in Jay.
Q. Buck, could you describe your last two years and now how that sort of rolls into these last 24 hours?
BUCK SHOWALTER: No, I couldn't in this short a period of time without completely boring everybody. But it's coming to a head. And it's been a long grind for all of us. This has been a great team effort, everybody has been involved. And it's something that I won't forget for one day I've been very lucky to be exposed to and be a part of. And I just hope one day we all look back at it from our scouts to our player development people and everybody that we all consider ourselves that we at one time were at some point a piece of the puzzle, also.
Q. Not to be a wise guy or anything, but I think a look at any of the World Series rosters for the last few champions, shows that every club has had a few jerks. How intractable is this character criteria you seem to be putting on players you look at, that's really for all three of you?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: It's not something that we say lightly, it's not something that we say but don't really mean. It's important. We all believe that you don't have to make the choice between good players and good people. And we just had a guy sitting up here who I think is a pretty good example of that. Having said that, and Buck can speak to this, part of management's job is to manage people. And people fall at all points along the scale. And you weigh all of that. But we go at this from the perspective that the Jay Bells are out there, the people who are successes on the field and who are successes as human beings. I think one of the things that's made the Suns so successful in this community for 30 years is the players have been a part of the community and have been players that the fans genuinely like and genuinely want to root for, and that's what we're striving for with these players, and if may sound corny and trite, but we believe it. And we don't just believe it, but we are implementing it.
Q. For Buck or Joe, how many surprises were there in your mind taking a look at the protected lists that were submitted, surprises as far as who was on and who was off, are the quality of players who are available to you tomorrow better or worse or about what you thought you were going to have?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: Thinking for myself I wouldn't say I was really surprised because I'm not sure I had any preconceived set of expectations going into it. I think on balance I would not describe my reaction as disappointing. I think that we'll come out of this tomorrow with a team that Buck can put out there next year and feel okay about.
BUCK SHOWALTER: It's one of those situations where someone shows up on the board that you maybe weren't expecting. We didn't expect to spend a lot of time trying to figure out somebody's prep list. We did not prep Ken Griffey, and Frank Thomas. We didn't waste our scout's time. When we thought somebody might have been or should have been protected, your first thought is what do they know that we don't know. Instead of, gee, I'd like to take that guy. So there's two ways to look at that.
Q. Either from media or from fellow executives have you guys gotten any bribe offers for information from the lists? Have they â€‘â€‘
JERRY COLANGELO: We have more requests from media than we have from Major League baseball teams.
Q. What have you been offered? Have you been offered anything?
JERRY COLANGELO: Kiddingly the fine was 250. If somebody offered us 300 thousand, we would have made 50.
Q. After all these two years of scouting and working, what's tonight going to be like, preparation for the big day tomorrow?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Tonight we're going to be in the room. We're not going anywhere. We've got a lot of things that we're going to have to satisfy in the draft, one of which is putting some players over there. At some point we're going to have to put people on the field that play the game. We'll be here tonight until we are where we feel comfortable. We're at a real peace at where we are in this whole situation. We're ready, we've done our work, and now we're ready to do the draft. We've still got in pieces that may change about how we approach the draft. But we're ready as far as the order which we'll take the players.
Q. You don't see a lot of 33 year old players get five year contracts. Is that just what it took to get Jay signed because of the competition out there or did you just feel so strongly about it that you were willing to risk him playing to age 38 at that salary?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: Well, I think you can't generalize, you have to look at each player, and I think when you look at Jay Bell and how he has approached his career and the kind of shape he keeps himself in you can get comfortable with that kind of commitment. What was interesting I think to us was when I initially talked to Scott was I said explain to me, Jay Bell is at a point in his career where I'm sure any number of contending teams would see him as somebody who plugs right in and helps them win. So you explain to me why he's interested in an expansion club, kind of taking off from the question before, and he said, well, we're very aware of what you're all doing over there. He's intrigued by the situation, but he wants the commitment from you that he'll be part of it when you start to win. He'll come in and help you grow those first few years, but he wants to know that when he's helped lay that foundation he's there to reap the rewards, which to us was exactly the kind of sentiment or reaction we wanted, somebody who said, yeah, I'll come and suffer through the growing pains with you, but then I want to be there when it all pays off.
Q. How overwhelming have some of these trade puzzles been, like Team A coming to you, saying draft this guy for us, and how much do you expect to do that tomorrow?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: I don't know that we've been routinely overwhelmed by anything.
Q. Just because it's so conceptual has it been very difficult to â€‘â€‘
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: It's been a lot of conversation. I think a lot of people in this room that are veterans of the winter meetings when there used to be the winter meetings, and the ratio of conversation to actual trades was probably about 99 to one, and I think that's probably how it will go tomorrow. We spent a lot of time talking to teams, trying to figure out their needs, how we could address them, what they could do for us, helps us. We didn't go into this saying, gosh, if we don't stand up tomorrow night and announce X number of trades, this has been a failed effort. If the player we were going to trade doesn't make us better than the player we drafted, we'll keep the player we had. Once everybody knows who they kept, who they lost, who we have, who the Devil Rays have, I think it will stimulate a lot of trades off.
Q. You mentioned that you had prepared a list. How far â€‘â€‘ how long is that list as far as do you know who you want to take first, second, third, fourth, fifth if they're available?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: Yes, we do.
Q. Do you have it down to 35 names?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: Long lists, lots of lists.
Q. Is it pretty much cut and dried or are you still quite flexible on that?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: I think you have to be flexible. As Buck often said this would be so much simpler if we could make our 35 picks and go home and they come in. But we have to alternate.
Q. Have you tried to anticipate their first pick, so that you know where you'll go or do you just figure the first guy on your list is picked by them you just go to No. 2?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: Yeah, I think we have not spent a lot of time trying to get into their heads, and I think it's probably the other way around. You have to line the players up the way you like them and be able to react to who's there and who is not there as the picks come up.
Q. If you have any other free agent signings eminent or in place at this time or do you any trades conditional or otherwise, eminent or in place at this time?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: No, I can't say.
Q. Jerry, given the financial investment in the amateur free agents of last summer, and the extent of the Jay Bell contract, are you at all concerned about any kind of negative feedback from the other club?
JERRY COLANGELO: I think I've been quoted as saying everyone ought to look in the mirror before anyone casts stones, because we are the new kids on the block, and we have a game plan, and we plan to stick to it. And whatever we do is not going to be something that has to be torn down and sold. So we're going to try to do this the appropriate way. We'll decide how we spend and how much we spend, but I just find it interesting when I see the payrolls out there and people worrying about what we're going to do. We'll go about our business and we won't question what they do.
Q. You've spoken about Jay Bell quite a bit, and I was wondering, are you going to feel a good guy club or for example would you be interested in Albert Bell (laughter.)
JERRY COLANGELO: Are you offering him?
Q. I was wondering if the White Sox, if you'd be interested in putting him on your club, too?
JOE GARAGIOLA, JR.: Well, the short answer is any player who comes along in whatever fashion, whether it's a free agent or we're approached on a proposal, you can't reject anybody out of hand, you have to have the discussion. I'd like Buck to speak, because this is something we've talked about a lot as we've gone through this process.
BUCK SHOWALTER: First of all, we looked and he's probably not going to be available for a while. But certainly we would have discussion about him if he wasn't the property of some other team. My job is to manage people, and I've had my share of guys that helped us win. I think the key thing here, if you can â€‘â€‘ if you have leaders on your club, and there's been a lot of times people have talked about chemistry, communication and all that stuff. I believe my job is to manage people. So it's not going to necessarily keep us away from a certain type of talented people. We've told our scouts all along, you evaluate the talent and we'll make a decision as a group about what direction we head. But don't â€‘â€‘ that's my job to manage people. But if you get enough strong people in the clubhouse, I think there's nothing stronger in sports and really in life in general than peer pressure. That's a very strong thing. If you get enough quality people in the clubhouse and you can take people with some great skills that want to be part of the plan, I think when you get into a problem is when you get a player that doesn't care what anybody thinks. They could care less whether a teammate thinks this or a fan thinks this, because once we start keeping the fans in mind here I think we're all in trouble.
Q. I'm curious if you're anxious to get back on the field and what over these two years have you learned, what have you missed the most? Could this experience actually have made you a better manager?
BUCK SHOWALTER: I don't know, I hope so. I think we all have room for improvement. I think that it's given me a greater respect for all facets of the organization. I think it's given me an even greater and healthier respect for the fans and for scouts and what they go through and what they have to do, the sacrifices that the fans have to make to go to a baseball game. I think what I'm probably missed the most other than â€‘â€‘ because I think the competition is just coming in a different area, other than the competition and being with the club every day, I think a lot of players when they retire the first thing they say they miss is the camaraderie they get from the club. I missed the off season. You go to Spring Training and you grind up until October or wherever, but you know you've got that carrot out there from October or whatever until the end of January, you can live like a normal guy, and make up time with your family and everything. We haven't been able to do that because we all take this responsibility very, very seriously, and we all think it's going to be over tomorrow, but we know it's just beginning.
Q. You're very anxious to get back out on the field?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Yes.
Q. Is it fair to say that the philosophy as far as the good guy, good person is rooted mostly in bad experiences you've had over the years?
BUCK SHOWALTER: No, not at all. I think you can ask any general manager or manager they're going to tell you the same thing. We're not reinventing some way to approach this, everybody would like to have it, and we've all â€‘â€‘ every manager or every general manager or every owner, I would think it's very important to them. We're not doing anything different than everybody else is trying to do, we're just trying to stick by it. Because it's easy to waiver off of that ideal. You can talk the talk or walk the walk, you have to make up your mind.
Q. Why was it important to play in the National League for this franchise?
JERRY COLANGELO: Well, there's a personal preference. There's â€‘â€‘ more importantly the facts that the fans in the State of Arizona, close to 65 percent preferred National League proximity to Colorado, San Francisco, the natural rivalries, there are a lot of Chicago Cub fans living here, it was a perfect fit. And we were pleased to do so. And in terms of revenue sharing in baseball, we're going to be a payor not a payee. And the way to maximize our ability to pay out would be to put us where the fans wanted us and that's in the National League.
SCOTT BORAS: I'd like to thank the club, I think Jay Bell, who I've known since 16 years of age is really something about our industry is very right. And like any franchise that sees that and understands what is right about Jay Bell, that he has talent but who he is as a person. I think it's been identified here and is a credit to the franchise and the League.
Q. Considering the amount of money you got for Jay Bell, what would you say with regards to the Yankee's offer for Bernie Williams?
SCOTT BORAS: There are always standards you apply in free agent contracts. I don't see in this contract there's any different standard that's applied. You look at what the players salary is, you look at where he is in the marketplace. These were all done with the refinements that have been historically in baseball for the years I've been in it. There's nothing different than Jay Bell's contract. And Jay Bell, by the way is 31 years of age. Someone said he was 33. But I think that each organization as they go through this that they're looking for those players who are offer you defense, they offer you offense, they offer you leadership. Premium players are at premium positions. And there are three or four premium positions on the baseball team, the center diamond plus the mound. Jay Bell is one of those. I think they're a rarity in baseball. And Jay brings something else. He brings â€‘â€‘ he's going to bring a lot of young players in this franchise a lot of years of experience, the willingness to communicate, the willingness to give. He's really looked at this thing as a challenge to him, not only as an onâ€‘theâ€‘field performer, but as someone who wants to take on a building block that maybe will take him to a new career after he's done playing.
Q. Scott, I apologize for not asking a Diamondbacks related question, is your client Kevin Brown, aboutto be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals?
SCOTT BORAS: Again, he doesn't have a noâ€‘trade clause in his contract, so the likelihood of it happening is something that's there. I think the difficulty in that is the fact that Kevin only has one year to go in his contract, and that would be something that whatever â€‘â€‘ I don't know if the two clubs are asking for it, but I think that would be something that would be difficult to consummate, unless the Cardinals are looking for a one year scenario.
Q. What other clubs did Jay seriously consider? Supposedly the Dodgers had a lot of interest in him.
SCOTT BORAS: There were a number of clubs that expressed interest. But in all honesty I think what is happening in baseball today is that at least in this short period of time that the existing franchises are really waiting for the focus of the expansion entity to complete itself and then they're going to focus on a number of directions and routes to take. What happened here was, I think, that the franchise made a decision and it was very clear, Jerry and Joe, I think, made a very, very precise and directed statement as to how they felt about Jay. Buck made it clear to Jay that he knew him and he knew what he wanted and expected from him. And it didn't take Jay long to deliberate what he wanted.
Q. How many other, if at all, offers did he receive?
SCOTT BORAS: We really had had initial inquiries as to the term of years that he had requested from the clubs. But we had really had financial exchange with only one other team.
Q. Was it the same number of years?
SCOTT BORAS: We had clubs that â€‘â€‘ it's hard to say, because all of our conversations were really preliminary and we certainly got the indication that Jay was going to have a market that was probably going to deliver him the term of contract he wanted.
JERRY COLANGELO: Just to add to that, you have to assume that taking the initiative the way we did, we wanted to take him out of the marketplace. That was the intention. And that's the within we pulled the trigger as early as we did.
Q. Jerry, is there anybody else you're looking to take out of the marketplace quickly?
JERRY COLANGELO: We'd love to, if we could.
Q. Do you have anybody you're talking to at this moment?
JERRY COLANGELO: Joe has already responded by saying he can't comment on it.
Q. Can you comment on it?
JERRY COLANGELO: Sure, Joe, what do you think? I'd say if we had our druthers we'd have a couple more signed and have a major trade, if that's going to happen, time will tell.
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