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December 5, 2006

John Gibbons


Q. You think they can still get Lilly and Meche with the prices going up the way they seem to be going?
JOHN GIBBONS: You know, he is trying, I know that I haven't heard anything lately. Nothing's broke yet. I think he definitely feels he can get one of them, hopefully both of them. He's going to try, I know that.

Q. I'm from Chicago, can you talk a little bit about Ted Lilly, your thoughts on him as a pitcher.
JOHN GIBBONS: You know what, I see Ted, he is starting to come into his own, always been one of those guys, always had a potential to win a lot of ballgames, you know and he always wins his double figures, ten, in that area. We always saw so much more in him and last year, we started to see again, he finally got to 15, but on any given night, when he is on, he can dominate the best teams in baseball. He has proven that.
He is sitting in a good spot right now, he's a free agent. Pitchers are in demand, left-handed pitchers are really in demand. So, you know, wherever he ends up, he is probably going to be pretty happy, you know that.

Q. What did you do to have two lefties in the rotation as opposed to one?
JOHN GIBBONS: You know, I think it all depends on who you're facing, you're looking at teams we played most of the time, the Yankees, as much as a right-handed team pretty much, they are a left-handed team so that, you know that helps equalize them a little bit, not always, but a lot of times your best hitters tend to be left-handed hitters. However the chips fall, how it stacks up, you can get a couple of teams we face, it is a benefit.

Q. Does the fact that Lilly has proven that he can pitch well against teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox, that he is pitching in the division, does that make him more attractive than the other options that are out there?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I mean, he's proven himself. He knows Toronto. You know, we're hoping that's a, you know, a deciding factor that he wants to decide to play. I don't know we are going to get a hometown discount. We hope that carries some weight, but Teddy, the way I see him, summed up, he keeps getting better and better the coming years. He was an All Star two years ago, he was gaining confidence and been around the league a long time, but now I see him finally starting to believe in himself even more.

Q. I'm saying as opposed to a guy like a Meche or Redman, never pitched in the AL East, quite --
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I mean, they pitched in the American League, the whole American League is pretty hard to hit. You know, there's good hitters out there in the American League West and Central, too, so I don't think it is a big deal. But I have seen Meche pitch pretty good games against the Yankees and team we face quite often. But we also need guys, got teams in another division, we haven't had as much problem in our own division as we have had elsewhere.

Q. If not Lilly and the focus shifts to Meche or Redman, can you talk similar to the answer you described Lilly to him, just talk about those two players, Meche and Redman, and what you could see them bringing to your team.
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, Meche, you know, I have always liked Meche. You know, we saw him the past few years, he's guy, a lot of ways we saw like Lilly, you expect him or got the potential to win a lot of ballgames, you know, more than he probably has won in the past and one of those late bloomers. You know, he's got that kind of arm, but we're trying to sell him pretty good right now, I think he would be a big addition.
Redman, I don't know a whole lot about Redman. I've seen him pitch, he has had some success, for Kansas City last year and pitched in the American League, so I don't know. We will see.

Q. I know you talked about a little bit yesterday but can you do some chair thinking of batting order-wise?
JOHN GIBBONS: You know, we'll probably wait until spring training and we will work all that out. I mean, we've looked at it and written out so many different orders, the only thing you can really write down Reed Johnson definitely hits first, you know, got some flexibility in the two hole and then the middle of the lineup, so that's going to play itself out. I mean, it is not like a huge thing, so many of them hit some of the spots but you know guys like Glaus and Wells, those guys are going to be in the middle, up top.

Q. Locked in, those guys, 3, 4, 5?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, a good chance, yeah.

Q. More 3, 4, 5, 6 area, Overbay, would you consider 2 at all?
JOHN GIBBONS: We have looked at Lyle in the 2 hole. We are not a fast lineup, you don't want to get burned and a lot of guys, guys that can't run. But I think our lineup's stronger now. Add Thomas and whichever way it turns out, make the lineup, the thing you do, can't come out and say this is the way the lineup is going to be. These guys have all been around the league a long time, hit certain spots, at least throw it to them.

Q. What is your role in this upstairs that they are talking about Lilly? Are you at the back of the room weighing in or --
JOHN GIBBONS: I don't even sit in on the meetings with the agents. You know, I've given them my two cents, he just goes about it. I try to stay out of it.

Q. Kind of boring for you?
JOHN GIBBONS: Me, being here? Been real boring. Wasn't for today, I wouldn't be here. But yeah, I kind of -- I just kind of hang around, they will sit around the rooms, waiting on the calls, where are they going to go, a bunch of us sitting in a room, they go to do something, we will leave and they will let us know what we have going on.

Q. There are a lot of rumors swirling around here about various trades and stuff and that obviously hasn't happened yet, but with the Red Sox if they do trade away Manny Ramirez, how much does that change the division, how do you look at the scope, the possibility of it?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, we'd love to see it. I think that would be huge. I think that I'm sure they would replace him with a pretty good player or two but I mean, he covers Ortiz, you know? You don't know how many times Ortiz would be walking. The thing about Ramirez, you can pencil in what he's going to do, 30 home runs, close to .300, what, 100-plus RBIs a year and it's hard to replace that. We wouldn't mind seeing it, I will put it that way, but I think the Red Sox will be okay but we'd like to see it.

Q. John, with JP going out and adding all this high-priced talent to the Jays can you talk about what that means to you personally as a manager. Does that put more pressure on you, you know, to produce the wins or you just go out --
JOHN GIBBONS: The team has got to play better, no question, so the pressure swings. We talked a little bit about that last year, the expectation drives but, you know, that's a good thing. You know, you don't want -- you are in this business to win it. We made some progress last year and I think we are going to be even better this year. But, you know, it is a tough job, a tough position. Eventually, you disappear or you change teams, something happens, you tried out while you can but crush your expectations, the town likes your team, media expects a lot of your team. You hate going into the season hoping for .500, which we did for so many years, the last three or four years but, yeah, it is time to make a move.

Q. Given all that time sitting armed in the suite waiting for calls, has JP approached you or you him about extending you beyond next year?
JOHN GIBBONS: No, we haven't talked about that and, you know, I'm not worried about that, I figured you might know that.

Q. I'm in the dark like you are.
JOHN GIBBONS: But hey, we will see what happens, I just try to do my job and if it works out, I will be around. If it doesn't, you know, I won't.
I'll never, security is wonderful in this business but bottom line, they gave me an opportunity a couple of years ago and things worked out, hey.

Q. So you will wait for them to approach you on that?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah. I mean, I don't have an agent. I think a lot of them probably have agents out -- you know, we get along, a good enough relationship where --
Q. Maybe Johnny could be --
JOHN GIBBONS: Be managing the South Atlantic. May happen anyway.

Q. Guys who are described as kind of like mid-level talent getting big money, that's gonna bring guys who maybe don't usually get that kind of attention maybe more pressure to deliver than would have had in years past. Can that be an issue with a guy like Pierre, maybe Meche gets this big money contract similar to AJ, would that meet expectations?
JOHN GIBBONS: I think any time you hit that free agent market, you've been around the league long enough and the extra pressure comes with that, the big salaries, everything like that, so I think it's tough, you know, especially the first year when you do that and, you know, similar with Burnett and those guys, and AJ, you know, he handle it had well once he proved he was healthy. He could pitch very well for us.
You know, Ryan. Ryan took one day and was huge for us. I think what players try to do is just sign contracts and they know the spotlight's on them and that's because they have been a huge focus in the offseason. So, you hope they get through that and they just, you know, realize, I got to go out and do the job and I am not going to save the world and these guys got jobs to do.
But I mean, there's pressure all the way around but those guys that get those positions and been successful, so they know how to deal with that. A lot of times, there's more pressure kind of making it more than the first year now.

Q. You said you're not concerned about from your security perspective, dealing with the players, last years of the contract, does that change anything?
JOHN GIBBONS: Any time I guess you're a lame duck and people -- I don't know how many players, you know, look at and think, this guy may not be around for a while, we'll see. My priorities right now is not to take care of myself. If the team plays well, that will take care of itself. I can't do that.

Q. You see a change in the way you manage at all?
JOHN GIBBONS: No. No. No. No. Taking good care of me to this point and results, man, results. Rules in any business, get taken care of.

Q. You used "lame duck," do you feel that way at all?
JOHN GIBBONS: No, just the term, the politician. I don't worry about it.

Q. In your mind, in your bullpen, going into the spring, who do you consider your primary setup guy?
JOHN GIBBONS: It would have to be League, you know and Speier is a big loss. I mean, and right now, subtracted, haven't had anything to do with that, but it puts a big responsibility on League. I mean, he's proven to us that he can do the job but he is still a young guy and he may struggle, he may have his ups and downs and we all know how that eighth inning, just as important as that ninth inning sometimes and getting the ball to Ryan, and you know we don't want to fall in the trap that we had last year, using him more than one inning because, you know, over time, that's gonna catch up on him, I think catch up with everybody.
So I mean, that's a big role, but we think he can do that and the key now, the way we stand now if we don't make any changes, try to get through that seventh inning.

Q. Would you rather have the one guy pitch the setup role rather than go right/left matchups?
JOHN GIBBONS: Oh, yeah, no question about it. If I look back on, you know, reflect on last year, which I usually do at the end of years, there was times, you know, if I just stay with Speier maybe instead of flipping lefty, maybe things might have worked out a little better. So I've kind of, you know, changed my thinking a little bit on that, hey, that guy feels he is well enough, pitching that role, feel League is that's his inning. You know, there may be a time, you may go with Ryan to get a big out, but we don't want to make a habit with it.

Q. Is Downs your primary lefty before BJ?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, I think Downs has worked his way into that role. He's got talent for us. I think they both can handle that job. And expect Frasor, and I think he is going to have to have it.

Q. So would it be the seventh or eighth?
JOHN GIBBONS: Don't know how the middle is going to stack up. You got Frasor, you got Downsy, you got some different options there. And you know, who knows, may add to it.

Q. Where do you see Towers fitting in all this? Do you give him a clean slate in spring training and a chance make the team again?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, I definitely do. The way it is right now, in the perfect world, able to get both of those guys, it is going to be tough, say it happens, that would slide Chacin down to the 5 hole and Josh into the bullpen. If we get one of them or, you know, he's back in the mix, probably that fifth starter, we don't get any of them, you know, we're scrambling and got Marcum and him and, you know, barring we do anything else.
But I think we owe that to Josh and write that year off and give him a chance 'cause he's pitched awful good for us.

Q. How surprising was it to see him come up and not do what he did two years ago?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I mean, he was so good for us the two previous years that, you know, you learn to expect things, but he is human and he has been knock downed many times and I'm sure there came a point, he was down on himself and he got that nice contract last year. But he earned that, he paid his dues and pitched well for us.
He is the kind of guy that you know, he had been knocked down many times, gotten back up and you know what, he survived, he will do that again, got to be sitting home reading so I'm sure he feels like the odd man out but I think that's only going to give him incentive, but he is definitely not out of the picture.

Q. A few years back, you guys reached the conclusion that Josh wasn't the guy that fared well out of the bullpen, do you see him maybe filling the long man role?
JOHN GIBBONS: I mean, he might have to. Yeah, he wasn't used to that. We didn't think that he was best suited for that, but that is something we need to adjust if that is the case and I think he capable of doing that basically. All it is you have got to learn how to move quicker and get focused real quick, but you can do that.

Q. What do you make of the fact that the Jays are taking the face of Vernon Wells out of team advertising?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I didn't even know that, to be honest with you. But I'm the wrong guy to ask on that. You know, all I know they are going to try to resign him and they are working on it and I've heard some things, it is going to take an awful lot. You look at what is happening now and going into next offseason, he's got to be the premiere free agent out there, young, you know, one of the best players out there, so he's in the driver's seat, so it is going to definitely take a lot to bring him back, but they are going to make every effort to do that. But as far as leaving him out of that I wasn't aware of that.

Q. You hadn't heard that?
JOHN GIBBONS: No I hadn't heard that.

Q. Would you prefer to have the middle infield a little more defined right now? I mean, JP is talking about going with the two-, three-headed monster at short, I mean what is your take on that?
JOHN GIBBONS: It will be fine before Spring Training is up. I will leave it at that.

Q. But would you like Aaron to play second?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, I think he needs to. I mean, I think that is his spot. He can play both. I see him as a better second. I think he has a chance to be one of the best second basemen out there as a shortstop, I think he can be good but I think he's going to be a lot better as a second baseman. The key is now we found a position for him, throw him over there, leave him alone and hopefully in July, we are not going, hey, Aaron, you're the shortstop. Again, 'cause I think all that's going to do is help him and help his career out.

Q. Got Clayton at shortstop?
JOHN GIBBONS: Clayton, haven't signed McDonald back, a chance that would happen. Got options out there but hey, I like Clayton at shortstop.

Q. You keep Aaron at second, is Russ out of the pitch picture?
JOHN GIBBONS: Right now, it's tough for Russ to make the team. I mean, Russ still playing for Russ, not like Josh. (Inaudible) up and down a couple of times, the plan is right now, go down to AAA and regroup. Because he has proven that he can hit at a different level and that, second base is easy to stop. He went through a lot, mentally.

Q. Given the fact that you're going with Zaun and maybe Phillips behind the plate, and you expect to win this year, does that mean that bringing Molina in last year might have been sort of a mistake or something like that?
JOHN GIBBONS: No, I don't think so because you look at what was combined, as far as Zaun went from starter to backup, back to starter, no, I mean a in a lot of ways Benji was going to command more money. The way things are setting up, we need extra money to throw elsewhere, going to strengthen the pitching staff and that kind of thing, but you look what they did together, he did a good job for us. And as far as a mistake, no, they both played very good.

Q. But if you feel you could win with the setup this year, why don't you feel you could win with the setup last year?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, we brought Benji in for his offense too and he gave us that. The top-notched DH, you know, we had a good one last year in Shea but Thomas has been a, what, 100-plus RBI guy his whole career, so that adds to it. I don't think he looked that far ahead, at least I don't. You know, going into last year, is Zaun is going to be the guy, two years now, that is the way it has played out and Benji I don't think is going to be affordable. Did he sign with the Giants yet?

Q. No, he is close. Close.
JOHN GIBBONS: Three-year deal or something? I think it came down like to having both of them back, hopefully do what they did, but there's only so much money, if you can upgrade to pitching, only so much you can spend elsewhere, you know?

Q. Zaun says he wants to catch at least 130 games this year is it hard telling him to --
JOHN GIBBONS: Is that because he has that clause in his contract?

Q. That's right.
JOHN GIBBONS: I don't want to know how I know that.

Q. How hard is it to tell him to take a day off? Because I know he would like to play 162 if he could.
JOHN GIBBONS: Phillips is going play games with lefties. Zaun is at that stage in his career, he may disagree, but the bodies gets tired. Not like he used to be, and for his own good to spell him a time or two. But no we won't have any problem. But if he offers me a bonus, a cut of that bonus...

Q. Do you know Roy Siddall?
JOHN GIBBONS: No. I spoke to him on the phone, seems like a real good guy. I talked to Glaus the other day and he loves the guy. Somebody else was talking about him.
Anyhow, yeah, he had great things to say about him. He's got triplets or something, I guess he married some Samantha from England or something.

Q. Yeah, Samantha Davis.
JOHN GIBBONS: Seemed like a nice guy. We had a good conversation and he was excited to come here. You know how it is. He is a proven player.

Q. Working with Ted at all this offseason?
JOHN GIBBONS: Talked to Ted probably about a month ago, just to see how things are going, he called me and wanted me to call him back, and at the time still a good chance that he will make it back. You know, we'll see, we hope so.

Q. Does he miss jogging with you?
JOHN GIBBONS: We didn't do that at all last year, definitely didn't do it after, what was it, August? No. He is too quick for me. Put on too much weight last year.

Q. Has there been any talk about bringing in Gagne from the bullpen?
JOHN GIBBONS: No I haven't heard a word about that. I knew the Red Sox were looking at him. As far as us, no, I haven't heard a word on that.

Q. When you're watching what the Yankees and Red Sox are doing, is that kind of taking the role for next year?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, you're always watching. They are not going to sit there, the Red Sox. You look at the way they put Papelbon in there, it is pretty good, pretty good rotation. The Yankees, they are set. The pitcher, looking for a first baseman, you are always aware of that to be honest. I like what Baltimore's done and good starting pitching, and then they get bullpen help. You know, Tampa, they got a good lineup.

Q. We have several first-year managers coming in this year, when you were a first-year manager, what was your biggest transition from coach to manager?
JOHN GIBBONS: Probably the thing I learned most, at this level of the game, things happen much faster, and I've been a coach, it is different. I've been in the minor leagues, but in the big leagues, lineups are so strong and thick, things just seem to happen like this. So if you're caught offguard or you're not ready or don't handle that, things can get away. That's probably the thing. You know, dealing with the players, you got to communicate with them, no question about it, because I think what you find is what may be going through their mind is totally different than what's going through your mind. If you don't let them know what you're actually thinking, things can get out of hand, not necessarily out of hand but there's going to be some confusion there.
I know Ron Washington very well.

Q. Right.
JOHN GIBBONS: I was his coach in A ball, in the Mets system in the South Atlantic League and I mean, he is one of my favorite guys in baseball and I think he will do well. I think those guys over there will love playing for him. I know Bobby Geren and I know Fredi Gonzalez. I think they will all do well. I don't know Acta at all but I mean, all those guys are waiting on opportunity, here it is and it could be overwhelming, no question about it. But they will settle in and realize, hey, its' still the same game, you are under the gun making decisions. So I think they all do a great job.

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