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MLB WINTER MEETINGS


December 8, 2008


Bob Melvin


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Q. Any changes in the team?
BOB MELVIN: Well, obviously we have some guys that aren't coming back, so we have some holes to plug. But I think the economy is going to have a lot to do with where this market goes. We have to be careful.
You know, waiting for a few shoes to drop. We're looking at a couple potential deals, and I think everybody is kind of waiting to see where the market shakes out.

Q. Obviously you guys are looking at second base is your biggest need right now?
BOB MELVIN: Second base, I think a left-handed reliever to add with Doug, maybe more of a match-up guys, are two things that we're focusing on right now. We're still kind of holding out hope that we can figure out a way for Randy to come back. I don't think the door has completely closed. Until that's closed, we're going to remain hopeful.
But a lot of it is going to have to do with how much we have to spend here in the interim to plug some of the holes, and like I said, see where the marketplace is and see how much we have left to spend.

Q. Will you talk with him personally, Randy, to try and convince him?
BOB MELVIN: At some point. I talked to him right after the season, so I know he'd like to come back, and we'd like to have him back. Whether or not we have the resources to do it is going to be the telltale on this one. I just don't know how it's going to play out. But I did talk to him probably two weeks after the season, and I haven't spoken to him since.

Q. Losing the quality of people, the players that you have, what do you think about going forward how you replace that type of player?
BOB MELVIN: You know, I think we're lucky to have a younger group that is not making a ton of money yet, so we have to rely on each and every one of these guys getting better. I said that last year going -- the year before going into last season. We started out hot, and we weren't as consistent and we didn't finish as strong. We had a real tough stretch against the Dodgers and the Giants there, and we ended up losing first place and could never regain it.
You know, whether it's Mark Reynolds, whether it's Justin Upton, whether it's Chris Young, Chris Snyder, all these guys we feel like have room to get better, that none of these guys have really reached their ceiling yet, so we're going to have to rely on our talent nucleus to get better, and that's kind of how we have to fill the holes right now.

Q. Are there other things you guys can do to be a better team besides (no microphone)?
BOB MELVIN: You know, see who potentially may fall in our lap at some point in time in this market. I'm not sure. I don't know who we're going to be in the market for. It's probably the first time in a while to come to the Winter Meetings, and not really sure how much we're going to need to spend and how much there is -- each and every player that you may look at as a guy that might not be a fit for you because of money may end up being a fit for you.
So I think in our case we have to be a little bit patient, and like I said, if something doesn't happen to a large magnitude, that we go forward with what we have right now, which we think is good enough still to compete in our division.

Q. Does what you're talking about there, that a player might be available that wasn't before, that because of the economy?
BOB MELVIN: Absolutely. I think this market may end up playing out a little differently than these guys think. Maybe not CC and Manny Ramirez and guys like that, but I think most clubs need to be fiscally prudent. This isn't a great time right now in our country, and I think to run a business, you have to be prudent.
Like I said, I think we're fortunate that we do have quite a few younger guys, and we'll continue to rely on those guys until we see what fits for us down the road.

Q. So if nothing happens here, that would be standard maybe?
BOB MELVIN: I don't know. I think there could be quite a lot of activity if a few of the top guys end up signing, maybe some middle-tier guys to see where the market is. But we're not going to hang our heads if we don't get anything done here. There's still plenty of time left.

Q. What kind of a guy has Mike been for you?
BOB MELVIN: He's been in a difficult situation. I think Chris Snyder has been our everyday guy, where for the most part with Miguel in other situations could be an everyday guy, too, he just hasn't had the reps the last two years to come along in a fashion that you might expect if he was playing every day.
You know, it's a great situation to have two catchers like that, but I think Miguel is a guy that's going to need more at-bats for him to develop in a fashion that a lot of people think he can. It's difficult to do with Chris in his way. We've had to deal with it for a couple years, and we might have to find a way to deal with it again this year.

Q. You spoke towards the end of last year about maybe more competition during spring training. Could you talk a little bit about what changes we might see this springs?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I think the outfield to begin with. You've got four guys for three spots. A guy, Eric Byrnes, that signed the year before to a multiyear deal that we expect to be around and a productive player. Unfortunately last year he had some injuries that really hampered him, and a lot of his game is the running game. So he needs to be healthy to be able to hit on all cylinders for him. He kind of comes into a situation now where he was a couple years ago when he came to the Diamondbacks. He's not afraid of competition.
I think all our guys potentially could be better for it in the outfield knowing that if you don't hold up your end of the bargain there's someone there to take your spot, where I don't think we were in that position last year.

Q. Could there be some position switches to rectify that out there?
BOB MELVIN: We have some flexibility. Conor has played some first base. I don't think we'll have any flexibility with the other three guys. But Conor is a guy that could play first base, but I think he's more comfortable in that role and I think he showed that last year, and he handled left field very well.
Sitting here now with the club that we have I would expect him to play more outfield, maybe get a few starts over at first base against some left-handed pitching. Chad Tracy isn't over there, and therefore open up some room for whoever the -- Eric Byrnes to have some time in the outfield, too. So it would just be Conor, the guy that's the flex arm in the outfield, and we do have some options for the infield, guys to move around.

Q. Solidifying second base, would that be something you would have done sooner rather than later?
BOB MELVIN: I think so, but we could handle it in-house, too, with Augie Ojeda, and Chris Burke is still here and didn't have the kind of year that he wanted to have last year, so he's probably got something to prove. Then we go out there and look for another second base to either complement Augie or for another guy to start and Augie be the backup guy and that's kind of the focus.

Q. One final thought. Are you confident that you guys can do something meaningful to change the composition of your team?
BOB MELVIN: I really don't know. I don't think we need to do anything drastic. Like I said, I think our core group is there right now, but we would like to better our team, having lost several guys from last year's team, that, like I said, if nothing happens, it's not like we're going to hang our heads. We're still going to run nine guys out there and expect to win.

Q. So in your mind right now is C.J. your left-fielder going into camp?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, when we left at the end of the year we sat down with all our guys and talked about who plays where, and Conor was very comfortable out there, and when he left, the indication was he would be out there in left field again with potentially moving to first base at times.
But I think the fact -- we talk about that competition and having four guys for three spots will be good for all of them. It allows me to rest a guy a little bit more. Chris Young is a guy I couldn't even rest last year.
As far as that goes, we have four quality guys, four guys that we think are starting outfielders for three spots, and I think that's going to be a good thing.

Q. (No microphone)?
BOB MELVIN: He'll play everywhere in the outfield.

Q. How many players would you anticipate losing to WBC and how does that change your spring philosophy?
BOB MELVIN: It's really more the pitching end of it that you have a concern about. I'm not really sure yet. I know you look at Haren and Webb and you would consider two guys that would potentially be on that team. I don't know what's going to happen.
You know, you just deal with it, whether it's Tony PeƱa or whether it's Montero or whoever. We have quite a few guys that could potentially play WBC. I just don't know right now. And then once we know who the guys are, we'll have a better handle on it, and everybody is in the same boat and we have to prepare the same way.

Q. A little strange having the Dodgers in Cactus League this year?
BOB MELVIN: We'll have the whole division there now. That was the only team we didn't see before the season started and now they're in Arizona, too. So I don't think there will be any secrets. You play each team in your division; you know them very well as it is. I expect to see the Dodgers make a few changes, as well. It will be nice to have them in the division so we can see them before the season starts.

Q. Did you mention to Byrnesie that that would probably be his role now and how accepting of it was he?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, you can say that and then you can take it a certain way, too. I think he looks at it as an opportunity to go out there and win a job. Based on his performance, play quite a bit. That's what he's planning on doing. I know that. That plays into the competition factor in that everybody knows that -- you go through a tough period, there's someone there to take your job, and whether it's for a short period of time or a long period of time, and that's something we missed last year.

Q. Did he understand?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, absolutely.

Q. Does he think because of the injury that he had fallen off a little bit?
BOB MELVIN: What do you mean fallen off?

Q. The way Conor took left field from him?
BOB MELVIN: I think he has something to prove coming back. When he first got here, he wasn't an everyday player, either, and he seized the opportunity and took the job, and I think that's his focus coming in.

Q. Do you have like a general number of at-bats you'd like those guys to get, maybe Young a few hundred less or 50 less?
BOB MELVIN: It just depends on performance, how it plays out, who's hot, who's not, whether or not we move Conor over to first base a little bit. I'm not sure yet.

Q. Sounds like Chad will be at first base?
BOB MELVIN: As we sit here right now, the team we have, Chad will be playing a lot of first base.

Q. Records show you as 0-11 against Maddux as a hitter. Any memorable moments?
BOB MELVIN: Usually when he was pitching my butt was sitting on the bench. Usually good right-handed pitching. I didn't play against him. It was probably more back in the Cub days. He was a little bit more of a power pitcher than a command guy, probably threw a little bit harder and had a sharper breaking ball he used a little bit more. I didn't get one hit off of him?

Q. No.
BOB MELVIN: I can't believe that. With my numbers off Randy Johnson, I can't get one hit off him? Man, I can't say it's shocking (laughter).

Q. How do you feel where Randy is?
BOB MELVIN: I still leave out hope that potentially he's back. If not, everybody internally moves up, and like I said, depending on where the market is, we'll see who's out there.

Q. So Scherzer will be at No. 4 maybe?
BOB MELVIN: As we sit here right now, yeah.

Q. How else might you create some competition during a game? I know you said the outfield stuff, but was there more? Last year you were talking about more?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I think it depends on how the bench plays out, too. You know, at first base Conor is a potential if Chad is not swinging the bat well. We've got all four guys for three spots in the outfield. Stephen I think deserves to be the everyday guy at shortstop based on what he did last year. Got to plug a hole at second and we'll see where he is. Maybe he's a versatile guy that can move around a little bit.
And depending on who else is on the bench, if we get another left-handed guy we could give Mark a few more days off at third. I really can't say yet until we see who our roster looks like.

Q. Have you scratched the idea of Montero playing a little at third?
BOB MELVIN: I don't know, we'll take a look at it. He may play some games over there in the spring. Who knows, I may throw him over at first base from time to time. He's a guy that needs to play a lot this spring. Whether or not we even send him over to Minor League camp on days that he's not starting to get a few more reps, for a young guy the last two years, he hasn't had the amount of at-bats for a good young player that we would like to see, so somehow we have to combat that. He will get a lot of at-bats this spring. Whether it's at different positions or not, I don't know yet.

Q. Reynolds at second base?
BOB MELVIN: I don't see that right now. I don't see that.

Q. (No microphone)?
BOB MELVIN: Well, that's the most difficult position to establish yourself at the big league level. Unless you get back there all the time, it's difficult to do.
I think based on what he's gotten, he's done very well for us. A lot of people see him as an offensive guy, and I would agree, but I think he's got a lot of tools to be a good defensive player. We think he's an everyday player. We've got a lot of guys that can be everyday players.
It's just at this point in his career with us he just has to deal with it like he has the last couple years and we have to do whatever we can to get him some more reps. He's playing winter ball right now, the developing part behind the plate is the most important part for him, but he has the aptitude and the ability to handle it.

Q. Does that leave potential will for a trade, too, that you have two guys of that caliber?
BOB MELVIN: Sure. I think he's a name that you'll see out there a little bit. You'd hate to lose a guy like that, yet if that's your best bullet, then you have to listen to other teams. But he's a guy we covet. I think he's a good player.

Q. Do you see Stephen as your lead-off guy?
BOB MELVIN: You know, he was pretty comfortable there last year, but based on what kind of production we need in the middle, he gives us the flexibility. So sitting here right now, one, two, three, five, somewhere in that spot. For a guy that led off for us, I wouldn't say reluctantly, it's not somewhere that he was used to hitting, he did a great job for us, and down the stretch I talked to him a little bit about potentially moving around some, and he was willing to do it, but he intimated he was pretty comfortable where he was. So he's a flexible guy and we have some options with him.

Q. Who else could potentially lead off?
BOB MELVIN: Chris. Chris is a guy that's done it for us, Chris Young. I think Justin is seeing a lot of pitches and getting a lot of reps. He's a guy that can get on base some and another guy that I think should run a little bit better this year.
But then he's similar to C.Y., a guy that can hit in the middle of the order and drive it out of the ballpark. It hasn't really changed in the last couple years. There's no set lead-off guy for us and really no set 4 guy with Adam Dunn not being there, either.

Q. Seems like all the second base guys are being talked about would be guys that would bat at the top of the order?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, and on base guys you don't necessarily have to be the fastest guys in the world. You want guys at the top of the line up with on base percentages that get on. So guys you're hearing about, some of these are on-base guys.
Whether or not they're in a platoon situation where we get the most out of them from a particular side of the plate and we max and match on a particular day, that's one of the areas that we have to be a little bit better is early in the lineup so guys get on base a little bit more.

Q. Speaking of on base, is C.J. your best on base guy?
BOB MELVIN: He really is, but he's another guy that's not afraid to hit in the middle of the order, either. He's hit third, fourth. It's easier to move him around and hit him in the two hole if Adam Dunn was here. He gives us a lot of flexibility, too. I could hit him anywhere in the lineup.

Q. Eric Byrnes could lead off?
BOB MELVIN: Absolutely. I think for us he's hit one through probably seven.

Q. (No microphone)?
BOB MELVIN: You know, one of the -- we've had a lot of depth. Last year with Rauch coming in, we had probably as good of depth in the bullpen as anybody, so that was probably a luxury which we probably won't be able to afford right now. We'll see what's out there. We were five deep, whereas now we're probably looking more like three deep.
But we are looking at right now a potential left-hander to go in there and match up and try to get out some of those left-handers in our division that you know they're not going to pinch-hit for. They're tough to replace, but you have to move on.

Q. Will there be competition during the spring for the closer spot?
BOB MELVIN: I think based on performance at the end of last year, Qualls has got a leg up on it. We'll go into Spring Training and he's probably the favorite, yet we have three guys that have closed between he, Rauch and PeƱa. I don't want to minimize what he did and say that he's not the closer going in. He certainly is the favorite.

Q. But it's too early to tell?
BOB MELVIN: Well, everything is to be determined. When you go through a week of spring training things seem like they can take a complete 180. So sitting here right now, he deserves a shot.

Q. But, I mean, he struggled last spring but he was the guy and he stayed the guy.
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, I don't want to lock myself into it, but he's definitely the favorite because you never know what happens as far as personnel before we get to spring training.

Q. You mentioned C.J. bouncing around. Is that a conversation you had with him and let him know that --
BOB MELVIN: I just talked to him the other day that before we came here you may hear a little bit about this, you going to first base a little bit. But similar to Qualls, based on what he did last year, he certainly deserves a chance to be the everyday left fielder, and as we're sitting is he is the left fielder.
But he gives us flexibility and the roster makeup is going to have a lot to do with it. If we move somebody around that could change quickly.

Q. Because if you were to lose Tracy for whatever reason --
BOB MELVIN: He would be probably the natural to go over there.

Q. Does Tony Clark -- what's his status?
BOB MELVIN: I think Tony has got a decent chance to sign back with us. He's a guy that we realized the importance of him a couple years ago, didn't have him to start out last year, a veteran guy who not only is extremely important in the clubhouse, you know, he gives us a veteran presence off the bench, whether it's pinch-hitting, whether it's spot starts, and I think it's a lot easier for a veteran guy to be able to come off the bench and play in that role than it is for younger guys.
So I think there's a good chance that he ends up being a good fit for us against this year.

Q. Which would mean Whitesell not so much?
BOB MELVIN: Yeah, you couldn't, although we've had three and four in years past, guys that could play over there. So I don't rule anything out. Josh had a terrific year last year and I don't want to minimize his value. He's going to get quite a few at-bats over there in spring training, as well, so we'll see him a little bit more against big league pitching that we weren't able to last year.

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