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December 9, 2008

Dusty Baker

Walt Jocketty

Andy MacPhail

Dave Trembley


THE MODERATOR: We're here to announce a trade between the Orioles and the Reds. The Reds have acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez and cash. The Orioles have acquired infielder/outfielder Ryan Freel; Minor League infielders Justin Turner and Brandon Waring.
I want to introduce to you the Reds president of baseball operations and general manager, Walt Jocketty. He'll be followed by Orioles president of baseball operations, Andy MacPhail.
WALT JOCKETTY: Thank you, Rob. This was a trade that Andy and I have been working on for quite a while and finally got it done late last night. We set our off-season objectives, one of the big things for us was to try and acquire a quality catcher. We felt there was something that we were lacking last year. We have a young catcher in Ryan Hanigan who I think will help a lot this year and learn with Ramon Hernandez.
But for us Ramon was a perfect fit for our club because he provides good leadership, got very good reports that -- sent several scouts out to watch him this year, and he provides good defense, handles a staff well, and will give us a good offense, and in our park, we think he'll have a very good year.
It's something that we're excited about. I talked to Ramon a little bit ago. Dusty spoke with him and he's very excited to come over to the Reds and see how everything works out.
But the other thing for us, in trading Ryan Freel, Ryan was hurt quite a bit this year, and when I spoke to him, I told him that unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see the real Ryan Freel play this year, but I expect him to do well for the Orioles and he'll be a big part of their success this year.
And the two young guys we gave up were very difficult to give up, and as good a scouting director and farm director we have in Chris Buckley and Ryan Reynolds, they always hate to give up the younger players, but they understand that it's important for us to improve at the Major League level and try and win up there.
The Orioles are getting three very good players and quality people, and in return we're getting a big fit for us. We think Ramon Hernandez is the right piece to help improve our club for next year.
So I want to turn this over to Andy. This was a fun trade. Andy and I have been friends for -- I don't want to say how many years, a long, long time. We both started out together. This is actually the first trade that we've made together, so it was fun. He's tough to deal with (laughter). Andy?
ANDY MACPHAIL: Thank you. The applause was deafening (laughter). This trade was more about Matt Wieters, frankly. It's been our goal to try to -- to familiarize yourself with Matt, he was Baseball America's Prospect of the Year, he's really had an outstanding year for us in his first professional season between A-Ball and AA.
And it had been our goal to make sure we could introduce Matt into the Major League scene somewhere over the course of the '09 season, not necessarily to start right away, but we thought he could handle it eventually after a little time in AAA possibly under his belt.
We knew that that would create a situation where we were going to have to split some playing time with him and Ramon, and we knew Ramon wouldn't be happy about that. Given where our franchise is, we also understood that our future was probably with Matt, and, as my grandfather used to say, better that you make a trade a year or two early than a year or two late.
So we gave up a very accomplished offensive Major League catcher and in exchange we got back three players that we're delighted to have.
Ryan Freel, if any of you have suffered through my talks in Baltimore, you've heard a lot about effort, energy and enthusiasm. Those are the three things as a franchise we want to instill in our players. It is hard to think of a poster child that more represents those things for a Major League player than Ryan Freel, so we were excited to have him introduce a right-handed bat that can play some center field and the out fields and give Luke Scott a platoon in left. And then two infield prospects who we like that we need to add inventory and depth at that position are in our franchise.
It was a delight to deal with Walt. I've never been quite chiselled so much as I was with Walt over a period of grinding me over what should have been announced days ago, but Walt insisted on a pound of flesh and five, which he got. But I do think this is a trade that makes perfect sense for both franchises, and we're delighted to have it.
The last thing I will say is I know -- I've watched Dusty Baker at work, and I know this is the perfect kind of player that Dusty is going to have a tremendous impact on, and I think you're going to see Ramon give quite an offensive year in a ballpark that is really favorable towards him. That's all I've got. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: If you have any questions, real quick raise your hand.

Q. Andy, you said this trade was about Matt Wieters. Would you say at this point he's your opening day catcher, or you'd still like to get another veteran to come in?
ANDY MACPHAIL: No, I think we very much will be looking for some veteran catching. If you looked at our roster right now, our 40-man roster and took a snapshot of it at this very moment, we have zero catchers on our 40-man roster. That's not exactly where you want to be.
I would think you can anticipate that we'll add -- we'll try to add at least one veteran Major League catcher to our 40-man roster here before we get to spring training.

Q. Obviously Freel has had some injuries. Did you have to do a lot of background stuff on him to make sure he's healthy?
ANDY MACPHAIL: As it turned out, Walt and I had been talking about this trade, but in the period where we were talking about the trade Wayne Krivsky joined our organization as a special assistant. He comes with a great deal of information about that franchise. He and obviously our doctors and trainers certified to where Ryan was physically. I talked to Ryan today, as did Dave Trembley, and he -- he's running 100 percent, feels good, ready to go, our doctors vetted his condition and are comfortable that he's ready to go, and we're delighted and excited about having him.

Q. Andy said Ryan Freel is going to be playing some center field. How is this going to affect Adam Jones and his status as a center fielder?
ANDY MACPHAIL: I don't know that it's going to affect any of our existing outfielders. We have Nick in right that will get, you know, obviously all the games we can get him out there in right. Adam is going to play center. What we found was we were looking for a right-hand-hitter platoon with Luke Scott in left field, which as I imagine Ryan will do some of that.
And then occasionally we want to spell Adam, we have to have somebody that can play center field and we know Ryan can do that. Most of his games last year were played in center field.
We can put all this down on paper and think this is the way it's going to be, but the players' productivity is going to dictate how much they play, where they play, how events up fold.
The way we see it now, Ryan, not only can he spell us in the outfield, but he might give Brian Roberts a spell at second base, occasionally a break against a left-hand pitcher or occasionally play third for Melvin.
So the ability of Ryan and more importantly his versatility are something that were very attractive to us in the trade.

Q. Walt and maybe Dusty, there were times this year for Ramon that his frustration probably bled over into his effort on the field. Do you view him as a change-of-scenery type player for next year?
WALT JOCKETTY: Yeah, that was part of our report that we got from our scouts, and not from just one. We did notice that -- they had seen him in the past and saw him again this year and felt that there was probably some level of frustration that he was experiencing, and we talked about it.
I did some research on it with other people that I know that have had him and got great reports, so we do think that a change of scenery will help him immensely. We've got a pretty good pitching staff, and he's a guy that I think will help develop that staff, work well with the staff, and I think he'll have renewed energy, or hope that he will, and I know Dusty talked to him a little bit about that today.
We think that a change of scenery will help him a lot.
DUSTY BAKER: The Ramon that I know was in Oakland as a young player. I saw him handle that staff up there in Oakland when I was with the Giants. We played him a number of times in spring training and in the Bay Bridge series and inner league play. So I think he's going to be perfect for our team. We have a young staff, and he has taught some very good pitchers and very good staffs in the past.

Q. In terms of the Minor League guys, was it a scenario where you had a pool of guys to pick from, are these guys you had some reports that you targeted? How did it come to be these two?
WALT JOCKETTY: Well, they had good scouts. Put it that way.
ANDY MACPHAIL: You're interrupting. I hope this trade doesn't interrupt our friendship (laughter).
We were focusing on position players. We feel like we need to augment our position players. Fortunately in our view the Reds are one of the deeper organizations in baseball as it relates to position player prospects. It probably won't surprise you to learn that the first names we mentioned to Walt, and we ignored what we believed to be the upper echelon. We got a rather curt no back. But they had enough depth in their organization in our view where we could still come away with players that we liked that really filled a need for us.
Brandon Waring is somebody that you see 40 home runs in less than two professional seasons, which is something that obviously intrigues us. Justin Turner is somebody that's hit everywhere he's been, and we feel like as much pitching as we had that we could target an organization and add some depth and position players.

Q. From a managerial standpoint, this has got to be a nice problem for you to have in terms of being able to have a little bit more depth and trying to fit guys in here and there?
DAVE TREMBLEY: Well, Freel for me is a guy that is basically two players in one because he can do more than one thing. He can play all three spots in the outfield and we can move him around in the infield, and I think that's really important for us.
I think the days of guys playing 162 games, we'd like them to do that. But occasionally guys need breaks, and Freel gives us that versatility, being able to move around, and I also like the fact that the guy is a very high-energy player, and I think he will really be well-received in Baltimore and what we're trying to do there.

Q. Walt, how tough was the catching market out there? You said that that position was a premium. How many catchers were you looking at and how did you end up settling on this one?
WALT JOCKETTY: There were probably two or three catchers that we were looking at. It was tough, there was a lot of competition for the catchers. But Ramon was a guy that we had targeted, put very high on our list, and we kind of focused on that and stayed on it hard with Andy and finally were able to get it done.

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