|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
December 10, 2008
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Q. Anyway, the lineup?
FREDI GONZALEZ: The lineup. There's a lot of thought to it obviously when, you know, you lose players and/or trade players. There is a lot of thought. But I'm not going to sit here and say, This guy is going to hit first, this guy is going to hit second, or who is going to be the opening day starter, because so much can happen between now and then.
Q. Like what?
FREDI GONZALEZ: You know, last year we had a guy that got hurt with the opening day starter and we had to go someplace else. So there's injuries and all kinds of stuff. If you want to be more specific...
Q. Cameron Maybin, where do you see him?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I think that -- there are some thoughts that if you hit a major it's going to be a tough place to hit in the eighth hole because of the pitcher hitting behind you.
Is he middle-of-the-lineup type of guy? You hate to put a 21-year-old kid in the middle of the lineup. Is he better serves as a lead-off hitter, you know? So you don't know. I got to go to spring training open minded.
That being said, Hanley Ramirez, you know, in the last two years we've hit him third for a couple weeks at a time. I think the world of Hanley. I think he could hit not only second, but third, fourth, fifth, anywhere.
So I think wheel do what's best for the team, for the organization.
Q. With the experience Hanley has hitting third, do you think he'd be more prepared doing it, you know, if he had to do it this year?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think that any time -- I mean, the more you do it obviously the better experience you're going to have succeeding, you know. But we'll see. You know, we'll see.
Q. Seems to be a tough decisions because he's such a great lead-off hitter. If he were to move him to a more RBI type -- what would he have to do?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I don't know. I would sit down and we'll talk. You know, we got another 70 day between here and spring training. We'll sit down and talk and try to do the right thing.
But you try to put guys in a position where they're going to be successful. Are we going to be successful with him hitting first? Then we will do that. Are we going to be better off with him hitting second or third, fourth, then we'll do that.
Q. You all traded Jacobs and Willingham.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Right.
Q. Two power guys in the middle of the lineup.
FREDI GONZALEZ: We're going to have to fill that void somehow. Whereas Hanley, you know, with his talent, you know, to be able to hit there with his power, you know, batting average, the whole thing, is it Hermida? Is it Cody Ross? Is it Danny Uggla? So I'll sit down and kick it around.
But, you know, right now, I can't tell you that -- I couldn't give a lineup. I don't think it's fair.
Q. You guys run number projections, right, on different possible lineups? Don't you do that every year?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, we do that.
Q. Would you put much stock in that?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think you have to, at times, you know, go with a gut feeling and then do what's best.
Q. Have you run those numbers with the current mix yet?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, we haven't. I have not. I won't do that until spring training.
Q. For whatever reason, when Hanley is the three hole he's different.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Maybe being young. But also, we were on a seven-game winning streak when he was on third early on in the year. He's a force. He's a force wherever you hit him, you know. He's a guy that's lurking. During the course of the game, from the other dugout, sitting in the other dugout, he's lurking. He's going to come up sooner or later.
That being said, I couldn't give you a lineup right now.
Q. He's going to be gone a considerable amount time for because of the World Baseball Classic, so...
FREDI GONZALEZ: He's got to make the team, though. (Laughter) Where he is going to play him?
Q. We asked that.
FREDI GONZALEZ: What did he say?
Q. Tejada and Reyes situation.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, and we got A-Rod.
Q. A-Rod at third and Aramis Ramirez may or may not play. I think if Ramirez doesn't play that'll put Tejada or A-Rod on the third probably.
FREDI GONZALEZ: And Reyes and -- maybe but Reyes at first. (Laughter.)
Q. I asked if they're going move Hanley any other spot and he said no. I said, where you gonna hit him? He said anywhere but third.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Is that would what he said?
Q. If he's going to be gone, who are you going to be leading off spring training?
FREDI GONZALEZ: We've got so many games though.
Q. Who's going to be leading off?
FREDI GONZALEZ: We'll see. You know, we'll see. When he's not playing, when he hasn't played the last two years we lead off with somebody else, haven't we? Days he didn't play we led off with somebody else.
Q. What would you like to do with Maybin in spring training?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Get him some at-bats. We'll see what fits best for him. It's not easy, you know.
Q. With Maybin, like you say, get him the at-bats. What do you see him working on or needing to work on to be the player everyone things he can be?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I saw a lot improvement from the beginning of spring training through September. For me, there was leaps of bounds defensively. Obviously he's not going to hit .700 hundred or whatever he finished up with. But there was improvement there in his swing. He's not a finished product, by any means of imagination.
You know, so he's going to come to spring training and just keep getting better in all those facets: the defense, you know, the hitting, make more contact, base running. He's a young kid, and I think we'll see improvement throughout the year.
Q. With Bonifacio in the lineup the days he is, Maybin, Hanley. Larry has talked about that. What do you see that speed threat that you're going to have that you didn't have the last couple years?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think that's what we're trying to get to. Talking to Larry, and the way I wanted -- you want to have that speed. The speed comes with the ballpark every day. You got to have somebody that hits the ball out of the ballpark. You got to have somebody that scares somebody during the course of the game.
But I think that, you know, speed, defense, and pitching, it's our philosophy. If those three guys get on, it's going to cause havoc.
Q. When you face Bonifacio and he did get on, he seemed to --
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, but what would he face, five at-bats?
Q. But just that dimension, you saw what that brought.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Or any time -- not only Bonifacio, but any time speed guys come up to the plate it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. You got to play closer because he can punt on you. Ball in the gap and it's a double, you know, not a triple. So it puts a lot of the pressure on the defense. Especially when you get on base and you can steal a base.
Q. Doesn't it make sense, I mean, you don't want to name your lineup yet, but Maybin first, Hanley third, Bonifacio eighth, Ramirez...
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, Bonifacio, where does he play?
Q. Assuming he makes third.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Where he is going to play?
Q. Right field.
FREDI GONZALEZ: We got Cody Ross. So you know what I mean? You got Hermida, so a lot of things you can change. So I don't want to sit here and say this is the lineup.
Q. You got a lot of moving parts.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah. In February, you know. To be honest, he's made the team two years in a row out of spring training and he's only got nine at-bats.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Or twenty at-bats. So it's hard, you know. Same thing with opening day starter, because you know, we were set to start one guy, and then all of a sudden this guy gets hurt and the other guy has a little setback, and now we got to start somebody else.
So I like the pieces, you know. You know what? Maybe we start with Maybin leading off and Hanley hitting third. If that's not working out a month into the season, change it. It's not like it's set in stone. Change it. Move Hanley back to lead-off and play around with that.
Q. Would it be safe to say that Hanley wouldn't hit fourth, that more than likely if he's in the middle of the lineup it would be third?
FREDI GONZALEZ: If they tell me we could win 100 games with Hanley hitting eight or ninth and hit the pitcher second, we'll do it.
Q. Right. With him, given that first inning that he --
FREDI GONZALEZ: I wouldn't go any further back than third, I wouldn't think, unless we're just absolutely struggling and can't get any runs and we'll try to do something else.
Q. Baker second?
FREDI GONZALEZ: You know, he's had some success second, but also Hermida, we've thrown him out there. They're two similar type of hitters. They take pitches, you know, get the ball on the ground. They're left handers, so, you know, again, depending on who's on the team.
If Bonifacio is on the team or the another speed guys, who knows?
Q. Your rotation we saw the second half of the season when they are healthy, to go into the season, you know, what's that going to be like to have Johnson and Sanchez (knocking on table) from day one as compared to July?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, absolutely, knock on wood. You know, it's -- that's how we were competitive the second half of the year. It was nice to run Johnson, Nolasco, Sanchez, Volstad, and Miller, you know.
Again, we start with those fives like we did last year and we ended up with -- the only guy in the rotation we started with was Nolasco, so it's good.
It's nice to know that you're starting five is healthy and ready to start the season.
Q. A year ago this time you said --
FREDI GONZALEZ: We'll bring the transcripts. We got transcripts. I don't want to...
Q. Day one of spring training, defense. How do you think the defense improved, and then how do you think it'll improve this year?
FREDI GONZALEZ: We're still going to go. We're still going to go heavy in the defense department. I think the program that we changed in spring training I think has helped; we got better. You know, not to the point where we want to be. We want to be in the top of the defense.
What was the second question?
Q. Just with the changes made so far, how do you...
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, Sanchez is going to play first base, or give him an opportunity to play first base. We saw -- if that doesn't work out, we can always move Jorge from third to first, and he was pretty good at first base.
We saw a lot improvement in him at third base, too, Cantu, with being familiar. He got better the second half. I think we got an option to move, to flip flop the outfielders, the corner outfielders.
I think Cody Ross is one of top defenders in the National League and he can play all three.
He played a lot of centerfield and played right field, so we may be able to do something with that with Hermy to get our defense better.
Q. And Maybin will now be in center?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Maybin will be in center. You know what? Everybody talked about the last couple years we don't have a true centerfielder. I think between (indiscernible) guy and Cody Ross, I don't think we missed a beat. You know, I'm sure everybody wants an everyday centerfielder, but those two guys did a terrific job.
Q. He takes a lot of range out there.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, Maybin should cover a little more range than the other two guys.
Q. Can you characterize the discussions so far in Vegas regarding a potential player move with your ballclub?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, we made all of our moves before we got to Vegas. Right now we don't have to move money, you know, we don't have to make a trade because we need to get the payroll under a certain amount.
We're still listening, we're still actively talking to people. But the only way we'll make a move is if it's a good baseball move that's beneficial for us.
Q. Philosophically, last year your offensive output was tremendous. Defensively, not so much. Would you be opposed to trading some pop for some run prevention?
FREDI GONZALEZ: We've done that a little bit earlier on. We traded Mike Jacobs to Kansas City Royals. We got some pitching back. We feel like we have a good kid in AA coming that's going to help us out there. We made a trade with eh Washington Nationals. Got Bonifacio, who's a speed guy, defensive infielder for Scott Olsen and Josh Willigham.
So we've done that little by little. I think you can't do it all in one blow without destroying the team, so we're kinda making progress toward that.
Q. As you look toward April, any chance to moving Hanley down to the third spot?
FREDI GONZALEZ: We were just talking about that. There is a chance. We kicked that around. It's not one of those things that -- if we move him he's going to stay there. It's not set in concrete. We may start with him in the three hole or the first hole and see what happens and see how that progresses.
Q. Big news today in baseball Sabathia signing. Tell me your reaction.
FREDI GONZALEZ: The Yankees got a horse for a pitcher, and that's a good place for him to pitch. I think he's going to be -- the Yankees' fans are going to see -- well, they saw him a little bit when Cleveland came in, but now they get to see him a little more often.
Q. You guys may see him in June.
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, I think we're going to -- it's gonna get skipped. They got a day -- you don't think I haven't looked at it? They got a day off before they come in and a day off after. I think we're gonna get them. So we may get them.
Q. Sabathia is obviously the ace. You got some guys that, you know, in Johnson, Nolasco. How close do you think these type of guys are, Volstad, of being a true No. 1 guys?
FREDI GONZALEZ: You guys been around me that you know I don't like to put labels on guys. I think we have four guys in our rotation that before their career's are over -- if the health is there -- they're going to be -- we're going to talking about that. They're going to be aces. Potentially, you know, with Johnson and Nolasco and Volstad and Sanchez and Miller. They all got the stuff to do it.
Q. Five aces.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Five aces.
Q. Would you say the epigon of this meeting has been to your expectation?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think it's been way above my expectations.
Q. Your bullpen, Matty Lindstrom, the possibility of him closing and the rest of the pen, how you see it shaping up.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, you know, we gave Matty a chance to close last year at the end. I think we're going to give him that opportunity again.
You got, you know, Pinto, Tankersley, Meyer, Dan Meyer, those left handed guys that we're going to have them compete. Always looking to add to that competition mix.
You got Nunez from the Royals, Kensing coming back, Joe Nelson hopefully coming back. Who am I missing? Another right-hander. Then you Ceda and De La Cruz.
Q. You got a lot of depth.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, we got some guys to compete for those jobs. Who knows between now and spring training who we can Rule V or, you know, Jorge (indiscernible.) He signed two years, one year, something like that.
Q. Kevin Gregg obviously gave leadership to that group. A guy going to step up and replace that?
FREDI GONZALEZ: They were with them for two years. Matt Lindstrom, so I know was a big part of they're success, you know, the leadership, that mentoring. Because he was -- Kevin was good doing that stuff. Now it's time to do it. I think it's a perfect world. I think the good closers have done it.
And I'm not comparing -- by any means comparing Lindstrom to Rivera, but he did it for Wetteland for the Yankees for a couple years. Was a setup guy there, and then and all of a sudden...
Hopefully stuff like that happens.
Q. Does Nelson have the eighth in your mind automatically, or is it --
FREDI GONZALEZ: If all of a sudden -- you know, all of a sudden we got the Phillies in town and we got (indiscernible) coming up in the eighth, obviously we'll go with one of left handers to get the lefties to matchup.
Yeah, I mean, we pitched Nelly, you know, all the way from the sixth to the eighth inning, and even the ninth inning, and he did a terrific job. I'm going to say Nelly would be late in the game.
Q. Is he your obvious fall back if Lindstrom -- has anything like that come up as a closer?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, you know, he's done it. You know, he did it in Kansas City. I think he got a couple saves for us. Just one? Okay. One. So he's done it.
Q. I think he was in line for one and cramped up.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, that's right.
Q. Nunez, is he an interesting guy for you because he might have that type of ability down the road, too?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah. I think -- didn't he save I stay in Kansas City, too? That's a good arm. But, you know, we'll see. You know, let's not get too negative.
Q. Have you called Matt and talked to him about Lindstrom in the off-season or anything?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, I make my phone calls after Christmas. Matt was doing it last year at the end. He better not be surprised if I call.
Q. Might not.
FREDI GONZALEZ: I'm sure he knows.
Q. He might have no idea. Might still be a little paranoid.
FREDI GONZALEZ: You don't remember closing those last few games?
Q. The Rule V that we were talking about before, you guys are at 40. If you're at 40, you have to make some sort of minor trade so you can participate, if you want, or are you guys assuming you're not going to draft anybody?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I would ask Larry, because -- you got to be at 39 to be able to participate?
Q. Yeah. You can't take the guy and then dump somebody. You got to walk in the room with 39.
FREDI GONZALEZ: I did not know the rule. Maybe ask Larry that question. Maybe we make five trades tonight. What's Rule V? Tomorrow.
Q. Yeah, 9:00.
End of FastScripts