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MLB WINTER MEETINGS


December 5, 2011


Bob Melvin


DALLAS, TEXAS

Q.  How's the offseason going for you?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Good.¬† It's good to be here and talk about baseball things with baseball people.¬† It's always kind of the prelude to‑‑ the offseason is the offseason, but now we're looking more towards the baseball end of it and it's downhill when we get past this.

Q.  You said the offseason would be a good chance for you to learn about your farm system.  Have you taken the time to do that?
BOB MELVIN:  Yeah.  Unless you see somebody firsthand, obviously it's a little more difficult, but you have more time to delve into it some, and got to see some of the fall league players, Green and Choice in particular both had good fall leagues.  So getting to, like you said, be a little more aware of the system, not just the big league team but the system, as well.

Q.  Your team is one that could have potentially a lot of turnover this season with a lot of free agents.  How do you look at the offseason not really knowing what you might have on the field in the spring?
BOB MELVIN:  Yeah, you have to concentrate on the players that you have here and you know that are going to be there.  I like the guys that we have.  Certainly we have a lot of pitching, and as long as you have a lot of pitching, you know it's going to keep you in games.  We'll see how it all turns out come Spring Training and who we start with and who we have.  But the guys that we have, less the free agents, I still like our core group.

Q.  How do you view your outfield situation right now?
BOB MELVIN:  That's probably the one that we're looking at the hardest right now is the outfield situation.  With potentially those four guys, our four free agents leaving, including Matsui, and how well he did at the end of the year, so those four guys that we rotated on a daily basis there's a chance none of them will be back, so there's an area we will spend a little bit more time on.

Q.  The stadium issue looms really large, what the team may or may not do this offseason.  Is it frustrating for you as a manager that this has been going on for so long?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Right, so I don't think‑‑ if you're part of it for many years as, say, Billy has, certainly it gets that much more frustrating.¬† A lot has been written as the season wore on, and now it seems like there's a decision looming sooner than later, I can see where there would be some frustration in not knowing and trying to put together your team, one, in not the biggest market in the world to start with and then having some of those questions out there that do pertain to what you're trying to do, I can see how that would be frustrating for him.

Q.  Can you talk about your new coaching staff and sort of what those guys are going to bring and what you're looking forward to with them?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Well, Chip Hale was a natural.¬† He was first and foremost for me.¬† Joel Skinner did a nice job for us, but I was hoping from the beginning knowing that Chip was going to be my guy to come in and promote him from third base to a bench coach, he deserves that.¬† I think down the road he's a guy that certainly‑‑ he got a chance to interview for the managing job in New York, and rightly so, the year before, and I think down the road he's certainly one of the guys that would be potentially managers down the road.¬† So it'll be nice to have him in a different role, a guy that I am completely comfortable with walking away from whatever and knowing that he's going to take care of it.¬† He'll run Spring Training and do all the schedules, and he's done it for me before, so that's a comfort having somebody like that.
And Curt Young, for a couple different reasons, one, he's had such a long history with the organization, player, coach, the pitching coach and a successful one for quite a long time, to be able to bring him back, plus a guy that I know personally from my years living in Arizona.  I actually played with him in Kansas City for one year, so comfortability too.  Chili Davis is a guy that I played with, a very well respected guy.  You'll see once he steps into a clubhouse, he's got one of those clubhouse personalities where he gets a tremendous amount of respect.
So adding those three guys I think will certainly, one, help the team, and number two, guys that I'm familiar with and know that I know that the job is going to be taken care of.

Q.  How much of a boost is it to bring in a guy like Young who's so familiar with your pitching staff?
BOB MELVIN:  More familiar than I am, and I was there for, what, almost three quarters of the year last year, so guys that he has roots with from their younger days coming up through the Big Leagues and the maturation process and the whole bit.  It's one thing to know a guy's numbers and mechanically and so forth, but to understand the individual, too, it's a natural fit for us.

Q.  You mentioned the strength of your pitching.  As a manager is it somewhat alarming to hear some of your best pitchers' names being thrown out so often in trade rumors?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Yeah, I start to twitch a little bit when you hear that.¬† But listen, in our market and the way we do business, you can't say there's nobody who's untouchable.¬† You have to be open to the fact that if you can improve your club, whether it's short‑term, whether it's long‑term, you have to look at all those variables.¬† So we do have a lot of pitching.¬† Whenever you have a lot of something, you know that there are going to be a lot of hits on that, and we do have a lot of good pitching, not only youngsters, we've got some veteran guys, too.¬† It's only natural that there is a lot of gossip going on as far as our pitchers right now.

Q.  When you look at your outfield, I guess you have a decision of do you take a young guy like Michael Taylor, throw him out there and see how he does or bring somebody else in.  How do you see that or balance that out?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Yeah, and that's exactly right.¬† You have to balance what you think your best options are, and sometimes it's not just short‑term, sometimes you're looking at long‑term solutions.¬† We did get somewhat of a look at Michael Taylor, also Jai Miller.¬† Jay did a nice job in the time that he played for us, too.¬† That is a balancing act.¬† You know, it's where you allot your money, where your prospects have more prevalence than maybe bringing somebody else in as a free agent, all those things are things that you're weighing at this particular point in the season, and when you have a lot of pieces and potential chips as we do, particularly with the pitching, then you're going to hear a lot about which direction we're going.

Q.  From what you've seen from Michael, do you think he's ready to step in and maybe just be an everyday player?
BOB MELVIN:  Well, I don't think you're going to find out what you need to find out about a player like that unless you do give him that opportunity.  Now, a lot of times, a lot of talk about Spring Training not being the ideal place to do that.  Well, it's just the position that we're in.  So this Spring Training, sitting where we are right now, we're going to have to do a lot of evaluating based on Spring Training.

Q.  Are you concerned at all about the shortened Spring Training schedule with leaving for Japan a little bit early when you have that many players?
BOB MELVIN:  Not really, just mostly getting the pitchers ready, to make sure on the first day that we open up in Japan that we're ready to go there.  On a position player end, the Spring Training gets a little lengthy anyway.

Q.¬† When you look at Chris Carter, where would you envision him and would you prefer to stay away from full‑time DH duties with him?
BOB MELVIN:  Well, as we sit here right now, it looks like the logical fit, but I don't know that once we start Spring Training that it's going to look like it does right now.  He's a guy that we know looking at his history in the organization that he takes his lumps early on and it takes him a while to feel like he belongs, and then at every level except the big league level at this point in time right now, he's broken out and hit.  That's part of the evaluation process with him, as well, is is it going to happen at this level and how long is it going to take.

Q.  So as the roster stands now, do you kind of see him as a DH?
BOB MELVIN:¬† You know what, I'm not going to just‑‑ you hate to just say a young kid is a DH.¬† You want to make sure you do your due diligence everywhere.¬† I felt like he was a little more comfortable at first base later in the season than he was earlier in the season during pregame drills and a lot of the stuff that we did.¬† He looked like he was getting more and more comfortable at first base.

Q.  How do you see first base?
BOB MELVIN:  There's a lot of guys we're looking at there.  Barton, with the injury last year, didn't get to do some of the things that he's done before.
Brandon Allen started out hot and cooled off a little bit, but certainly is an athletic talent that we liked what we saw.
Kila, I'm not even going to go to the last name right now, but another guy that's done it all at Triple‑A, has just never really had the opportunity at the big league level to do it.¬† And then Carter, as well.¬† So we have quite a few guys we're going to look at over at first base.

Q.  Do you feel set at third base?
BOB MELVIN:¬† With Scotty?¬† Yeah, as we sit here right now, certainly.¬† But if Texas wants to give us Beltre, we'd probably move him into third base.¬† I don't know that that's going to happen.¬† Scotty came a long way.¬† He probably had the most difficult task last year in that he's come into a new organization, he doesn't start the year with us, he's going to a new position, he's playing third base, a position that he hasn't played much of and a position that you can't help but think about I've got to drive in some runs because corner positions typically drive in runs.¬† So there were a lot of things that he had to get comfortable with, and you look at his production, less maybe the average, still the on‑base percentage is good, and knocked in a lot of runs for the amount of bats we had, so we feel good at this point.

Q.  Is first base maybe a spot where you feel like you could sacrifice a defensive guy if you feel he's going to give you something with the bat or is a glove a determining factor?
BOB MELVIN:  We had our troubles last year defensively and we don't want to go down that path this year and there's going to be a priority put on defense from day one.  If somebody wants to play first base, they're going to have to play some defense on top of it.

Q.  As a manager, how do you look at approaching the season when it looks like you are pretty much in rebuild mode, which is what Billy has talked about with the stadium situation?
BOB MELVIN:  You know, I try not to look at it that way.  We still don't know what our team is going to look like at this point, not 100 percent, and like I said, the guys that we do have that we know going forward, I like a lot.  So I think all these guys have the chance to progress and get better.  We do have pitching, which is going to keep us in games and keep the other team hopefully from scoring to where we are in games.
Now, couple that with playing better defense, we'll try to get better situational hitting and so forth, you know, I still like our group of guys.  I think we do things right, we do things fundamentally sound, and if we continue to pitch and get better defensively, we're going to win some games regardless with this group we have now, let alone what we bring in, as well.

Q.  What's your understanding of where Jermaine Mitchell might be to start Spring Training?
BOB MELVIN:  Yeah, I'm not sure yet.  I don't think anybody is sure on that one yet.

Q.  Are you sort of cautiously optimistic he might be in that outfield mix?
BOB MELVIN:  Yeah, I am.  Choice and Green are other guys that we're excited about looking at, as well.

Q.  Did you see either one of them being a big league possibility?
BOB MELVIN:¬† I don't know about starting, but certainly at some point in time‑‑ and if‑‑ I think Michael Choice has come along a lot quicker than people would have thought.¬† A lot of the discussion during the season about him was give him another full year next year and he'll be ready to play.
Then as the season went along, you get into the fall league, it's like, hey, maybe it's going to be halfway through the season.  And then he's playing that much better in the fall league and continued to do it.  It's like, hey, if we take a look at the guy in Spring Training, you never know.  There always seemed to be a couple guys that pop up in Spring Training that do some things that you don't expect.

Q.  Has Trent Green had enough time in the outfield for you to be comfortable with him out there?
BOB MELVIN:  Based on what our people are telling us, he probably needs a little bit more time, defensively more so than offensively at this point.  What was it, a half a season or something like that?
But the thing about him, he's a good athlete.  It would be different if you were going from center field to shortstop as opposed to shortstop to center field, or the outfield anywhere.

Q.  Are you expecting Dallas Braden to be on time and ready to go at Spring Training?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Maybe a little behind in spring, and I think we forecast him to maybe be a little bit behind once the season starts, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was ready to start the season.¬† He's a hard‑working kid that is pretty passionate about what he does.¬† So at some point in time in Spring Training, we would think that we'd get enough innings for him and enough pitches and so forth to be an option somewhere in April probably, yeah.

Q.  Given the injuries to him and Brett, do you think there's a need to bolster the pitching depth a little bit?
BOB MELVIN:  I feel pretty good with our depth with Moscoso and Outman is another guy.  No, I'm comfortable with where our starters are at this point.

Q.  Chili Davis doesn't have the most experience as a coach.  What drew you guys to him as a hitting coach for you?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Well, I had interviewed him several times, interviewed him when I was with Seattle, interviewed him when I was with Arizona and really was ready to do it then.¬† I don't think, for a number of reasons, he was probably ready to commit at least one of those times.¬† I think one of the interviews might have been more of a feel‑out type of a situation to see where he is in his career as far as going forward coaching.¬† But a guy I know a lot about.¬† Like I said, there's certain guys that just have instant impacts in clubhouses, guys that are respected for what they've done because of word of mouth players that have played with them.¬† He's a very respected guy on the Yankee World Series teams, always a guy that hitters when they're struggling, sometimes you don't always go to the hitting coach, you go to another hitter for a different perspective.¬† He was always one of those guys.
He's a switch‑hitter on top of that, knows what it feels like to do it from both sides of the plate, and I think was amongst the guys that I played with and watched even after I played with him.¬† I think his preparation for each and every at‑bat was as good as I've seen.¬† Very rarely threw away an at‑bat, and I think with younger players, the quicker they learn that, the better they are, the more tenacious they get and the better prepared they are each and every at‑bat, and I think that was another focal point with him.

Q.  How much would you like to have Hideki Matsui back on your club?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Well, he was terrific.¬† From the time I came last year to the end of the season, he was terrific, and not only from a production standpoint, from‑‑ a guy that our younger guys could look up to and see how he prepares.¬† He was a role model for our guys, as well.¬† We're not going to probably be market makers as far as free agents go.¬† We're probably going to be more patient in seeing where guys are a little bit later in the process.¬† But we don't close the door on that.¬† He's a guy that has a good impact for us last year that is certainly a guy that you would certainly think about.
I think in his case, he also probably opened up some eyes for National League teams, as well, for a guy that can play the outfield and pinch‑hit and do all those things that it's difficult for younger guys to do.¬† I think once the‑‑ once it starts to get heated up a little bit as far as signings into, with the first wave of guys, the Pujolses and Fielders, and I think the pace probably picks up with some other guys, and I think he's going to have several options out there.¬† We'll see if it gets to where we are.¬† I'm just not sure the timing already there.

Q.  What is your impress of Norichika Aoki, the Japanese outfielder?
BOB MELVIN:  I don't know enough about him.  I've heard good things, but I haven't seen any video or anything.

Q.  Any thoughts on what you think Trevor has to do to kind of get back to where he was in 2010 just from a production standpoint?
BOB MELVIN:  You know what, I think he just got a little out of whack for a guy that's had the success that he's had.  He had a couple of bad stretches where maybe his command wasn't as good, fighting himself as far as mechanically.  It's not like his stuff took a turn in a bad direction.  His stuff is still there.  It's probably just simplify a little bit, repeat his delivery a little better and get his mechanics more squared away.  And then mentally if he has a couple of good games like we saw at the end of the season, then I think he starts to get on the roll that he's been on for the most part of his career.

Q.  Do you think Kurt can have an impact with him?
BOB MELVIN:  No question, yeah.  That's why we targeted Kurt and was a guy we felt could be an important piece for us.

Q.  Did you see Hideki?
BOB MELVIN:  Yeah, we went out to dinner a couple times.  I don't have too many friends in Manhattan.

Q.  Was it sushi?
BOB MELVIN:¬† Sushi one time, Italian the other.¬† I told him he ruined me sushi‑wise.¬† I was never a big sushi eater, and he took me to such a good place that I think the quality of the sushi was so good that the sushi that I've had since has not been as good, so I think he ruined me.¬† I think the only place I'll be able to get sushi like that might be in Japan.¬† That's one of the reasons we're going to Japan.

Q.  Is that another reason it might be nice to have him back if everything worked out?  Do you think about that, how much fun it would be to go there with him?
BOB MELVIN:  Well, it's a natural.  I think us probably and Seattle were natural teams looking at it last year and who we had personnel wise on our roster.  Those are the two most prominent Japanese players in history, two of maybe five, four.  They're two pretty impactful guys if you're looking to do a series like that.  Those are the first two guys you're going to look at.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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