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MLB WINTER MEETINGS


December 5, 2011


Ron Roenicke


DALLAS, TEXAS

Q.  We've got Del, could you give us a little talk about him as a person, and talk about him as a potential manager?
RON ROENICKE:  I can't say anything nice about the Cubs (laughter.)

Q.  That's fair.
RON ROENICKE:  No, Del was a huge part of what we did last year, good baseball mind, works hard, well prepared.  The managing part, I don't know, that's something that you just have to see how the personality fits, you know, the in game managing, same sort of thing, you're going to have to see how that goes.  But he's going to be prepared, and he's going to work hard.

Q.  How soon did you turn the page from the playoffs to looking to next year?  Did you give yourself time to enjoy it for a few days, or does the mind immediately start moving forward to the next season?
RON ROENICKE:  No, I took some time to enjoy it.  I actually drove home from there after the season, my wife and I.  That was a good time to think about it.

Q.  How long is that drive?
RON ROENICKE:  Two and a half days.  We didn't want to drive 15 hours a day.  So it wasn't that hard of a drive.

Q.  What was the discussion like on those two and a half days?
RON ROENICKE:¬† You know, it was ‑‑ it was reflecting on a good year, but it was also a little bit of disappointment, I think in the series that we played in St. Louis.¬† We played pretty good games there, three poor games.¬† It's not easy to just get over that the day after.¬† It's not easy to get over a week after.¬† I'm certainly over it now.
But I'm very happy with the season we had.  I think that '96 wins was fantastic.  I think winning the division was great.  We had a great series against the Diamondbacks.  And it's not that I thought we played terrible against the Cardinals.  I thought we played well, and then all of a sudden we wouldn't play well.
But I talk a lot about it, once you get to the playoffs, things have to go right, and they didn't go right for us.  St. Louis played well and things went right for them.

Q.  What is the top priority for a club to get back to that spot?
RON ROENICKE:  We really are filling a lot of holes.  Right now we've lost nine guys.  That's a lot.  So trying to fill in those pieces to make sure we put out the same competitive team next year, hopefully have a couple of hot streaks like we did this past season, because without those hot streaks, we would have had a tough year.
So we need to do that.  Hopefully we play more consistent.  We won't start off like we did.  We won't start off on the road like we did.
But there are some big spots to fill in to make sure that we continue to have that team that we think will contend every year.

Q.  Did you have a feeling that La Russa was going to quit after the season?  Did you talk about that?
RON ROENICKE:  No, no idea.  Surprised me.  After I looked, I understand.  But it surprised me because he was into it.  Their team was playing great.  And when that happens, you know, it doesn't cross my mind at all that this may be his last year.  I figured as hard as he works at it and with the way the club was playing at the end he would be there again.

Q.  Because the Prince Fielder thing is not closed yet, until he signs with another team, how do you make plans with such a huge piece in limbo like that?
RON ROENICKE:  Very difficult.  That's one of the things we're talking about now.  We're trying to figure out what's going to happen and how we do it.  We need to have guys start committing when we're together, either yes, I am coming with you or no, you guys don't really have a chance to sign whoever that player is we're talking about.
And as soon as we have more commitments one way or another we can move forward and figure out how to fill all the spots that we have out there.
In Prince's case, we know that if he doesn't resign, we know that Gammel is going to be a guy that's going to deserve to get a shot at first base, but the other positions are up in the air.

Q.  I talked to you about that on the phone last week.  One thing that you mentioned which was a little different was when you were talking about the many different back up plans you can have you mentioned gamble.  But you also mentioned Casey McGehee, if you got a third baseman and he moved over.  But the one that intrigued me is you brought up Corey's name.  He was drafted as a first baseman and has become a really good right fielder.
What would it take to move him to first, then it creates a hole in right?
RON ROENICKE:¬† It does.¬† The only way you do it is if you've got somebody in right field that you would be able to fill in at either first base, third base, if you're going to move Casey to first.¬† So that would have to be a right fielder.¬† And all the people you're looking at ‑‑ if Prince doesn't resign, we need a fourth hitter.¬† If you found a fourth hitter that was a right fielder, maybe that would be a possibility.
I haven't discussed that can Corey.  And it's not even close to going there.  If it ever got close to that point, you know, maybe we'd make a phone call.  But Corey is a good right fielder.  He's doing a nice job for us wherever we put him in the lineup.
And I think that's just long range, me thinking of all the possibilities that could happen.

Q.  Would you go outside to find a No. 4 hitter?  Like Rickie Weeks?
RON ROENICKE:  Rickie is pretty valuable wherever you put him.  I think Doug is always looking to replace.  If he could go outside and get somebody, it's not going to be of that caliber, I think, you could get somebody to fill the spot and still afford for get anything else in the club.
But he's always talking to people.

Q.  You got some bullpen spots you need to take care of, too?
RON ROENICKE:  Yes.

Q.  Do you think there's any chance that either Saito or Hawkins will be back?
RON ROENICKE:¬† Well, there are discussions with Doug, you know, money‑wise, that's something he and Mark are going to have to figure out what the budget is going to be.
But I know Saito certainly is a lot less money.  And I would like him back.  I think Doug would like him back.  I think Hawkins is in the same spot.  Hawkins is going to cost a lot more money, and deservedly, he had a great year.  He's coming off making a nice contract last year.
So with all the pieces to fit in, that's where, when I talk about some guys need to make commitments, because he's got to figure out what we have and what we need to fill in.

Q.  (INAUDIBLE)?
RON ROENICKE:  I can't say that.  He's been in contact with agents.

Q.  Given the scarcity at the shortstop position offensively, how do you value what you can pay there and how does that affect what you're willing to commitment?  It just seems like there's not a lot of options out there.
RON ROENICKE:  Well, there's still getting Betancourt back definitely is a possibility.  Alex Gonzalez is there.  Furcal is there.  It's not like there's nobody there.  But in our system we don't have somebody to play shortstop every day so we need to go out somewhere and get somebody.

Q.  How has that market developed so far as compared to some other positions?
RON ROENICKE:  I think it's like the rest of this, there's not a lot happening yet.  Players, agents aren't committing too much right now, for whatever reason.

Q.¬† In ‑‑ assuming Ray as does officially go off the board, does that open things up at all or is he at another level and you think his contract might not really have an impact ‑‑ I guess it depends on which side you're asking?
RON ROENICKE:  His contract, certainly we weren't going to do that.

Q.  Right.
RON ROENICKE:¬† So I don't know that ‑‑ that doesn't affect us.

Q.¬† Do you think it affects ‑‑
RON ROENICKE:  It may affect Rawlins.

Q.  How would he look on your team?
RON ROENICKE:  He would look good.

Q.  That would create all kinds of interesting lineup possibilities for you, too, having a guy like him, a switch hitter?
RON ROENICKE:  Yeah, and then we go, assuming we don't sign him, we sign Rawlins, and then you go with Rickie on 4, and Corey 5, try to do it that way.

Q.  So depending on who you sign, it sets up the way you do your lineup.  Like if you get a 4 hitter, then where he is.  But if you don't somebody else internally has to do it?
RON ROENICKE:  Right.

Q.¬† Rickie profiles, I mean is a budding‑4 guy.¬† He drives in runs when he has a chance?
RON ROENICKE:  Yeah, when you're talking third, fourth hitters, there's not really many elite three and four hitters.  We happen to have two on the same team.  That's a rarity to be able to have two guys with the caliber that we have.  Usually you'll have one there, and then the other guy you fill in with, and when I say fill in, that doesn't mean that guy is not a good hitter.  He's not in Prince's category.
So Rickie is not Prince.  But Rickie is a very good hitter.  Rickie can hit for average, get on base.  He can drive the ball.  And we think he's going to drive in runs.  But he's never done it, so it's hard to say, oh, yeah, Rickie can do it.  It's hard to say that, but I think he would be able to.

Q.  Are you worried, Ron, that you don't find a real dangerous No. 4 hitter or one that Ryan won't get pitched to as much as he has been?
RON ROENICKE:  That's always a possibility.  But you look at Prince and the year that he had with Casey not having a good year behind him, you would think the same thing.  Prince had a great year.
So I think when they stay within what they do well, I think that they should still have a great year.  And what really depends on those guys in front of him.  If the two guys in front of Ryan are getting on base all the time you can't pitch around Ryan.  Hopefully that happens.

Q.  Would you like to see Nyjer stay a little bit more under the radar this next season, and not call attention to himself, whether intentionally or not?
RON ROENICKE:  I tell you what, if he can have the same year he had last year, he can do the same thing.  Now, I'm not saying that I think it's okay with some of the things that he does.  The stuff for the fans.  He knows he's got to calm back down a little bit.
But I don't mind the energy that sometimes gets carried away a little too far with other teams, with other players.  He's a feisty guy.  He's got a cocky mentality, and I don't mind that.  It brings a lot of energy to our team.  He had a great season.  But there's some things he knows he needs to stay away from.  He doesn't do those things and just say, oh, I'm fine with it.  It bothers him.
So he knows with his personality, his emotional ‑‑ and sometimes he does things he shouldn't be doing, and he realizes that.¬† And he'll come in and he'll talk to me about it. Hey, I shouldn't have done that.

Q.  During the playoffs he was great.
RON ROENICKE:  He was good.  Didn't he put a freeze on talking to you guys?

Q.  Supposedly the CBA has new social media guidelines for players and that's like the Nyjer Morgan rule.  Does he need social media guidelines?
RON ROENICKE:  (Laughing).

Q.  How are you going what sold you on your hitting coach?
RON ROENICKE:¬† Johnny, I heard a lot about him from Jerry during the season and started asking more questions about him.¬† And it's not because I thought Del was going to leave.¬† I figured Del was going to be back.¬† But I always ‑‑ I always am interested in listening about coaches that people think are good, because I think a hitting coach's job is very difficult.¬† I think a pitching coach's job is very difficult.¬† And anytime I hear good things about somebody, I listen and I start asking a lot of questions.
I think when Del all of a sudden was in the mix for two different jobs and I thought there was a good possibility he was going to get them.  I made some calls on Johnny.  Got great feedback on him.  Not only just his personality, which is a solid guy.
But also his knowledge on hitting.  Some of that came over from Clint Hurdle.  When he came over he was with Rudy Jaramillo.  Then Clint comes over.  Clint brings a lot of mental part to the hitting game that I really like.  And Johnny is very familiar with that.  I think we bring that same thing over to our ballclub.  Which I think we need to get better mentally.  And our offensive scheme and how we want to produce and create more runs.

Q.  Is it weird talking to him on the phone?  They sound exactly alike?
RON ROENICKE:  I met with Johnny, and he's a lot like Jerry.

Q.¬† Rawlinson publically in the off‑season said you were looking for a five‑year deal.¬† Is that realistic for a guy that's 32, 33, getting up there?
RON ROENICKE:¬† I don't want to get into whether it's realistic or not.¬† If you're the quality player that he is, and the consistent years he's had for a long time, I think people value him in a way that he expects to be rewarded with a long‑term contract.¬† Whether that's 3, 4, 5 years, I don't know.¬† But if you're a player, you're his type player, why wouldn't you ask for that many years?

Q.  What is it that you like most about him?
RON ROENICKE:¬† Solid character.¬† Knows how to play.¬† Good ‑‑ very good defensive player.¬† Can still steal bases.¬† Not like he was maybe three or four years ago.¬† And offensively he gives you a good at‑bat.

Q.  You still look at him as a lead off hitter?
RON ROENICKE:  Whether he's lead off or second.  I think he fits either place.

Q.  Have you spoken with Shaun Marcum?
RON ROENICKE:  Yes.

Q.  Did you contact him or did he contact you and what was the gist of that conversation?
RON ROENICKE:¬† Right after the season I wanted to talk to him that last day.¬† It was kind of crazy in the media had him and I had to do my thing.¬† And by the time I got out there he was gone.¬† So I texted him that night.¬† Just what I ‑‑ what I had seen from him and just really appreciated what he had done for the club.
I didn't want him leaving in the down mode that he was when I know when he left the ballclub.  We couldn't get where we were without our starting pitching.  I know when you have that type of game I know what you're thinking when you leave.  It's a bad way to end the season for him.  And I didn't want to leave it that way, so I texted him a long text.  Just told him that I'd see him the next day and if I didn't I was going to call him.
So when we were driving home I called him.

Q.  How much of his struggles were physical and how much were maybe just out of gas?
RON ROENICKE:  It's hard to say what it was.  It could have been out of gas.  Could have been just mentally.  You know.  Pitchers are like hitters.  They go through some confidence issues.  They go through hot streaks.  You go through cold streaks you just like a hitter does.  At the end of the year I think he was in a streak where he wasn't pitching well.  His confidence wasn't as good.
He was still well prepared, like he always is, and I would have been ‑‑ I would have loved to have seen him get through that first inning, because I really still felt really good about him.¬† I think he's a great competitor.¬† And I really like him.¬† I think he helps your team win.

Q.  Did he, in your conversation with him, did he say he had any physical problems or that he felt worn down?  There has to be a reason for just falling off a Cliff like that?
RON ROENICKE:¬† Well.¬† When I say that, though, why does a hitter go through a bad slump?¬† Why does he fall off the cliff for ‑‑

Q.  Usually a mechanical thing.
RON ROENICKE:  Well.  Maybe that's what it was.  It's hard to say what happens with guys.  I have a feeling that it was the whole thing.  Pitched 200 innings for the first time.  Got in a little funk.  Put a little pressure on himself.  So the total, I think the total package for whatever reason changed how he pitched.

Q.¬† The way your staff.¬† The makeup of your staff you really had no option but to give him the ball again or was there any thought ‑‑
RON ROENICKE:  I felt that way.  I didn't hear that from everybody else, but I felt that way.

Q.  McGehee, did you talk to him at all?
RON ROENICKE:  Yes, I have.

Q.  What are your plans for him next year?  You mentioned third or first.  Will he be in the lineup for sure?
RON ROENICKE:  You know, it's hard to say with what we're looking for and what we get.  Right now I'm planning on him playing third base.  That's what I see.  The reason I mention first base isn't because I'm saying I want to move him right now to first base.  The reason I'm saying first base is just the possibilities if gamble comes in and gamble struggles a little bit.  I know Casey can do it, and I think you have to plan for everything that can happen.  Especially with a young guy.  And Casey doesn't do well.
You've got to have some kind of back up.¬† To where somebody could go in and help him out.¬† Or maybe Casey plays third.¬† You get left‑handers. ¬†And if Matt is not hitting them, you bump Casey over there and I don't know who it is.

Q.  But you view him as a regular member of the lineup?
RON ROENICKE:  That's what I think.  That's what I'm planning on.

Q.  When you talk about the Marcus kind of started out slowly.  Do you allow yourself to be hopeful at all that might improve the chances of Prince coming back?
RON ROENICKE:  It's hard to say.  It's hard to say what happens.  I know the case with a lot of the big time free agents that there are a lot of late signs.  It puts a lot of pressure on us to figure out what we're doing, because if he's a late sign, you know, we're in a position where we've got to know one way or the other.
We can't wait until ‑‑ really until late January to figure out what we're doing with our ballclub.¬† It puts a lot of pressure on Doug and Mark to figure out what we're going to do.
I would like to say what I would like to do, but I'm not making those decisions.  I basically go on what they give me.  Last year they gave me a great team, and Doug did a great job of adding on to that before the season started and then again during the season.

Q.  Can you tell me how Saito performed last season and how you feel about him being a free agent?
RON ROENICKE:  Sammy was tough to start.  He had Spring Training where he got hurt.  He had the tsunami that hit his city and hit his hometown in Japan.  He went through that.  Tried to come back.  Pitched one game in the minor leagues.  And broke down again.
But once he came back, around the All‑Star break, he was great for us this season.¬† Outstanding in the playoffs.¬† He's a guy that we have been talking about the last couple of days.¬† We would like to have him back.¬† And just see if we can work it out.

Q.  I want to ask you having been a first year manager last year.  What the biggest challenge was that faced you.  What you know now that maybe you didn't know a year ago as a first year manager.  And what does Mike Matheny face in that same situation?
RON ROENICKE:  Matheny and myself are completely different.  Matheny, he hasn't been in uniform.  Completely different.  If you want to just talk about my situation.  You know.  I think I had a great coaching staff to help me.  Which is huge.  I was blessed with a very good team.  Which was also huge.
But nothing surprised me.  The only thing is trying to get to know our players.  Anytime you walk in your first year and you don't know the players.  You've got to get to know not just how they perform on the field.  But you need to know their personalities.
When they probably need a day off or when you need to just let them rest a little bit or maybe extra work.  How they grind it out.  That took a little bit.  But I had a lot of coaches that were back from last year that knew their personalities.  Which really helped.  So it was really just getting to know their personalities.

Q.  That said, do you expect this year to be any kind of easier?  Having that year under your belt?
RON ROENICKE:  Definitely easier for me, because I already know most of the guys.  We're still getting some new players, but I know the personalities.  I know the coaching staff better.  That's the same thing.  I didn't know the coaches last year.  Coming in with them for first time, they didn't know me.  So everything will go smoother that way.  That doesn't necessarily mean we're going to play better.  But it will be easier on my part.

Q.¬† How was managing in the playoffs different than regular season?¬† To be a manager and go through that day‑to‑day and managing the bullpen against those same match ups.¬† The same hitters.¬† How was it different?
RON ROENICKE:  The managing part wasn't different.  I think we still tried to do the same thing we did during the season.
I guess the difference would be like Casey McGehee.  I didn't stick with Casey because Jerry Hairston was hot.  So I think the difference in me managing was trying to go with a guy that was swinging the bat well or maybe a guy that was pitching a little bit better.  We tried to do the same things.  Difference in that the media was a little different.  Certainly way more critical of what I would do.  That was different.
But other than that, you know, when you go through it a lot as a coach or a manager.  You kind of see what happens.  And when I was a coach with the Angels going through the playoffs so many years.  I watched what went on.  I talked to Mike Scioscia a lot about it.  So I was prepared with what was going to go on.

Q.  You just mentioned Jerry Hairston.  What's your thoughts there?  Do you think you'll be able to get him back?  I know Doug says he hopes to get him back.  He's played such a big role for you guys.
RON ROENICKE:  I hope we get him back.  He was a great addition to our club.  He's got an attitude that when you go into the playoffs you love to have him out there.  He's a very confident guy, cocky at times, which in the playoffs works.  And he's really good on the team, and his personality, his leadership is really good on the team.

Q.  Do you have any feel for that?
RON ROENICKE:  I hope we get him back.  I don't know.

Q.  It would allow you to absorb the loss of council a little better.  They cover so many of the same positions.
RON ROENICKE:  Right.  We know that now we don't need another outfielder.  Because he's our outfielder.  His signing is big for us moving on and figuring out how we fill in the rest of the team.

Q.  Another thing I wanted to ask you about.  How would you describe the involvement of Jonathan Lucroy as your catcher?  Do you like what you saw, or does he need to be smoothed out around the edges?
RON ROENICKE:  He still has work to do.  He knows that.  Had a discussion with him maybe three weeks ago, something like that.  He was disappointed in a lot of things that he did last year.  And even offensively he was disappointed.  And I thought he did well offensively.
But he would like his walks to be higher.  He would like his strikeouts to be lower.  I was happy with him, but I hadn't seen him before either.

Q.  He did sort of tail off at the end.  Do you think he was wearing down?
RON ROENICKE:  He caught a lot in the minor leagues, too.  So I don't know that necessarily he was worn down.  I don't know.  I don't think he was.  I think mentally going through a season and trying to call games and doing all the things that a catcher has to do mentally.  I can see where you wear down at the end.

Q.  Are you comfortable with him?
RON ROENICKE:  Yeah, I think he's going to keep improving every year.  He's going to get better at calling games.  He's going to know our pitching staff better.  He's going to know the League better.  All that stuff makes it easier to call games.

Q.  Despite those holes you have to fill on your team.  How nice is it to have all five starting pitchers.  And all coming off really good years.  Too.  We were trying to figure out last year the Brewers weren't looking for at least one starting pitcher?
RON ROENICKE:  Yeah, it's great for me knowing that we've got that covered.  With the bullpen situation.  We were unbelievable last year, with Frankie, when he came over.  And with Saito and Hawk doing the 7th, and still, we're not going to have all those pieces this year.  That's not to say that some of these younger guys won't come through and perform well.  But when you have those guys, especially going into a tight season where you've got other good teams in your division.  Going into the playoffs.  It's nice in the 8th inning to hand that ball over to Frankie and then go.

Q.¬† Since it's not your checkbook.¬† Are you secretly hoping K‑Rod accepts arbitration?
RON ROENICKE:  Yeah, I hope both the guys we offered at arbitration to accept it (laughter.)

Q.  One of them maybe not.
Are you going to have a chance to see Joe and Buddy and Mike and get altogether?
RON ROENICKE:  Yeah.  We talked about trying to get together for dinner if we have time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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