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December 4, 2012

Davey Johnson


Q.  I just wanted to ask what your reaction to the signing of Dan Haren.
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, you need to talk to Rizzo.  I think it's a great move if we can get him.  Great athlete, outstanding stuff, gamer.  He fits right in.
I know he can swing the bat.¬† So he'll‑‑ if we get that finalized, he'll be a great addition.

Q.  How important do you think it is the fact that he's sort of a veteran guy who's been through it with all the young pitchers that you have in that staff?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I think it's great.  I've got some young guys that act like veterans, and they pitched like veterans last year for me, and a veteran like Dan Haren is just going to make things even better.
I think he's a great addition.  I've seen him pitch a lot over the years, intense competitor, and hopefully we'll get that done.

Q.  As far as you know with the back issue from your standpoint?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  He pitched a lot of innings, and he had a decent year for Anaheim.  Also, the American League is a little bit tougher with an extra DH in there.  I like his stuff.  I like his competitiveness.
I think, like a good starting staff, they all fit with each other, and I think he'll be one of the leaders on the staff.

Q.  Davey, in your heart of hearts, do you think Adam LaRoche will come back.
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† Adam LaRoche is going to come back.¬† I mean, if I have to go to Kansas and take him and all his cattle to Florida, I will.¬† I told him‑‑ you know what, he came to my golf tournament.¬† I had a golf tournament to raise some money for Lighthouse For the Blind.¬† It was a very successful tournament.
But the primary concern‑‑ there was two people there that I really wanted to see.¬† One was Brooks Robinson, and he was outstanding, and he showed up.¬† And the other guy was‑‑ well, Bryce Harper was there too.¬† But the main guy was Adam LaRoche.¬† I tried to give him the best team, had him and Rizzo around each other a lot, and I told him bring a pen from Kansas.
I think Hailey Cardoza, one of our assistants to the GM, she doesn't even eat meat, and she bought half a cow.  We're trying to make it easier for him to come back.

Q.  Davey, obviously, the Cardinals' series didn't end the way you wanted it, but moving forward, now that that's a couple, at least a month or so removed, feelings heading into next year.  You obviously decided to come back.  I know you talked about unfinished business, but just your feeling heading into this now.
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, last year, I thought for a young ball club, a lot of guys didn't know who they were and hadn't played up to their potential, I thought the one drawback we had was the experience of being in the big games.
Some of our young guys didn't really handle that big game situation.  But they did so much and went so far, I think now we're prepared to handle any kind of situation it throws at us.
But I was really‑‑ I knew that that was a possibility, and what happens sometimes, you don't attack the hitters as much.¬† Some of the pitchers don't.¬† They get a little too fine, but that's a learning experience.¬† You can't teach that.
I feel we're in great shape.  We don't need to do a whole lot in winter.  I think it was a great move picking up Dan Haren, if that works out, but we're a pretty set ball club.
We've had questions in the past, but we don't have a whole lot of questions.  We've had a year of great experience in the pennant race and a tough playoff series against the Cardinals.  But we're going to be fine next year.

Q.  Davey, do you think it's different for a team coming into a year like you guys did last year, where you weren't the favorite, where this year it likes like you might be a favorite or the favorite.
DAVEY JOHNSON:  If we're not the favorite this year, I'm going to be embarrassed with all you guys that didn't pick me.
My guys were totally confident last year.  We knew going into the year, if we just did the things we were capable of doing, we'd be hard to beat.  Even with all the injuries we had, I was very proud of the organization because the young guys had a great opportunity, and they took advantage of it and did great.
Actually, from a managing standpoint, I look at the coming year, we've got guys that now are going to make it more difficult for me because they've earned the right to play more, and that's a good problem to have.
But this is one of the best ball clubs I've ever had, ever had to manage.

Q.¬† Davey, you guys signed Zach Duke yesterday.¬† Do you feel you have to have another left‑hander in the bullpen with him, or could you go forward with him?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† That's a good question.¬† I really like all our right handers.¬† They've been successful against left handers or right handers, all of them to a man.¬† But I would like another left‑hander out there.
I just like to have some decisions to make once in a while.  But I would like the balance because we're pretty much going to have five right handers in the bullpen and only two lefties out there with them.
I like where we're at.  Like I say, I don't have much of a wish list.  We can figure it out with what we've got.

Q.  Davey, Danny's name has come up a lot recently.  I know you've always been a big supporter of him, but do you still see room for him to continue that maturation process?  How do you evaluate where he's at as a player at this point?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† I talked to Danny, and Danny is‑‑ I understand Danny very well because he reminds me of myself.¬† He's stubborn.
But he told me in Houston the last month of the season, his goal every month is to improve a little bit.¬† I thought he made giant steps this year.¬† He's got a guy that wants his job and thinks he's better than him is Lombardozzi.¬† And I like Lombardozzi also.¬† Both had good years, but I think‑‑ I think Danny's going to come in this coming year with a mindset kind of like Ian Desmond came into this last year, and it's going to be his job to lose.

Q.  Davey, going into this year as your last year, I guess, what made you comfortable saying that this was your last year.  Is it any different right now knowing it's the last year?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Shoot, I thought it was my last year ten years ago.  But I really like the challenge.  And I said at the end of the year in '11, that I wanted to be around because I thought this ball club, if we do the things I thought we were capable of doing, we could win the pen ant:
We came so far, and I've been with clubs where we made progress like the New York Mets when I first came in, and we won 90 games then 98, then 108.¬† I think our organization, we're primed to take that next step.¬† Normally, it takes longer than the process that I've‑‑ last year.¬† We made giant steps last year.
But I think we're in a perfect position to show the world that we're a pretty good damn ball club, and we can go farther into the postseason, and I want to be a part of that.¬† I still have‑‑ I have a love of the game, and I have a love of this organization.
World series or bust, that's probably the slogan this year.  But I'm comfortable with that.

Q.  Davey, going back to the lefties, what are the chances of you reacquiring Michael Gonzalez or anyone for that matter?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, there's a lot of them out there.  Michael Gonzalez did a good job for us, and I love Gorzelanny.  I like taking money from him on the golf course too on the off days, and he kind of fits.
The guys' kind of personality that fit out there.¬† I'll miss Sean Burnett.¬† He's probably going to go somewhere else.¬† But we had a great core out there that got along very well and helped each other not only on the field but off the field.¬† And you don't want to mess that‑‑ mess with that mix too much.
So hopefully, we'll get one of those guys who were with us last year.

Q.  Davey, with you guys trading for Denard Span, have you spent the last few days kind of bouncing around lineups in your head?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Yeah.  But a lot depends on what we do with the first base situation.  We've liked Denard Span for a number of years, and the price was very steep a number of years ago, and I'm glad we didn't pay that price.
But he's a welcome addition.¬† He's got great makeup.¬† I think our offense did really good, but I think the more guys that you can that can table set‑‑ really last year the two guys that we had that were the best table setters were Werth and Harper.
And Harper, if we don't re‑sign LaRoche, I told him, he was at the golf tournament, I might have to hit you cleanup.¬† He said, no, I want to hit third.¬† But he could move out of that No.2 hole because I think he's going to have‑‑ he had a good year last year, but I think he's going to have a breakout year coming up.

Q.  Davey, if LaRoche comes back, obviously, you were saying there's a log jam there, and you have to figure out something.  You guys haven't been afraid in the past to have more players than positions.  Is there a scenario in your mind that you could still keep Morse, and how would you go about trying to get all of those players out there?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  We have a lot of conversations on a daily basis, me and Rizzo, but I basically respect his judgment and whatever he wants to do, I'm going to make it work.  I mean, if we don't sign Adam, we have other alternatives, which I'm comfortable with.
My job is to manage them.  His job is to sign them.  Whatever he does, my job, I'm going to be under the gun to make it work.  And he made it easy for me last year getting Gio and Jackson, so I have all the confidence in the world he'll figure this out.

Q.  Could you, though, find a way to manage it if somehow both Morse and LaRoche were on the team?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I'd probably ask you what you wanted to do every day, Adam.
You know, it's tougher because when you have‑‑ once you have everyday players that have established their credentials in the major leagues are pretty good, it's hard to start sharing roles.¬† But that's part of the game of baseball.¬† We might have to make a move if we get too heavy that way.

Q.  About the staff, last year you guys had pretty good fortune with health in the rotation.  Do you feel like you're well set between Duke and maybe Garcia, if he's lengthened out, as far as your depth behind the starting five.
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Yeah.  You know, stay men did a heck of a job.  He can do just about anything.  Really like what I saw out of Zach Duke, and it's no secret I like Christian Garcia.  There's some discussion in the organization that he's better off left leaving, with that arm and with the three pitches he's got that are all above average major league, I'd like to see him stretched out a little bit because I think it's kind of a waste having him go one innings or two innings.  So he would give us depth in the rotation.
And it's always easy to go from starting back to the pen.  It's also hard to go from a 180 guy to starting, and I would like to build up his arm strength in the spring and have him available to be insurance in any of those areas.  He has a good chance of making my club.
He came up in the picture.  That was another great sign by the organization, and he impressed a lot of people.

Q.  Just to follow up on that, just that year you guys had Lannan as a guy, proven major league starter, do you feel like you have that with Duke and Garcia backing him up, or do you feel like you need another proven guy that could add depth there?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I think Zach Duke gives us insurance in that area if something happens.  We've got some guys in AAA that are just coming up that I haven't seen that much.  But I really think that the main guy that I think can do it is Christian Garcia.
In Spring Training, he'll piggy‑back guys and just start with two innings and see if we can stretch him out.¬† And players will dictate.¬† The press and everybody and all the coaches and everybody always think that manager and coaches make the decision.¬† No.¬† The players make the decisions, just by their performance.¬† I never even worry about it.¬† I just set it up and go through the spring, and it will be at the end of spring, everybody will know the answer.
So I'm not making any judgments that he's going to be in the rotation, but that's what I'm going to give him every opportunity to do.

Q.  Davey, when you think back to the final game against St. Louis, how hard was that to absorb?  Did you find yourself replaying in your mind at all?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† You know what, I play them just like I play them during the regular season, and I consider every game that I manage a big game.¬† When it doesn't turn out right‑‑ I had the right guy in there, and I liked giving guys an opportunity to pitch to hitters with the base open.¬† That little phenom shortstop came up and got the game‑winning hit, and everybody thought I should have walked him.¬† But I like to give them a chance, and I do it all year long.
Sure, I can change my stripes and protect you guys from second guessing me by doing something, but I like to give guys to have the opportunity to get any hitter out with a base open where they don't have to give in.  If you don't understand that, I've done that my whole life, and I ain't changing.
So I don't relive it because I think enough about what I'm doing before I do it, and I have all the reasons‑‑ I go through that checklist, knowing what's going to happen an inning or two ahead of time.¬† So I've never worried about anybody second guessing me because they don't know all the options that I have and how I've managed all year.¬† So none of that bothers me.
And I don't relive it.  I experienced it.  I can always think back on it.  But if I didn't do my homework leading up to it with the talent I know that's going against the other guy, then I'm the idiot because I wasn't prepared.  Or if I changed it then they put him in a different situation, that would have been harder on them to perform than the way I've done it all year.

Q.¬† Davey, you had‑‑ since you've been here, you made a big deal about your bench.¬† Since a person like [check] mark La Rosa isn't going to be back.
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I'm not saying he isn't going to be back.  We have to have somebody doing karaoke in the clubhouse.
I've talked to him over the winter, and it just depends on what happens the next few days or months here, but I thought he was‑‑ he didn't put up the numbers, but pretty good numbers pinch‑hitting and pretty good stabling influence on my young guys.¬† Depending what we do, I still wouldn't mind having him on the bench.¬† He's a very capable defender.¬† It was an off year a little bit offensively, but he got some big hits for us.
But his big influence was he was kind of a bridge between the Henry Aarons and the Sandy Koufaxs to the Chipper Jones and those guys.  So I could give him my philosophy from those guys, and he'd pass it on from Chipper and Pujols to the younger guys.  He was a great influence.

Q.  Davey, have you talked to Strasburg at all in the last couple of months?  If so, what was his mindset?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I haven't talked to him.  I haven't talked to basically any of them other than the guys that I had in my golf tournament.  I know that they're going to be fired up and pumped up this coming year.
All hard workers.  The makeup is all of them are great.  One thing is you almost have g1to sit on them because they work too hard.  But I think Strasburg is going to be elated that he has no restrictions and that he's going to be good to go.
All the reports I get from our training staff is that everybody's in great shape.

Q.  Davey, a year ago the Marlins were making big moves right here with all of their acquisitions.  This year they're going in the total opposite direction.  What's your reaction to the way they've trimmed down their club?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Fine with me.  They've got their problems.  We've got our problems.  They were the one club that gave us trouble.  So hopefully, we can give them a little payback next year.

Q.  From a baseball perspective, is there a concern when a team does something like that?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, you do what you think is best.  If you put your best foot forward and it didn't cut it.  So then you have to change directions.  That's what you do.
They made a big push to win, and it didn't work out.  So the payroll jumped up.  Now they said, well, let's rebuild, and that happens in baseball all the time.  Although a rapid one way and a rapid the other way, but that's baseball.

Q.  Davey, about the bench you're talking about there, do you see a lot of competition?  Because you've got guys like Corey Brown and Eury Perez and guys that looked ago.  Do you feel there's going to be a lot of different guys going for those spots?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† Well, I'm going to act like there is, but it's going to be kind of hard to‑‑ that bench I had last year with Tracy, Tyler Moore, Lombardozzi.¬† Geese, the catcher situations much improved.

Q.  Roger?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† Ramos comes back and Suzuki.¬† Suzuki will probably start the season at No.1, making sure that Ramos is comfy.¬† I love Ramos.¬† I love both of them.¬† And I'll probably use him to pinch‑hit more so than I would.
And D. Roe, if D. Roe makes my club, I'll have him catching in Spring Training.¬† He'll also be an assistant coach.¬† I might make him a sixth or seventh coach.¬† Bernadina proved to be an unbelievable fourth outfielder.¬† I don't know how you can improve with left‑handed‑‑ it's going to be hard to see‑‑ to bench or beat out Bernadina and Tracy from the left side, and then Moore.¬† Morse too.¬† Holy moly.¬† I've got a lot of good players.
There's going to be some competition.  I think Perez needs a little more seasoning.  Corey Brown is ready to play up here, but we'll see.

Q.¬† Not to look too far into the future, as I know you're not a huge fan of that‑‑
DAVEY JOHNSON:  No, I'm not.

Q.  Once he's completely healthy, do you see Ramos as your starting catcher once you've gotten a assurances that he's good to go?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  It depends on his mobility and what the doctors say.  He had two drastic knee surgeries.  He really looked good to me with us in the playoffs, and he's driven.  He's got a lot of potential offensively and defensively.  We have two great No.1 catchers.
Sandy Leon and Solano, they're not chopped liver.  So we're pretty well set there.

Q.  If they are both healthy, would you almost prefer to kind of split the job and avoid some wear and tear, or do you prefer one guy?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Whatever I do, I'll probably be successful at it.  We'll just have to see how it goes.  Guys go real good, stay a little longer, and cools off, I'll go with the other guy.  But I'm very comfortable with both of them.  I think they handle pitching staffs great, blocking and throwing are outstanding.

Q.  Davey, quick question on Bo Porter.  What type of manager do you think he'll make?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Great.  I think he'll be a great manager.  I like his thought process.  I think he's a good judge of talent, and I think he knows how to handle players.  I had a lot of conversations about what would you do, Bo?  What would you do here?  What would you do there?  He'd tell me something, and I might agree with him, and I'd say why?  And he always had the right answer.  So I think he's going to be great.
And I wish him the best.  He's a good man.  I like him a lot.

Q.¬† Davey, kind of looking back on some of the big stories of the year, and there was that Harper‑Hamels thing in May.¬† Is that a tell tale sign with Bryce looking back, as far as pettiness and immaturity and that sort of thing?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  He's going to always have a lot of kid in him.  I followed him a little bit since he was 14 or 15, and he's always been up to the task of competing with older, stronger, and he's always handled himself really good.
I mean, he had a few blips on the screen this year, but I think, by and large, he got to gain the respect of not only the opposing players but even the umpires in the league.  And he's only going to get better.
Jayson Werth has kind of kept an arm around him.  He's very mature for now, he's 20 years old.

Q.  Davey, I wanted to ask you about replay and expanding replay.  Have your views changed or evolved about whether you'd like to see more replay?  If so, how would be the best way to do it?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, the bad thing about technology today is that umpires, every time they miss a ball that much off the plate, everybody in the world knows.  So I would prefer to leave it in the hands of the umpires, to err is human.  If you're going to go with technology, you're either all in or all out.
We use it a little bit on the foul poles and all that stuff.  Because I like these umpires, and they need a job.  What are we going to have a computer back there, one of these things here.  Oh, left.  Oh, right.  I don't want it to be that way.
Although I only plan on getting thrown out one time a year, I'm going to enjoy that one time, and I probably couldn't get talking to that camera.  It probably wouldn't throw me out.  And there's a lot of guys in the league like in the past, Earl Weaver, he had to get thrown out 10 or 12 times.
But I think they're part of it.  And so I don't think we need to get too high tech just yet.  And I'm saying that.  Otherwise, they'll hate my ass.  But I really feel that way.  They're part of the game, and they need to stay a part of it and quit reducing their role.

Q.  Davey, you've always been blessed with good teams, teams that have won, teams that have had good talent.  When you look at the Chicago Cubs and what Dale Sveum has to deal with right now, it's an organization that was kind of overspent early, and they're trying to reshuffle those cards and build from the ground up.  Are you impressed with the amount of patience he's shown, number one, and number two, how would you, or what would you give him as advice to kind of keep his sanity during these growing pains?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  It just depends.  I'd tell you, Dale, I don't know how long a lease they got on you, buddy.  But the name of the game is to win ball games.  From a managing standpoint, my advice to him is the barometer I have as a manager, it's never been the win or loss.  It's did I get the most out of that player?  Did I have enough as a coach to have patience with him to where he played to his potential.
I don't care what the won‑loss record was.¬† If I can walk with my head held high and know that I did a good job helping those guys play up their potential and we didn't win it, then we need to get better players.¬† It's on the GM.¬† That's always been my role, and I've always felt that way, and I still feel that way today.

Q.  And a followup to that.  Have you seen that sort of thing from Dale, where he's getting the most out of what he's got?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I like Dale.  I think he's a good baseball man.  And so you guys go easy on him, okay?

Q.  We saw Hunter Pence through the playoffs and the World Series pump up the Giants.  I'm wondering whether you did any of that as a player or a manager, and how do you see that in baseball being an everyday game different from football?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† When I was with the Royals, I was the rah‑rah guy.¬† We had a low key, calm team, and I was like e yeah, let's go.¬† Hunter Pence is kind of that way, goofy but that way.
Harper by his performance is that way.¬† I think every team has‑‑ the personality develops that way.

Q.  Davey, one last comment on Dan Haren.
DAVEY JOHNSON:  He's an intense competitor.  He's got good stuff.  Good athlete.  I didn't get to see him being in the other league that much.  I saw him more on TV when he was with Arizona and Oakland.
But he just‑‑ Bob Schaefer's had him with Oakland, and I just get good reports on him.¬† He seems like the guy makeup‑wise and stuff‑wise and competitive‑wise, he's going to really fit in good with our guys.

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