Results tagged ‘ Padres ’
Here is a transcript of tonight’s conference call in which the Red Sox announced the acquisition of four-time All-Star closer
Dave Dombrowski started out by recognizing the events of the day:
“I just want to acknowledge the tragic events that took place in Paris today and are taking place as we speak. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people and those that have been affected by those attacks. It just didn’t seem appropriate to start talking baseball without addressing what’s taking place across the Atlantic. We really were somewhat thinking if we should have this or not, but just thought it was appropriate to do so, but we didn’t want to do so without first acknowledging that.”
On why Kimbrel was the ultimate choice: “First and foremost, what was extremely important was the ability, because when we looked at Craig, we looked at him as a premium closer and there are various names out there, but one of the best in the game of baseball. There was no question that the years of control do make a difference, because you’re looking at the ability to control the contract as far as three years are concerned. And that was also able to make a difference as far as what we were able to give up, because we gave up a lot of good young players. We also thought that we’re going to have to give some quality to get quality. But giving the quality and having the three years made a significant difference.”
Getting someone with closing experience: “The key for us was we had identified a couple of guys that maybe stood above the rest as far as the ability to close, and the ability to get one of those guys we thought was extremely important. Because with the acquisition of Craig, we’re in a spot where we’ll move Koji to the eighth inning, and John Farrell really thought he’d be fine with that, knowing the type of individual that Koji is. And John made sure to reach out to Koji and spoke to him tonight already and said he was really good with the change of the role and that all he wants to do is pitch in the World Series again. He basically said, you don’t have to worry about me, I’ll pitch whenever you’re asked to and he acknowledged Kimbrel and understands the shift to the eighth inning, so I think that whole combination for us is really what made it work.”
Bullpen set for the most part: “I think this is enough of a major move that we need to make. Because when you shift Koji into the eight and Tazawa into the seventh, that’s significant. I can’t say we won’t do some tweaking as time goes on, I’m not really sure about that, but I think with the major moves, this is a big step for us and probably the major step we look to make at this point.”
Status update on Kimbrel? “He’s perfectly healthy. He feels great. He’s in the prime of his career. He’s 27. Our last scouting reports, which were late in the year in September, he was throwing 97 to 99 at that time with the good breaking ball. So he’s healthy, he’s been consistent throughout his career, he’s at the prime time, and so we look for him to be our guy back there for years to come.”
The haul: “Well, you don’t ever like to give up young talent. We think they’re very talented individuals. But I do think with the good job that the people in player-development, scouting, international operations have done, we do have some depth at those positions and we also have some other quality young players that we were asked about repeatedly. In addition to that, I think the real key for us is that we made this acquisition in acknowledging that we didn’t give anything up at the major-league level to affect our club this year. So, we were able to add an All-Star closer without giving up the big-league-level guys. And so, again, it’s talent that is good talent. Some of it’s a while away. Again, you don’t like to give up this type of talent. I think San Diego did a very fine job, but we’re happy, of course, with getting Craig.”
Ace will be a free agent: “Well, my guess would be — and again, these are only guesses at this time — going into the wintertime and with conversations we’ve had with clubs over the last month, my thought process is most likely any acquisition we’d make in the starting pitching would first happen as far as the free-agent field is concerned. You never know, but that would be my guess. I thought that our acquisition of the relief pitching aspect would more likely come through a trade. We’re in a spot that this is probably our major acquisition for the wintertime as far as the trade market is concerned. You never can tell, but that’s what my instincts tell me.”
The importance of hard throwers in bullpen: “I think it’s always been a great way to go. Again, you have to look at different ways you put a bullpen together and to me, it starts with having a quality, premium closer, somebody that can get a big strikeout, get out of a tough situation. Someone who gets the save for you eventually. There’s different ways to go about it. Having that power arm out there at the back end is really important. I think it really strengthens the back end of our ‘pen overall then because you’ve got a closer there, a guy that’s closed in the eighth inning for us and in the seventh. You see the way clubs have been successful, I think it’s important if you can do that. I’d like to combine it with real good starting pitching too and then you’ll really be in a quality spot. Having a strong bullpen is extremely important.”
The timeline of the deal: “We were working on it during the GM meetings. We’ve actually talked to San Diego almost since the very end of the season, just about various things, and they were really in a little bit of a hold as they went through their managerial hiring process, so it picked up right before going to the GM meetings and picked up as soon as we got there. We met on Monday face to face and really conversed about this, went back and forth on names. The whole GM meetings, we talked numerous times, met a few times, talked on the phone numerous times, but also did talk to other clubs. That was something that was taking place the whole time period. I was hopeful that we could make a deal after we left, but you never knew about those things. We actually finalized things this morning — it was about 8:30, I was in the office doing some work, catching up, got in here earlier than that. A.J. Preller called me around 5:30 in the morning his time, he was thinking about it and called me, and then we consummated the deal then, tentatively, agreed to things, and we had to go through different stages, medical people talking to one other, updating ownership at the time, and myself, too. That was really the time frame.”
Craig Kimbrel’s reaction
On being traded last year: “It definitely opened up my eyes, it definitely made you grow quite a bit. Especially with the trade being so last minute, the night before Opening Day. Things went kind of fast. I could barely know my teammates. I’m looking forward to having spring training to learn the team I’m going to be on this year. That’s going to be very nice. I felt like I’m from the south and playing in atlanta for that duration kind of spoiled me a little bit, being so close to home. I learned a lot about what it takes to move away from home and move away from my family and learn how to play the game that way. It definitely made me a stronger player and definitely a stronger person.”
Being traded twice in a year: “It’s part of the game. The more we looked at the game, there’s players who move around a lot more. From my view, especially being out of the bullpen, it’s something I won’t say I want to get to used to, but it’s become more common. Being moved to the American league, I’m excited. It’s a league of big bats and as a pitcher you want to have the opportunity to face those big bats. It’s a challenge in itself and I’m looking forward to.”
On Pitching in Boston: “The history, the fans in Boston, the atmosphere is always awesome every time I’ve been there. You can tell the history and everything behind it there, so to be able to put the uniform on, to be able to play in front of those fans, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
An impactful move by the Red Sox is one that makes the Yankees take notice. Yes, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is fully aware of the type of damage Gonzalez might do against his team for the next several years.
“It makes them a great team,” Cashman said. “He’s a heck of a hitter. That’s a huge addition for Boston. We know what our areas of weaknesses are that we need to tackle, and that’s what we need to continue to focus on. But they just obviously improved themselves in a significant way. He’s one of the premier players at that position in the game.”
Gonzalez showed good sensibility in his greeting with the Boston press, immediately talking about his goal of helping the Red Sox topple the Yankees.
“It was very emotional and very up and down,” said Gonzalez. “But I’m very excited that everything was able to be worked out and I’m very excited to be here in Boston. And I’m ready to beat the Yanks.”
He’s also like to help the Red Sox raise some more of those banners — like the ones from 2004 and 2007.
“I’ve had five incredible years in San Diego. My dream as a kid was to play in the Major Leagues and be a Padre and my second dream was to be a Red Sox. So I’m very excited, God has been very, very good to me and I’m just very excited to start the season and look forward to a lot of world championships,” Gonzalez said.
“It was one of the things where you grow up and you always root for a National League team and an American League team and the Red Sox have always been the American League team that I rooted for and I think with Ted Williams and all those things and him being from San Diego and seeing what he did here, everyone knows he’s one of the greatest of all time, there’s always been a lot of connections between me and my heart and the Red Sox.”
Watching Gonzalez hit at Fenway figures to become a must-watch experience, much like Manny Ramirez during his prime years.
“He’s one of the very best hitters in the game, a left-handed hitter with a
tremendous ability to control the strike zone, hit, hit for power, has power to all fields. His natural stroke is probably to the opposite field which is a great fit for our ballpark,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “He hits the ball the other way with ease, so we
think he’s going to wear the wall out. Just going from PETCO to Fenway Park should do wonders for his overall production, not that it needs any help. He likes the ball away from him a little bit. He’s a thinking man’s hitter who controls the at-bats and knows what he wants to do up there and goes up to the plate with a plan every time.
“Defensively, he’s a plus fielder with great hands, good feet around the bag, and he can really throw. He’s a playmaker on defense and has outstanding makeup. He’s a high-character person who leads by example and wants to win. That and he’s working on his speed, he said, this winter, so he can get a lot of doubles to left.”
By the way, Gonzalez did not have a number on his jersey during his unveiling, but Mike Cameron will give him 23 once some friendly high-stakes negotiations are complete.
“We’re in discussion,” laughed Cameron. “You know, I’m going to get something nice for Christmas.”
As for Red Sox manager Terry Francona, his early Christmas present is getting to pencil Gonzalez into his lineup every day.
“This is one of the best hitters in baseball,” Francona said in an interview with WEEI radio in Boston. “This is a big move for us. We’re getting a middle of the order bat, a guy that’s won a couple of Gold Gloves. He’s still young. This is exciting. We gave up some good players to get him, but that’s the only way you can get a guy of his caliber.”
Francona could sense how much Epstein wanted to make the deal happen.
“This was an important one,” Francona said. “I could tell that Theo was really digging his heels in on this one. And I’m glad he did because when he feels that strongly it’s got a chance to really be good for us.”
As the Red Sox unveiled their new slugger today in perhaps the franchise’s most impactful acquisition since Curt Schilling seven winters ago, Theo Epstein stated that, “It seems like Adrian was meant to be a Red Sox, and we’re glad to make it happen.”
It was destined for a couple of reasons. The Red Sox have been coveting a power bat who is in the prime years of his career for at least two years, dating back to when Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees. Gonzalez was the most logical person to fill that void, considering his age, his skills and the fact the Padres couldn’t keep him long term. The deal became even more inevitable a year ago, when Jed Hoyer become the Padres’ GM and Jason McLeod left the Red Sox to become his assistant.
McLeod was the leader in Boston’s draft room when they selected the three players that the Sox wound up sending to San Diego.
As Epstein said, “It was a case of all known commodities.”
Hoyer was equally candid about how much the familiarity helped to facilitate the trade.
“The knowledge was a big thing. Boston was clearly the most aggressive team in pursuing Adrian,” Hoyer said. “We really liked this package of players. From a talent standpoint, this was clearly the best package that we had. but the knowledge of the prospects also had a lot to do with it. Jason McLeod was the scouting director when all three of these guys were drafted. I know all three of these players. Perhaps the biggest anxiety you have with any trade is the unknown. You don’t know the players, you don’t know the personality. You don’t know the toughness. All of that is taken out of the equation in this trade for us.
“We know these guys. we know they have a great makeup. That’s a huge variable we don’t have to worry about. It lets you sleep a lot better at night knowing that ultimately the talent will take them as far as they’re going to go, but we know their mental toughness. Their makeup is going to be top notch. That’s a big problem when you make trades. You don’t usually have that knowledge. “
Hoyer also has great knowledge of Gonzalez, and he has good news for Red Sox fans.”I think he’s going to be unbelievable in Fenway Park. I think he’s going to be a monster at Fenway Park.”
Gonzalez also got things off on the right foot with Sox fans when he stated, “I’m ready to beat the Yanks.”
Keep in mind how heavily the rivaly has swung in favor of the Yankees since they signed Teixeira. In 2009, the Yankees won the World Series and the Red Sox lost in the Division Series. Last year, the Yankees advanced to Game 6 of the ALCS. The Red Sox didn’t make the postseason.
Gonzalez could go a long way toward leveling the playing field.
Epstein will arrive here in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. later today, so the Boston media will gather with him at some point this evening. More updates from him then on the blog and on redsox.com..
The quest started two winters ago, really. That was when Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein knew that the time was near when his team would need a middle-of-the-order bat to carry it through the next several years, much like David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did from 2003-07.
Sure, Ortiz is still around, and still productive. But he’s no longer the guy who can carry a team all season. So Epstein put up a strong fight for Mark Teixeira after the ’08 season, but the first baseman went to New York. It was then that Epstein immediately started eying Gonzalez. He first tried to trade for him in 2009, at the July trade deadline. At the time, two assistants named Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were trying to help him make that swap. It didn’t go through.
So this time, Epstein dealt with Hoyer, the Padres GM, and McLeod, San Diego’s assistant GM, to get the big lefty bat. He trades three very legitimate prospects in Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes, all of whom were selected when McLeod was running Boston’s draft board.
Epstein, meanwhile, gets a 28-year-old lefty bat who should be nothing short of a force in 2011. There’s no contract worked out just yet. But the same could be said in November, 1997, when Dan Duquette traded Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr. for Pedro Martinez. By the time the 1998 season started, Martinez was signed for the next six years, and ultimately for a seventh year thanks to a club option. The same should happen for Gonzalez. The Red Sox wouldn’t make this trade if they weren’t fully confident they were keeping him for the long haul.
Suddenly, the Sox have a certifiable buzz about them again in a trade that might be as big as the one that brought Curt Schilling to Fenway in November, 2003.
As presently constituted, the Red Sox Opening Day lineup would look something like this:
But Epstein is still likely to pursue another bat in the outfield. Stay tuned. But he has made one huge move that will have fans eagerly anticipating 2011.