Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Davey on Haren, LaRoche and more

USA Today Images
Davey Johnson holds court before reporters today at the Winter Meetings.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There are few managers in baseball more comfortable speaking their mind in front of reporters and cameras than Davey Johnson, so it was no surprise when the Nationals skipper didn't hold back this afternoon during his Winter Meetings media session.

Johnson spoke glowingly about today's signing of Dan Haren -- which, remember, is still pending a physical -- and made another impassioned pitch for Adam LaRoche to return to Washington.

He also had some revealing thoughts on Danny Espinosa, the Wilson Ramos/Kurt Suzuki catching situation, Game 5 of the NLDS and his motivation for 2013.

Here are the highlights, and there are plenty...

What is your reaction to the signing of Dan Haren?
"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."

As far as you know, is his back injury still an issue?
"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."

Do you think Adam LaRoche will come back?
"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. He came to my golf tournament [last weekend in Orlando]. ... 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 Harolyn Cardozo, 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."

Do you think last year's playoff experience will help moving forward?
"Well, last year, I thought for a young ballclub ... 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 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."

Danny Espinosa'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?
"I talked to Danny. 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 in Lombardozzi. And I like Lombardozzi also. Both had good years. But 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."

What made you comfortable saying this would be your final year managing?
"Shoot, I thought it was my last year 10 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 ballclub, if we do the things I thought we were capable of doing, we could win the pennant. 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. 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 ballclub, and we can go farther into the postseason, and I want to be a part of that. I still 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."

You guys haven't been afraid in the past to have more players than positions. If LaRoche comes back, is there a scenario in your mind that you could still keep Morse and find playing time for everyone?
"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. ... You know, it's tougher because once you have everyday players that have established their credentials in the major leagues and 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."

Last year you had John Lannan as a backup starter. Do you feel like you have that now with Zach Duke and Christian Garcia, or fo you need another proven guy?
"I think Zach Duke gives us insurance in that area if something happens. We've got some guys in Triple-A 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. ... 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."

Do you find yourself replaying Game 5 in your mind at all?
"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. 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 re-live 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."

Once he's completely healthy, do you see Wilson Ramos as your starting catcher?
"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."

If they're both healthy, would you almost prefer to split the job and avoid some wear and tear, or do you prefer one guy?
"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 [if they] cool 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."

39 comments:

Eugene in Oregon said...

"Whatever I do, I'll probably be successful at it." -- gotta love that kind of (N)attitude.

JamesFan said...

A guy who knows this is his last year and is in a solid position is very free to speak his mind in public. The media is going to love Davey this year.

He certainly is putting press on everybody to sign LaRoche. That doesn't say much about his confidence in Morse. He also put a little pressure on Espinoza with his comments.

Theophilus T. S. said...

I don't see, from that, a lot of reason to expect the Nats to waste a bunch of money on another "emergency" starter. If they're into the second month at Syracuse and Garcia has an aching wing, then they'll find some guy who's been left out of the major league musical chairs game to fill the slot.

SCNatsFan said...

Its nice to hear us talking about the guys here and the success we'll have instead of discussing retreads we signed and the guys in A ball

Scott Margenau said...

Translation:

Morse is gone. Lombo will start. I am a genius.

baseballswami said...

Everyone is a genius in the off season.

Gonat said...

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/12/diamondbacks-phillies-discussing-upton-lee.html
__________________________________________

Rumors coming & going quickly!

Joe Seamhead said...

Naw, we're all morons, remember?

MicheleS said...

Gonat, the DBacks beat reporter poo-poo'd that rumor.

MicheleS said...

Oh and since I haven't said it today:

I love Davey.

MicheleS said...

Wait WHAT? 2 years for Sean?

Ken Rosenthal‏@Ken_Rosenthal

Free-agent LH reliever Sean Burnett now looking beyond #Nationals. Not looking for Affeldt money (3/18). Open to two-year

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS, that's on the link of the MLBTR above. JUpton for Cliff Lee than quickly said not true.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

The Twitterverse is crazy. A GM and agent say Hi in the lobby and they call it a deal. Amaro and Towers shook hands, must be a deal!

MicheleS said...

Thanks Ghost, it was hilarious on the twitter feeds EXPLODING on the Upton/Lee stuff for about 5 minutes and then the inevitable let down. It's great fun. Plus it looks like there is a Nats Fan/blogger stalking everyone so we get pictures too!

staring out the window waiting for spring said...

Free-agent LH reliever Sean Burnett now looking beyond #Nationals. Not looking for Affeldt money (3/18). Open to two-year

So 2/$12m would be "Affeldt money"? Can he get 2/10?

MicheleS said...

Staring out the window.. Considering teams seem to be handing out money like drunken sailors on leave, Sean will probably get that.

staring out the window waiting for spring said...

FWIW, I read that as Davey saying "Whatever I do [with Ramos and Suzuki] will work, because they are both good--I can't miss."

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS, it's unreal and Boras hasn't started his full court assault with Bourn.

What the heck happened with Boras and Rizzo. Unless the Nats grab Rafael Soriano which is unlikely, looks like a Boras shutout this year.

Maybe Boras shouldn't have said that he and Riz built the Nationals. Have to wonder if there's a message in the bottle.


NatsJack in Florida said...

So with Victorino signing in Boston, does he play left or does Ellsbury get moved?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsJack, can you believe how fastthe CFs are getting signed. Hoping Bourn to Seattle.

MicheleS said...

I can see Ellsbury moving out of CF, he seems to be injury prone so maybe they shift him to the corner.

natscan reduxit said...

[moving my reply to this thread from the last one]

… just getting back from attending my daughter's "graduation" from her learning sessions so she can be the next Roller Derby Queen. Go Emily!

… I want to thank those of you who responded to my question. Let me assure you I have not overvalued Mike Morse. I have felt he has played over his head for the past couple of years. But that said, I have great faith in Mike (Ratso) Rizzo. And if he makes a deal by which he sends Mike away in return for a bullpen arm and a couple of minor league prospects, I'd ring the approval bell.

… my feeling is however, that there are a few GMs out there who DO overvalue Morse, and if Rizzo can get one of them alone in a phone booth (or on a Twitter feed I guess these days), the Nats just may came away with an everyday player.

Go Nats, on to Viera!

Don said...

Ok, Victorino is getting 3/$39M, Pagan 4/$40M, Napoli 3/$39M, Hunter is 37 yrs old and got 2/$26M, Ortiz also 37 is straight DH, coming off injury and he got 2/$26M (let's forget Upton's big deal due to his age and higher upside, and Bourn and Hamilton's projected huge numbers), so I am guessing that LaRoche is thinking that he's worth something like $35-40M over 3 years coming off a 33/100, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger campaign in which he was the Division-winning club's MVP. If the Nats won't go for the 3rd year, then, based on what is going on in the market and the needs of some clubs who have needs, money and a chance to be playoff bound, I am thinking some other club will pay the man. And all this talk about him being a simple rancher and not needing to break the bank is nice and all, but 50% more money? -- he's simple maybe, but he's not stupid.

Gonat said...

Ruben Amaro on MLB Network in a Live interview. He says no way he will trade right now Halladay, Lee or Hamels. That puts the DBacks rumor for Justin Upton right in the trash can.

Candide said...

MicheleS said...Gonat, the DBacks beat reporter poo-poo'd that rumor.

MicheleS, not to get all spell-checky on you, but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be "pooh-pooh."

"Poo-poo" is...something else.

MicheleS said...

Don, what I don't get is why some other team hasn't come in to ALR with a 3 year deal? If the Rangers re-sign Hamilton, they are out, but surely someone else will want him? I am not sure who the other suitors are (unless they are teams that ALR doesn't think will compete)

MicheleS said...

Candide, it was deliberate. and poo poo is what I meant

NatsLady said...

Don, that is depressing but you could be right. Adam will wait longer then to see if he gets three years from a team that at least has a CHANCE to compete.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

MicheleS, look at ALRs history. He has a very good year in AZ and at the age of 31 the best deal he got was the Nats for 2 years. At some point Rizzo has to say put up or shut up so he has time to trade Morse for good quality.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Comparing the dollars for the center field market to dollars for the first base market doesn't work. Two entirely different markets.

SCNatsFan said...

With ALR, as with all athletes, remember we are talking silly money here. If ALR likes the team, area and teammates he might sign for a couple of million less and still be able to afford to take his family to Applebees and not split appetizers. Starting over in a new location at this point might be something he has no desire to do but he doesn't want to see himself too short.

MicheleS said...

WOW A phillie fan is trolling Amanda:

Amanda Comak‏@acomak
Not trying to be a homer but, um, think most prob disagree RT @dutch4885: @acomak Haren stinks.Nats finish 3rd in NLE.karma for arrogant org

MicheleS said...

and Mark has a new post.

Feel Wood said...

LaRoche is gone. Everyone knows it, especially ALR and Rizzo. He wants three years and he will end up getting that from some team, just not the Nats. But the first base/future DH market hasn't started to develop yet, so things are on hold right now. Dominoes need to start falling, and eventually they will. Until then, the possibility of him coming back to the Nats needs to be kept afloat so as to keep the bottom end of his price at three years. That's why Davey et al keep saying they will do anything to get LaRoche back. They're saying that to prop up his future deal with another team.

Looked at another way, if signing ALR is really Rizzo's #1 priority and if ALR really wants to be a Nat til he retires, why hasn't a deal been done already? Because neither of those statements is true. ALR wants three years and there's no way Rizzo will give it to him. There is no possible deal there.

peric said...

And according to Kilgore Johnson said he wants another left-handed reliever ... as I think I've said?

Seems like Mark might be editing out some of what Davey said?

peric said...

AAA will again be interesting this year as it was in 2011. With Rosenbaum, Garcia, and perhaps Ryan Perry there (or not) along with Maya and Roark. As will the AA Harrisburg rotation.

Its going to be interesting to see ...

SonnyG10 said...

I'm very happy that we didn't have to give up any of our starters or top minor league players for Haren. Way to go Mike Rizzo. Whoever called Rizzo our most valuable player earlier, I think you're spot on. He's the one person we don't want to lose, ever.

mick said...

perfect.... now resign ALR and 1 more stopper and we are ready to rock and roll!!!

mick said...

feel wood,ALR will be back, i really believe he will

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