Q & A IX
Q & A IX
Q-How did you make the majors?
A-God given talent, incredible parents and a HUGE amount of luck.
Q-What was your path as a kid? My son is 9 (just turned 9) years old and works hard everyday to be good at baseball. He’s always getting training…he’s signed up for Frozen Ropes, Extra Innings, many towns Baseball Academy and so on, he practices most days…
Q-How much is too much for a 9 year old?
A-They’ll let you know in my opinion. I think you have to push a little bit because their attention spans are shorter and shorter as more things are available to keep them interested but in the end if they don’t love it, no amount of ‘coaching’ is going to change that.
Q-How do you know when a kid has enough talent go far with Baseball?
A-I think that falls on the ‘kid’ as much as it does the parents. Parents view their childrens athletic ability through very rosy glasses. I’ve been around kids, coached kids and worked with kids who’s parents would tell me that their son is a surefire major leaguer if he ‘keeps it up’ and I’m sitting there watching a kid who isn’t going to make his high school team. The numbers are staggering, it used to be 1 in every 100,000 kids who plays organized baseball gets drafted. Then you look at the volume of kids drafted and how few of them make it to the major leagues and it can be daunting. If you’re working with your kids in sports for them to become ‘pro’s’ then I think you’re making a huge mistake. You won’t get them there, they will. However if you have your kids playing sports to learn the real lessons they teach, sportsmanship, camaraderie, respect, how to count on teammates and be counted on, how to handle winning and losing, all the truly important life lessons then I think you’re doing the right thing. I could care less if any of my kids become ‘pro’s’, I just want them to have a passion for whatever it is they do, and be as good as they can be, trying to be the best.
Q-In regards to the upcoming season, and where we were starting in 04′, how good do you think the 07′ team looks? And do you think we will win the world series in 4 games or 7? Just a little confident, but realistically the Division, post-season, what are your thoughts??
A-I think, like about 10-12 other teams, we have a legitimate shot at winning it all. But unlike other sports seasons we’ve got 162 games to play before we can figure it all out. I think we are better positioned to handle an injury or two this year, if we have to, but I said it before and I think it’s true, the AL East team whose starting rotation spends the fewest days on the DL will win this division. Once you get into October it’s about the ‘hot hand’, and which 2-3 starting pitchers are throwing the best, or will throw the best. If Burnett and Halladay stay healthy Toronto is going to be good because they are going to hit again. I think, in addition to Wells and Glaus, Rios is going to continue getting better and it wouldn’t surprise me if he puts up a huge year giving how much he adjusted from ’05 to ’06 and how much better he was off of those adjustments. The Yanks are just flat out going to hit. Having Wang on the DL to start the season doesn’t help but they’ll find a way to overcome that, they always do. I think our offense is going to be relentless as well. This division is going to be a dog fight again, as is the Central. Beyond the regular season I’ll let you spew the optimism and confidence, because we need to get there first.
Q-Have you ever been on a Starting Rotation comparable to this one, and the endless potential it may have?
A-That’s a tough one because to live up to ‘endless potential’ everything needs to fall perfectly right. In 1993 and 2004 the rotations we started the season with stayed intact for pretty much the entire year, which was huge. We competed against each other in an advantageous way for the team. This rotation absolutely has that potential.
Q-Thanks for the shout out Curt. It was an amazing trip. I went to Spring Training with the Jimmy Fund two years ago so it was great to see others experience it for the first time. I think I can speak for all the kids when I say trips like that make going through treatment a little more bearable. A huge thanks to you and all the people that made it possible. You’re as amazing off the field as you are on and a prime example of why the Red Sox organization is so great. Best of luck this season. Hope to see you too!
A-HOLLY! Thanks for coming down and it was great to see you as well. If you could, please check in from time to time and let me, and the people that come around here, know how things are going.
Q-why was Crazy Carl’s name deleted? Did he threaten to kill you or something?
A-It was deleted because I made a mistake. CHB was given the nickname by Carl but it was in reference to “Gordon Edes Curly Haired Boyfriend”. Something the astute fans at SOSH were quick to pounce on.
Q-I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD PLEASE TALK MORE ABOUT BECOMING A CHRISTIAN AND HOW IT AFFECTS YOU ON A DAILY BASIS. ARE THERE OTHER RED SOX PLAYERS THAT ARE CHRISTIANS AS WELL?
A-There are many of us on the team. As far as how it affects me on a daily basis I am not sure there’s any way to put it other than it affects everything about me, everyday. It doesn’t imply what people that are not Christians seem to think it does. Which is to say it doesn’t preclude me from saying dumb things, making stupid mistakes, thinking bad things, to me it’s the foundation on which I am trying to build something lasting and meaningful to the people I know, and that know me.
Q- Re: the Changeup – I know that with a change, you aim to duplicate your motion and arm angle to that of a fastball, that said, what have you found to be harder about adding this pitch, the mechanics, or the mental aspect?
A-You try and duplicate your arm angle and motion with all your pitches. For me, by far, the hardest part of the change up has been getting my brain around it. Physically I felt like I had a good one years ago, but when I’d get on the mound I could never translate those thoughts into a game. Mentally, for me anyway, the brain always tried to make the body do things it wasn’t supposed to do when you throw a change up and that’s been the hardest thing to ‘unlearn’.
Q-Daisuke, it says on the TV that he can throw 100. The ESPN radar gun says 90-92. How long into the season does it take you to get your top velocity?
A-Not that long. Velocity has been one of the ‘victims’ of modern day media and television coverage. I am as guilty of it as some guys. There was a time I’d look up at the gun because what it said ‘mattered’ to me, and I am not sure why. I am guessing it’s the same thing as having weight room muscles and a mirror. You look because you think the bigger numbers mean something positive. I don’t know if they still use both guns, but there are two different types of radar, the jugs and the ray guns. The jugs gun is usually faster, and the ray is usually slower, sometimes by a lot. I am concerned about velocity now only as it pertains to consistency. The hardest thrower on this staff is Josh, by far. He’s consistently at 94-96. Daisuke seems to me to be a guy that will work best around 92 or so, and dial up to 96-97 to put guys away, or in big spots. That’s huge, when you can add 5mph to an already hard to hit FB, you can beat FB hitters with FB, in FB counts. I don’t know what the ESPN gun is but I watched some games last year and I knew the guy on the mound was a 92-94 guy and the gun was showing 86-87, they are often off by that much. Also remember that the gun will misread balls in parts of the strike zone. I can’t remember which gun it was but one of them reads ‘truer’ or harder when the ball is at the bottom of the zone as opposed to the top. The main thing, as a fan, I think to look for is velocity change between pitches. Guys like Glavine, Maddux, Rogers, Oswalt, Halladay, can have extreme swings in velocity when they want to.
Q-How much does having a “good” or a “bad” catcher behind the plate affect the pitcher? Why?
A-Not sure I can quantify it. I’d liken a good and bad catcher to a QB. A good catcher is the QB who barks the plays in the huddle, and everyone in the huddle breaks to the line absolutely sure of what’s about to happen. The bad catcher would be the guy who is timid, sort of calls the play and wanders to the line of scrimmage, with the whole team wondering just what the hell is about to happen. They instill confidence, even when you might not have the stuff to HAVE confidence, and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the fingers he’s putting down he’s putting down because he KNOWS when you make this pitch, the hitter is out. The bad catcher is sitting behind the plate, tying run on 2nd, thinking, “damn, if I can just keep my hands back I can hit the slider in my next AB”.
Q-what pitcher you think throws the best of each pitch being these days. we hear about Santana’s change-up or Rivera’s cutter. who do you think throws the best 2 seam fastball? 4 seamer? changeup? curveball? knuckleball? cutter? splitter? slider? forkball?
A-Sinker? D Lowe and B Webb and then the rest of the world. These two guys are in a totally different league when it comes to throwing a 2 seamer. It’s so hard, and breaks so much it looks, sometimes, like a left handed slider. The best I ever ‘saw’ was Kevin Browns in 2001. We pitched a 2-0 1:50 minute game in Az and I had three AB’s, I felt like Rob Deer, without the power. I don’t believe I came close to contact. Ball was sinking about a foot, at 96.
4 Seamer? Lot of good ones but Oswalts stands out to me. He throws his ball on a completely unique and different plane than most guys. A knee high FB that looks ‘flat’, and about the last 10 feet goes from 95 to 200mph. It explodes at the plate. Pete Harnish had the same kind of FB. Papelbon has that same thing. Guys were blown away last year facing him. They’d be talking about “It’s not 100, it’s a 95mph fastball, but I can’t catch up with it.” That’s because unlike most 4 seam fastballers his ball travels on a lower plane, and is ‘level’, which is weird as hell to see. I haven’t see a lot of him yet because he’s been hurt, but Harden is the other guy. His 4 seamer is unhittable because it belies his soft easy delivery. He winds up and next thing you know it’s at the plate.
Changeup? Santana. It may not be the ‘best’ change up, but it’s the most effective because of how great his FB is. You cannot look for something else when you hit off him because he throws so hard, but you also know he’s got this fantastic change up. If, even for a second, you are not committed to one or the other, you end up a highlight on ESPN. Cole Hamels has an incredible change up as well. The few times I’ve been able to see him throw he’s dominated with it. Few guys can ring up huge K numbers due to a great change up, because you have to have the FB to compliment it, like Pedro does. Pedro had the best combo I’ve ever seen. When he had both, you were losing.
Curveball? Oswalt, Halladay have fantastic curveballs. Oswalt broke out the eephus one a few years back and that one is almost unfair on nights he’s got his A FB and location. Docs is so good because hitters know he’ll throw it anytime. Burnett, in my mind, has the best power curve in the game. If he does consistently throw it on the plate this year he’s going to be sick. Josh’s CB is getting to that point as well. This spring I thought he elevated the effectiveness of that pitch by leaps and bounds.
Knuckleball? Wake owns this one. In addition to being just about the ONLY one in the game, people can’t fathom just how hard it is to not only throw the pitch, but to ‘control’ it like he does. It’s truly an art form and ZERO fun to play catch with (which I’ve done just once since I have been here)
Cutter? Mo. 7 days a week and twice on Sunday. There are a lot of guys with very good cutters, John Lester has a great one, but no one touches Riveras cutter, literally. Given the praise people have for him I still would argue that he’s incredibly underrated when thinking all time best. This guy has constructed a first ballot HOF career on ONE PITCH. He knows he’s throwing it, the hitter knows he’s throwing it, the fans know he’s throwing it, and you still can’t hit it. He’s pitched the highest leverage innings his ENTIRE career, and dominated, with one pitch. No one else has ever done that, ever.
Splitter? Clemens, period. And I get to speak from experience on this one. Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and he’s throwing 94-95mph. I almost think I can deal with it after I see the first one. Then he breaks out a 92mph split, that drops off the table. 0-3 with 3k’s, no foul balls. It was so intimidating it was humorous. I think the best in the game, active pitcher, right now would be a toss up between Rich Harden and Papelbon. I can’t think of many others I see much but those two guys throw it incredibly hard with a ton of movement.
Forkball? I don’t know anyone throwing a true fork ball right now. The best one I have seen was Bryan Harvey, in Florida. His started about waist high and had to be blocked in the dirt 9 times out of 10. He threw gas and could locate.
Q-1. It’s the top of the 6th and you’re up by a run. You’ve been through the lineup twice. What are you doing differently to keep the hitters on their toes? What did you do in earlier innings to set yourself up for success in the later innings?
A-Can’t really talk in depth, but on the mound there would be a few things that I’d use to figure it out. I take into account the history I have with the hitter, his previous 2 AB’s, what I have done to the 2-3 hitters prior to this AB, what feels best in my mind from a command standpoint, if I will see him again this game, how is the umpire calling the inside and outside corners.
Q-As soon as the ball up the middle deflected off you, I was composing my next blog post in my head: Especially after witnessing what happens to teammates like Matt Clement, how difficult is it to immediately remain poised when a ball ricochets off you like that?
A-I think that’s player dependant. I’ve been hit 20-30 times in my career. Broken finger, broken elbow but nothing life threatening. I have been fortunate that it’s not something that’s ever been on my mind. The worst I was ever hit was in the 9th inning of a game in Philadelphia, up a run, 2 outs. Eddie Taubensee hit a ball I still haven’t seen, that hit me below the kneecap. Ball went into left field for a single. I am one out away from a CG, and I can’t stand up. There’s some pain, not as much as I thought I might have, but I can’t stand up. I don’t know why but my leg will not straighten, and I have to come out of the game. That sucked. We all react as fans, when you see someone hit in the head, it makes your stomach turn.
Q-You already mentioned that you threw three consecutive bad changeups after that. Does almost being hit have anything to do with that, especially when your change up was so effective during the rest of your outing?
A-Not at all.
Q-Regarding the Sox organization and player development, without stepping on any toes can you provide me with an assessment? Overall, I feel they have found a good balance. However, sometimes it seems the organization is very willing to gamble on a veteran whose production or market value has slipped in hopes that the trend will reverse and it will be a value-buy. But they seem less willing to gamble on a rookie, who does not have a track record, in hopes that they can breakout. I feel this sometimes detracts from building long-term viability and a cohesive team.
A-I think the major problem that fans have is their insistence to not look at things in the right frame of mind sometimes. Fans, many, start threads, call into radio, whatever, talking about player moves and how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they think a move is and they do so with an argument that sounds as if they truly believe the team, any team, does things ‘on a whim’. Every team has like 95 assistants to the assistant to the assistant GM. These guys have meetings about meetings, as a preliminary to having an actual meeting. You have the luxury of being able to watch moves after they are made, and judge it on the statistics, both individual and team wise. These guys have to make their moves, their drafts, their trades, with NONE of that, they have to do it before anyone knows. They do that based on advice from just about everyone that’s anyone in player development. I know that here, player moves are the end result of about a billion events. This team is far and away the most cognizant of ‘player makeup’ when it comes to players and moving them up, down, trading, drafting. That’s not to say they are always right, they’ll be the first to admit they aren’t, but it’s a huge part of the decision making process around here. They will come to us as players and ask us about guys we know and have played with when it comes to bringing in new guys, or younger guys, and most times the conversation revolves around makeup. This is a different market, same as NY, you have to be a different sort of person to thrive here. They get that. They know you need to be wired a little differently to be able to handle all the ‘extras’ that come with playing in Boston.
Q-If you were buying the groceries, how would you shop?
A-Well first off I’d like to be shopping with the Sox or Yanks budget. As far as the actual shopping goes that depends on where the franchise is. There’s a million different ways to build a winning team. I talked with Buck Showalter about this when I was in Arizona in 2000. I was asking him about the expansion draft and what their thoughts were going into it and he said some stuff I’d never heard before but found fascinating. They knew that the expansion draft was not going to net them World Series talent. They thought they might find 2-3 players that would still be around when they got good, but that their philosophy was to find the players in the draft that they knew the other teams thought had value. They felt they could turn the players they drafted into better talent by trading the ones other teams saw value in for younger and better talent.
Q-do you believe the way the rotation is now You, Josh, Timmy, Dice-K and Julian is sufficient given that it is only APRIL and you all are healthy?
Q-if you had to start a baseball team tomorrow- and you had two picks- kind of like the old strat-o-matic- game (remmeber that?) who would be your one pitcher and who would be your everyday player
A-To win now? Or building a franchise?
To win now I’d take Santana and Pujols.
If you could guarantee me 5 years of health, and I was building a franchise I’d take Harden and Sizemore. Without the guarantee I’d take Webb and Sizemore. The others that might be a great choice for me would be Verlander, Bonderman, Reyes, Wright, Rios, Sabathia, Howard, Utley, Fielder. I think there is an immense amount of great young talent in the game right now and even better is that the ones I’ve had a chance to meet are all fantastic guys as well.
Q-I have a question that has always bugged me. Why aren’t NL pitchers better hitters? It would seem to me that they should be. Typically, those who pitched growing up were among the better all-around players and the best hitters. Obviously, this gets lost along the way. But, with free time between starts and throwing sessions, isn’t there time to take extra BP or work on hitting mechanics? I would have to think that a pitcher who could hit even .250 would win himself another 2-3 games over the course of a season.
A-Mainly because you’ve never had to stand at the plate and face a major league pitcher. Hitting a baseball is, in my opinion, the single hardest thing to do in sports. I thought I could rake in high school. I graduated in 1985 and my next at bat came in 1991, and I felt like I’d never held a bat before. The speed of the game is so far beyond anything you can comprehend it’s laughable.
Q-I know it is early, besides the Yankees, who is strong in our division? Is that something that the team thinks about at this point in the season or is it more about preparing yourselves?
A-The Blue Jays, if they stay healthy, are going to be better than people think. Two legit aces, all star closer, underrated lineup. The thing about teams people don’t consider ‘good’ is that they are different teams, vastly different teams, on certain days. The Devil Rays are a legitimate winning team when Kazmir pitches, no question. The O’s become a very good team when Bedard is on the mound, and if Cabrera is on you better hope he throws a lot of pitches early because he’s as unhittable as anyone in the game when he’s throwing the ball in the strike zone. I have heard Loewen is throwing very well too.
Q-I have a question about Game 7 against the Yankees when you were in AZ. Watching that game, I thought the first pitcher that makes a mistake is going to lose the game. Ironically, it was Mariano Rivera that made the LAST mistake that ended up costing NY the series. But what was your thought process when Soriano hit the HR off you? You made a good pitch and he still hit it out.
A-I knew, or thought I did, that the first pitcher to give up a run was going to lose. I remember that next spring, when I got to watch the game again for the first time, and Bautista hit the triple off of Roger, if you watch it, he turns to the outfield and puts his hand on his waist, and sort of shrugs. I was thinking as I was watching this that in his mind he’s thinking “We just lost this game”. My thoughts when Soriano hit the HR were pretty simple. I knew I’d just lost Game 7 of the World Series. I knew that because I watched the ball for about a half second, turned to right field and saw Rivera taking his jacket off. On the mound, at that second were two thoughts “I just cost us the World Series” and “How in the hell did he hit that pitch THAT FAR?”. That was one of the few pitchs I would argue to this day was a ‘great pitch’. He crushed that ball, that wasn’t just a well hit HR, he crushed that pitch.
Q-Curt, I wanted to add that I am a liberal and not Christian, so we disagree on certain issues, but I certainly respect your views, as I’m sure you’d respect mine.
A-I’d really like to address these two topics one time, and not have us do it again. I honest to God could care less what your political affiliation is. I also think you should care less what mine is. I don’t and haven’t ever voted ‘party lines’. I vote for the person I believe is the best candidate. If you vote for someone because someone told you to or someone you like voted for them, you’re an idiot. We’re in a quagmire right now politically. From local elections on up it seems to me that we vote for the person we DISLIKE the least, instead of the best candidate, and that sucks. But because you disagree with my political views is totally irrelevant to me unless you and I are discussing politics, and this isn’t a forum to do that. I will also add that my profession, like yours, has nothing to do with my political insight or opinions. If you think I’d vote for a president because his policy is going to lower my taxes you’re stupid.
As far as being a Christian goes, I’ll just tell you that it’s been the single biggest life changing thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not going to tell you how to or why to, or even that you should. I’ll answer questions from people, regardless of their religious beliefs, when they ask me about my Faith.
And as far as CHBs column that ran roughshod over me and the people coming here let me say this. Obviously, like anyone, I sincerely appreciate the well wishes, the thank you’s and the support. I didn’t start doing this to get an outpouring of back pats and hand shakes. Life has been more than great to me to this point and there are a lot more deserving people than me in this world that could be living my dream. If that bothers you then I would tell you that the problems you have are yours and yours alone. If someone wishing someone else well, or thanking them, is something that gives you problems, or makes you mad, then you’ve got a lot bigger problems than this one.
If that’s not acceptable or a problem then as I stated very early on, don’t come here. You come here by choice and it’s appreciated when it leads to you learning something about the game, ALS, Shade or whatever, and I appreciate the Q&A when it comes to 38 Studios, Baseball, whatever. I started doing this because of the unfiltered and open forum it provides to talk about the things I like to do. I don’t go out of my way to talk to people I don’t respect or like, why would you? I don’t moderate the comments here, other than to delete the vulgar sophmoric posts that have nothing to add. I don’t delete posts that are rants and what not, about me or what people think of me. To date the site has had almost 900,000 viewers, and almost 2000 posted comments. I’ve had to delete 23 posts for content, the rest are there for everyone to see.