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Schilling on D&C, 11/25

November 25, 2009

Curt Schilling checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show (and guest hosts Bob Halloran and Butch Stearns) Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox’ pursuit of Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. The transcript follows. Listen to the interview at the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

[When this was discussed in June], you are a huge Halladay fan and, if I remember correctly, you were like, the Red Sox should do everything in their power to do this.

I don’t feel any differently now. Back in June you had a half-season’s worth of credit by getting him then. I’d pull out all the stops to make something like that happen.

What about the fact that he’s 32 years old, he’s pitched almost a thousand innings in the last four years, and you’re going to have to make a $100 million commitment to this guy?

None of them bother me. None of them bother me. Thanksgiving seems to be the time Theo likes to go collect pitchers from other teams. So rarely do you get a chance to get an impact guy of his caliber. Even rarer still is a guy that’s a pitcher. I look at is as: OK, let’s see, you get five years of Halladay — what are two World Series worth? What’s one more World Series? If you can identify that there’s a tangible value there, then that’s what you do. At the end of the day, I’d pull out all the stops.

If you’re the Blue Jays … wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get him out of the American League East?

It certainly presents a challenge to Boston. Because at the end of the day, Toronto’s got to say, OK, whatever deal makes this team better, the best it can be, is the deal. And I don’t think you take the second-best deal if you’re Toronto if that means trading outside your division. I think realistically you look at your window to compete. Because I would imagine they would want three impact kids and then the fourth player’s got a legitimate chance or who is a big leaguer. What does that mean? How competitive are you in what time frame? If you believe that Roy’s got ‘X’ amount of time left and that coincides with you competing. There’s a lot to it. The last thing you want to do is turn around and instead of having Halladay for 35 starts, your facing him eight times a year. But whatever’s best for my club at the end of the day is the move I make.

Would you make the deal if it’s Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Casey Kelly and one other prospect? Would you make that deal from either team?

There’s likely a fourth player there, but yeah. That’s the kind of deal you’re going to have to make, I think.

If you’re the Red Sox, do you make that deal?

Absolutely. One of the things that happens is … the media tends to take Theo’s theories and play them up far longer and deeper than Theo actually does himself. I think you have to look at how quickly they have been building prospects up from a draft status to a future big league status and then getting their chances. Those are three kids, all home-grown, and I think Theo believes they’re all high-impact players. They way that they scout and they way they’ve been drafting, they’re literally a draft and two years away from having those holes filled. And I think it really comes down to your trust and your belief in your player-development system. And I think that this team looks at that as, OK, we need to go back and take five or eight pitchers in the first 5-10 rounds just to fill some holes. And they know where to find big-time, impact guys and they have the money to draft that No. 1, hard-to-sign kid in the fifth round and offer him first-round money.

If you trade those guys and you believe as much in your farm system, then the cream is going to rise to the top again. You’re eventually going to have top prospects again.

I don’t think they look at there’s just this window of opportunity for their prospects. You put value in your prospects and obviously, regardless of what we’re told, they have an internal value system, and those players, they believe they’re worth ‘X.’ Obviously, if Theo talks about every one of them as if they’re untouchable to A) make their price go up in the public’s eye, and B) to make their scouting and player development system feel good about themselves.

Look at the drafts. History is a great barometer. If you go back through the time Theo’s been here. Take any three consecutive drafts … play it out this year, next year and next year. And I think you’re going to find big leaguers in every one of them. Again, money is a huge advantage. In addition to being able to sit down with Roy and saying, here’s a four-year deal — and I don’t think you’re looking at anything near a five-year deal. I think they’d make the dollars big enough for four. But at the same time, they can make those dollars available to a guy like Roy. And they can turn around and spend top-tier dollars in the draft. There are not a lot of clubs that can do one,  if both, of those things.

If they use these prospects to go get Adrian Gonzalez and then they sign somebody like John Lackey as a free agent, they get the pitcher and the hitter they’re looking for, and I thought that might be a better use of what they have.

They’re not a one-and-done farm system. I think there’s a lot of interest in Adrian Gonzalez. Jed Hoyer is running the Padres franchise from a player-development standpoint. He knows the value of the players in the Red Sox minor league system to the Red Sox scouts and as far as a GM and a potential landing spot. So, the players that you see in a Halladay deal, Jed can be very clear, and know that Theo’s got the pieces Jed would be asking for in a deal still in place. Because, again, what we perceive to be the value of these players, generally — I know from experience — is a lot different than what a lot of owners think, and GMs think, about their players. So, I don’t think one precludes the other. Again, you’re going to draw your system out a little bit. But you’re bringing in two guys that, in the best of days, you pray that of the 5-8 kids you trade, one of them might turn out to be half as good as either one of these guys.

What do you remember about that weekend [six years ago when the Red Sox made their pitch]?

Everything. … It’s funny, because I think the dates are the exact same as they were then. I remember it being a very exciting time. I remember after accepting the fact that I probably was not going to be playing in Arizona again, I had the Red Sox in my home and I had the Yankees on the phone, literally calling during the process.

Who was calling you?

Some of the people in the Yankee organization that make decisions and do important stuff, telling me, “Don’t do this, because we’ll be there Saturday, and it will get done.” And I’m proud of the fact that, probably with very poor business foresight, I never ever used that as leverage. At the end of the day, I came to Boston because no matter what any of the potential landing spots would have been back then, no one offered what Boston offered.

They must have just blown you off the charts, Theo and his guys.

Yeah, I think that it was the whole package. The No. 1 question for me was the time commitment that I would have to make between starts. How much work they had done, how much work would I be in a position to do going forward, and the commitment that this team had made into assisting its players. Once I knew that I wouldn’t have to do an extra three or four hours a day doing work on my own — which was a big thing. That was the first thing.

And the second big piece was [Terry Francona]. Unfortunately, coming out of that week, everybody said that “Tito got the job because of Schilling,” and there were a lot of things said about that weekend. One of the things that did come up during negotiations was me telling them that he was a very big reason why I was even listening. I just believed that if he was interviewing, he was going to get the job, knowing him. Theo made it very clear to me — they all did — that yes, they liked Tito and they were interested in him getting the job, but they in no way were going to promise that that was the guy they were going to hire for me. And I respected that. I never felt like Theo or Jed ever lied to me or ever did anything to improve the situation that would turn out to be untrue. And that was a big deal.

And they just did a lot of little things. A lot of things to make me see it was no longer 25 guys and 25 cabs. I’ve actually had this conversation with some investors as we talked through my video game company. And talking about, my studio’s a place that’s desirable to be from an industry standpoint. Ten years ago, Boston was not a place players wanted to play — at all. It was one of the three of four teams everybody had in their no-trade clause. And 10 years later, it’s a place where a lot of players, if not most, want to go. And what’s changed? It’s the commitment to the players, their families, the people. That’s a tangible thing.

If the Red Sox had just called you, like the Yankees did at that time, and told you all the things that you wanted to hear, would you have still wanted to have come here, or was the trip out for Thanksgiving very important to you? And secondly, how did it proceed from that point? Did you go to Arizona and say, “I only want to go to the Red Sox. Only trade with them”? What kind of control did you have at that point?

The Red Sox had negotiated that window to talk to me. The Yankees weren’t actually allowed to be talking to me. It’s one of those things that you learn there are a lot of unwritten rules that should be written that aren’t. The Yankees were calling, quote-unquote, illegally. They actually called while the Red Sox were in my house. And it was one of those, “Are they there?” “Yeah” “OK, don’t let them know that we’re on the phone.” And I was literally standing like 10 feet away from Theo and Larry [Lucchino]. “But we just want you to know, let this time frame run out, and we’ll be there Friday morning.” I can’t remember what I told Theo, but I felt very uncomfortable. But again, had I wanted to act like an ass — or Scott Boras — I had tremendous amounts of leverage to go at the point. I’m kind of proud that I never ever really used [it].

Listen, the trip was everything. They were the first — no, the second team, ’cause Arizona was far and away the the first. But they understood that the majority of the decision to move to Boston and wear this uniform and play on this team was not in my hands. I had a wife, with four kids, and she was going to be picking up and moving across the country and all the things that go with that. And they understood that they needed to make sure before I was excited about this that she was in love with it. And they did everything they could do, and that was huge for her. I don’t know how other people do it, but rarely do you sit in a silo by yourself and make a decision like this. It’s a family decision that impacts everybody, and she had to sign off on it.

What was in the box — the famous box that we had video of here in Boston of Jed carrying out to the car that was emptied in your house?

They brought a bag of goodies for all four of our kids and my wife. It was very clear that they knew, obviously, my kids’ names, and they knew what was going to be interesting and important to Shonda.

You know Roy Halladay a little bit. You don’t have any questions at all about him dealing with the scrutiny [in this market]?

I think it would be something that would make him even better than he already is. This environment, and the Yankee-Red Sox thing, it elevates your game, or it paralyzes your game, It’s never a neutral. There’s too much — there’s too much passion, there’s too much love, there’s too much hatred for the Yankees, there’s too much there for it not to impact you. I think we saw with [Edgar] Renteria it turned a really good player in to a bad one. I played with some other guys that were far better players in other environments than they were here, and vice versa. And I think Roy Halladay is absolutely the kind of guy who would be even better than he already is because the environment motivates you — the adrenaline, the energy of pitching in this thing every fifth day. Because remember where he’s been as long as he’s been. They’ve really never been in contention. That’s a big, big deal.

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