Transcript: Chris Antonetti and Terry Francona Postseason media gathering
Francona announced that all coaches were invited to return, with Mike Sarbaugh (moving to third base coach), Brad Mills (moving to bench coach) and Sandy Alomar (moving to first base coach) switching spots on the diamond.
Here’s a sampling of Antonetti and Francona’s comments.
Question: What do you think was the biggest accomplishment this season?
Chris Antonetti: Two things: Getting back to the postseason and re-establishing a winning culture was important for us. It’s a long process, and ongoing. But getting back to the postseason was meaningful to us as an organization. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but that was a good first step. The job Tito and hisstaff did to create an unbelievable environment from day one in Spring Training, set a tone.
Question: How important is it for you to continue that going into the offseason?
CA: Obviously we want to play in the Postseason year in year out. We want to progress through the Postseason. There are lots of things that have to happen for that to happen.
Q: How is (Nick) Swisher’s shoulder?
CA: All indications are that it’s fine.
Q: Any anticipated surgeries?
CA: We’re in the process of that right now; in a lot of cases guys just completed their exit physicals. We have guys lined up to assess some things that lingered at the end of the year.
Q: Any coaching changes?
TF: Mike Sarbaugh’s been coaching third the last few years. This isn’t a knock on Millsy; and Sandy’s passion is coaching first. We walked through it the other day and Sandy was fine with it. I was really proud of this coaching staff.
CA: I thought the coaching staff did a phenomenal job, with their commitment to putting each player in a position where they could be successful.
Q: When you took over, what was your biggest concern?
TF: I don’t think I ever thought about that. When we decided I was going to be the manager, we spent the rest of the afternoon talking about the team and moving forward. I don’t read a lot, but I did read that I was told we were going to sign free agents. The only thing I ever told Chris was that I would do my best with what I had.
Q: What’s your confidence level in the rotation?
TF: We have (Justin Masterson) coming back. We have Danny Salazar, and Corey Kluber, who’s gotten to a point where over his last 12 starts, he was one of the better pitchers in the league. Zach McAllister wants to be the best pitcher in the league, almost to a fault. Then we have (Carlos) Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer, who at some point is going to make an impact.
Q: Chris, can you speak about Ubaldo? He said he appreciated the organization’s confidence.
CA: With all of our free agents, they all made a favorable impression on us and we’d like to have them all back. How all the pieces come together, it’s hard to forecast at this point.
Q: Do you anticipate being as aggressive as you were last offseason?
CA: I think we’ll be aggressive in looking for ways to improve the team. How that plays out, I don’t know right now. I know we’ll be aggressive in trying to improve.
Q: What part of the team would you like to see strengthened?
TF: I think you want to get better every year. It’s hard to say. Year to year, you don’t know what (part of the team) will carry the same load or have the same effectiveness. In the second half of the year, our pitching was great. Our speed played a big role. When the time comes and we see the group we have, then we’ll get together in Goodyear and start over. It’ll be a little easier because when you have familiarity, it’s easier to get more work done.
Q: Do you think you’ll show up in Goodyear knowing that one guy is your closer?
TF: I think roles are important, but the way pitchers pitch defines roles.
Q: Do you think the attitude toward coming here in free agency has been changed?
TF: I think you’d like to have your players, when they’re talking to other players, tell them they like to play here.
CA: It was evident last offseason that players liked to play for Terry. I think that will continue.
Q: Is it essential for you to find that middle-of-the-order bat?
TF: It depends on how much pitching we have. You have to be one run better every night; however we do that, we have to figure that out. When Mark Reynolds was hot, that was a big plus. But after he left, we knew our margin of error was smaller – but that didn’t mean we couldn’t win.
CA: We’re going to look to improve every aspect of the team. On the position player side, we can bring back mostly the entire group that was fourth in MLB in runs scored.
Q: Do you think the attendance will hurt your ability to spend?
CA: There’s a lot that goes into that. Ultimately, those are decisions and information we’ll get a little bit later – what our payroll will be. That’s not defining to us. Our goal is to build a contending team and I’m confident we’ll have the resources we need to do that.
Q: The way everything came together late, did you feel that it could go further than one game?
TF: I tried to talk to the team when it was over. Nobody wanted it to be over. It stung. Whether it’s a week, two days, whatever – when the sting is gone, remember how much the staff cared about you guys. When you’re that fond of a group, you don’t want it to be over. You want to leave on your own terms.
Q: How much did Chris Perez’s performance at the end of the season complicate his situation with the team going into the offseason?
CA: Not that much. Chris has been a very effective closer for us and one of the most successful closers we’ve had here. We have a lot of decisions to make, not just with him.
Q: Carlos Santana said he didn’t necessarily like to (be the designated hitter). When a guy expresses that, how can you handle that?
TF: We talked to him today about similar things. Some of it will depend on the winter. We wanted to involve him in that. His bat and versatility are important.
Q: When you look at Swisher’s season, do you look at his shoulder injury as a part of it?
TF: I think he tried to do a little too much, whether it was being new or his contract. When he tried to dig himself out of it, I don’t think his shoulder helped him. Toward the end of the year, he turned it up; I think you’ll see more consistency out of him.
CA: In some of our most meaningful games of our season, he was our most productive hitter.
Q: How about Bourn?
CA: Michael cares so much and so deeply, that he may have tried to do a little too much. Plus, he switched leagues. What you’ll see next year from both is that they’ll be a little more comfortable with the league and organization.
TF: He’s so conscientious, that’s what you want. You don’t want players to kill themselves over things. Sometimes they try to do too much because of it, but I’d rather fight that than the flip side.
Q: Is Trevor Bauer ready?
CA: He’s still developing. He’s further along than at this time last year. I think we underestimated the magnitude of the changes he was undertaking in his delivery. We’ll have a much better sense of that come Spring Training. Trevor is committed to putting in the work this winter to continue his progress. He’s talked with (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway).
Q: Were the changes he made working?
CA: It’s still a work in progress. Where he envisions his delivery being, we’re good with. But it’s still a work in progress.
Q: Do you view Carrasco as a starter?
TF: I think we need to exhaust every possibility with him as a starter; his arm is so big and his secondary stuff is there. We think he can help us most there.
Q: Did you get a sense from Jason Giambi what he wanted to do?
CA: I think he wants to play. He was proud of what he contributed and he wants to continue that.
Q: We may have forgotten what this ballpark is like when it’s out of control. What was that like?
TF: I don’t really pay a lot of attention usually, because when you’re in the dugout, you’re so closed off. … When they did the introductions, I was getting a kick out of it, like when they announced G. That was really cool. And when I got out there, it was LOUD. It was pretty cool. Those people are dying to do that. I never got caught up in (the attendance). The people who came were so into it, and that was great. Whoever comes to a game, we want to make them proud. And I think we’re making those strides.
Q: How did you sense the crowd?
CA: It was great to see the excitement in the ballpark and across the city. They embraced the team and it was a cool environment. The fans that were here throughout the season were unbelievable. They were passionate, vocal, intense and unbelievable.
Q: Do you think (Vinnie) Pestano will be able to get back to where he was?
CA: I think Vinnie has more determination than never to get back to the pitcher he was for so long for us. We have not lost sight of the contributions he’s made; we know it’s in there, and I have no doubt he’s going to work his tail off this offseason and come into Spring Training to assert himself as a dominant back-end reliever.
–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond