Ed Ryan of Mets Fever puts forth the possibility that perhaps the Mets off season plan was to bring in character guys. Finding this idea interesting and spurred by his post on the topic I searched for some “good guy” quotes about each of the Mets off season acquisitions.Â Sorry but my Japanese is not up to snuff so there will be nothing about Ryota Igarashi in this post.
There has been and will continue to be plenty of debate and discussion here and elsewhere about the baseball playing merits or lack thereof of the players brought in this off season.Â The intention of this post is not to editorialize for either side of that debate.Â Consisting of some quotes praising the “goodness” of the players brought in, it is provided purely for pleasure reading.Â Enjoy.
On Alex Cora: Mets GM Omar Minaya consulted with Cora while pursuing Jason Bay.Â While this first quote is more a glimpse at the character of Jason Bay I believe it speaks volumes that Minaya sought out and trusted Cora for input.Â Lots of major leaguers had been teammates with Bay, but Minaya asked Cora.Â From WEEI.com – Mets general manager Omar Minaya touched base with his infielder to pick Coraâ€™s brain regarding the outfielder whom he played with for three months in Boston. â€œWe talked a little bit, and thatâ€™s obviously part of doing his homework,â€ Cora said. â€œEverybody knows what J-Bay can do on the field, so it was more like what he was like as a person. Hereâ€™s how I put it to him â€” He went to Boston during one of the biggest distractions you could have, and while nobody wants to admit it he was there to replace Manny (Ramirez). During that whole time we were expected to win. Thatâ€™s how tough it was, and Iâ€™m not saying New York is going to be easier, but it showed that he was going to be able to handle anything. That was the message.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona relied on the character of his veterans such as Cora.Â From the Providence Journal -Â â€œThis has been a very easy team (to manage),â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™ve been very responsible. [In terms of character] our guys have been off the charts. You appreciate that.â€Â In presiding over a harmonious clubhouse, Francona credited some of the teamâ€™s reserve players â€” led by Alex Cora â€” for setting the proper tone.Â â€œGuys who donâ€™t play much,â€ Francona said, â€œyou sort of hope they donâ€™t bring people down. Our guys kind of bring people up.â€Â He added that the organization tries to do it homework on playerâ€™s personalities and character, to ensure that they donâ€™t bring in potential malcontents who create problems when they donâ€™t play.Â â€œWeâ€™re not running a Cub Scout troop here,â€ he said. â€œYouâ€™ve got to have talent. But youâ€™ve also got to be aware of what works and how things work.â€
On Chris Coste: Shane Victorino noted that just having Coste around kept him grounded.Â From CSNPhilly.com – â€œHe was a good teammate. He was the kind of guy that was almost like a dad on the team,â€ Victorino said. â€œHe was the kind of teammate that no matter how bad you have it, you think about how lucky you are. To see a guy like him work so hard just to get here, it was like when things were bad you thought about him. He kept plugging along, kept working hard â€“ he had a dream to get to the big leagues. That was what was great about him â€“ he paid all his dues.â€ Not only was Coste a productive member of the team, he was also a reminder to the players on the team that all they had to do was work hard.
Coste was even selfless enough to analyze the Phillies acquisition of another catcher while he was still with the club.Â Here is what Coste had to say when the Phillies traded for catcher Ronny Paulino in late 2008, from Philly.com – â€œLet me just say this â€“ if I was GM of the Phillies I would have made the move in a heartbeat. In fact, even if Ruiz was an All-Star and I had hit .350 in 2008, I still would have made the move. You can never have too much catching, especially when it is such a volatile and injury-prone position. And they got Ronny Paulino, a former major league starting catcher for Jason Jaramillo, a guy they had apparently given up on. This trade was a no-brainer.Â If there is a competition then so be it. If someone gets traded then so be it. I have never expected to be handed anything in the world of baseball, and I expect 2009 to be no different.â€
On Henry Blanco: In January of 2009 then San Diego Padres GM Kevin Towers was looking for a back up catcher.Â Not just any back up catcher.Â From mlb.com – Towers was looking for a mentor for 25-year-old catcher Nick Hundley, who impressed during his three-month stint last season after being recalled from Triple-A Portland.Â So on Tuesday, Towers picked up the phone and called former Padres pitcher Greg Maddux to procure feedback on what kind of player, mentor and clubhouse presence Blanco was during their time together with the Cubs and Braves.Â Apparently, Towers liked what he heard, and on Wednesday the Padres signed Blanco to a one-year deal for $750,000 to occasionally spell Hundley and provide mentorship to a player the Padres think very highly of.Â “I thought it was very important,” Towers said of the mentorship. “Two of the guys we identified were Brad Ausmus and Henry Blanco. And a lot of it was what they have done throughout their career.Â “Henry has done it with [Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany] Soto. Hopefully he will help Nick develop into one of the elite catchers in the game.” Towers said before Wednesday that he was comfortable going into the regular season with Eliezer Alfonzo, who agreed to a Minor League deal in December as the primary backup at catcher.Â But now Blanco — who is regarded for calling a good game and a good clubhouse guy — figures to get that job. And he’s excited to help Hundley become “one of the best,” he said during a conference call.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta works in the San Diego Padres front office, keeps his own blog, and has a healthy sense of humor.Â From his blog – Yesterday the Padres announced the signing of veteran catcher Henry Blanco to a one-year deal.Â Â Throughout the off-season we have been discussing the idea of bringing in a veteran catcher who could help mentor both our young catchers and our young starting pitchers. We feel that Henry fits the role perfectly, especially since he has maintained an 86.2 MR (mentor rating) over the past three seasons. You might find yourself wondering about this “mentor rating.”Â I did.Â Then I checked the comments section, and read this one from DePodesta himself – Before anyone gets too worked up, the mentor rating is a complete fabrication… but it was fun to write. Let’s make sure we don’t take all of these stats (or ourselves) too seriously.Â However, I don’t let the joke to take away from the importance of Henry’s leadership ability and the impact that had on our decision. He will have a definite positive impact on our young players.
Well that’s all for now.Â A future installment of Grave Notions will have more quotes on these characters’ character about other recent Met acquisitions.