Last night at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library, Denny Matthews and his ghost writer Matt Fulks had a promo event for Denny’s new book that included an audience Q and A at the end. While most of what Denny had to say dealt with reminiscences of old time good ol’ ballplayers, there were some interesting tidbits to take away:
The reason he became a broadcaster is because he didn’t have a job after college and didn’t have anything better to do. We should all be so unlucky…
He has had multiple opportunities to jump ship and broadcoast for another team, including one time after three years on the job. He could have left the expansion Royals for the big market of Chicago. He stayed because he liked Mr. Kauffman and wanted to stay loyal to him.
He shared a bottle of water on stage at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony with Tony Gwynn because Gwynn didn’t grab his bottle. Let’s hope Tony didn’t have cooties!
He doesn’t like the DH rule. Pitchers enjoy hitting. Mentions Greinke as one of the better hitting pitchers the Royals have had.
Denny’s “not sold” on pitch counts. He mentions this after recounting how Steve Busby had absolutely electric stuff, was a terrific pitcher, and his career ended prematurely due to injury because he threw a lot of pitches. Seems a self-contradictory juxtaposition, but I digress.
In response to the question of essentially, why don’t we have any good players, Denny says scouting is an “inexact science.” We’ve had lots of high draft choices that other scouts agree on. Players might have physical ability but not be smart enough, can’t handle the pressure, etc. He says intelligence is more important than ability. Smart players will “figure out a way to win.” No mention is made of players that have been acquired at the MLB level. Maybe scouting them is an inexact science too. In fairness to Denny, as an employee of the team, there is certainly a limit on how publicly critical he can be of the team, so this may have been a sidestep from that aspect of the question. He seemed to pause to carefully consider his words a few times, so maybe he thinks Dayton's an idiot, just can't say so at a book promo.
At this point he made fun of the annoying fan in the audience that kept yelling stuff, but in a way that made the idiot in the audience not realize he was being made fun of. I have a hearty appreciation of this subtle art.
Fan asks him what Dayton’s best and worst has been. His best is that he has a plan and he’s sticking to it. Denny, it would seem, trusts the Process. Denny says the plan is based on pitching and defense, which will keep you in games even if your offense is bad.
Dayton’s worst move according to Denny is signing Yabuta. This is a pretty good answer, but also a really easy one. As an aside, why isn’t the Yabuta contract ridiculed far more frequently? 6.5 million guaranteed for 51.2 innings of 5.42 FIP? Double the salary of the spork and less than half of his [admittedly negative] value? Maybe this move isn't slammed as much because at least Dayton had the sense to not play this guy when it turns out he was terrible?
He wants change in baseball’s economics. He doesn’t think the Royals can compete against the Yankees payroll. Revenue sharing essentially means you can pay for an extra utility infielder (thanks for the free spork, Mr. Steinbrenner), but not an impact player. He likes the NHL model of salary cap.
Hal McRae was his favorite manager, though I think he meant that more in terms of to talk to/interview than in terms of his ‘skill’ as a manger.
The majority of it was his recounting of old time baseball stories, which were certainly neat, but I’m probably too young to really appreciate since a lot of the stories were of players who peaked before I was born.
All in all it was pretty interesting. He was certainly has a scouts and play the game the right way kind of perspective, but it’s still interesting to get the thoughts of some one who has been with the team for forty-one years.
It was taped by Metro Sports, and should be available on their On Demand as well as potentially the website. It also has little videos of him getting inducted, him talking about the new Royals hall of fame, etc.