I tried to take some notes today - especially during Dayton's session - so I'd have some more concrete stuff for you guys. I'll also try to have less typos and grammatical errors. I'm friends on facebook with one of my high school english teachers and I'm nervous with every post that I've used the wrong form of there (or their or they're) or put the apostrophe in the wrong place or in some other way have proven to her that I wasn't always paying as much attention in her class as I should have been. Luckily she's more into basketball than baseball, so I'm not worried she's lurking here. Anyway....
- Again, we skipped the autograph lines. Although there was a session in the morning with Frank White, David DeJesus and Mitch Maier, which is only missing Brian Bannister to meet my swoon overload threshold.
- One thing I forgot to mention in yesterday's post about Trey & Dayton's sessions: they both talked about having Callaspo's bat in the line-up everyday. They said they didn't know yet how that would play out, but based on where they stand right now he would spot at 2nd, 3rd and left field and also some DH time, but DH time is going to depend a lot on Guillen's health.
- I don't know what to say about the infielder's panel. They were definitely entertaining. It featured Willie Bloomquist, Mike Aviles, Billy Butler, Chris Getz and Alex Gordon. They didn't talk much baseball, mostly just made fun of each other for 45 minutes. At one point a kid who'd lost his parents was brought up on stage to wait until his mom was found and he looked like he was about to start bawling, but they just kept giving him more swag and sat him next to Willie Bloomquist and by the time his mom turned up he didn't want to get off stage. Turned out Willie is his favorite player. Kids today. They also spent a fair amount of time discussing Alex Gordon's physical similarities to Jim Halperin (sp?) from The Office and speculating on what horrible outfit Mark Teahen was going to make Billy Butler wear at the fashion show tonight. Aviles did say that mentally he was ready to come back because it sucks sitting on the bench watching the other guys play and that his rehab is going well, but physically he's not quite ready yet. Earlier DM had said of Aviles he's 100% with his hitting, he's starting fielding drills, and he's getting ready to start throwing again.
I'll break out Dayton's panel since I took a lot of notes for that one, and everything is paraphrased, though if it's in quotes I did my best to use his phrasing, I just don't trust that I was always writing fast enough to be perfectly accurate. I don't think any of this is new, just more of what we've heard in other interviews:
- In terms of where the team is compared to where he would like it to be: "We need to have 10-12 home grown players on our 25-man roster. As of September 1 we had 5." Basically, until we can supply that core from within our own system, we cannot be consistently good. He didn't pin down a date for when we would reach this threshold, but did say that this year there would be 2-3 guys in the minor league camp, not on the 40-man, who would be competing for spots on the major league roster. I think it was Trey, but maybe it was Dayton, who said yesterday that ideally he wants a strong core of 6 players who would be in his line-up everyday, and he doesn't feel we're quite there yet. Sorry I didn't take notes yesterday and I don't remember the details of how close to this goal he feels we are.
- Last year the character and chemistry of the ML team were great and attitude was great, but talent level wasn't where it needed to be in order to be consistently competitive and "that's my responsibility." I think he said this in reference to his opinion of Trey Hillman and his point was that Trey did great with what he had.
- In terms of this off-season, he said international free agents were about building relationships and that focusing on talent in Latin America was a directive from the Glasses when he was hired.
- AA & AAA doesn't yet have the depth to help the ML team, but that improving that was a major focus of the off-season. I'm not wording it well, but they talked a lot about depth and versatility being a focus of the off-season because a major problem with last year was that we had the guys at the start that we wanted, but when injuries happened and "the wheels came off" there were no solid back-ups to step in. So rather than focus on flashy, win-now moves like Crisp and Jacobs, they focused on getting more guys who were capable of competing for positions (rather than who had the skills and record to be de facto choices I guess?) and then being competent back-ups. Also that improving defense was a big focus this off-season and that while home runs might be more fun to watch, pitching and defense were going to be the key to us competing.
- He said yesterday and today that they are really high on Aaron Crow. The more they see the more they like. Also that Noelle Arguelles would likely be starting in Wilmington.
- The problems with the bullpen weren't about talent but were about the ability to perform and they must throw more strikes. Hence hiring the pitching guy as the bullpen coach (sorry, can't remember his name right now).
- This one is a direct quote: "Ned [Yost] has advised us to let Jason [Kendall] manage the running game." That is, instead of the managers managing it.
- Kila Kai'aihue will get a "hard look" and "an opportunity" at Spring Training. This was in answer to a question. I didn't hear his name come up the whole weekend other that this.
- He also talked about Yu-Bet yesterday and today, reiterating that they saw some untapped potential there, implying he came up too fast through the Seattle system and was thrust into the majors before he had figured some things out. Also that he's been here in Kansas City this off-season working with Ty Hill. I don't know who Ty Hill is, but maybe one of you does?
The broadcaster's panel was fun, because they're all good at telling stories. Don't really remember any highlights that we haven't already heard on the air, but Splitty did join them about half-way through. He was late because he was broadcasting the KU game and, as he says, "it takes at least an hour to even get out of Lawrence after a basketball game." He still sounded pretty shaky to me, but much better, and to be fair, he had just been talking for two hours doing a broadcast. My voice would probably be shaky, too, and I'm not even recovering from anything.
Okay, and my favorite part, the pitcher's panel! There was a lot of talk about World of Warcraft, but I didn't understand any of it, so I have no notes on that for you, except to say that Greinke is a level 80 Warlock and Banny and Davies are not as good because their wives get mad when they play a lot. The participants were Colon, Banny, Davies, Hochevar, Lerew, Kendall, Meche and Greinke. (I think I remembered everyone.)
- Jason Kendall sat in with the pitchers and talked about preparing this off-season by watching videos of all the pitchers and that he looks forward to building trust with them during spring training. In response to a question he said he doesn't mind when a pitcher shakes him off because he trusts his pitcher to know better than him what pitch is best for him to throw at that moment and that he is all for throwing inside.
- Someone also asked about the pitcher's hitting ability (because the infielder's had said their favorite part of interleague play was watching the pitcher's at-bats) and Greinke fielded the question by dissing on most of the guys one by one, but especially Hochevar. He gave props to Banny saying he's good at getting line-drive singles, Davies has power when he actually manages to connect and that he, Zack Greinke, was the "total package" - not as much power as Davies but more consistency. Banny jumped in to point out that he got the win in St. Louis because of his RBI that day.
- Meche also talked about how he was ready to go, fully recovered (as did Banny & Davies). In response to a question about the competition between Meche and Greinke, Gil said, "Well, first of all, in my defense I was hurt last year. But also Zack's season was historic" and how even Zack is going to be hard-pressed to repeat a whole-year performance as dominant as that again, and given that, he was really looking forward to getting back in there with him again. He (Meche) said his shoulder problems were because he came back too fast from the back injury and was using his arm to compensate for what he wasn't getting from his back so they shut him down so that he could really heal and focus on getting ready for 2010.
- I asked Colon about his efforts to get more emergency response equipment to his hometown. I didn't really have a question, I just thought it was cool that he did that and wanted to give him some props. He talked a little bit about that came about and about the conditions in Haiti and the Dominican and how much there is to do.
- Lerew got a few questions, all about his facial hair. He said during the season he's got to stay fairly clean shaven, but during the off-season he likes to experiment and see what gets the most attention. And then something like "This one seems to be a winner." If any of my pictures turn out, I'll post it. I didn't think it was that wild. It was almost a beard, except it didn't meet quite meet under his chin and he had the bottom and underneath parts totally shaved (also no 'stache).
- Greinke was asked about his honeymoon and said the first two weeks in Hawaii were great but the third week got "kind of long."