Is a return to glory close Kenny?
"On the heels of a
six-game [eight-game] losing streak, it's awkward for me to answer the question in this fashion, but I believe we're close. Our starting rotation has been consistent, solid for the entire season, with the obvious exception of Jose [Contreras]. But I expect that to improve and get better. ... There's a certain growth every player must have. And one of the things, characteristics I've seen in teams that succeed in bigger cities, the microscope being a little hotter, is there's a common denominator of a lot of guys that have failed, particularly in that city, who have rebounded back and now they know what it takes, know how to get themselves mentally first out of whatever struggles they've had. One of the things I will certainly talk to our coaches about in a greater degree is we knew where we were. Let's evaluate where we are and what the guys had to come through mentally to come back and perform at a greater degree."
and we're in business:
Williams said with the players already moved this season, as well as tweaking a few spots here and there, at least one and possibly two free agents could be added.
"It's pretty obvious what our intentions are. Since October of 2000, I made no secret about trying to be as aggressive -- and in our quest to win a championship -- as we possibly can be."
and on Jose
and trading him:
"As with every off-season, we'll listen to overtures, but I'm not anxious to break up the one component that has been the most consistent. So it would have to be something we felt rounded us out as a whole similar to the way we thought of Carlos [Lee] a few years ago. ... There are still some things we're trying to figure out with Jose. From what I see, the arm [strength] is still there, but [I think] he's fallen into a habit that we haven't picked up yet out of the stretch. I don't see people getting fooled as much out of the stretch as I do out of the windup. There's an obvious problem."
Williams agreed that Contreras also is less dominant against right-handed hitters when he drops to a three-quarters delivery. "But his stuff is so good, even with the drop that was in his velocity, he still should have been getting more outs at a greater degree," Williams said. "So there's something else we haven't found yet."
And look inside for Ozzie's new plan for next year.
Ozzie's has a new plan for next year: Stop "hiding" the starters during spring training:
"Now, we have a different plan for Tucson. I was talking to [general manager] Kenny [Williams] about it [Saturday]. The guys that have to pitch that day, I [don't] want to put them in a 'B' game. I don't want to get up at 8 o'clock in the morning and watch the same [stuff], a guy throwing 25 pitches, go home and say, 'OK, I did the job.' Those guys better prepare themselves to pitch. If we're going to play the Kansas City Royals [in Surprise, Ariz.], we go to Kansas City. All of a sudden you're going to hide somebody? Well, we have more scouts at a 'B' game than the 'A' game. Why are we wasting our time not making starters compete from the beginning? I'm not saying we're [babying] them, but I would like to change that attitude. There's no reason to be hiding anyone. That's the way I think about it. I want them to feel a baseball game right away. That's what we've been missing."
Ozzie found what we're missing!