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Maddon’s thoughts on the future of the rotation, Jose Molina and Game 162

Posted Dec 5, 2011 by Roger Mooney

Updated Dec 5, 2011 at 06:24 PM

Joe Maddon took his turn in front of the media this afternoon during the first day of baseball’s annual Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole Dallas.

Here is some of what he had to say:

How are you going to work the young pitchers into your rotation?
“That’s a good question. Our young pitchers, we have a lot of them, and of course the guys that have been there, the incumbents, will be back. We just have to figure out Matt (Moore) and Alex Cobb. Everybody talks about Matt, not as many people talk about Alex Cobb. He’s potentially a very good Major League starter. I don’t have an answer for you yet. It’s obviously a wonderful problem to have. We’ll continue to filter through it as the season conditions.”

You talked about Matt and Alex. The fact that the six man rotation worked well last year, will we possibly see that again this year?
“We did a couple of things last year that I probably want to keep in the back of my mind, and that is that where we shifted into a six man rotation to not overwhelm (David) Price or (James) Shields, but really building up some large innings, and it kind of worked. I thought David and Shields and the whole group were kind of frisky at the end of the year. I don’t know if we would or when we would, but I think if you’re going to, that’s a pretty optimal time to try it especially if you have some guys building up some big innings.”

Knowing what you have with Matt Moore and Cobb, the reality would be trying to improve the offense, maybe you would trade one of the current starters.  Is that a reality that you have to kind of accept?
“Exactly. If you would, you probably would go in that direction, one of the current starters, those that had been there, if we chose to go in that direction. Obviously I think our starters are very popular within this building right now, and that’s pretty cool. But again, you feel like you have some depth, and depth can go away very quickly if you’re not careful. Again, we are built on pitching and our defense, so these are things we’ve got to be very concerned and careful with as we make those decisions.”

Would you be surprised if you had all eight by February 20th realistically?
“You know, a little surprised, not overwhelmingly surprised. It could happen. It could happen. It’s like anything else. We’re like everybody else. We come here to do something that’s going to help us. At the end of the day, if it’s not, then you keep these guys, that’s not a bad thing, either. That’s not a bad thing, either. We just have to pick these other couple spots up that we need to fill out the group, fill out the batting order again while we’re maintaining our defense, and having those arms, every night when you walk out to the dugout and you look at your guy on the mound versus their guy on the mound, if you feel good about that, that’s a pretty good feeling. Every night you walk out as the Rays’ manager and you walk out on the mound you feel pretty good about the potential results that night. Not everybody can say that.”

José Molina said he would catch as much as you wanted him to.  What do you see with that relationship with him and the two young catchers?
“Well, I like it. Me and Jay Mo go way back, so I know what he’s all about.  He knows me; I know him. He’s going to be very easy. He’s got really strong thoughts about catching. He’s going to help our young guys in receiving in particular and game calling, those kind of things, so I think he’s going to be a big aid. So I’m looking forward to that.  Also his throwing, his release, he to me is one of the quicker releases in all of baseball for any catcher. All those kind of things, I hope we’re off on the other guys. Number of games played, I need to talk to him. I’ve often talked about I have so much faith in our training staff and our strength and conditioning component of our organization, so I think whatever he’s capable of doing physically they’re going to get it out of him.  They will.

“So I need to sit down with Jay Mo and talk about it in the offseason.  I’ve already talked to him once on the phone. I’ll get together with him later and in Spring Training, we’ll try to decide what’s the best way to go about this.

“I think even if he’s not starting a game, to maybe finish a game with him would also be a very nice thing to have in our back pocket, too. So number of games, I’m not sure, probably 80 plus hopefully. The impact he’s going to have on the other catchers and the pitching staff I think will be significant.”

What would you like to see from (Jose) Lobaton and (Robinson) Chirinos during Spring Training?
“Okay, Robby Chirinos, the biggest things with him would be his release, getting rid of the ball more quickly. He’s a very good receiver and he blocks the ball well.  His offense was a little bit sporadic, so we’d like to see a little bit more of shortening of his swing.

“Lobaton, we just need to have him stay healthy. He was doing fine until he got hurt. He would have played a lot more had he not gotten hurt. By him getting hurt that puts Shoppach back in the picture and it was kind of strange how that all played out. But with Robby those things I talked about. Lobaton just continue to work on his offensive side and just stay healthy because defensively he was pretty good.”

Have you had a chance yet to really try and digest what happened at the end of the year and put it in perspective?
“Honestly I get that. I’ve done some gigs out West and even back East since the end of the season. While you’re actually participating in that moment, you don’t get it.  You don’t feel it. You’re just playing. And then since then you get a chance to talk to everybody, almost everybody to a person that wants to talk about it talks about the best hour in the history of Major League Baseball, at least within their lifetime.  That causes you to reflect and pause and say, wow, that was that powerful.  You knew it when it was all said and done, but to really visit with people that were caught up in the moment, that’s really fascinating.  And then furthermore, to know that you’re a part of it somehow is kind of neat, because again, as a kid growing up you watched Bobby Thompson’s home run, I don’t know how many times, in black and white going over the wall of left field. And more recently, I don’t know how many times, you’ve seen Joe Carter jumping up, going around first base, all those dramatic, historical moments in baseball, if you are a baseball historian stick with you. But then to actually be in the dugout to witness one of those actual moments is cool.

“So I think, again, I do remember stuff well.  I don’t necessarily keep photos or hardware or those kind of things, but over a period of time I think there’s something that causes you to reflect mentally, to be able to reflect and know that you watched that thing over the corner of the outfield wall by Longo was pretty significant.”

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