Winter Meetings interview with Fredi Gonzalez

Q. As you look at your roster right now, what do you think you need to do? Obviously you need to get another pitcher. What are some things you'd like to see, some additions that you'd like to see?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, some additions, a number 5 starter. We're kicking the tires of some of the possibilities out there, whether it's a free agent guy or maybe a trade possibility. We've kind of kicked around a little bit our bench.

But I think adding Callaspo, I think that helps the bench a little bit. But as we stand right now, we've got a pretty good club. Offensively you've got Nick in right field, you've got Justin at left. You can move Gattis from behind the plate, and bring Bethancourt along slowly, and we feel like we've got a pretty good offensive club.

Q. How much of a obviously making the moves to get the best club on the field, but how much of the intangibles, it seems that he's making moves to get guys in for good clubhouse chemistry as well.

FREDI GONZALEZ: You're talking about John? Both Johns? All three Johns?

Q. All three Johns.

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, that's some of the stuff that we talk about a lot. If all things being equal, talent from one guy to the other, I think make up is big. Obviously, if a guy comes in and he's really, really a talented guy, the make up, you can live with those guys. But if everything being equal, we'll take the make up guy. I think we've done that with Markakis.

I think bringing Callaspo in. I've spoken to a couple of his former managers. Just talked to Ned ten minutes ago about him, and he loved him as a person, I think that's a big plus.

Jim Johnson, we got him to help out in the bullpen, and I think that's a great sign, a guy that a few years removed from a hundred saves in two years, and he's got great make up. I talked to him on the phone a little bit.

So I think that that's it, the more you can bring in those type of players, the more you can bring in those grinders, I think it's a big plus.

Q. How about we see Markakis and Callaspo, the strikeouts, there are obviously good strikeout ratios. Is that a priority as well?

FREDI GONZALEZ: That's been a priority. It's something we had to address. We had a lot of strikeouts up and down that lineup last year, a lot. So you bring in Markakis, who is going to put the ball in play; Callaspo, we think he's going to bounce back from last year and put the ball in play and keep the line moving. So I think we have improved in that area.

Q. With Bethancourt, you mentioned him, obviously great arm, but what does he still have to work on? What do you need to see improvement from him behind the plate?

FREDI GONZALEZ: I think with Christian it's just an opportunity. There is no reason for him to go back to Triple A. I think as we stand right now, and I say that literally, 2:30 pacific coast time on Tuesday, Gattis is going to be the guy behind the plate, which is fine. You can bring Christian in.

Looking ahead, I think we'll manage Evan the same thing we did last year, three games, give him a day off, and bring him along that way and kind of help him get through a Major League season. You plug in Christian in those games, and I think he could learn from the Major League level under Roger and be in a big league atmosphere and learning how to run a pitching staff and preparing himself for a Major League game, I think it would be good for him.

Q. If you did that, how would you do your outfield? Who would play?

FREDI GONZALEZ: You mean Gattis?

Q. Yeah.

FREDI GONZALEZ: Gattis would catch right now as we stand. Upton in left field, Markakis in right field, and BJ in centerfield right now, and hopefully we get him turned around. Then you could go a couple different directions in the outfield for a fourth outfielder.

Q. But obviously that could change?

FREDI GONZALEZ: That's what I said. If you believe everything you guys write, you guys are making up or not. But, yeah, as of right now 3 o'clock, 2:30 pacific coast time, that's your team. You're right, it could change. If something happens in the next hour or so, you can manipulate that.

Q. You could move Gattis to left field?

FREDI GONZALEZ: You could do a lot of different things with those pieces, yes.

Q. Does Peraza have a chance to jump from the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues?

FREDI GONZALEZ: I think it would be a long shot, to tell you the truth, but I am going to give him an opportunity. I think coming into Spring Training he is going to -- I'm going to sit him down and say you've got to be ready to go on every road trip. You have to be ready to play every chance you get, and we have to give him an opportunity. I want to see him play. I saw him play for four or five days a couple of Spring Trainings ago, I'm sorry, a couple instruction leagues ago, and he was really impressive. And you read our reports of our Minor League coaches, some of our guys say he could do it right now. Some of the Minor League people are kind of divided whether he could do it or not.

Simmons has won two Gold Gloves and he joined us 50 games or 40 games into the season. Peraza may be one of those guys. If he doesn't break camp with us, he may be a guy you send him down to Double A, Triple A, let him play 30, 40 games and then next thing you know he's there.

Q. Do you envision him as a Jose Reyes type player?

FREDI GONZALEZ: He's got the speed. Reyes is a switch hitter, plays shortstop.

I like a lot of his tools, Peraza's tools. He can run. I think he's a top of the order hitter, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him play. I really am.

Q. So if there were changes then as far as Bethancourt, you talked about him catching, do you think you'd be comfortable with him catching four or five games a week? You saw him do it for a month?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, Christian?

Q. Yeah, making him your main catcher?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, 30, 40 minutes, two days, a week, things change. But I feel comfortable he could catch a really, really good load of the games in the Major Leagues. He did it in September for the most part, and I thought he really, really caught well when Gattis went down just before the All Star break. That two week period, I thought he was really impressive when he came up and did that. So, yeah, I think he could do that.

Q. I know there were minor ailments with Wood and Minor since their last start. Have they been checked since then?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, Jeff's kept in contact with them. They're fine. They'll be ready to go in Spring Training, and Roger will keep tabs on that, and it will be -- they'll be fine. I don't foresee any problems come Spring Training or any kind of that stuff.

Q. Are you good with this -- I guess you don't have a choice, but the whole plan of -- John's been pretty open about one eye on 2017, and then in the interim you try to stay competitive?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, I think he's been terrific. He really has. He's been able to maneuver some pieces to get money to get other pieces, and still be competitive. I think we have been able, and I think we'll continue to stock up our minor league systems. I know that was one of his goals or our goals was to stock up our Minor Leagues.

So, yeah, I feel if the season started tomorrow and you've got the club that you've got right now, you feel pretty good about it, our pitching staff is, and everybody's looking for that extra starter. We're not the only club out there, but four guys in the rotation are pretty good. The four young guys that are really controllable guys and in no particular order. But Teheran, Wood, Minor, Miller and the back end of our bullpen might arguably be the best closer in the game.

Carpenter in the 8th inning, and with Johnson coming and working with Roger, maybe we get something there, and you've got Shreve who did a nice job in that little short window that we gave him an opportunity, but he did a nice job. Russell did a nice job as a left hander. Varvaro is coming back.

Q. Shae Simmons, did you mention him?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, Shae Simmons is the other guy, Juan Jaime is another guy, Vizcaino is a guy.

The guy that is really, really interested is the kid that we just got from the Angels, Cohn or Cohn, I'm not sure. I don't know the pronunciation, but if he throws a hundred I'll figure it out really quick. He gets people out. But I've seen the video, and this guy's got pretty good stuff.

Q. The plan that we're talking about is I guess if there wasn't an understanding between you and John and all that, it's not like the ideal position for manager to be in coming off last year. If they're looking at the future. But if there is an understanding, obviously?

FREDI GONZALEZ: The understanding is we've got to try to win, right? That is the bottom line, and it doesn't matter. Yeah, 17 for me is way that's long. In our industry or in my profession, four years down the road or three years down the road, that's a long ways away, you know.

Q. So you're not one eye on '17?

FREDI GONZALEZ: No, no, I'm going to be asking you guys for tickets for that stadium.

Q. If you take that napkin and write down the lineup right now, Markakis is at the top I'm guessing?

FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, yeah. And that's something that we went to visit Nick, I asked him, and he said he didn't mind. I think down the road -- I mean, right now he's the best piece we have to lead off. He's done it before and he feels comfortable there. I think in an ideal situation he might be a number two hitter because he can really manipulate the bat and the baseball. But right now he's going to lead off for us.

Who knows. Maybe a month and a half into the season or two months, Peraza's ready and we feel like he could be the guy, we'll make that move.

Q. Where are you putting Callaspo? Is he a number two hitter, is he --

FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, a lot. Depending -- you can go two, you can go sixth. You can go seventh. If you want to give Simmons an opportunity to hit number two and let him put him there and say, hey, this is what we want you to do, we could do that also.

Q. Two free agents that you had this past year, Bonifacio and Harang, any chance they might come back?

FREDI GONZALEZ: We're talking about both of those possibilities. We really are. Harang for us was terrific. Three days before we broke Spring Training, we get Harang, and fast forward six months, and 200 innings, and 15 wins, 14 wins, something like that, may have had his best season he's had in a long time. So you're always looking for that one guy that can give you 200 innings, and he did that for us last year.

Q. Is length of contract maybe the only

FREDI GONZALEZ: I don't talk about negotiations with contracts and length, but he's a guy that we've been talking about that there is a possibility.

Q. How much input do you have on possible player acquisitions?

FREDI GONZALEZ: I couldn't give you a percentage, but I get asked. I get asked what do you think, how does this guy fit? Do you know him? Do you want to talk to him? I think going over to see Mick a couple weeks ago was the first time I've experienced that to go see a player. That was fun. You felt like you were on a recruiting trip. But it was a nice get to know the player and the family, and it was at his house, so it was a nice comfortable place for him.

But you get some input. You don't know controllability. You don't know length of contracts, all the other stuff that us managers don't know as the general managers do. But you get a little bit of input on it.

Q. You had mentioned earlier trying to cut down in strikeouts, getting guys to K less. Is there a discussion about that trend in general, and the lower strike zone and maybe getting guys with the low pitch better or don't chase down there?

FREDI GONZALEZ: We haven't discussed that in that depth. But we have discussed it just the strikeouts, period. People say the strikeout is just another out, but it really isn't another, depending on where that strikeout occurs, it's not just another out. When you have six, seven guys in your lineup that are punching out 150 plus, that's a lot of outs. So I think by adding Markakis, a guy that can put the ball in play, and Callaspo, I think that will help us too.