Winter Meetings Interview with Mike Scioscia

Q. It's been kind of a quiet offseason?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Quiet interview, too.

Q. What are your thoughts about the fact that you seem pretty much status quo with the team?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't know if you ever stay status quo. I think off seasons bring different things you're looking for and different things you can do. And a lot of the players that Jerry has already acquired are going to be in our depth chart and helping us out.

I don't think you're ever sitting there status quo. And I think when we come out of this we'll be a better team than when we came into it.

Q. What do you think of your DH spot right now?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think there's a lot of guys that are going to be fighting for at bats. And I think our depth will be there. And whether it's a guy like C.J. Cron or a guy that's maybe rotated out of the field to get some at bats. It will be important to us. We'll just see how that goes.

Q. Do you prefer to have that flexibility there?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think you have to adjust to the talent on your team. If you have that one guy that is a standard DH, great, and you work your way around that. If not, you're going to rotate guys through it. And I think historically we've rotated guys through it than have had the David Ortiz type DH.

We'll do what we have to do. I think offensively we'll be deep.

Q. What would be your specifics on the early Christmas wish list?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think a lot of what we're hoping materializes next year is Garrett Richards coming back and being healthy, 100 percent at some point during the season. A guy like Josh Hamilton maybe getting into his game and putting up some of the numbers more, I think reminiscent of what we saw him do before. Those are going to go a long way in helping us.

But it still comes down to bullpen depth. And what I think we really need to do is that momentum we had the second half of the season, keep that bullpen continuity and go from there.

Q. You added a new catcher, what did you like about him?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Drew is an excellent receiver. I think he's got a very, very good arm. He's mobile. I think he works with pitchers very well in talking to a lot of guys that have been around him. I think he's going to be a big addition to a position that we need depth.

Q. If there's no setbacks with Garrett Richards, what's the timetable do you think that he'll be ready to pitch?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I don't think we're going to see Garrett opening day, but I think the prognosis of having him back somewhere in the first month to maybe the first six weeks of the season look very good. And we'll see. Nothing we can rush or are going to rush. But you have to be ready to absorb some guys that maybe aren't coming back quite along a framework you might think and go from there.

So we'll be okay. But we'll get him back in the first month.

Q. What are your perceptions of Huston Street? When you got him in your clubhouse what did you find out about him?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't think our perceptions of Huston Street were much different than what he's about. We held him in the highest regard because we'd seen him from the other side for a long time. A lot of our staff had been around him, the guys that played with him knew not only his talent but how he competes and how he fits in the clubhouse. And he was everything we could have expected.

Q. Did you have any specific message for Josh when the season ended? Is there anything you'd like to see him focus on this offseason, heading into Spring Training?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: There's no particular message for Josh. Josh, he gets it. He understands it. He wants to achieve. I don't think there's anybody that was more disappointed. With his performance last year, a lot of it was because he missed so much time with the thumb injury. He wants to contribute. He understands how important he is to us. And he'll be ready to go in Spring Training. He'll be better.

Q. Is there anything from a coaching standpoint that maybe you'll try to come up with this winter with him? Maybe a different approach to try to get more out of him?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think that the approach that's going to work with Josh and you know, he has enough experience to understand it, is really getting back to simplicity. I think he's always getting coaching advice. He's getting coaching advice when he's talking to his friends. He understands when he's going good what he needs to do. Our hitting coaches understand what he needs to do when he's going well and hopefully we're going to get him to feel a little bit better with that.

Q. I know you want to play to guys' strengths, the reiteration of the extra 90 feet, what that actually means, and if that leads to a win at the end of the night, is there going to be more emphasis on that from managers day in and day out?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I really believe it's cyclical. We could have been talking here 20 years ago and talking about, Hey, where's the pitching. I think the runs were down, offense was down. I think the way you play the game, whether you're in a period where guys are driving the ball well or not is the same. And our philosophy is not going to change. I don't think we can expand any more on it.

I don't know if we can try to create any more on bases without it being counterproductive. Because we're as aggressive as any team I've been around.

I think that will add to some of the things we did. It helped last year with some of the things we needed to do. But I don't anticipate us being able to take that to another level without, like I said, it become counterproductive and running into too many outs that aren't really productive.

Q. What's your impression of how the relief market is unfolding?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think that if you looked at the acquisition of Joe Smith last year, the development of Kevin Jepsen and how we used Street coming in, I don't know if you're going to be able to add anymore depth, and Ramos from the left side, maybe you have a little more balance coming up, I don't know if you're going to be able to add anybody that's an impact guy that is not just going to that's not going to create maybe some false step, because you might not be able to use all these pieces.

Although depth is important, I think we're where we need to be in our bullpen. And I don't know if there's anybody that's major out there in the bullpen role that's going to come in and make a difference to us right now.

Q. The last two offseasons you guys had other big signings or big trades that shook up your lineup significantly. Is there any advantage with going into the next season with basically the same nine guys, assuming that you do?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, there's always an advantage when you have some continuity, but it's very rare you have that.

I think we're at a level right now where I think we have a pretty deep offensive lineup that is still very, very potent. As Jerry said, I think some of the changes he's talking about might be a little more subtle. But if you have to make changes, you make them. We made some the last couple offseasons, I don't know if it's going to be as dramatic this offseason. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know.

Right now we like our team and we certainly like where we are. And I think the pieces that will come over that are going to add depth are going to be important. It's obviously not that splash of having Josh Hamilton or Albert Pujols come over.

Q. How did the moves made by Oakland and Seattle this offseason make you feel about your team and its chances to repeat as division champs?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think we talked about last year, Seattle was good last year. They're going to be good next year. Oakland was really good and they acquired Lester, and they're going to be tough again, even though everyone talks about the unraveling of the A's, that's not going to happen. They're going to play hard and they get some pitching back and they're going to be tough.

I don't think we're really going to put too much attention on what's happening outside of our team. And certainly not looking at our division, but looking at the American League, too, there are good teams all the way around. There are good teams that you're going to be up against every time you play a game.

So I think in house we know we have a good team. It's a tough game you play every night. Our division is certainly going to be tough. You don't want to put too much emphasis on that and lose or have some distraction of what you need to do. We're going to have a good team and our division will be tough.

Q. Coming into this week did you have any expectations at all that are different than the way things have turned out thus far?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't know if you'd talk about just this week. There's a lot of focus on what happens in the meetings. But this industry keeps going 24/7. There are a lot of things talked about. I think from the meetings we had after the season and just evaluating our club and maybe what we're looking at to a lot of the things Jerry put together with the pro scouting department of what's out there. There are some things that are going to give us an opportunity to get better. But I don't know if it's just any focus just on these six, seven days of the meetings that you have coming in.

I think a lot of the seeds that are planted maybe after the season starts or even after the offseason starts and at these meetings, sometimes don't come to fruition until sometimes Spring Training. So we'll see. But if we started the season with the team we had last year, with a healthy Garrett Richards, I think we're going to be good.

Q. Would you plan on putting

MIKE SCIOSCIA: That's something we're talking about right now, it depends on maybe how our roster totally rounds out, if there are any other significant changes or pieces added.

I think right now if we open the season tomorrow you would see you would see that lineup that you're talking about with Mike Trout hitting second. Depending on what happens, you might see Mike hitting third. I think the one thing that I think has played itself out is the fact that Mike, as a leadoff hitter, is not quite as productive as Mike hitting second or third. And I think that's where his future will be.

Q. How much will that be predicated on where Josh is and whether or not he'll be a cleanup hitter?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: It definitely will. Not looking at just Josh. You're looking at the whole lineup. How David Freese is swinging the bat? Is our lineup going to stay deep with Howie and Erick? Last year you saw Erick Aybar hitting fourth for us one game. That was just flat out crazy, wasn't it?

So, you know, I think there's a lot of I think there's a lot of things that are going to be affected where Mike hits in the lineup or where Albert hits as far as the depth. If we get a couple of guys that step up like Kole Calhoun did and somebody else, you might see those guys slotted with one and two with Mike hitting third. But we haven't made any decisions yet.

Q. You talked about why you don't hit Mike third is because you don't have the steady one and two guy that hit in front of him. Do you feel like you could have that next year, that you have that now?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't know how many more opportunities he would have hitting second or hitting third. You certainly want to put on base in front of Mike. If we had a guy like Mike that would hit in front of Mike, I think you'd really see some opportunities.

I guess I'm sounding greedy, like a spoiled kid, you want two Mikes. I think your point is well taken. If we find some guys that have that on base, I think you're going to see some lineup options come across your desk that might make a little more sense.

Q. Aybar had some looks in the two hole, but never on any real consistent basis.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: You know, the two hole in our club is a little different, because you have the best player in baseball hitting three. It's not like some clubs you talk about the two hole and you have a good three hitter. You have the best player in baseball in your lineup hitting third.

The two spot is not really setting the table, but you need somebody that needs to do something with the fastball and really be able to make a team think twice about just coming after a hitter.

Now, if it's a guy like Aybar that doesn't have power but slaps the ball around and can get the on base, great. I really like Kole Calhoun hitting in front of Mike. I think you saw the benefit of Kole being able to able to drive the ball and being a spark plug for us.

If you're talking just about Erick, he would be definitely a candidate to hit one or two. If you're going to hit Mike third it might be better to hit Erick one, something like that.

Q. Could you give us an update on Tyler?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think you have to prepare for Tyler to miss the whole year next year. If there's something comes along this is not like an outfielder coming back or even a relief pitcher. We're talking about a starting pitcher; you've got to get him not only where he's healthy, you've got to get him stretched out to at least 80 pitches, if he's going to go out there and pitch in a Major League game. And whether that's available to us or not in the last couple of months of this season coming up, we don't know.

But you're not going to take a chance with Tyler. And I think that his being a starting pitcher and just looking at when he had his surgery, I think you have to plan for him not being here. And if something happens where he comes back, he gets safely stretched out and he's available, then it's a bonus. But no one is going to rush that.

Q. Did you see any changes in any improvement in his game from what he had at the Diamondbacks?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Absolutely. Even though maybe some of his numbers don't reflect it, Tyler really pitched well for us. I mean and you saw the improvement. There were some things he had a little trouble with at times, but I think his the way he adapted to probably understanding his pitch ability, instead of just throwing the ball hard. He's got a great arm. He can pound it at 94, 95 miles an hour if he wants to. He developed the changeup. He's got a great breaking ball. Understood the two seamer and the four seamer.

He really progressed as a pitcher and threw some terrific games for us. I think his future is as bright as any left handed pitcher that's ever stepped on the field and hopefully we're going to see him stay healthy. And this kid is very, very young and hopefully he'll continue to grow in the future.

Q. For those of us who don't cover you, I think it's easy to say, Mike I'm assuming you see everything that goes on behind the scenes. Could I ask about that and sort of how you feel about the idea that with the spotlight on him, he just keeps doing what he's doing?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't know if the spotlight is ever going to be off Mike. But I don't know if I've ever seen a player at such a young age be able to filter out distractions and just focus on playing baseball like Mike has. He's very, very just a loose, natural feel in the clubhouse.

There's no indication at all that he doesn't go out there with just the utmost confidence that he's going to help us do something to win the game. And I think you've seen him go up there and have three tough at bats and all of a sudden in the ninth inning against one of the top relief pitchers in the game just break open a game and help us to win it. That takes a lot of confidence to do that. His confidence is very, very tough to chip. And I think that, even behind the scenes you see him being natural and very, very comfortable in the fact of the spotlight being on him. But knowing what he needs to go and do well on a baseball team.

Q. A lot of attention was paid to the fact that the Giants have won three of the last five World Series, with mostly the same coaching staff. You have this luxury now that you haven't always had of having your coaches back. What kind of advantage does that give you even right now here in December?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: That luxury? I think we've had a lot of continuity in our coaching staff over 16 going on 16 seasons. There have been some changes, sure, but I think that we've added to staff, with an extra position last year. There are some things that have evolved that have helped us.

We added an info coach position, which I think was extremely important in what we need to do as a staff and getting guys ready. But I think we've had a lot of continuity in our coaching staff and we'll have hopefully we'll continue to have that. But I think the turnover on our staff in 16 years has been very modest compared to what it could be.

If you're referring to the Giants, you know, the Giants just starting with Bochy and going down, they've had great support that they have in their Major League staff. I think there's a lot of teams that have had that support and that have not won. So it comes down to really getting the players ready and having them perform.

Q. What did the info coach add?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think that it helped us to organize a lot of the information that's coming, particularly I think the way that statistics have just the floodgates have opened in the last six or seven years. I think as we've organized and analyzed numbers better it's helped us primarily on the defensive front. Also helped with some lineup issues or determinations.

But I think the information needs to be sorted, needs to be filtered, needs to be molded, and given to a player in a way that they understand what might happen on the field. And raw statistics just don't do that. As the info coach would bring that down and start to put together our game plan and connect closely with Mike Butcher or Don Baylor, or on the defensive end Dino Ebel or Alfredo Griffin, we had a noticeable I think our decisiveness was noticeable last year and we played better defense, just in that one aspect.

Q. How much pregame work did Gordon Beckham get at shortstop last year, and how comfortable are you with his ability to play that position? Is he a guy you can count on to play there?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think Gordon is terrific in three positions: Second, third and short. Probably second is his most natural position. But he absolutely I mean, that was one of the things when Gordon came over and particularly when you have John McDonald playing short and third for us and being able to fill in, to be able to evaluate Gordon, to be able to evaluate him at shortstop. And there's no doubt that he can play shortstop and play at the Major League level and has the skill set for it. I think Gordon is a terrific player and hopefully we're still going to get an opportunity to get him back.

Q. Have you had a chance to congratulate Joe Maddon yet on his good fortune?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, I think Joe's excited. We talked. We got a chance to visit in the meetings here. I think he's in a great position. I think he's in a position probably, after his first year in Tampa, probably comparable to that, where you see that talent start to come together for those guys. And they've brought in some big free agents, which obviously Tampa was never really able to do. They're going to be tough.

I know Cubs playing baseball and his vision, and he's in a great spot. I know he's very excited. You know Joe, he's kind of he's going to find he's got to find his niche in Chicago, whether it's riding a bike to the park or doing something. He'll be comfortable.

Q. Were you surprised he opted out?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: You know, he loved Tampa. I'm not going to speak for Joe. He's probably addressed this. He loved Tampa. He felt a lot of pride in getting those guys going in the right direction. But I think obviously this opportunity was something that he was very, very comfortable with. A lot of times you don't get a chance to do it and he did and I know he's excited about it.

Q. Talk a little bit about the Astros earlier, how surprised were you when you saw them trading guys away?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, if you just talk about if you just look historically at what the A's have done, particularly Billy Bean and how he's kept just reworking that team and kept them competitive. I don't know the inner workings of exactly where their contracts lineup or how much control he has of every player.

But I think when the A's make a move it's usually it's usually a move that's going to make them better at some point. Now, whether it surfaces in April or surfaces in June, you never know. But they're going to be tough. Those guys just are not going to go away. They're going to be tough and we know that.

Q. Philosophical question on pitching. You had a couple of major injuries last year. Down here they lost their top five kids with elbows. Management discussing why this has happened, with 35 pitchers had surgery last year?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Talking about Tommy John in particular?

Q. Is it between innings or between starts or is there an intangible, everybody is using a supplement to get bigger and stronger and the ligaments and tendons can't handle that strength?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think you're right on a number of points. No doubt the pitchers are stronger in a lot of areas. And maybe some, like you said, tendons and ligaments aren't able to hold up. Just speaking from our history with the Angels we've had very, very few Tommy John surgeries with our pitchers over the year, very few. I don't know if there's any rhyme or reason to it. It could just be the way the chips fall in.

But I know that, yeah, our organization pays a lot of attention to the health of our players and what's needed, as Major League Baseball does. There's a tremendous amount of resources that are invested, time of coaching and developing players that you want these guys to be able to fulfill their career and pitch to their level. So, yeah, we've looked at a lot of things. I don't know if there's any definitive conclusion you come up with that says a player needs to train this way to stay away from a certain injury yet. But particularly with Tommy John surgeries. Tyler Skaggs felt absolutely great just before he felt it and went down. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason of why these things come about.

Q. All these young managers coming into the game, it's a whole new generation. Are you starting to feel sort of like an elder statesman or a sage, and do they come to you and ask you for your advice on how to handle certain things?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: No. Yeah, I mean, there's definitely fraternity of managers. We talk a lot. You say hi to guys, you bounce things off guys. I know I did when I was a young manager. I don't know if there's any huge onslaught of trying to get some wisdom of guys who have done it for a while. And I don't even know if that's I don't even know if that's proven. I think you want to try to work your own philosophy and implement that and learn from your mistakes and go that way.

If you're saying I've been around for a long time, you're probably right. But I don't know about that sage or that even rosemary or thyme or whatever. I don't know about that.

Q. It sounds like they changed the replay a little bit, so you won't have to go out and filibuster. How do you feel that's going to work?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think it's good. We got some direction from the league in the second half of the season or talking to Joe about maybe trying to streamline or being more efficient, instead of going all the way up, just wait, come up to the top step and get an indication of whether you want to go out there and challenge it. And if you do want to challenge it, instead of just go all the way out and just point or say you want to challenge it and sit down. I think that will streamline it a bit.

I pulled a hamstring and calf muscle last year, so it's probably going to be a little better for me to sit there on the top step and go from there.

Q. Is that a suggestion or that's what they've asked the managers to do?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: It's going to be implemented.

Q. Did you have that meeting already today?


Q. When you put your head on the pillow at night is there anything specific that might keep you awake as far as carryover into next year, with health concerns, the main ones?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, I mean it's like a broken record. But I just know myself and in talking to other managers, I don't think there's a night you go to sleep where you're not thinking about your starting rotation. And when you wake up in the morning it's the first thing that pops in your mind, who's pitching, how's the health. I think that's the heartbeat of your club is the rotation.

And our rotation, although we had some guys who were banged up, I thought it was remarkable last year, particularly in the first half of the year. And you had guys like Mattie Shoemaker really come into his own. Hopefully saw the evolution of Garrett Richards combined with Weave and C.J. to give us the depth that we're going to need in our rotation.

I still get back to the starting rotation and just deserves all your attention because I really think not that it's going to guarantee a win, but I haven't seen any club reach their goal without having the rotation at least get you to a certain point in the game on a daily basis.

Q. How did you look at getting swept in the first round? Did you see it as just the kind of things that happen in short series or that there's some growth you need as a team to take the next step?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: We should have played better. But and certainly Kansas City played very well. And you have to they won two extra inning games in our park, they made great plays to do it. I know on a personal level I was extremely disappointed. Our players were very disappointed.

But I think there's also that understanding that Kansas City just made it happen. They made it happen the first two games and Game 3 at their park we just didn't pitch and those guys beat us up pretty good.

I don't know what lessons specifically from a staff you're going to learn from that. But I think as a player goes through it and some of the guys that went through it, I think hopefully will prepare them better for the next opportunity and maybe we'll do more things on the field we need to do to win.

But I think after having such an incredible regular season, 98 wins is not easy. Our guys played hard. They played long. A lot of guys got banged up. A lot of guys filled in. And they got us to a level that's, like I said, it's not easy to reach, especially when you look at a lot of guys that were banged up.

To have the three games in the playoffs, it's tough.

Q. You've always said that the regular season, you call it the championship season. Does it bother a little bit that maybe that gets lost with all the focus on winning it all now?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: You know, I think that's just the nature of what we're in and what we need to do. No one ever remembers, is going to remember even the feeling of the team. Division championship is great. But you're looking at getting to the World Series. That's what it is. And I think that's what baseball focus is.

When you don't get there you're going to be disappointed no matter how good your regular season was. So I think we got back on board and had a terrific regular season for the first time in a number of years and hopefully we're going to build off of that. And when we get to work hard and hopefully get to the next opportunity for the playoffs we'll do better.

First couple of weeks in the offseason on all our guys, it was tough to get that feeling of those three games out of you what we played against Kansas City. No matter how good the regular season was, that still is with you.

Q. After '02 you guys obviously had a great year, won the series, bring the core back pretty much, as intact as you could. Looking back now why do you think that didn't work?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: It didn't work in '03 you're saying?

Q. Right.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: It didn't work in '03 because of a lot of tangible things. But if you look at '04, '05, '06, we came down to the last handful of games, '07, '08 and '09 we won the division. So it maybe didn't hold up that next year, but we had so many guys that were out.

Part of that was I think the long season, getting into playing baseball so deep, getting into Game 7 of a World Series, some guys didn't have that experience of when they need to work out. There were a lot of guys in Spring Training that were a little behind just because of trying to heal up. And we were hit with some injuries in '03 that made a difference.

But I don't think you can argue the way we played in '04, '05 and even '06, '07, '08, '09, these guys played well with a lot of the same core. Some things were added in '04. But it didn't work in '03, but I think there were some tangible things. I don't think there was any mystery of why it didn't work in '03.

Q. Any lessons learned, bringing back the same group, because you had a good group last year?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: But the same group is not we really started to play well in we're talking about the same group from probably the second half of the season, when you had some guys that stepped in, Mattie Shoemaker really blossomed as the second half of the season came along. I don't think it's I think these guys are good. It's a good team. You need that depth.

But I think even last year I think Jerry did a great job because we did have some guys we did have some major injuries. And we did have guys that were not performing where they should, and we were still able to absorb it with the depth and move on. I think that's what you want to set yourself up for next year is to bring this core talent back, which is still a very, very good team, but add the depth that's going to let you absorb things that you have to next year.