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An interview with Joe Maddon

An interview with Joe Maddon

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You grew up in Hazleton, went to school at Lafayette. Did you ever make the road trip down to Philly to catch Springsteen at the Spectrum or Tower Theater?

JOE MADDON: I did not. I never got to see him down there. I got to see him at Lafayette, eventually had to see him out west in both in Phoenix and at The Pond in Anaheim. I never really made the trek down here. I probably did not have enough gas money at that time.

What kind of role do you envision for Perez in the games here? How interesting is he a guy to be around and to deal with him?

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JOE MADDON: First of all, the role is pretty much going to be the same: I like him coming off the bench, just so we could pick our spots with him. If you look at Moyer tomorrow, I really haven't arrived at that one. I don't think I have him starting tomorrow, but probably just do something a little bit different than that.

But I like him coming off the bench. The pinch running situation is really attractive. We think we're satisfied defensively. And getting Gabe out there when necessary because of the arm strength, I kind of like that. You saw what Rocco did yesterday with his arm.

Partly, the main part about him is that I like to just spot him when it's necessary, primarily for his speed. Interesting, my gosh, he's so different, obviously, than most baseball players that you're around. And I really enjoy our conversations. They can go in different directions. But then again, he's kind of like very base at times, too, I kind of like that about him. I think he understands baseball very well, he understands the culture here. But then again he understands the culture in Washington, D.C. pretty well, too. So he's an interesting, bright young man, and he's great to have with our organization.

A two part question: Are you concerned that the Phillies will eventually snap out of their 1 for 28 runners in scoring position slump? Have you said anything to the players about how to approach Moyer?

JOE MADDON: You know, they're able to snap out anytime, just like the middle of our batting order can, too. It works on both sides of the ledger. To this point we've pitched well in situations. I have a lot of respect for the Phillies. But you look at our side, we have a couple of guys that are very capable offensively doing more, too. If it all happens at the same time, heads up, we could have some double digit games.

Moyer, I'll talk to the guys a little bit. I've seen him a lot in the past. A wonderful man, I really like Jamie a lot. I've known him for a long time. I have a lot of respect for him. Just briefly, a quick story, when my dad was dying in 2002, Jamie did give him a phone call one day, and I'll always be indebted to him for that. And I've always looked at him differently because of that moment and what he does charity wise, too.

Pitching wise, you have to be patient with him. He's going to flirt with the strike zone and throw it where he wants to when he has to, into the zone. Of course he's just a very bright pitcher. He doesn't throw as hard as he maybe once did, but he knows what he's doing.

You spoke yesterday about changing the culture of the club. Could you have anticipated that it would happen this rapidly and this completely?

JOE MADDON: No. Honestly, I didn't think it was going to happen this quickly. I thought maybe by 2009 you'd see some really significant changes and hopefully by 2010 I'd be here, I'd be talking to you like this. It came along a lot more quickly. The pitching really took off. I mean, the pitching really got a lot better a lot sooner. The bullpen was phenomenal this year. You know about the athletes offensively and on defense, et cetera, but the pitching side of the game really came along a lot more quickly and effectively. And that's why we're sitting here today because of the starting and the bullpen and of course the defense, which you saw the other day. We scored runs and we played good defense and pitched.

I didn't envision 2008. I'm not going to sit here and pretend. I knew we'd be better this year, but to be here today was not a part of my original thought of what we could do.

They say because of all the scouts that went ahead and followed the Phillies in September and during the playoffs, how much more data and information do you have on their pitchers, particularly Moyer? And do you think it will work to your advantage against a guy like him who is a change up artist rather than somebody who throws hard?

JOE MADDON: We have a lot of information. We really do. Andrew and the boys set up a great internal scouting network. We really scout everybody extremely well. It's something that when I began with the Angels a couple years ago, and all this started becoming more mainstream, we created a system out there, too, that was pretty good. But this one really surpasses it.

Having all that information is wonderful, but it just comes down to execution. What we try to do is take all of this stuff and cull it down and just present bits and pieces to the players. I don't want them to be confused. I talk about it a lot. I really want an intuitive player out there. I don't want someone that's over thinking it. We do give information. I will talk to the boys individually, too. The guys really need to hear it. Some guys work a game plan, regardless, other guys need to hear some things on a more consistent basis. I just pick and choose with that.

I really believe in information. I really believe in analyzing information. I'm okay with me being inundated or the coaching staff, but I don't want the players to hear all that stuff. I think we do a pretty good job of breaking it down and doling it out.

Having survived the AL East, and then going to Chicago and Boston and winning, do you think because your team is relatively young, but is above being affected by a hostile atmosphere?

JOE MADDON: Anybody here that was in Chicago, I was really impressed with the "Black Out." I thought that was stellar on their part. That was probably the most sinister situation you could possibly plan. If I'm a White Sox fan, I'm proud of every one of them. And I thought we handled that moment really well.

During the season, Yankee Stadium could be like that, very pro Yankee. You go to Boston, Fenway is never an easy scenario to play in, either. I think our guys have been involved in a lot of dark moments in regards to what the opposition can present.

Listen, I grew up near here. I read the newspapers growing up, so I know what goes on down here. And of course we have a lot of National League coaches, Fo (Foley) played here, George (Hendrick) played here, Hendu (Henderson) played here. Hick (Hickey) was a pitching coach with Houston. So we're very aware of the National League environment here, and I think it's great.

I've always been entertained by the Phillies fans, the Philadelphia fans in general, whether it's the Eagles, the Flyers, et cetera. I used to watch them on TV, Channel 17 for years up there, and I think it turned into 29 now, what's going on down here. I have a lot of respect for the Philly fan or the Philadelphia fan in general, because he's so into his group. And I know they live and die by it. It is religious here.

After the Navarro Garza dust up in Texas, did there have to be any damage control done to repair their relationship, and if so, where does it stand now?

JOE MADDON: I think that just you're right, when that first came to pass, of course you'd go through that moment and then you blow up and then you kind of kiss and make up, but it still takes some time. And I just think eventually gradually they've gotten closer together in regard to just their personal relationships. I mean, I watch them work now and it's truly different than maybe a week or two after the incident had occurred.

I think it speaks a lot to both of them, actually. Navi is very passionate about what he does and what he believes in, and so is Matt. Navi, being in charge of the pitching staff, the leadership position that he's in, and the way he reacted I thought was appropriate and right. And then to let Matt back in, he wasn't going to let him back in overnight, which I kind of appreciated also.

On the other hand I thought Matt did a great job, because when it all occurred he stood up and said "I'm wrong. I am wrong." Matt knew he was wrong, and did seek help and we got him the appropriate help. And it just continued to move on.

So right now I think if you talk to both of them I think they've gotten actually pretty close, but it did take time and I think that's a natural, human situation.

Two things: First, do you know who or are you able to say who will be your right fielder tomorrow night?

JOE MADDON: I'm not a hundred percent sure, I'm honestly not. With Jamie you might want to start a lefty possibly. If it's a righty, you're going to have to be aware of the soft pitches. He does pitch inside with two strikes, I know that. I'm still mulling it over a bit.

The other thing is, just as you did in the ALCS losing the first at home and winning the second one, can you sense almost a sense of relief in the team that they got that first one out of the way and now they can just go with the task at hand?

JOE MADDON: I don't know if it's a sense of relief. Of course you don't want to come here zero and two. You don't want to go to Boston zero and two. It's just a typical moment for us all season long. Again, I've really been preaching from day one that I don't want us to weigh any game more heavily. And of course there's more weight, I'm not a fool. But if you go in the game thinking that way, the point is just to play your game, regardless of the situation. Don't be afraid to try to steal a bag. Don't be afraid to take an extra bag. Hitting wise, a 3 0 count, if you see the greenie and you like it, go ahead. Pitching wise, just be aggressive in the strike zone, don't pitch away from contact. Let's play our same game. That's the point I've been trying to get across all the time.

If you asked all of our guys, I do listen to some of the interviews on occasion. I'm proud of the way our guys react, and a lot of them bring that point to bear a lot. If there's a reason why we're here, one of the reasons is that, that we have been resilient, and that we're able to move on rather quickly, and I think our guys do understand the "one day at a time" concept. And I really have been preaching it, particularly this time of the year. You get blown out one night, the next night you come back and it's match play, it's not stroke play. Let's just win four. I think our guys get that and it does not surprise me.

How does not having the DH available here the next three games impact the way you manage the game?

JOE MADDON: It matters. The pitcher's got to hit, obviously. And the No. 8 hitter becomes a different kind of guy, and what the pitcher does and what you want to do with him becomes different. And not just having that potential extra offensive force. And furthermore, just thinking the lineup through and the game gets deeper, and the potential for a double switch, and because you might want to have one of your pitchers go more than just one inning. There's so many more different things to think about. And believe me, I do sit down in advance and really try to play the game prior to it happening.

So it's going to be different, and our pitchers have done a pretty good job, actually, though, offensively. I often kid about it, but Jim Hickey is a pretty good hitting coach. We have a nice little program with our pitchers. I'm comfortable in all of them except Garza defensively. He's the one guy I'm really concerned about.

But it's a different game. You have to think a little differently. You have to plan it a little bit differently. I think this year we were 12 8 or something like that in interleague play? 12 6? So we were above .500. We played the National League game okay. But for me I've got to think differently, I know that.

This is the first time we've had a chance to visit with you at a National League park and kind of a follow up on that question: What do you realistically expect from your pitchers at the plate? What do you tell them? Does it just depend on the situation of the game?

JOE MADDON: It depends. It depends on the situation of the game. Of course we really want them to be well versed in bunting, absolutely we do. But you look at Sonnanstine, I mean, Andy's got several hits. He hits the ball and he misses infielders a lot and he gets hits. Kaz is a very good athlete. Shieldsie does not pitch here. Garza is the guy, who knows, you never know what to expect with him. But primarily they have to be able to bunt, even sometimes bunting with one out to move up a runner.

But believe me, if I feel our pitcher can hit their pitcher, I'm not afraid to let them swing, either. Why not take a chance? They run into one, it could fall somewhere, and we could get an extra base, an extra run. It depends on the situation. I don't go into it saying, our guys have to bunt, I don't approach it that way, but of course we want them to be well versed at bunting.

How much more of a challenge is it to manage your bullpen the way it's set up currently?

JOE MADDON: What kind of a challenge? Actually it's kind of a nice situation, you know what David has been doing more recently. Of course you saw what we did yesterday and a big part of that was the fact that he's a relief pitcher that's a starting pitcher, so you can go a little bit further with him. I mean this, I have faith in all of those guys. Right now the thing that I've talked about, David to me has more emotion left in him to expend as opposed to some other guys. I really believe that. People might think I'm nuts, but I really do. If he could somehow lighten the burden on some of these other guys, I think we'll get more from the other guys. The other guys have been great all year. They've gotten us to this point.

Managing wise, you saw I brought David in because of the batting order. I know it was one out left in the seventh inning, but the primary part of their order was coming up in the eighth, and that was to me where I wanted him to be. And if everything had broken right, that group was not gonna come around again. They just got enough guys on base to permit Utley and Howard to come back. So him being able to throw that many pitches permits you to think a little differently.

Now, the other part, I keep hearing about the weather tomorrow. So if that game were to be postponed, he's going to get two days' rest. So going 40 somethiing pitches was not such a stretch for me yesterday.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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