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A wide-ranging interview with Jim Bowden

Today during batting practice, a trio of media members, myself included, talked to GM Jim Bowden regarding ... well, you can see for yourself. Plenty of interesting stuff here, though. I'll just post the transcript.

Q: What do you make of Joel Hanrahan this year?

I think if you told me in spring training than he'd be our closer at the end of the year I'd be surprised. I really thought with Cordero and Rauch and Ayala our closer spot would come from that veteran group, and certainly I thought in a couple years he could become a closer. So, instead of being two years it became two years -- out of necessity. And I think he's done a good job. You know he's got dominant stuff. ... His problem has always been the command in the zone. It's still a problem, but he's getting better. The potential is there. But the key to being closer is consistency, and if he continues to improve his command in the strike zone, his potential really is off the charts.

Q: Manny Acta -- How do you think he's done this year, and how does the front office feel about him?

I'm a big supporter of Manny. I think Manny has done an excellent job with this team. He stayed positive through the most difficult times. It's hard to do. Like all of us that are young in the game, he continues to develop. You know, I told him the stories of when I was with the Pirates and we first hired Jim Leyland, and they lost 100 games and people were questioning him: Should he come back? And when he had the horses, Jim Leyland won. And I believe that when Manny Acta gets the horses, Manny Acta will win. ... I support Manny Acta and the job he's done.

Q: Is it safe to say he'll be back next year?

He's the manager. Stan is the present, I'm the GM, he's the manager -- and that's what it is until they announce something different for any of us.

Q: It was around this time last year when he had his option for two years down the road picked up. Have there been any discussions about that?

Oh, I never talk about contract statuses of presidents or GMs or managers. It's not appropriate. All of us are working here and under contract. You know, we're all trying to build for the future.

Q: When this team has had Zimmerman, Dukes and Milledge together, the record of this team has been something like .600. Do you take that to say... 'If only we had those guys healthy'

Well, I don't look at it that way. What I look at is three 23-year-old hitters starting every day in a major league lineup and when they're together, our offense is much better. And you add Jesus Flores to that group and you've got four 23-year-old young hitters we're developing as we're building our franchise going forward... All four of them are learning this year, and with those four and then the other ones we've acquired -- the other middle infielders -- certainly we're making progress.

Q: How do you measure progress at this point?

The only thing that matters is whether you get to the postseason or not. When you look at the standings, it's like a dog race. The view is the same for all of them except the front dog. And we're all just trying to be the front dog, so we don't have to look at that view. That view smells.

Q: With Dmitri, what's the plan going here for the rest of the season? Do you have a sense for what you want to see from him between now and the end of September?

Well, we're trying to get him healthy. We're trying to continue to get him in shape. We're trying to continue to work with his baseball shape. It's a work in progress. I know he's got the quad injury now that we're trying to get through. So we need to keep working with his diet, keep working with his exercise. Hopefully we can get him some at bats. They might be pinch-hitting at bats between now and the end of the year, but the whole goal with Dmitri isn't this year. It's to prepare him to be ready to play baseball so that he can perform at the level he played at last year. How do we physically get him there? That's what we're trying to accomplish.

Q: Jim, can you honestly go into next season thinking that Dmitri and Nick Johnson will be the guys [at first base]?

Oh, I don't think so. You hope that players come back from injury, and certainly we believe based on all the medical and doctors' reports on both players that there is good reason to be optimistic that both of them will be ready to be healthy next year; certainly they're both due to be healthy next year and have a full season. But, certainly you can never count on any one player ever being back. ... We always look at opportunities to get better.

Q: Austin Kearns has had such a disappointing season. Will right field also be a point of emphasis this offseason?

I don't want to talk about any specific positions, except to say that we want to make a giant leap forward, and certainly we are always going to look for long-term pieces that can help us win a championship, regardless of position. If we have to move players around different positions to make a plan work, we'll do that.

Q: The way Elijah has emerged this year, does that change your need for power hitting?

Well, why would that change it? We told you what we thought Elijah would do when we traded Gibson for him. You read my quotes. So certainly we expected him to have that power. It's not a surprise to us. So no, that doesn't change what our needs are. We'll never be satisfied with one or two guys that hit the ball out of the ballpark. My preference would be to have eight guys who hit 40 home runs every year. I'm not sure it's realistic to get there, but if I could have eight guys that could have an on-base percentage of .400 and they each hit 40 homers and they all drove in 100, then I think our starting eight will be about where we want to get it. As long as they all win Gold Gloves as well. So, you know, I haven't seen an ideal team since the Big Red Machine in the mid-70s.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 10, 2008; 6:44 PM ET
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Next: Pelfrey: "He was telling me to 'Bring it on.' "


this is probably the most candid interview i've read concerning jimbow. it seems he finally realizes he needs to build a foundation here before adding walls and a roof. still wish we had someone else as GM, though.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 10, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Nails on a chalkboard. Just so obnoxious. There's nothing here to really object to substantively, but this stuff about wanting a whole lineup of guys with .400 OBP and 40 HR. This, "no, Nick isn't our first baseman but I'm not going to talk about specific players." This, "the view smells for everyone but the lead dog." It's just such obnoxious bloviating nonsense. Please, stop drawing attention to yourself, Bowden. Please, it's not about you.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 10, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

And the name dropping. The incessant name-dropping--Jim Leyland, Big Red Machine... Just please stop.

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | September 10, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Was Screech's Best Friend one of the interviewers? This was not snark- I thought one of the questions was in his style.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | September 10, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Could you even put together a lineup with eight guys hitting 40 HRs, any year?
Any year at all?

Posted by: ce | September 10, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Home runs take a hyperbolic trajectory, and this is hyperbole. OK.

Posted by: works for me | September 10, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I like the answer to the Kearns question. "giant leap forward" and "move players around" hopefully means they won't just stick him in RF and pray again.

Posted by: cat daddy | September 10, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Dammit Milledge, learn some patience. First pitch swinging.....

Dammit Dukes..... oh, wait...

Posted by: cat daddy | September 10, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

did dukes actually "kiss" that ball goodbye? good thing for him this isn't 1968. he'd get drilled the next time up.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 10, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

In the good news department...Seattle won!

Posted by: joNAThan | September 10, 2008 7:56 PM | Report abuse

$&*(q^#! Perez can't even get the second out. This inning is a friggin' disaster...

Posted by: BSG | September 10, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Stick a fork in Perez. He's done...and so am I. This is brutual. Good night all.

Posted by: BSG | September 10, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Pull for Putz! On the 'morrow, it's Morrow!

Then let's steal Ibanez.

Posted by: PTBNL | September 10, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Just a thought - Why not try Milledge in the 3-slot, Dukes at #4, & Zimmerman in the #5? Take a look at this prospective lineup:
#1 (2B- Bonifacio / Hernandez
#2 (SS- Guzman
#3 (CF/LF- Milledge
#4 (RF/CF- Dukes
#5 (3B- Zimmerman
#6 (1B- DaMeat/Slick or trade/FA in '09?
#7 (C - Flores
#8 (RF/LF- Kearns or trade/FA?
Bench: (C) Nieves or Nieto or Ivany (pick 1): (IF) Belliard & Boni/AHern platoon (pick 1) or Gonzalez; (OF) Bernardina, Kasto or Langerhans (pick 2).
In my mind, not a bad place to be starting from when looking forward to 2009.

Posted by: BIM | September 10, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

@PTBNL: Ibanez would certainly be a player to watch; He's young & has decent skills in the field, but have a concern that what we're seeing is "Money-Year" stats. The sum (to date) doesn't seem to equal the parts.

Posted by: BIM | September 10, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd be curious to see the teams record from July 1 onward, when Elijah Dukes has started. I guarantee it will raise a few eyebrows, this guy is the future of the team, Zim, Flores, and L-Millz are key guys, but Dukes is the blue chipper.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | September 10, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Pitchers to think about for next year -
SP- Lannan, Redding, Hill, Balester, Bergmann, Martis, Clippard, Detwiler; VanAllen, Zimmermann [10].
Long Relief/Spot Starters- Chico, Mock, Estrada [3].
Middle Relievers- Colome, Shell, Speigner, Wagner; Schmoll [5].
Short Relief/Set-up/Closer- Hinkley, Manning, Rivera, Hanrahan; Zinicola [5].

Posted by: BIM | September 10, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dukes comes to Shea! 7-5, who ARE these guys?

Posted by: flynnie | September 10, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

> How young in the game is Jim Bowden?

Posted by: 422 | September 10, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Tie this thing up - GUUUUZMAN is an ALL STAR!!! On the comeback trail - from 7-2 to 7-7!!! Where have you been all summer?

Posted by: flynnie | September 10, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

This is why Manny Acta is not a good manager. All this teaching and preaching crap is BS. Dukes should have been pulled the second he blew a kiss to the Mets Dugout. That is just bush league and Dukes needs to know that no matter how good he could be or even is now....that just will be acceptable in the game. It was Acta's job to teach him by sitting his butt down for a few games. It is not the Mets job to teach him, it is Acta's job, yet like some many other things Acta has ignored this year Dukes stays in the game and continues to make a fool of himself several times over. Acta is a poor excuse for a major league manager.

Posted by: JayB | September 10, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Offense/offensive | September 10, 2008 9:27 PM | Report abuse

This team has been fun to watch since the homestand against the Dodgers. They can engineer the comeback, and it feels like they have just surpassed the number of baserunners they had in all June and July.

Let's win 17!

Posted by: flynnie | September 10, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse


i like manny but agree with you about sitting dukes. but now most managers are afraid to publicly chastise their players for fear of :"losing them." it's rare when a guy like joe maddon in tampa bay pulled b.j. upton - TWICE - for not hustling. dukes either didn't realize - or didn't care - that the mets were going to retaliate either against him or a teammate for his action. and then acted shocked, shocked i say, when pelfrey came inside during his next at-bat. but then again, it's all about them....

Posted by: natsscribe | September 10, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

shouldn't lastings be playing in the same zip code of his teammates?

Posted by: natsscribe | September 10, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | September 10, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Because the scout told Chico they did. But the pitchers didn't boot a perfect throw to 2d and make our cf fall down. But that wp is all on Saul - a crown all move to cap the crap of his 4 run gift to the Mets.

Posted by: flynnie | September 10, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: brent | September 10, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Great at bat by Emilio - GUUUUUZMAAAN BANG ZOOM! 11-10, and Mets fans everywhere are having flashbacks!

Posted by: flynnie | September 10, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The Nats would be leading but for Wright.

Posted by: flynnie | September 10, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

why the heck couldn't Ayala pitch like that for us? What a disappointing loss...AGAIN. At least we're hurting the Phillies, which is great, because their "fans" are the most obnozious people on earth

Posted by: brent | September 10, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

and Dukes is just looking for trouble, inciting the crowd and blowing kisses to them after he grounded out.

Posted by: brent | September 10, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Luis Ayala, just another fair-weather player, right up there with Felipe Lopez...

Posted by: WN | September 10, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

If a batter has an average of, let's say, .280 over the course of the season, most folks tend to think that's pretty good. Mathematically (I think) that would mean that they are successful in getting a base hit TWENTY-EIGHT percent of the time, right? Which means that they FAIL seventy-two percent of the time.

What I don't get is that if batters -- even the most successful of them -- statistically FAIL way more times than they succeed, why, then, SHOULDN'T they be allowed to celebrate in the statistically few times when they're successful? Don't Major League pitchers have enough confidence in themselves to know that a batter who just hit a home run off them will STILL finish the season with a failing record, no matter WHAT part of their body they kiss??

Or is it simply a question of testosterone and who's got the bigger you-know-whats?

Posted by: Juan-John | September 10, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

If Dukes wants to incite the crowd I am all for it. With the Nats down that home run tied it up. That double he hit in the next at bat was gorgeous and the way he took the hit by the pitch and just kind of shrugged it off is notable. Acta has more important things to worry about, like allowing his sp to have 7 runs tagged on him and then finding a cloer who does not give up 2 runs per inning every time out on the mound. Giving up 10 runs one night and 13 the next is a more pressing concern.

Posted by: Dale | September 10, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Dukes next at bat after the home run was interesting in that you knew Pelfrey was going to make "his" statement. So Pelfrey gets a warning about pitching to any batter inside after that, which I think unnerved him in a way. Scoring 5 runs off of him in 5 innings is very un-Pelfrey like and I give Dukes some credit for that.

Posted by: Dale | September 10, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of first base, where's Larry Broadway now that we really need him?

Posted by: Marty Chase | September 11, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

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