Jerry Manuel On 2008 Versus 2009

The following has been transcribed from some of the questions from Saturday’s press conference by Jerry Manuel.

Q: Was something missing the past two years?

A: Again, what’s key is you try to identify what you think was wrong, and the obvious you try to address. But from the position that I sit in, you try to dig a little deeper and find out that, hey, maybe we didn’t play the style or the way or mentally how we should have handled that. Are we every year looking for the obvious to blame rather than to look at ourselves and said, `Hey, I could have done a better job, gotten a guy over or got that run in.’ So for me, once the obvious has been settled, then I have to go through the layers and try to improve some of that. I don’t want a team to be able to blame one thing. I think it’s the whole thing. It’s everybody’s mess, you know what I’m saying. That’s the message that has to be clear. If you just deal with the obvious and let the other things go, they still grow. But if you deal with the obvious and the other things that people might not want to talk about or deal with, then at least you’ve addressed. Now whether they can handle or not, that’s a whole different thing. Then you can evaluate and say, `Hmmm, that’s not championship material.’

Q: Have you identified any of those things?

A: I think one of the identities is team vs. individual stats. That’s one of the things for me. That’s a big challenge for baseball with the way the industry is set up. You reward those things vs. the team, and that’s a challenge for coaches and managers in this industry.

Q: Is your team selfish?

A: Not to the degree that is different than anybody else. But I do think that there was some selfishness to the degree that the team wasn’t fully embraced. I know what you’re going to write tomorrow: `The team’s selfish, so that’s why they didn’t win,’ and that’s OK. That’s cool. But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just trying to take this to a different level. Stolen bases aren’t important to me – it’s important when you steal the base, you know what I’m saying. Just to have the numbers aren’t important. It’s when you steal a base that’s important.

Q: Is your team fired up because of the mocking by the Phillies this offseason?

A: Oh, I think so. Anytime the opposition calls you out, then obviously it creates a greater challenge for you. For me, sitting on this side, I like it when those things are said because I don’t have to go out and push you and challenge you to be intense or focus at a different level. So I think that’s all good. I think it’s good for baseball that teams challenge each other during the winter. I think it makes for great rivalries. If you have a good team, then you can have a rivalry. So obviously, as much as people talk about us, they feel that we have a good enough team. And that’s a good thing. All that’s good. Now, how they feel about all that? Again, I don’t spend a lot of time in the winter. I let guys rest during the winter. But because guys come early and are getting ready early, I think that’s a good sign that they want to get some things done and get some things accomplished.

Q: Will you name a captain this year?

A: Nah. What we have here is some core players, some guys that go out there every day for the most part.

Thanks to Bart Hubbuch of the NY Post for transcribing the Jerry Manuel press conference on Saturday.

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