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Winter Meetings interview with Kirk Gibson

Q. Just your thoughts on some of the moves you guys have made so far this year, the Bell trade?

KIRK GIBSON: Well, I just think that we've had discussions like we do going through the end of the season and here into the offseason. And we came up with a game plan. I think what you're seeing is KT is kind of putting guys in a position to make more impact for moves, looking forward before we go into Spring Training. It's really coming upon us quick. This is going to be a big week for us here. But he's done it before. And his strategy is going to give us options. And I think that's what you're seeing at this point.

Q. Just your thoughts on some of the moves you guys have made so far this year, the Bell trade?

KIRK GIBSON: Well, I just think that we've had discussions like we do going through the end of the season and here into the offseason. And we came up with a game plan. I think what you're seeing is KT is kind of putting guys in a position to make more impact for moves, looking forward before we go into Spring Training. It's really coming upon us quick. This is going to be a big week for us here. But he's done it before. And his strategy is going to give us options. And I think that's what you're seeing at this point.

Q. Do you feel like you're more likely to go for an arm than a bat?

KIRK GIBSON: I don't know exactly how it will shake out. I think all in all we have a really good team right now. If you look back at last year we were an 81 win team. And we underaccomplished what we should have accomplished. 2011 we probably overaccomplished at 94. We should have at least been somewhere in the middle of that.

If we go into the season as we are right now, we know it's going to be different to some extent, we've got a good nucleus of three younger guys, Goldschmidt has a big season behind him, Aaron Hill was unhealthy last year, Davidson got some good experience last year. Prado is going to be his second year. It will be more seamless, Pollock has another year. Miggy had a down year last year, had some injury stuff that he was dealing with. He's going to take care of that. And we've still got our pitching. We're going to make some moves there.

We just have to get more out of what we have, regardless of who we start with.

Q. With your being the last year of the contract does that impact you at all? There are some managers that don't like to enter into the last year of their deal. Is that a factor for you at all?

KIRK GIBSON: I have no problem with it. I like the people I work with, I love the organization, the city, the fans. Our team, my teammates, the whole organization of the people I work with.

When Ken and Derrick called me in after 2011, they didn't have to do that, they gave me an extension then. And I have a contract for next year. I've got no problem with that, isn't changing anything.

When I was a player for six years I signed six one year contracts. And we know that's not going to happen right now, you move on, just like I did as a player. And we think what we're going to do to be productive and get better and win ballgames. The opportunity is still there. I think now that's taken care of we can move on to more important things.

Q. Did you have a chance to sign long term instead of one year deals as a player?

KIRK GIBSON: I believe it was pretty much all one year, it was represented to me by Jim Campbell, who is as old school as they come, that they would take care of me if it was my free agent year. Collusion he wasn't totally telling me the truth.

When I was a player it's the same way as a manager. There's times to negotiate when you have to negotiate, you do or you don't. And you try and get what you get. And then after that's settled it's on to play baseball.

I have a huge responsibility to this organization, to Major League Baseball, and the team. And I'm focused on me being better, a better leader and getting more out of our talent.

Q. Do you have a closer in mind heading into Spring Training or is it going to be an open competition in the spring?

KIRK GIBSON: I think you have to look where we're at, we've had three guys, Ziegler, Hernandez and J. J. We're open. I don't think right now you can have a depth charge to an extent, things may change, we all know that.

So you're always kind of tinkering and looking at what could change or what your lineup would be if this or if that, how you change in matchups, et cetera. You think of the young guys and the veteran guys you have, to work them in and get the best out of them.

Q. Ziegler did a nice job for you last year.

KIRK GIBSON: He was really good. Throws ground balls. The thing that we hoped with Ziggy was that he could do in the ninth inning what he did in the seventh, and he did it. You remember when I brought him in in the seventh or even cleaning up the sixth. He came in and two pitches later we'd have a double play, 20 plus ground ball plays coming out of the pen.

His change up has come a long way, slider has come a long way. He's certainly capable. I don't know that we've decided wholeheartedly who is going to be our closer next year, but we have options.

Q. Kind of an open mind?

KIRK GIBSON: Yeah. Getting back to Ziggy, he's a little different. He you don't want them to all be the same. He was valuable for us.

Q. You see other areas of focus going into Spring Training, what do you anticipate?

KIRK GIBSON: We're going to see what kind of team we have. The thing that's going to be different for us is we play March 22nd in Australia. That's going to be a challenge. We'll do some things a little differently. I've got some thoughts, I have new coaches, we have new staff, several different pieces there, as well. And we're in discussions now.

You guys know how we've done it. We've got to change it a little bit because of our schedule and with Australia, coming back for a week and then opening the regular in April, how do we do things a little differently. You always try to break up the monotony of it, but you have to push to an extent.

Pitching, again, with the Australia trip it's going to be tricky. What do you do with your pitching to get them ready? Who do you get ready for that start in Australia against the Dodgers? And how does that affect what's going to go on the beginning of April, as well?

We're going to probably get together next week, have a bunch of our guys come in and talk about some things. And then we'll do so after the first of the year, and middle of the January I'll be there for good. I know we're going to have organizational meetings for three days before reporting date on February 5th. We're going to have a lot of time to spend together and figure some things out.

Q. Speaking of Australia, what do you think of the chances of there being a brawl?

KIRK GIBSON: Our folks are going to try to win the game.

Q. Is that something manufactured between the two games?

KIRK GIBSON: I think there's a good rivalry. We're within each other's division, we play each other a lot. It's fierce, the way it should be. And we compete the way we should compete.

And we're not the only team that's got into disagreements with our opponent. It's part of baseball. I think you always try to stay within being reasonable and within the parameters of the game.

What happens moving forward, I don't think it's fair to say that you should be just talking about the Dodgers. I think there's a lot of other teams that we play, and these things just happen. And there's been things that have gone on over the years, the Yankees and the Red Sox come to mind.

So you don't go out there our goal is not to go out there and get in a fight or get players hurt. Our goal is to go out and win the ballgames and we do have to stand up for each other, that's part of the game. We do have to pitch inside, just because they do. And things happen because of those things that happen during the game.

Q. What did you make of Towers' criticism? I think he was talking about you guys didn't do that enough this past game.

KIRK GIBSON: Well, I think you have to ask KT. Those were his words.

Q. Do you disagree with it?

KIRK GIBSON: I didn't say that. In many cases I think we handled it well. It's really not even worth commenting on, because I'm just going to be open for, I guess, you're going to judge what I say. That's between me, my thoughts, and our team. And we know we have to stick up for each other. We have to play together. And the Dodgers are a formidable foe, they're very good. We have to we handle them earlier in the year. They handled us later in the year. I think we won the series 10 9, yet they won the division. They're the people we have to take down, as well, the Padres, Colorado, I think you have to focus on the whole season.

Q. Is there a little more than just competition, is there a special part of your heart that has a little more

KIRK GIBSON: No. Maybe you want me to say yeah (laughter). But it sounds like you've got a story written and you're trying to find some good words. But you have to play with consistency every day, no matter who you're playing. One game at a time. Sometimes it's two games in a day. There's different challenges that you face every day. You have to stand up to them, whatever they are, whether they're physical, mental or, you know, things that happen within the schedule or things you're dealing with in your personal life. It's all part of being a Major Leaguer.

Q. What do you have against A.J. Ellis?

KIRK GIBSON: Nothing. He's a nice player.

Q. I don't know, you know what I'm talking about, when you guys came back --

KIRK GIBSON: Well, I think if you look at the context did you look at the whole context of those comments?

Q. Yes.

KIRK GIBSON: Tell me what they were about.

Q. What you stand for as an organization?

KIRK GIBSON: Where did that comment come from, where did it start? I was asked a question about I said I was not interested in going to the Detroit Tigers and I told them why. I enjoyed the people I worked for, the organization, the city. My players love them. And I was talking about when I came in here how the players did not understand how the fans and Major League Baseball was more important than themselves. And I was proud that our players, Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin, two guys that had breakout years, went over there.

I wasn't criticizing A.J. Ellis. He's a nice player, an emerging player. I respect the way he's played the game and what he's done.

Q. It sounded like you --

KIRK GIBSON: Maybe it sounded that way, but --

Q. So that's not the case?

KIRK GIBSON: Did you hear what I just said? Are you going to write it that way?

Q. I'll write what you say.

KIRK GIBSON: Get the whole thing in there.

Q. What is A.J. Pollock's role coming into the season? The defensive metrics loved him this year.

KIRK GIBSON: Yeah, I don't know yet. Again, we have to wait and see who was on the team and who was not on the team. But he was our best centerfielder last year. He was exceptional. He's really developed as a young guy. The guy he likes to hang around with is Paul Goldschmidt. It tells you about his demeanor and mentality.

He's got more power in his bat than people think. He's been working on things at the dish. He buys into our defensive scheme of how to do things, throws well, picks the ball up one time, good teammate. And he'll be a big part of our team.

Q. When the opposing team when you have issues with the actions of opposing team, whether it's where they pitch or how they celebrate, is the way you can police that differently now in today's game than it was when you were a player?

KIRK GIBSON: Probably, yeah. Honestly, I'm usually pretty quiet about all that stuff. I'll just give you an analogy. I was just brought up by my parents and actually the people guiding me through coaching that I wasn't a big talker. Somebody knocks you on your fanny, you get a good clean lick, you take your number and get them back cleanly. And my philosophy is the same.

I don't believe in telling people what I'm going to do. We just adjust, and certain things happen throughout the game. And you do it the right way. Nobody is trying to hurt anybody, ever. It's just good competition. They lick me, I lick them. And in the end sometimes it just comes down to who is standing, whether that's physical or mental. Last year we weren't standing at the end of the year.

There were people on top of us. Just the reality of it. That motivates you, that makes you go back and reflect on what's going on. And it's not a good feeling. How do you change it? That's what we focus on. We're looking forward, not back.

Q. Do you think the tolerance for things has changed, too, you see more the line between celebrating and showing off?

KIRK GIBSON: I think the game changes, there's just the evolution of a game. It doesn't mean it's a bad thing. I walked back into Kison, and I remember something had to be settled with him, he'd aim for your neck. Everybody knew it, and I don't say that in a derogatory way.

But that isn't the way that it goes now. We all know that and we know the dangers of it and it's not part of today's game. But there's rules and that we all understand. You have to abide by them. And there are parameters, as well, you have to abide by them. We respect that. Sometimes you make mistakes and step out of those and you get back up and go out again, try to do it the right way.

Q. How do you help a young player find that line, whichever side of it you're on?

KIRK GIBSON: Well, it's a combination. Most players have a sense of the history of the game, of all parts of it. So that's a foundation. And then there's conversation. You watch the games all the time together. And you have veteran players on the team. So it's you acquire your knowledge.

If you want to be a Major League ballplayer and have an impact and be a world champion, you're always out to get better and understand the right and wrong way to do it. Situations call for it you want to do the right thing, you want to be a good teammate and a solid player. They're going to study that. And the ones that don't, don't stay around.

Q. Do you feel that the Dodgers jumped the line when they jumped in your pool?

KIRK GIBSON: I think I've commented on that.

Q. The effect that last year, as you're moving forward

KIRK GIBSON: Are you from Los Angeles?

Q. Yes.

KIRK GIBSON: I'm surprised. Try to get some juicy articles for about a week?

Q. Yes.

KIRK GIBSON: He admits it.

Q. My general manager gave me nothing today.

KIRK GIBSON: I'm sorry, you can make something up, I've got no problem with it.

Q. As you move forward working at the Spring Training, one of the other things about last year was the continuity of the season, was there really wasn't. You never lost a lot of games in a row, never won a lot of games in a row, and you never seemed to get any traction. Are you going to do something differently going into Spring Training or is that an anomaly of last season?

KIRK GIBSON: It was kind of a perfect storm last year, that didn't work for us with the injuries and things like that. It didn't really like I said, we started out we weren't playing that well, but neither was anybody else. We really played virtually the same all year. We did certain things well, but we didn't do the things we didn't pitch good enough overall, whether it was the starters initially and then the bullpen. I thought the best thing we did last year was our defense. We were pretty solid with that. We came out and played hard every day.

You're just kind of hoping that things fall more in sync and you don't have as much interruption in what you plan on doing, that way you can kind of understand what kind of team you are and you can play a certain way, with more consistency. And it just didn't happen for us last year. We had some huge injuries, some things that didn't go as planned, the bullpen which we thought was going to be a strength. We had extra inning games. When we needed to turn it on, I think we were more down, beat us down, and we didn't have enough in the tank. To be fair, the Dodgers were 42 and 8, that's damn good. When is the last time a team has done that?

Q. When you started in 2011, your first season, you had a lot of things you were implementing in Spring Training. The second year you took it up a notch because that was in place. Where are you now and what do you have to do?

KIRK GIBSON: These guys, the fundamental part of the game, I think they understand it very well, and they do it very well. It's kind of the "we" part we have to work on. If you believe you're not very good, you're not very good. If you have success and you're really good, it can be dangerous because you stop working. You're looking for an identity somewhere in between there. But then ultimately you have star players and you have some players maybe with some people, their role players, but ultimately you try to get these guys to kind of buy into a unit as one, regardless of who they are, to be fearless, play with fierceness, be selfless, play with a chip on their shoulder and then to play for something bigger than themselves.

And I think that's kind of one of the areas that we're going to work on this year. Like I said, the fundamental part, the things we worked on in Spring Training I think we're pretty good at. The execution you've got to stay within yourself with the game plan. What happens with people, they try to step outside of themselves and they try and do things outside of what we believe in the way we're trying to do them and it doesn't work.

I was reading Phil Jackson's book, did you guys read that one? "Eleven Rings." And there was so many great examples of it in there. You have to stay within yourself. You have to continue to analyze and play the game and respond to the situations as a team, not as an individual, as a team.

And it's not I don't say that in any derogatory way, it's just human nature to do that. So for us to be better and staying on track and doing those things, I think it makes you a little more efficient. And like I said, we've done some really good things. But not good enough. And what we're up against in the division is very formidable. We have to find ways to execute better, be more together. And you're looking for some luck and some magic.

People win, they have it doesn't matter how good you are as we go into the season probably there are others that are going to be highly regarded over the top of us, but they were in 2011, too. And maybe in 2001 for the Diamondbacks, for the '84 Tigers. What we're trying to do is find a destiny, trying to see it through.

Q. KT was pretty analytical about what he thinks you need to do as a manager. And what in your mind do you feel that you have to do to keep improving as a manager?

KIRK GIBSON: Well, I mean I think I've kind of given you a generalization of that. I self evaluate all the time. I take constructive comments and criticism from the people, not just within our organization, but around the game. You want to know that, you want to do that. Sometimes you're trying so hard you become a scotoma. Do you know what a scotoma is, you LA guy?

Q. We have a really bad education system.

KIRK GIBSON: A scotoma is like you don't see it, it's a blind spot. So that's what you have to be open to that. And this is the time, since the end of the season, and now we've talked about a lot of things and you take those things in and you try to improve. Ultimately what you're trying to do, you're trying to implement things, you have to have traction with the players, and that's the key. They have to buy in.

Q. Can you talk a little about your shortstop and what he showed on both sides of the ball last year, Gregorius, what he needs to do going forward?

KIRK GIBSON: Great. Came up early. We kind of rushed him a little bit. He began his Major League career with the Diamondbacks, with a little bit of rehab intertwined in there, because we brought him back quickly after coming off his injury. He got off to a huge start. Very athletic. Has a great range and very strong arm.

I think kind of Major League Baseball started to make adjustments. You come up and have a free and open mind, and I think maybe that things maybe got too much on his mind, he wasn't playing as free as he was early and he started getting discouraged with his offense.

But it was a good year for him. We were very happy with what we saw. I know he went back and the break will be good for him. And we're excited to have him on our team.

We're going to have pretty good competition between him and Chris Owings, and Pennington as well, who is a veteran guy. We are pretty good shape in shortstop. He's got a good attitude. Nice looking young kid.

Q. Did you see his defense being effective at all when he started to struggle offensively?

KIRK GIBSON: I think just about anybody that struggles at the plate is affected. Part of him maturing and understanding what it takes to get better and be more consistent. He would like to play the whole year like he played early on, but it's pretty hard, not many guys have done that.


KIRK GIBSON: You're asking me a question and I'm not really willing to talk about them. Those things are inner thoughts. And we'll implement the things a little bit differently. I don't know that I have a direct answer for you in two words or less, maybe even ten.

Q. Have you been in contact with Montero since the season ended?

KIRK GIBSON: I've talked to Miggy.

Q. His thoughts on coming off a season he wasn't happy with?

KIRK GIBSON: It was uncharacteristic with him. He turned in a way we didn't think he would, I think he was embarrassed, I think he thought he let the team down, which he didn't. He went on and busted his tail. He's working out now. He's got his house built in the Phoenix area. He's staying there pretty much the whole offseason. Working out four or five days a week right now. He's excited to get going again. I mean it's huge. Most important guy, every day position for us.

Q. He's staying in Phoenix instead of Caracas?


Q. That hasn't been the case in previous years?

KIRK GIBSON: He's built a house, and the family is getting bigger. And I think kind of things get going faster and faster, and you get more things going on within your life and I think he wanted to slow down a little bit and analyze some things, get back to basics. Make himself feel good physically. He had the low back deal going on, going into the season strong.

Q. You felt most important, the most important guy to turn around for the offseason?

KIRK GIBSON: No, I mean he's the most important on the field as a catcher.


KIRK GIBSON: It's one of the many components. I don't want to put too much pressure on him. He's been outstanding for us. Last year he had a down year. He struggled offensively, and it affected him. I'll tell you, he didn't tell us his back was bothering him. But it was. And it's just one of those years. He could never get it going, the way he knows he can. The way we know he can. He's excited about getting back to the way that he's played for us in the past.


KIRK GIBSON: He'll do well. He is in a great team, very talented team. I've had countless conversations with Matt over the year, just about what it takes to be a manager, what's involved with being a manager, he's well prepared. He took time out to prepare properly. Matt will do good.

Q. What do you think are his strongest attributes?

KIRK GIBSON: Well, he's who he was as a player. He's relentless. He's smart. He's organized in his thoughts. He knows how he wants his team to play. He'll be able to get them to do that. They'll buy into it and understand it, they'll have confidence in him. With his knowledge and his wisdom.

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