At some point it needed to be asked, and today was the day. Eric Wedge is not under contract for next year. And at times he sounds like a man, who knows he won’t be retained for next season. He was asked about it today. Here’s the transcripts.
On his job status
“Well, it’s tough. I feel like I’m hanging out there, that’s the reality of it. But I’m coming here and doing my job. You know how passionate I am about this team, and these players in particular, and this organization. The unfortunate part about how it’s being handled is the effect it has on the players. That’s why we’re all here, is for the players.
I’m a strong man, and I’m going to be fine either way. But I’d like to see this thing through. We’ve done a lot of developing with a lot of young players over three years. I’d like to be here to lead them and turn the corner.”
On working with more of a finished product instead of young players:
“Well, it’s going to be a combination of both here. The bottom line is you’re going to have a lot of young kids, but you’re going to have to mix in some veterans, too. You have to add to it. Because when you have young kids up here all the time, they’re going to make mistakes. That’s part of it. We haven’t taken a step back. It’s just the fact we keep bringing up kids. You’re going to continue to make mistakes up here while you’re learning. The forward part of it is we have a lot of kids that are moving forward, and that should pay off for us. But you’re going to have to still add to that. That’s just the way it works.
You know what? You know how passionate I am about this. It is what it is.”
On the difficulties of missing a month of the season
“Here’s the thing, the big league club was in bad shape when I got here. And that was told to me directly. We righted the ship. We won six more games the first year. We sured up our system and won eight more games last year. Came in here this year and felt like were going to do better. But things changed in a hurry with Montero, Gutierrez, Morse, Ryan, Ackley – everybody up the middle – whether be performance or injury. That’s a quick chance at some key positions. So you bring young kids up, so you take a step back to move two steps forward, that’s what we did.
And I still felt like, before I got sick, that we were ramping up. If you look at what we were starting to do and some of the series we werecplaying and some of the wins we were having, it was all coming together nicely and then I got sick and I’m gone for a month. It’s not like I left marching orders. Robby (Thompson) and everybody did a great job, but the program was disrupted. It’s been unfortunate. And it’s been tough ever since. The guys are fighting and we’re playing. We are in every game. That shows you how close you are. It can be frustrating when you look at it, but it also shows how close you are. We are a hit, a pitch, a play away from winning a lot of those ballgames.
Hey, I’ve done this before. I know how to do it. The worst thing they could do is blow it up and start over. You got to stick something at some point in time.”
On if he’s been told when some clarity about his situation will happen
“It will be some time between now and the end of the season or right after the season ends. So we’ll have to sit down and talk.”
On if it’s difficult to manage in this situation
“Yeah, we shouldn’t be in this situation. But you man up. You handle it. It’s what you do. When you are leading men, the men like to know who and what they are being led by and if they are going to be around tomorrow. So it does change the dynamic. But I knew that along time. This hasn’t just started. It’s been that way for quite a while. It gets to be in the way.”
On when there should have clarity been given to this situation:
“I don’t know. I couldn’t really put a timeline. I do have my thoughts on that more specifically but I probably won’t get into that for other reasons.”
On whether it’s fair or unfair to bring up his health:
“Well that would be unfair. It’s been very clear to me from all the doctors I’m going to be 100 percent. I’m going to have to get into the offseason and then I’ll be fine. They said 3 to 6 months. But hell, I’m going to be better than I ever have been because evidently my brain wasn’t getting enough oxygen each and every night and I was working all day to catch up from it (laughing). I’m looking to be fueled and fired the rest of the way.
I feel great. I feel like I’m 33 years old again. My best managing days are ahead of me whether it’s here or somewhere else. I want to be here. I moved my family out here. I’m committed to the community. I’m all in. I haven’t done anything wrong except for come out here and coach up these kids and teach them how to play at the big league level. That’s what I do. I don’t bitch about anything. I’m here to help these kids become good solid big league players and hopefully solid citizens in Seattle. So if that is not enough for them, then so be it.”
On if this rebuilding timeline was what he envisioned:
“Well, with the exception of probably just getting it younger again, your third year in. Which is just part of it. It’s just the way it’s worked out. Because you’ve got a lot of good young player coming, and it’s either that or you have to go out and get somebody. We took the alternative of bringing our younger players up.
So if you do that, you’re not going to win as many games. But you’re going to be better suited for the future. It has to be a long-term plan. I didn’t get here 12 years ago, I didn’t get here six years ago. I got here less than three years ago. So this is what we’re doing, this is what we’re committed to. You have to have strength. You’ve got to have conviction with what you do. But if somebody else is sitting in this seat tomorrow, they’re going to be in a decent situation moving forward, really.”
On his reaction to Z extension:
“Good. I’m happy for him. Good for him.”
On where does he see improvement in the rebuild:
“Just again, every day we’re out here and these young kids are playing and learning. You can’t practice everything. There’s a lot in baseball you can’t practice. That’s why you play games in the Minor leagues. They’re up here playing games and learning on the job. To be so competitive – and we have been competitive, by the way, and we’re looking to be more than that, of course – but to be so competitive with so many young kids and the fact we broke in how many more pitchers this year in the bullpen and starting pitchers, the fact the Smoaks and Saunders and Ackleys of the world are now 2-3 years into their careers and look like they’re going to be pretty good players, it will all add up once you have them from Day One.
What’s going to be interesting is having these guys together from Day One. The guys that aren’t here or got hurt, they weren’t going to be part of this for the most part anyway, probably. Not all of them, but most of them.”