Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Nationals held a formal press conference to introduce Gio Gonzalez to the local media and fans. These typically take place shortly after deals are officially completed, but due to timing and logistical factors, the press conference itself comes just over a month after the trade was completed and nearly two weeks after Gonzalez (who was a high school teammate of first baseman Chris Marrero – cool fact) signed a contract extension with the organization.
Most Nationals blogs have already dissected and discussed the addition of Gonzalez to the projected starting rotation – we did this over a month ago when the deal was completed – but the press conference served as a great excuse (and opportunity) to divert discussions back to the current roster after yesterday’s surprising decision by Prince Fielder to sign with Detroit. The press conference itself wasn’t televised (from what I’ve been told) but the hard working beat writers for this team – specifically Mark Zuckerman, Adam Kilgore, Bill Ladson, and Pete Kerzel – have shared a number of quotes and thoughts from the afternoon. All of the following quotes have been passed along from those four, unless otherwise noted.
Kilgore also reported two additional details. Gonzalez’s new contract does not include any no-trade protection. Presumably that won’t become much of a concern moving forward as I think the general consensus is that the deal should be a positive one for both sides. Also, right fielder Jayson Werth met Gonzalez at the ballpark this morning to show him around the facilities before the press conference. Good to see the team’s highest paid player taking on a semi-active leadership role.
From the writers, on Gonzalez:
First impressions from Gio Gonzalez’s introductory press conference: This guy is going to be a lot of fun to be around. Gonzalez is well spoken, excitable and has his own knack for thoughtful commentary – all of which will play well in the Nationals’ clubhouse. – Pete Kerzel, MASN.com
From Gonzalez himself:
Yesterday, it hit me that I was home, when I was at the Capitals game and I got all the love in the world from all the fans. I think it sets a tone that we’re ready, we’re going to come out here swinging for the fans and we’re definitely going to go out there and try to shut teams down. I think this is a great opportunity and a great organization to do it with. So just getting the hospitality I’ve been getting from the fans and not only from this organization, I think I’m going to be here and I’m going to be happy for awhile.
I think swinging the bat is going to be the hardest adjustment. (on adjusting to the National League)
I feel honored to be a part of it. I feel like the names that are out there, it was the same way in Oakland, where I had to follow up behind some great, talented pitchers. To be in the same rotation, it just feels like we started all over again with a new organization. I’m going to be with these guys for quite awhile and they’re all young, talented ballplayers. Not to take away from the rotation, but our defense is going to be unbelievable, and so is our offense. You look at our rotation and our lineup and I think it’s going to be a fun season with the Washington Nationals. (on pitching in a rotation with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann)
I know Mike (Rizzo) took a shot on me and I don’t want to let him down.
From GM Mike Rizzo, on Gonzalez:
We were satisfied and convinced this is the type of person and player that we want on the mound for us and in the clubhouse. He’s going to be a part of the furniture for a long time.
As expected, after the press conference concluded there were numerous questions regarding the team’s pursuit of Fielder. Rizzo took a few moments to address the questions, which hopefully puts some closure on the situation once and for all:
Does Prince Fielder help any club he’s with? There’s no question about it. Were we interested in him? There’s no question about it. We were in the negotiations until it didn’t make sense for us to be in the negotiations any longer so we had to back out. Prince is a terrific player and he got paid like the superstar that he is. Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers. They just got a lot better.
I had parameters set in my mind with what my threshold was for the player and once it exceeded that threshold, we felt that if the market didn’t come back to us, we were out of it.
We feel that we no longer have to beg and overpay for players to come to us. We feel that this is becoming an attractive place for major league players to play. ….. We’ve performed much better and shown that the organization is in much better shape and secondly, we have options at that particular position. We feel that we have very good options, two very good players that can play first base for us and that’s not even dipping into our minor league system.
I think it makes a statement that we’re in this, we’re in to win and we have the resources to go after some of the elite players in the game, and also makes the statement that we’re going to do what we have to do to win, but it’s going to have to work for us in the long term.