Thanks for bearing with me here, because my chat with Modesto Nuts’ development supervisor Fred Nelson was just too long for one post.
So here, in part 2, Nelson starts by answering my question about his specific roles and how they mesh with that of manager Lenn Sakata, and how important it is for them to develop a working relationship for this new approach to be successful. He also spoke about the specific information he’ll be sending to Denver, and how that differs from the game reports filed by the manager and coaches.
After that, Nelson talked about how he might be able to do some things a manager can’t, like foster the relationship between the clubhouse and the front office, and also how he needs to walk a fine line when acting as a sounding board for the players
“In these situations, the manager has to know you care, and that you’re not here to remind them what they do and that it’s clear the manager is in charge. I think the worries would arise if anybody was wondering whose team it is and who’s really in charge. You make it clear that Lenny is the guy in charge, that I can listen to the players, but if there’s a significant concern I have to make sure Lenny knows. The job of farm directors (which Nelson was for many years) is to put out fires, and they’re doing that every day. I told the pitchers here than they’d be hard-pressed to find a concern that hasn’t come across my desk at one time.
“The information that I’ll be sending to Denver is the view from 30,000 feet. I’ve been a minor league guy for a long time. I’ve had a love affair with the minor leagues.
“I know how important the relationship is between the major league club and their minor league clubs. I know the minor league front offices tend to stay out of our business. The front offices in Corpus Christi and Round Rock had a great feel for the needs of the players. I’ve seen other clubs where there’s almost a bitterness between the two. I want to make sure the people here and also the community knows that I understand that part of it. I praised three players openly last night for stopping and signing autographs after the game. I thanked them for that. That’s part of the game and what I said to those players was to think back when they were a kid and what it meant when a player tossed them a ball. The impact these players can have on young kids is tremendous. They have a lot of down time. When they get done with batting practice there’s a lot of time before they have to get back on the field. If they’d take the time to come out maybe 5-10 minutes earlier than they have to be out, they can find that time. It’s part of the gig and something they need to do and understand. I want them to be good in the community, and to stay out of trouble, and to contribute. That’s what I meant by 30,000 feet. That’s what you see from up there - just making sure you don’t forget any of the guys.
“There are players on every club who are better than others. But it’s our job as Rockies to make everybody the best that they can be. You may make a fringe player into someone good enough to where another club will want him in a deal. They may become six-year free agents.
“These guys need to know that if you get to come to spring training with the big club, you get big league meal money. If you get called-up for a month, at the minimum salary divided by 183 days, it’s more than $3,000 a day. If you’re there for a month you’ll make 90 grand. You can’t walk into many jobs that will pay you like that. It’s a pretty good gig. Those are the kinds of things I can relay to players to help them relax.”