Chicago Cubs: Tom Gorzelanny
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The Washington Nationals are the latest to showing interest, according to a major-league source. The New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles have been said to be interested as well.
The Cubs may trade Gorzelanny because his 2011 salary will land around $2 million through the arbitration process. The Cubs are strapped for payroll after trading for Tampa right-hander Matt Garza, who will make between $5-6 million next season through arbitration.
Garza, acquired from Tampa earlier this month, is a big fan of Zambrano’s. He said he watched Zambrano pitch many times in the Rays’ clubhouse before night games.
Garza was asked what the impact of Zambrano being around him will be.
“[Zambrano’s presence will be a] huge, huge tool,” Garza said. “I just want to know how he throws that sinker. It just kind of bores in on people.”
Zambrano is also an admirer of Garza’s.
“I want to know how he throw that curve,” Zambrano said. “He can teach that to me.”
Zambrano is hoping to continue his strong pitching in 2011, after ending the 2010 season going 8-0 in his last 11 starts.
Zambrano was asked how he was going to continue the magic that he had at the end of the 2010 season.
“I thought a lot about that in the offseason,” Zambrano said. “About my first year. What was the key? Then I thought about my first four years. [I] have a good idea about how to be dominant again.”
Neither Zambrano nor Garza cared much about who will be the team’s starter come Opening Day.
“I think about pitching and doing a good job,” Zambrano said. “I’m not worrying about anything else.
“[The Opening Day starter is] up to [Cubs manager Mike Quade]. Whatever he decides to do, I’m OK with.”
Zambrano has started the past six opening days for the Cubs, which is a team record. He’s only won one of those games.
Colvin fully healed
Colvin needed a month of recovery time after his lung collapsed due to the puncture wound.
The Cubs’ second-year outfielder was asked if he had a hard time watching the replay.
“At first I did,” Colvin said. “It’s one of those spots, you’re at third base, then I saw the broken bat. You never think it’s coming at you. I was looking at the ball. The bat hit me and I was surprised it happened.”
Colvin is completely healed and ready to start a new season.
“I’ll go back the same way this year and see what happens,” he said. “I’ll see how the pitchers come after me. I know them better going into this season as well.”
Colvin will be getting playing time at both outfield and first base. Although he wasn’t talking about it on Friday, the Cubs expect Colvin, along with Jeff Baker, to back up for starter Carlos Pena at first. Colvin took some ground balls at first base before games late in the 2010 season, but he hasn’t played the position since his sophomore year of college.
As for Pena, he’ll spend a week with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo later in the month. The personal minicamp is aimed to help him get his swing and hitting approach back together. Pena had career lows in batting average the past two seasons. He bottomed out in 2010 by hitting .196.
Pena first worked with Jaramillo when he was coming through the Texas organization in the late 1990s.
Gorzelanny remains a hot commodity
I talked to Tom Gorzelanny at the Convention. He told me he and his family are sick of me writing about the teams that were contacting the Cubs about his availability. The truth of the matter is that they have.
With a glut of starters vying for the Cubs’ fourth and fifth rotation spots, the Cubs have heard from numerous teams about Gorzelanny’s availability. The Mets, Orioles and Nationals all have interest in the Oak Lawn native. Gorzelanny will make close to $2 million in arbitration in 2011. That’s not a big price to pay for a solid fourth starter.
If Gorzelanny is traded, the Cubs have discussed moving up left James Russell from the bullpen to compete for a rotation spot. Russell pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, but had been a starter in the minors before his promotion last season.
It appears that left-hander Tom Gorzelanny‘s future might be with another team, due to the Cubs’ abundance of starting-pitching options and budgetary issues.
At Wednesday’s kick-off luncheon for the Cub Caravan at Harry Caray’s downtown, manager Mike Quade said the both right-hander Andrew Cashner and lefty James Russell will get opportunities to make the Cubs’ rotation this spring.
“It’s something that’s being discussed,” Quade said. “If you look at the makeup of the pitching staff right now, you have [John] Grabow healthy. You have Russell, who did a great job for us in his role. You’ve got [Sean] Marshall who was Marshall and you have [Scott] Maine who came on and did a nice job late. That’s a great luxury to have, four left-handers. Of those four guys we mentioned, [Russell] would be the only guy in my mind to stretch out [into a starting role].”
According to major league sources, numerous teams have contacted the Cubs about Gorzelanny’s availability. Gorzelanny pitched well for the Cubs in 2010, posting a 7-9 record and 4.09 ERA. He did fall victim to the offense’s lack of run production at times. With newly-acquired pitcher Matt Garza due to make between $5-6 million through the arbitration process, the Cubs need to trim some payroll to come in at their budgeted figure by 2011. Thus, Gorzelanny appears to be available.
Wells went ‘Wild Thing’
Right-handed pitcher Randy Wells, who will be among several players in the mix for the Cubs’ fourth and fifth rotation spots, admitted on Wednesday that he might have gotten a little bit of a big head in 2010.
“Last year I got caught up in a lot of stuff,” Wells said. “I maybe got too big for my britches.”
The Cubs’ righty won 12 games in 2009, but he went through a disappointing 2010 season during which he posted an 8-14 record with a 4.26 ERA.
Wells compared himself to fictional movie character Rick Vaughn from “Major League II.” A role played in that movie franchise by Charlie Sheen as the punk rock pitcher nicknamed “Wild Thing.”
“Ricky Vaughn turned himself into a business man [and] pretty boy,” Wells said.
At least five pitchers will vie for the four and five spots in the Cubs’ 2011 rotation.
“May the best man win,” Wells said. “Ultimately, that’s what’s going to be best for the ball club. If things don’t work out, there’s 29 other teams. That’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t want to pitch any place but here.”
Garza, who arrived in Chicago on Friday for his physical, said he is anxious to start his Cubs career.
“I’m just happy to be a part of this long tradition,” Garza said. “I’ll just try to get this thing turned around in a good direction. We’ve got a lot of the pieces to the puzzle right there in Chicago, ready to do it.”
Garza has a long tradition of having a pregame meal of Popeye’s chicken before his starts.
“I found one near the park," Garza said.
Asked if he had any other superstitions, Garza said, “Nothing huge, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ll just be myself and get ready to toe it up. That’s me. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who worked for 30 straight days, except for Christmas and New Year’s, with Tampa’s top baseball man, Andrew Friedman, to complete the deal, wanted to acquire power pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen, as well as a left-handed slugger, to improve his team this offseason.
Having traded for Garza and signed first baseman Carlos Pena and reliever Kerry Wood, Hendry’s job now appears to be complete.
“We left the organization meetings, and that was our plan,” Hendry said. “That was going to be our attempt and sometimes you don’t know how it’s going to work out. You don’t always pull off things the way you want to. Sometimes the names change. But I will tell you that Matt Garza was a guy we targeted. I didn’t know if we could do it, but that was the one [trade] that made the most sense for us.”
The rest of Hendry’s offseason will be centered around fine-tuning the bench, and other organizational needs.
“This last week or so has been kind of a consuming effort,” Hendry said. “We’re going to regroup and see where we’re at and re-factor everything. We’re not opposed to trying to do some other things.
Hendry’s next task will be to deal with his five arbitration-eligibile players. That list includes Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill and Tom Gorzelanny. It’s possible a couple of those players may get long-term contracts.
Gorzelanny, the only left-hander vying for the fourth and fifth spots in the Cubs rotation, may find his situation in limbo, due to the fact that Carlos Silva, Andrew Cashner, Randy Wells and Jeff Samardzija and Casey Coleman will all battle for those spots, too.
Numerous teams have called with interest in Gorzelanny over the past six weeks, according to a major league source.
Garza was 15-10 in 2010 with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts.
Tampa Bay is interested in prospects in return, according to a source. The Cubs are known to have met with Tampa during these meetings as have numerous other teams.
The Cubs have also continued to kick the tires on a trade with the Texas Rangers for first baseman/third baseman Chris Davis. Even with the signing of Pena, Davis could be a valuable player coming off the bench for the Cubs next season. Texas is interested in 27-year-old catcher Robinson Chirinos, who played at Double-A last season.
Also said to be in the mix in a Davis deal is right-handed pitcher Darren O'Day, a relief specialist who was 6-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 72 games with the Rangers in 2010.
The Cubs have also had conversations with the Detroit Tigers about trading pitchers for pitchers. Detroit has asked for left-hander Tom Gorzelanny while offering right-handed pitcher Armando Galarraga, best know for the 2010 perfect game that wasn't after a bad call by first-base umpire Jim Joyce. Galarraga season was less than stellar, going 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA last season.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs’ needs going into the Winter Meetings are pretty easy to document. Solutions to those needs are another matter.
Here’s a look at the biggest holes on the Cubs’ roster:
Replacing Derrek Lee at first base: In this category the Cubs hope to find a first baseman who drives in runs and bats left handed. Numerous free-agent candidates still exist in the market place. However, the Cubs missed out on Lance Berkman, who signed with the Cardinals on Saturday for $8 million. The Cubs also offered $8 million to Berkman, but one source said there were deferred payments in the Cubs’ offer. The Cubs really don’t have a first baseman of the future in their minor-league system, so signing a veteran to a short-term deal would be the prudent thing to do at this point. As these meetings open, the Cubs were looking at former Blue Jay Lyle Overbay and former Tampa Bay Ray Carlos Pena. Overbay is just a moderate threat left handed. In 2010, he hit 20 homers with 67 RBIs in 154 games. His .767 OPS is far short of what most teams look for from first base. Overbay’s 131 strikeouts are a concern as well. Pena is a terrific defensive first baseman -- though he came in under the Mendoza Line in 2010, hitting .196. That’s a pretty pathetic batting average. However, his power numbers were still good with 26 homers and 83 RBIs. Strikeouts are also a big concern with Pena, who whiffed 158 times last season. Pena is considered a top-flight clubhouse man as well. The other option the Cubs have examined the past couple weeks is a possible trade for Texas first baseman Chris Davis. Davis has big-time power, but also is prone to big strikeout totals. The Rangers are looking for a catcher in return for Davis.
Hendry will be active but somewhat limited during these meetings due to little payroll flexibility. A small trade or two might take place before the Cubs sign a free agent. Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome will be shopped extensively at these meetings. The Cubs are hoping that someone will take at least half of the $13.5 million Fukudome is owed in 2011. Team president Crane Kenny said on ESPN 1000’s “Talking Baseball” on Saturday that the team has ample cash and player resources for Hendry to add the components he needs for 2011. That type of bravado might be a bit of an overstatement, considering the Cubs already have close to 130 million committed to existing contracts and arbitration eligible players. Hendry might only have between $5-8 million to spend, after ownership cut payroll during their November budget meetings.
Let's take a look at your Cubs season in review:
RotationWhat went right: Carlos Silva was the surprise of the National League in the first half, winning 10 games by the All-Star break while keeping the team afloat along with the usually reliable Ryan Dempster. Carlos Zambrano's return to ace form in the second half gives the feeling of some optimism for the rotation in 2011.
BullpenWhat went right:Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall emerged as two of the best relievers in the National League. Marmol set a major league record with an average of almost 16 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and was as dominant a closer as there was in the game. Marshall again proved to be the Cubs' most versatile pitcher in the bullpen and Piniella and Quade used Marshall in many different roles. Marshall finally settled into the primary setup man role for Marmol. Other nice stories included the coming of age of Andrew Cashner and James Russell, both of whom will be counted on in 2011 as integral parts of the Cubs bullpen. Cashner started to develop a good breaking ball to go along with his 98-100 mph fastball. Russell was finally used properly under Quade as he flourished facing mostly left-handers in the second half.
What went wrong: The bullpen imploded early and often as the plan to use three rookies and the inexperienced Samardzija caused the team to blow more games early on than any team in baseball. Veteran reliever John Grabow had his worst season protecting an injured knee which finally gave out on him in mid-summer.
CatchersWhat went right: Geovany Soto's re-commitment to becoming the type of player he was in 2008 when he won NL Rookie of the Year was a good story for the Cubs. Soto's defense wavered from time to time, but overall it was a positive return for the 2008 All-Star. Koyie Hill continued to be a positive backup for the Cubs.
What went wrong: Soto's season was cut short by shoulder surgery. However a positive out of that is that the Cubs were able to look at Wellington Castillo, who can be projected as a major league catcher in the future.
InfieldWhat went right: The Starlin Castro era began at shortstop on May 7 with the rookie setting a major league record with 6 RBIs in his first game. Although Castro struggled defensively at times, his arm and range suggest that he will be one of the star shortstops in the majors for the next 10 years. Blake DeWitt, acquired in the Theriot trade, proved to be a solid if not spectacular player at second base, and he showed that he fit well in the clubhouse. Ramirez's return to form in the second half was a key to the Cubs' run production as he led the team with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs. Xavier Nady proved to be a more than efficient first baseman after Derrek Lee was traded, although his power stroke never returned.
What went wrong: The sad tale of the infield centers around Ramirez's and Lee's awful first half slumps which killed any semblance of the Cubs' ability to score runs. Ryan Theriot's bulked-up body took away the bat speed that created a once-prolific singles machine. Defensively, Ramirez was well below average as he looked like a player that had never played the game during the first eight weeks of the season. A thumb injury in the middle of the summer only made things worse for the former All-Star. Lee's dreadful season eventually led to him getting traded to the Atlanta Braves.
OutfieldWhat went right: General manager Jim Hendry's signing of Marlon Byrd proved to be one of the best moves any team made in the offseason. Byrd was the Cubs' lone all-star, hustling his way to a near-.300 batting average. The Cubs' Energizer Bunny made only three errors in the outfield and should be in strong consideration for a Gold Glove. A lack of run production by Byrd can only be blamed on the failure of Ramirez, Lee and Theriot to do their jobs. The emergence of Tyler Colvin has some Cubs fans excited about his future. Colvin somehow was able to hit 20 home runs while rotating in the outfield with Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Byrd and Nady. Colvin's year was cut short due to the freak accident that occurred when Castillo's shattered bat pierced Colvin in the chest causing a collapsed lung.
What went wrong: The same story that has occurred for the Cubs over the past four years: a general lack of run production. Fukudome had his usual downturn in mid-summer. Soriano's lack of a hot streak made the Cubs outfield one of the least productive in the league. Not a lot of home runs from this group even with Soriano's 24 and Colvin's 20.
What went wrong: Surprisingly, even a veteran manager like Piniella was affected by his lame duck status. Players began griping about Piniella by mid-May, complaining about his unorganized way of handling players' days off and posting the lineups late. Piniella's decision to announce his retirement before he was ready to step down proved to be a mistake. Family issues with the death of his uncle and the illness of his mother only conviluted an already bad situation. In defense of Pineilla, a lot of the players who were griping were the same ones who were failing to live up to their contracts.
Front officeWhat went right: Hendry's signing of Byrd and the trade of Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for Silva changed the entire mood of the clubhouse. Hendry's farm system has produced two Rookie of the Year candidates in Castro and Colvin. Set-up man Cashner may also be a star of the future in the back of the bullpen. For the first time in decades, the Cubs' farm system is sending viable young players to the big leagues. Hendry's best move may prove to have been selecting Quade as Piniella's replacement. The team under Quade rejuvenated a lost season, giving both players and fans a realistic good feeling about a turnaround in 2011.
What went wrong: From January on, Hendry was hamstrung by a payroll that had been maxed out since December of 2008. Hendry's attempts to sign free-agent relievers Matt Capps and Chan Ho Park failed because of a lack of money available. Attempts to trade for San Diego Padres reliever Luke Gregerson and the Toronto Blue Jays' Jason Frasier never materialized. Free-agent setup man Grabow failed in his role.
Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny will throw a simulated game Friday. After that interim manager Mike Quade expects him to return to the rotation.
“Probably [next] Wednesday against San Francisco is where he’ll fit in,” Quade said.
Carlos Zambrano will pitch the finale of a three-game set with St. Louis on Wednesday. After an off day, Ryan Dempster will open the Florida series followed by Casey Coleman and Samardzija. All of that said, it’s yet to be determined where Carlos Silva will fit in after he recovers from elbow tendonitis.
Silva said he’d like to pitch again in 2010. However, he must wait at least a week for medication to work on his tender elbow.
“I hope [to pitch],” Silva said. “I don’t know what their plan is. They haven’t said anything to me yet. Hopefully I’ll be back this year.”
Quade keeping focused
With all the information about the Cubs’ manager opening being a daily topic, Quade is trying to stay focused on his team and winning baseball games.
“I’m interested in winning every game,” Quade said. “I’m a big believer that you play well and make the opposition be as good as it can be. I’ve been pretty happy with the way these guys have gone about their business the last couple weeks.”
Quade was asked if he could maintain that type of communication throughout a 162-game schedule.
“It’s what I’ve always done,” he said.
Quade pointed to getting players comfortable in their roles as a key to optimum production.
“These are the little things I think you do to help facilitate things,” he said. “I think I would be able to do that and that would be my goal. As I said, I’ve done it before.”
During a meeting in late July with the entire team, then-manager Lou Piniella promised the players he’d more diligent about letting them know if they were in or out of the lineup. Quade appears to have taken the players’ request to another level.
“I go round and round about this,” Quade said, “I’m not a sabermetrics guy, but I’m smart enough to know that numbers matter and I pay attention to them for sure.
“When the Cubs have more runs than the other team, that’s my favorite stat.”
“It was pretty scary,” Gorzelanny said. “Going back and looking at it, it would have hit me in the face if I didn’t get my hand in the way.”
Gorzelanny had a CT scan on the tip of his left pinkie finger that detected a microchip fracture. He will miss at least one start.
“I was really fortunate, it could have been a lot worse outcome out there,” Gorzelanny said. “It’s really not that big [a fracture]. It might take a few days to let the swelling go down. Then we’ll see where we are at. I hope to start throwing maybe again sometime late next week.”
The Cubs and Gorzelanny expect the pitcher to miss only one start, however the team has changed their pitching rotation for the next three days.
Carlos Zambrano will move up and pitch Saturday, Ryan Dempster will pitch on Sunday and a possible tandem of Carlos Silva and Casey Coleman may go on Monday. Silva, who threw only 70 pitches in his second rehab outing on Wednesday night, may need Coleman as his backup -- starter 1A -- on Labor Day.
“You worry,” Hill said. “It didn’t hit his face and got him on his hand. It’s tough because he was going out there doing a good job. You just hate to see that happen.”
After the injury, Gorzelanny, at first, wanted to try to stay in the game. However, the Cubs’ training staff convinced Gorzelanny it was time to come out and get the injury treated.
“Everything speeds up so much in those situations,” Hill said. “You know, I think he wanted to have a chance to see how he was, but it was his pitching hand. Even if it was just OK, over a while, it’s going to get to you. He might have had another hitter, but after that, there’s no use in risking it.”
According to a team official, X-rays on Gorzelanny’s hand concluded there was no displaced fracture in the pitchers’ pinky finger. However, doctors ordered a CT scan on the tip of the finger, which is scheduled for Thursday at Northwestern Hospital.
Thomas Diamond won his first big league game in relief of Gorzelanny.
How does interim manager Mike Quade spend a valuable day off at home?
“I’m going to cook [on Thursday] and have some staff and some friends over. I have some family in tomorrow (Quade’s parents are visiting from Naples, Fla.). We’re going to cook and actually watch college football. And if I have a minute or two, maybe I find a racetrack or something. Every so often I go down that road.”
Kosuke Fukudome is hitting .364 with 12 extra-base hits and 13 RBIs since the All-Star break. Fukudome has been playing sporadically due to the glut of outfielders on the Cubs’ roster. The veteran outfielder, through his interpreter, talked about dealing with his part-time play.
“It is difficult to sit for a couple days and try to get back into it,” Fukudome said. “The only thing I can do is do the best I can, and, if I get good results, that’s great. That’s just the way it is.”
Fukudome’s average is up to .281 on the season. His 12 home runs are the most he’s hit in any major league season so far. The Cubs have one year left to pay Fukudome on his original four-year deal. His final year is for $13 million.
I asked Fukudome about trade rumors and whether he expects to be back for the Cubs in 2011.
“Any kind of rumor doesn’t change the fact that I’m actually still playing as a member of the Chicago Cubs,” Fukudome said. “So it doesn’t bother me, just because I don’t have any influence into it. And it is not my decision to make.
Manager Lou Piniella was incensed after Tuesday’s 9-5 loss to San Diego by yet another bullpen meltdown that allowed four late-inning runs.
“These young kids that we have here, pitching-wise, they’re getting the opportunity of a lifetime, and none of them wants to step up,” Piniella said. “You can’t have better opportunities than what we’ve given these guys.”
I asked Piniella if the talent in the bullpen was really good enough to compete at this level.
“You make your own level by getting people out,” Piniella said. “You know, you have success. Boy, we’re giving up too many runs. I’m talking about the pitchers that we have here now. They’re giving up too many runs and it doesn’t really matter who you bring in.”
Piniella was even more chafed because the offense came back to score five times in the seventh and eighth innings but Padres did their own damage against the rookie-laden soft underbelly of the Cubs’ bullpen.
“If they have a tough time [we have to] tell them to keep their heads up,” Gorzelanny said. “The biggest thing for me is I had Matt Morris in Pittsburgh a little bit. He’d just take me aside and say, ‘OK, what did you just do. What are you going to learn from that and what are you going to do the next time.’ We just have to tell those guys it’s not always like that. You have to go out and make your pitches and believe in yourself.”
Gorzelanny sees a mirror image of what he went through as a young pitcher coming up in the major leagues with some of his new teammates.
“I think these guys are just nervous,” Gorzelanny said. “I was nervous a lot when I first started. You want to do good. It’s just a matter of pressing.”
Gorzelanny, Monday night’s losing pitcher, has had his own problems as of late. Over his last four starts he has a 5.96 ERA.
Cincinnati has some of the best young pitching talent in the league, and St. Louis, led by Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia appears rock-solid going into next season as well.
Projecting the Cubs’ rotation and their bullpen is not an easy matter with 45 games left to play in this failed Chicago season.
Ryan Dempster can be counted on to fill one of the top rotation spots next year. After that, it’s a crapshoot.
The team will be counting on Carlos Zambrano coming back to form, while hoping that Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva and Randy Wells all show up to pitch for the 2011 season.
Trying to find solid bullpen contributions after Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall will also be a challenge.
Left-handed setup man John Grabow had an ineffective and injury-plagued season before being placed on the disabled list on June 29 with a knee injury that will keep him sidelined the rest of the year.
Fireballing right-hander Andrew Cashner needs a dominating second or third pitch to go with his 98 mph fastball.
Others like third-generation pitcher Casey Coleman are learning their trade right now at the big-league level.
“The difference in the major leagues and Triple-A is if you fall behind 2-0 [in the count] in the minors, sometimes you can just flip a pitch up there off-speed. There it’s considered a good pitch, because the hitter will most likely get himself out. Up here, you do that, they either lay off of it or crush it. [In] the major leagues you have to make a good pitch every pitch.
“Heck, I saw [Albert] Pujols the other night hammer a 3-0 pitch, so there’s no safe count. You have to make a pitch in every count here.”
Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has the dubious distinction of not only guiding his veteran pitchers, but now teaching the youngsters how to pitch at this level.
“It’s not having unhittable pitches. It’s about consistently making good pitches at this level,” Rothschild said. “Pitchers are smart when they have two or three pitches they can command for strikes. Pitchers are really stupid when all they have is a fastball that they can throw for a strike but not locate in the strike zone. That makes all of us look pretty dumb.
“Most big-league hitters hit the fastball pretty well, so as a pitcher you have to be able to counter that.”
Rothschild, who has been the Cubs pitching coach since 2002, doesn’t worry about his job status, but he is aware that the development of the team’s young pitchers will have a direct impact on his resume for the future.
“It’s a part of what I do,” Rothschild said. “My job as a coach is to teach, and to try to make guys better, whether it’s with an eye on the future, or an eye on winning that game, that day. I always approach the job like I’m going to do the job the best I can, each and every day.
“Whatever’s going to happen after that I can’t control. But I can control what I do with each guy I work with every day.”