I can’t really talk about the culture of winning because I haven’t been on a team that’s been to the playoffs. But at the same time, I was on teams that were on their way. I saw the beginning and I saw right before the teams started to win. I was on the Phillies coming up and got traded in ’05. In ’06, they were one game away, and ’07 was the first trip to the playoffs and that started their dynasty now. I saw the culture change over there. I saw them building within. I saw the young guys — we would have second- and third-rounders who would come in, high school kids who got paid big bucks, and their first year in Spring Training, and if they came in and weren’t in shape, they got rid of them. There was no b.s. involved in that organization as far as teaching and development. If you weren’t their type of player you had to go, it didn’t matter what they paid you.
Of course, nowadays, guys are getting paid more but at the same time, it didn’t happen that way. That culture in Tampa, they don’t mess with their top pick. When they had the first pick overall, they didn’t miss. And they produce. Same thing in Texas. That culture over there completely changed. In 2007, I came in and it seemed like it was a good team but the team really didn’t come together like you wanted, didn’t really have that chemistry. It was a great group of guys but it didn’t come together. Then, there was the influx of Mike Maddux and an influx of Ron Washington and an influx of Nolan Ryan, and they brought in all the right players. That was a huge step they made. From ’07 to ’08 to ’09, from 2007-08, getting beat down by the Angels, then us almost making the playoffs in 2009. But dominating the Angels changed everything in the AL West. You saw that last year in 2010. How the Rangers played, they weren’t scared of anybody.
It starts at the top. That’s automatic. I like what Pat Gillick says: “I’m not here to rebuild, I’m here to remodel.” That’s what he does and that’s what he did in Philly. That’s what Nolan did in Texas. It starts at the top but you have to put every single piece together. Ron Washington comes in and he says, “I need a Ron Washington team.” What did they do? They gave him a Ron Washington team — a team with speed, a team with defense, a team with pitching, a team with timely hitting. Now it seems like all the guys they have there are superstars.
What Pat Gillick did in Philly, he kept bringing in the right players and not just big name players, but players who are big names and they produce at the same time. Changing that culture, it’s not an easy thing to do. You need the right people in place at the top. Then you have to pick the right people all the way down.
I was traded late in 2005 from the only organization I knew to the Washington Nationals. The weird thing about getting traded is, you’re thinking, “It’s going to be great for me, a new start” and everything, but you never really know what you had until it’s gone. It seems like since I got traded, I was always trying to get back to Philly some way, some how.
For Theriot, it’s the first time he’s been through it. The Cubs will always be home for him. This is the organization he came up with. When you get drafted by an organization, you think you’re going to stay there your whole career. On the flip side, Ted Lilly has been through it. I’ve been on four teams, I think this is his sixth team. I don’t think it really fazes him. It’s the business aspect of the game.
It seems like the first time you get traded, you take it personally. You have to transfer all that energy into playing the game instead of trying to show your old team, “Hey, see what you’re missing.” That can be a positive or a negative. It was a negative for me when I went to Washington. I was trying to show the Phillies.
Everyone wishes Theriot good luck. Ted’s a vet, he’s been in this game a long time and he’ll go be Ted Lilly. We just want Ryan to go be Ryan Theriot and not try to prove anything to the Cubs, not try to prove anything to L.A. He’ll be fine.
Silva was on a team in 2006 with the Twins that was 14 games back at the All-Star break and on the last day of the season, made the playoffs. I saw the Twins do it a couple years ago when they caught Detroit and played that extra game and ended up beating them. I saw the Phillies come back from seven games out with 17 games to go and they caught the Mets. Lou’s done it. They were 14 games out and wanted to dismantle the Yankees and they ended up winning the World Series.
When you have a good team, you can’t count that team out at all. You see how everybody and every team has been playing us — they play us tough. There’s a reason. They know how good we are. We have to start believing that and get back to that feeling of knowing how good we are and having that swagger on the field. A 9 1/2-game lead, 8 1/2-game lead, 10-game lead can turn around quick. I believe we can get that down within five games by the All-Star break, we’ll be where we need to be. The second half, like everyone says, it’s 0-0 again.