We recently spoke with Bayrouty about the upcoming season, which includes the High-A All-Star Game at Banner Island Ballpark and more…
Oakland Clubhouse: Congratulations on your promotion.
Zack Bayrouty: Thank you.
OC: I know that it is the off-season, so obviously the broadcasting component hasn't started yet, but how are you finding the rest of your new responsibilities so far?
ZB: It's been going well. The off-season is mostly sales. That's the number one thing in the off-season for everyone in the front office, so that is going well. I'm just really looking forward to 2007 because I know that we have some really, really exciting players coming up.
OC: Obviously, you guys are selling the upcoming 2007 All-Star Game that will be held at Banner Island Ballpark. Has that been helping with sales this off-season? How is the planning going?
ZB: Yeah, it really is. We are really trying to make that our feature event for next year. Right now it is going really well. We just unveiled the new logo for the All-Star game a few weeks ago, which is awesome, and right now we are in the planning stages for all of the events that will be surrounding the All-Star Game, such as FanFest and things like that.
OC: If fans were interested in getting tickets for the All-Star Game is that something where they would need a season pass to get a ticket or is it something where they will be able to buy the tickets individually?
ZB: You don't need a season-ticket pass, but season ticket holders and mini-plan holders are going to get first rights to any tickets to the All-Star Game, so if you have a season ticket or a mini-plan, you have first rights to claim your seat for the All-Star Game before they go on-sale to the general public, as well as purchasing additional seats. Once they go on-sale, anyone in the general public can buy seats, but we anticipate that most seats are going to be sold-out before they go on-sale to the general public.
OC: Is the All-Star Game going to be California League versus Carolina League again this year?
ZB: Yeah, it is going to be the Cal League versus the Carolina League again this year.
OC: Last season, you were the color man for the broadcast team for the Ports. What was that first season like for you?
ZB: It was awesome. The year before I had worked for the Florida Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals down in Jupiter, Florida and I hadn't really done any radio. I had done some radio, but it was mainly just internet broadcasts. Last year, it was a really serious broadcast. We were on the air and we had a lot of loyal listeners, so it was really cool from that standpoint and to be able to dissect the games on a day-to-day basis just kind of gives you a chance to learn more about baseball as the season goes on. You can walk into this job thinking that you know a lot about the game and then you find out that there are new things to learn everyday and just to have that consistently is pretty awesome.
OC: Do you plan to have a color man on your team this year?
ZB: Yeah, I am looking for a color guy for the home games right now. I think that person will mainly be a Media Relations Assistant and then they will do the color commentary for home games.
OC: Were there any players who stood out for you last year?
There are a lot of guys who stand out. If you start with the offensive players: Myron Leslie just had a tremendous year. He was probably the team's most consistent hitter. He hit .273, but he also had 100 RBIs and it just seemed like whenever he came up with runners in scoring position he would just find away to get the guy home.
He was really the offensive standout for us, and he started at third base and then moved to the outfield. It was kind of an interesting case because he had really good hands for an infielder, but it was sort of awkward to see him standing there down at third base – he's, I think, 6'5'' – so he looked more natural as an outfielder. It took a little bit of adjusting, but he looked good. Myron DH'd a little bit too, but he had told me that he prefers to be playing defense, so I think he'll be a good outfielder.
Another guy, who I've just never seen anything like it, just went on a tear, was Luis Perez. He won the Cal League batting title. He hit .450 in the month of August to win the batting title and he really came out of nowhere. That's just a torrid streak. Every game, he was going three-for-four or four-for-five. He was just a platoon guy, and then he had his shot, I believe in mid-July it started, and all of a sudden he went on an incredible tear and on the last week of the season, he got enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. He finished with a .334 batting average, so you can't ignore that and he finished with 58 RBIs too. He deserves a mention.
Another guy who is really interesting is Gregorio Petit. He played really solidly defensively and he really prides himself on that. With the bat, it was very streaky at times, but I think Baseball America said it best when they said that he almost has too much power for his own good. He is often swinging for the fences. If he can learn to hit the ball on the ground, I think he's going to be really good, too. Eddie Cornejo played for us at the end of the season and was really impressive. He hit .361 in something like 250 at-bats for us.
As far as the pitching goes, it was interesting, no one really stepped up as an "ace of the staff" type of a guy for us this year, but a number of guys showed good potential. I'd put Michael Rogers at the top of that group. Scott Emerson, the pitching coach, called him the "anchor of the staff" and he was a guy you really liked to have on the mound. He'd often get in a groove and give you a good seven innings. Another guy is Trent Peterson. He's a guy who no one would ever mention because he's 5'10'', a crafty lefty. He started developing a splitter, I believe, towards the end of the season and he was really effective down the stretch.
OC: You got to see a little bit of Jared Lansford toward the end of the season. Did you have a chance to get an impression of him at all?
ZB: He only made three appearances for us, but he throws some smoke, that's for sure. He can get some extra ticks on the gun. I really didn't see him enough to get that much of an impression of him, but Scott Emerson really liked the kid. He's one of the guys I'm really looking forward to seeing next season. He's a really nice kid and with Carney [Lansford, former A's third baseman] being his dad, that brings an interesting aspect to it as well.
OC: Did Carney come down at all for Jared's starts?
ZB: Yeah, Carney came down a few times. I think we saw him here definitely a couple of times and then he was in Modesto definitely as well, so he made his way around the area.
OC: Have you followed guys like Marcus McBeth, who moved up from Stockton during the season and found a lot of success at AA?
ZB: Oh, definitely. We knew that Marcus was going to be special because he was just unhittable when he was here. He only made something like eight appearances with us, but he was untouchable. He was a really, really nice guy. He was actually the first guy I interviewed on the team last year for a feature story and I know a couple of writers from Stockton and a writer from Modesto were all excited that he moved up because he was such a good guy. I think he's really going to be something special for the A's.
OC: I saw that the ownership group of the Ports recently purchased another minor league club. Can you tell us about that?
ZB: It's the Delmarva Shorebirds, low-A for the Orioles. It will be interesting to see how we interact with them. I know a bunch of our staff are going to be heading out there, especially the finance and the ticket parts of our staff, just to get everybody on the same page. Ever since Pat Filippone, our new president, got here, he's put this new business model in place and it has been working really, really well. I imagine he is going to establish the same thing in Delmarva and he's going to look to our staff to help out with that.
OC: I know that you are a Boston guy, so I've got to ask you: $51 million just to talk to a player?
ZB: [laughing] You know, it was kind of hard to take at first, but I think I kind of have an idea now what they are doing. They are going to make that money right back because they are going to be able to market over in Japan. The Yankees have done so much there, I think they made something like $30 million dollars just from marketing in Japan, and that Yankees brand really went international and I think that is what the Red Sox are going for. It could pay dividends. As crazy as it sounds, it could just be the cost of doing business, just to make it back, and then some, overseas.
OC: How has the California League struck you? It has to be a lot different than the Florida State League.
ZB: Oh, yeah. The Florida State League was really a pitching league. I got to see guys like Justin Verlander and Carlos Marmol for the Cubs move through the system there, where as in the Cal League, it's a complete hitter's league. I guess because you go to places like Hi-Desert and Lancaster. I haven't been to those places, but from what Bo told me, it was just ridiculous the way the ball just flew out of the ballpark there. I guess it's really hard here for pitchers, so you sort of have to take any ERA that you are given here and realize that it is based on the Cal League.
The cities in the Cal League are pretty cool. I had a chance to go to Rancho and Modesto and San Jose, obviously, and the parks are a lot nicer and the crowds are a lot bigger.
OC: How much interaction do you have as a broadcaster with the players on a day-to-day basis?
ZB: I see the players pretty much every day. I'm in the clubhouse every day, getting the game notes ready and talking to the coaches and getting players to go to appearances and then there is the time on the bus. I think my position is sort of unique [in a minor league front office] in that I get to spend a majority of my time with the players and the coaches. You get to be pretty close with some of them. It's pretty cool when you get to interview a guy like Marcus McBeth and then you see that he is put on the 40-man and is hopefully going to get up to Oakland this year.
OC: What is your ultimate goal for you in your career? Are you looking for broadcast jobs or do you see yourself in a front office down the road?
ZB: My dream before I got to Stockton was that I wanted to be a Media Relations Director for a Major League team. Broadcasting didn't really have anything to do with my future plans at that point. Right now, I think I'd say that I still want to be a Media Relations Director. I'm enjoying the broadcasting a lot though. It's kind of funny because guys will do anything to get into broadcasting and here I just sort of fell into it, so I kind of feel guilty. I still want to be a Media Relations Director, but if broadcasting ends up being in the works for me, if that is what I'm intended to do, then I can do that too.