Interview with Wizards Manager Randy Ready

John Conniff of sat down with Fort Wayne Wizards manager Randy Ready for a wide ranging discussion on the Wizards season to date. Topics included the promotion of Colt Morton and his keys to future success, the ever popular topic that is Matt Bush and how he made the All-Star team despite a .240 average and the Wizards' first half.

John Conniff: Colt Morton is going through his third year in the Midwest League. We talked about him a little last year, just after he was sent down. You said the Padres were still high on him, it just takes some guys a little longer.

This year he's made a big improvement on his base-on-balls to strikeout ratio, what has been the change and has it affected his power?

Randy Ready: No, his raw power is there. He's a big strong kid, and the ball flies off of his bat. He came into 2005 season with a plan that I am going to be a better player and I am going to stand out when I take the field. You just don't want to get caught in the mix when you are out there, which is what I tell all the kids. He was a better player than he showed.

While we are having this conversation right now, my phone rang last night at 11:00 PM and he is on his way to Lake Elsinore right now.

Again, he's still a prospect. That is a big frame to be behind the plate, there could be a position change if he can maintain his hitting, but he has made some nice adjustments.

John Conniff: How about defensively?

Randy Ready: He catchers the ball well, he's gotten a lot better at calling games. How to set hitters up, going through the line-up the second time. Those things come with experience. His arm strength was good at the beginning of the season, kind of tailed off a little, and then came back. That is a credit to his work ethic. That is why we have a daily strength program to maintain that ability.

We stretch out the arms. You can't take these little things for granted.

John Conniff: We get more questions on Matt Bush than any other prospect. A lot of it has to do with him being from San Diego and being the number one overall pick in the draft. How was he able to make the all-star team, despite not hitting over .250 for any month?

Randy Ready: The first thing that comes to mind is his arm strength. It's true and accurate. Everyone that saw him when they voted for the all-star team [the managers in the Midwest League] is how he was playing shortstop defensively and carrying himself. When he was fresh, and here we are in a full season, he showed some real signs of a major league shortstop with his range, arm and how he handles himself throughout the game.

Even when times are tough, he has high demands for himself. The organization has high expectations for him. When we go on the road, they gun for him. He's had a lot of support here in Fort Wayne, but when we go on the road they gun for him a little bit.

He's young; he's made some mistakes; but I know a lot of major league shortstops who have made 50 errors that are playing in the big leagues today. So I don't think that is a concern.

The main concern is to get him to be as consistent as he can. In his hitting there have been some adjustments that he has made, there have been some peaks and valleys. He's 19, and you're talking about a guy that is probably going to get a chance to play in the Major Leagues some day.

John Conniff: When talking to people that have seen Matt play everyday, they talk about how he can make the most spectacular play one moment, then make an error on a ball that is very routine the next. As a former Major League infielder how do you correct that?

Randy Ready: It comes from mileage, it comes from experience. It's just not that easy to stay in tune, day in, day out for over 150 to 200 pitches for a full season at 19. Those things take experience, and we are not playing on the best of fields always. Those are just things that are going to come with experience. He has shown flashes of the ability to play some great shortstop.

John Conniff: So you fully expect him to be in Lake Elsinore next year?

Randy Ready: If that is what the designs are yes, but I don't make those decisions. I don't know if he would repeat here, it just depends how the rosters shape up. They will look at the reports, and see how he's done. If you ask me personally, I would say he's holding his own.

John Conniff: According to Jeff Kingston, the Director of Baseball Operations for the San Diego Padres, the Wizards have performed better than what was expected in the first half. What do you attribute the success too?

Randy Ready: If we look back on the first half, we pushed pretty hard. There was an understanding from the staff to the players, we were in the hunt for the wild card and it came down to the last four game series. We won the second game and we were in, so it looks like on paper we only got it done by a half game, but we got it done with three games left in the first half.

The emphasis is on development, but you can also develop a winning style also. I think those things go hand in hand and we did that successfully in the first half. We got a little complacent to start the second half and we had some turnover.

Some of the things we talk about is that you can't get complacent in this game with 70 games left to play. For us to say we're 53 and 53 coming in, that is probably a B.

Coming through the first half, we were probably in the A- range.

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