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December 9, 2014

Buck Showalter


Q.  Dan mentioned a little while ago that he expected the team to come out of here with a couple of players.  Do you think that the Winter Meetings are important for you guys to bring back a couple of guys?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† A lot of things you do here may lead to that.¬† But if you get caught up in ‑‑ I think Dan is talking about we hope to.¬† Some of the conversations and things you learn here may lead to something down the road.¬† We obviously made a couple of real good additions in January and February last year.¬† People equate ‑‑ because some things do get done here, it may not happen.¬† It may happen.¬† I really don't dwell on that too much.
I'm kind of making sure our workouts on the West Coast and the East Coast and Baltimore is set up.  And we're trying to make what we have as good as possible.  There are some things that will change.  But I kind of like some things about where we are, but we've got some things we've got to do to bridge the gap.

Q.  A lot of managers say you become a lot smarter when you have better players.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  It's hard to believe I could get any dumber, but I believe I did.
If you look at it that we had two Minor League players we used to acquire De Aza.  We had a Minor League player we used to acquire Andrew Miller.  And we have five picks in the first 102 picks this year, and we're excited about that.  We think we're going to be able to do some things to make a good system even better.
And that had nothing to do with the question you asked.  But I got in what I wanted to get in (laughter).

Q.¬† Is it disappointing to you at all ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Yeah, you don't ‑‑ those are the things that we go through together, whether it be Andrew in a short person, whether it's Nelson one season or whether it's Nick for quite a few, without having in tugs at you.¬† We are human beings, and when the things that tug at your Hart and the things that are purely business kind of hit together, it's not always something that's easy to take.
But I talk a lot about we try to out opportunity other teams.  May not be able to out play them, even though our payroll is plenty competitive.  But the opportunity to afford Steve Pearce, opportunity to afford Jonathan Schoop or Caleb Joseph, and different people that nobody was talking about at this time last year.  And I feel very confident we will uncover some people that will allow us to be competitive.
The biggest reason we made a leap last year was our pitching.  And other than Andrew Miller, we haven't really lost anything.  Our starting pitching got a lot better, got us deeper in the game, allowed us to keep our bullpen healthy and matchup a little bit more.  If we do that again we'll have some fun next year.

BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I'm not going to handicap him.¬† No, I'm not going to ‑‑ each one is a different ‑‑ but through it, you know, I'm not saying there's going to be somebody from within to replace Nick, that's going to be hard to do.¬† But it will leave a certain void that we have to fill and that's what we're supposed to be able to do.¬† Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.¬† It's a very competitive situation.¬† We would have liked to had him, but ‑‑ I try not to dwell on it.¬† It's easy to.¬† It's hard to move on from a guy like Nick, but we'll have to.

Q.  How confident are you that Matt Wieters will start the season?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† It's so hard to handicap that.¬† It's not so much ‑‑ it's not if, it's when with Matt and Manny.¬† They're both worth waiting on.¬† We feel confident they'll be very close to the start of the season, whether it's the start or two weeks into it, because things are delayed doesn't mean they're going to be denied.¬† I tried to talk to them not to the point I bothered them, Manny got married over in Paris, I didn't go.¬† I didn't do Paris.¬† I may go out to Jonesey's.¬† Jonesey is getting married after Christmas, I think.¬† We'll see.

Q.  The clubhouse dynamic is so important to what you guys have done the past few years, when you lose a guy like Nick, or even a guy that wasn't there as much, but the guys who do mean a lot to what you do, and the clubhouse dynamic, do you have to work harder to create that again?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I don't know about working harder.¬† I think that's one of my biggest challenges between now and the time we open up is not selling, but making sure our players feel like ‑‑ have the same morale.¬† What comes first, is it winning games or having that?¬† Because there's nothing that takes the morale out of the team than not playing good baseball or losing a lot of games.¬† Best players in the world, best coaches in the world, best, in some cases, umpires in the world, there's such a fine line.¬† We saw it last year, such a fine line between success and failure.¬† And we've got some work to do.

Q.  We know a lot of home runs, we know a lot of runs scored.  Moving forward whether it's an addition the club makes, or players get more playing time.  Do you feel it's more important they get more speed in there, more on base, to balance the homers?

Q.  You're happy with it?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I'm not always saying ‑‑ there's no such thing as a perfect player.¬† Hitting is hard to do.¬† If you tried to teach walking in your organization you're going to fail.¬† That's been proven.¬† You can't take until you hit.¬† So it's like I was talking to one of the best hitting coaches I've ever been around in the offseason, said that base on balls and stuff is just a by‑product of a good approach.¬† And everybody is wanting to make the perfect player.¬† Yeah, we'd like to.
If you try to teach walking in your system it doesn't work.  It just doesn't work.  It's the mentality and an approach to hitting.  So what do you want?  You're going to Rob from Peter to pay Paul.  Sure, we'd like to have the perfect player.  But we'll see.  If it shows up.  But it's something we preach a lot in the minor leagues, that your approach and things, so you can see some of the young players we're getting through our system bring that.  That's one of the things we're going to miss with Nick.

Q.¬† Dan says he's reluctant to try to make starters right now.¬† I know it's early, but someone like Gausman, Minor League option, and bullpen experience, is that every five days ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† We're not going to pick our pitching staff according to who has options and who doesn't.¬† If he's one of our best 11 or 12, he'll be on our club.¬† And it doesn't always mean that they're going to be in the same capacity.¬† I do know that we plan to be seven, eight pitchers deep by the time we break camp with our what‑ifs.¬† To have some people in Norfolk that we feel can come up and help us.¬† Same way in the bullpen.¬† That's something we've been attacking daily.¬† It may not look up on the stage, announcing it, but they're key moves for us.¬† You awesome we made last year, someone that came into it.¬† I really feel like we've got to stay on top of our bullpen during the offseason to make sure it's still a strength for us.

Q.¬† Getting back to Chris Davis had a pretty forgettable season in a lot of ways last year.¬† Do you think that ‑‑ what makes you think that he's going to come back and be closer ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I think there's a lot of things pushing that way.  I was with Chris Saturday.  And he is doing well.  I think he's in a good mindset.  A lot of things point up with him, some that I won't make note of, but you can probably figure out, as far as what this year means to him, not only as the future for him but also as a teammate and as somebody that he takes very seriously that his teammates and the fans count on.  I can't really see anything that would point to something being negative towards Chris having a big year and getting back on the saddle, so to speak, of where he was.  I'm expecting him to be solid for us.  Whether it be first base, right field, whatever.  We've got a lot of options.  With Stevie Pearce, we've got some options to move things around.  We really don't have, even though we've made three subtractions, is who is going to DH.  Other than that I could tell you what we'd break camp with right now as starters.

Q.  Did you see anything towards the end from (inaudible), that he's going to get back together?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  There was a couple of adjustments that he finally took to, especially with his hands that really made us kind of feel very positive about next year.  He's just had too good a track record at a young age and being a healthy guy with a lot of want to, for not to be.  Let's face it, he had an ERA that in years past for us would have been good enough in a lot of cases.  But we had five guys pitching a little better than him, and we were in a very competitive situation that we had to put our best foot forward.  And we think this year he's going to be part of putting our best foot forward.  I think he's going to have a good year.

Q.¬† Do you still get a big kick ‑‑ everybody sees the 25, but it sounds like you enjoy guys ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Part of the challenge is meshing that altogether for a common goal.  That's what's so fun.  If you have everybody pulling on the same rope it's a challenge.  Whether it's scouting department, player development, we talked a lot about knowing who we are, and who we're not.  Not confusing the fans or the players or the system.  There's a great morale in our system now because of our farm system, our coaches, managers, scouts, they know what they do.  Not that it's not important for the Red Sox or the Yankees, they're going to see the fruits of their labors in the Big Leagues or being traded.  Our scouts took great pride in the fact that the three guys we traded for very valuable pieces of our Big Leagues, they signed and developed those guys so our club could get them.  And we're going to try to continue doing it.

Q.  You see Boston and New York making signings, they have some money to spend, Toronto, as well.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  God bless them.  If we were in their shoes we'd do the same thing.  What are you going to do?  Throw your hands up in the air?  It's all right.  It can be done.  We've just dot got to be good at things that allow us to compete with them.

Q.  Have you found that formula and it's just more of the same?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  To some extent.  We learned things, tweak things.  We all make mistakes and learn from them and the like.  We're not going around to try to imitate them, what works to them.  In their situation we'd do the same thing.

Q.  Are you will looked at a hitting coach?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Getting close.¬† We've got three or four good candidates.¬† We're sifting through this, taking everybody in consideration.¬† And like I said before, we're not going to get caught into some false deadline.¬† So when it happens, it happens.¬† We're going to get a good one.¬† We're taking a lot of input from our coaches, the other five coaches, a little bit from everybody.¬† It's a hard job.¬† It's surprising how many ‑‑ not have said no, they said I have to do there seven days a week, every day, to do this?¬† Yeah, that's what a hitting coach does.¬† We talk a lot about ‑‑ the hitting coach job in the Major Leagues has become one of the most challenging jobs in baseball, the physical part of it.¬† That's why you see assistants.¬† It's a constant ‑‑ it's challenging.¬† To find a good one is really hard to find.

Q.  How does that affect the way you do select a hitting coach?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† The hitting coach for us sometimes has to be different than the hitting coach for some other teams you've mentioned.¬† It is.¬† So every situation calls for a little different.¬† But I'm not looking for a guy with a big schtick or a bunch of crazy mechanics, I'm looking for a dependable, solid guy that's sincere and counts ‑‑ that our players can count on and fits into everybody's strengths and weaknesses.

Q.  How important is Big League coaching experience?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Not a prerequisite.¬† I mean it's all relevant.¬† Whether you ‑‑ always I'm going to look from within before I look somewhere else.¬† That's why I interviewed Jeff Manfeld.¬† But that's not a prerequisite.¬† That stuff lasts about two weeks, and then you want to know how you're going to help them to be a good player and win.

Q.  How important is it for you to add an outfielder?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Talking about Aoki, is that where you're going?¬† Not necessarily.¬† We've got Dariel Alvarez coming.¬† We've got some good young players, some depth.¬† Urrutia is still on our roster, I think he's going to jump out at us.¬† Steve Pearce.¬† If we opened today Steve would be in right field.¬† Depth‑wise, Quintin Berry.¬† Probably missed a couple of guys.¬† It's something we've talked about.¬† And kicked around.¬† We've kind of got it preffed out upstairs.¬† That will depend on how much it costs, what kind of commitment.¬† If it's not about the money, it will probably be about the money.

Q.  Can you talk about Schoop and his development down the stretch?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  We're proud of John.  He got a little bogged down, got a little tired.  First time young players play in September, October, it's a challenge for them physically.  I think more mentally and emotionally than anything.  I think he got a chance to only get better.  I don't think there's anybody in the league that turns a double play better than him.  It's what allowed him to keep running us out there, because he was a contributor and a difference maker defensively.  We'd like to see him take a jump this year.  That's another great thing about having J.J. there.  That's another way we could get better is John bring some areas of his offensive game up.  He's capable.  He was a college junior, senior last year, basically, we have to keep that in mind.

Q.  What about De Aza?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† He was a great addition.¬† It was almost like what are we missing about this guy?¬† I think he was a good example of ‑‑ he had a good culture from Chicago.¬† He went from a team that wasn't going to be in the playoffs to a team that looked like they had a chance to be competitive.¬† And I think he's really benefited from that.¬† I think it kind of reenergized him.¬† Players need that.¬† We're human beings, we all do.¬† Unfortunately you can't trade managers from the situation to get reenergized.¬† You're kind of stuck with it.¬† But not very long, if it continues, for sure.¬† He was impressive.¬† We spend so much time trying to look for dents in people's armer.¬† I'm looking forward to getting him in the spring and seeing ‑‑ wow, getting to know him even better.

Q.¬† Are you worried about the makeup of the clubhouse after leaving the leaders like ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Not yet.¬† Not yet.¬† I worry about everything, but that's yet to be determined.¬† Got some things we'll do between now and then.¬† I think sometimes we make the mistake of getting bogged down that J.J. Hardy ‑‑ we did this last year without Matt and Manny and Chris really having that voice that only comes from playing.¬† So we didn't have Nick all year, we didn't have Caleb Joseph all year.¬† I understand what you're saying.¬† I'm not worried about it yet, but it's going to be a challenge for us, to make sure that part is covered, and it was a strength last year and the year before and the year before.

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