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December 10, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada
Q. I want to ask you first and foremost about bullpenning. Is that a trend in baseball or is it something that if you had a five-man rotation for that?
KEVIN CASH: Well, I think we're going to see it happen. I know we're going to do it. But every club kind of values their rotation or their pitching staffs differently. I think it's fair to say, like if you look at what the Astros, Red Sox, that had a very veteran group of pitchers one through five, that might be a little challenging to do that with the bullpen.
But it was kind of the perfect storm for us in the fact that we had so many young guys coming up transitioning, and I think ultimately it helped both. It helped the guys that left Durham as starters, graduated to the Big Leagues, and it also helped some of those short-reliever starts.
Q. So it was more of a choice than a necessity?
KEVIN CASH: It was definitely a choice. It was talked about, planned about.
I think where the choice changed and necessity came in was when the injuries started. When we lost Eovaldi at the beginning of the year or had his season cut early and then we had to wait for the rehab, everything jammed up on us. But our young guys did a tremendous job filling in, and it allowed us more flexibility.
Q. When you're judging a guy from Durham or Montgomery coming up, what do you look for in a guy who can be an opener as opposed to not?
KEVIN CASH: Well, I think in a perfect world you try to compliment the opener with the length guy that falls in. So the best example is probably like a guy like Ryan Stanek coming in that throws very hard, high velocity, and you compliment him with a guy like Ryan Yarbrough that's left-handed and uses his pitch mix to navigate his way through a lineup. You're not always going to have that.
But there's no doubt we are convinced that different looks through an order, challenging lineups, gives us a good chance.
Q. Were you skeptical about it and how did you think the change through the years?
KEVIN CASH: I personally was not skeptical at all when we were discussing doing it one time through the rotation, potentially twice. Then with the injuries when it got to three and four times, I don't know if "skeptical" is the right word, it's more concerning. Like how are we going to keep guys fresh? How are we going to manage work loads in a long series? But we learned a lot through it.
Now ultimately the players give you the buy-in. And we had success with it, they embraced it, enjoyed it and it's a big credit to them.
KEVIN CASH: I think a lot of communication by the staff, Kyle Snyder and Stan Boroski did an outstanding job of communicating with them, making them understand this is not a gimmick. We are confident that this is going to help us win games. And I think a lot of guys, they're starters their entire career; from the time they're 10 years old, high school, college, pro ball. And they pride themselves on logging innings and staying out there as long as they can.
That's a great mindset to have. But if we can do something better for the team and give different looks on a consistent basis, we found it was more challenging for the opposition, the lineup.
Q. Now that you have more data than anybody in baseball, what's your takeaway as you evaluate what you guys have accomplished?
KEVIN CASH: Going forward? We're going to do it. I think right now we're discussing internally whether we do it two times through the rotation or three times through the rotation. But the nice thing is we've got all that information last year and we have a bunch of candidates that we can fill in as a traditional starter if need be. Yonny Chirinos, Yarbs, Wilmer Font, Jalen Beeks, all those guys have starting experience. If we put the flexibility of putting them back in that traditional role a time or two, we can do that.
But I'm very confident we're going to do it definitely two, potentially three times through the rotation to start the season.
Q. Where you had so much change, did it change the way you managed or building a roster or anything?
KEVIN CASH: Our players, I think they energized our organization, they energized our staff, our fan base. I mean, you never know. When you put that type of youth at the Big League level all to come in at one time, you never know what's going to happen.
And I think just the experience alone of those guys getting the 250 at-bats or the hundred innings at the Big League level, we'll take it whether it's good or bad. We were very fortunate they all came up and played well, played well together, won together, and made us feel pretty good going into the offseason.
Q. What's the biggest fear in bullpenning, the biggest risk or gamble?
KEVIN CASH: Well, you really rely on the Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, those traditional starters, to really have success and take on a pretty big workload. And you don't want to put added pressure on those guys, they're already good. But you don't want them to feel they need to do more than what they're capable of to allow us the flexibility of the next days, when we do bullpen or open guys.
Q. You made pretty clear after every game what the opposing manager know what you were doing for the next game. When Counsell put in Woodruff, if that becomes a trend, could that make it difficult for managers to set their lineups if that gets sprung on you?
KEVIN CASH: Yes, it can definitely make it difficult. But I personally don't see anything wrong with that. You know what, each manager, each club, each organization, they're trying to get the best out of their roster. If they feel that's the best way to do it, the opposition, you've kind of got to deal with it. It's going to happen to us. We did it with other clubs, not that quickly, but playoff baseball you see different things.
Q. (INAUDIBLE) How do you look at that? Is it exciting, is it interesting?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, it's very exciting. The potential to have that, whether it's payroll flexibility, roster flexibility, to go and be in the market, whether it's acquiring through a trade or free agent. Where the hiccup comes, we have a pretty good roster right now, and whatever you add, somebody that we're probably wanting to continue to develop at the Big League level is not going to get those reps. That's okay. If we're making our team better that's first and foremost.
I know going into the offseason we looked around at our 25-man roster or 35, whatever it was at the end, and really recognized that there's a lot of good players in that clubhouse. And for us to add, it's going to take at-bats or innings from somebody.
So I know our guys will do their due diligence, and we've recognized over the last three or four years you can never have enough depth.
Q. Your thought on where you want to go?
KEVIN CASH: You know what, I'm pretty consistent. From day one and being a coach with Cleveland, it's all about pitching. Pitching, pitching, pitching. I don't think you can ever have enough. Obviously the bats are nice, but we won a lot of games last year because we pitched well and we caught the ball behind our pitchers. And I know that's not going to change. The more pitching that we can add and allow these guys to continue to get good, the better we'll be.
Q. As you get more tenure in this position, you seem to be on the forefront of the trend, no previous managerial experience was necessary, in Minor Leagues or anywhere. What Chris Woodward is going into the same situation that you do. What would your advice be to a guy who's never managed going into that role for the first time?
KEVIN CASH: I'm normally not on the trend of anything, I'm not a very trendy person.
But I do understand, I see the hires this offseason, and some past offseasons. Ironically Woody and I were teammates in Toronto. We worked out every offseason as players. We lived within 20 minutes of each other. He's going to do a tremendous job. His experience, whether from the Mariners and Dodgers, and winning that culture, that atmosphere, I'm sure he's going to bring a lot of those thoughts to the Texas Rangers group. That's a great front-end office.
And if there's one piece of advice, it's not really advice, you've got to take it all in. There's a lot of smart people that can provide you with some quality information and kind of compliment the thoughts that you have of your own and blend them all together.
Q. What was it like to watch (INAUDIBLE)?
KEVIN CASH: Rocco is pretty special. And the fact that he -- you guys will see, you'll talk to him. He just has a great way about him where he's relaxed, very, very in tune with the new age baseball and also responding with players. Watching him develop or watching him grow as a coach, we were all kind of thrust into this position where it was new for all of us. To watch how he really learned to communicate with players and have some difficult conversations and also understanding the game, the end game decision making, he's going to do a really good job in Minnesota.
Q. Charlie Montoya, what does he bring?
KEVIN CASH: Experience. When you've managed as many games, I don't care if you're doing it in A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A, and he was managing right alongside, we were doing it together last year. Charlie's end-game knowledge is second to none. And the way he just -- his sense for preparing himself, his staff, and just the quality of person that Charlie is, is really going to stand out.
Q. Personality-wise how is he a good fit with a young organization like the Blue Jays are right now?
KEVIN CASH: I think the bulk of his career was spent developing players in Durham. I said this about Charlie right when he got the job, throughout the last four years, every time we go to an opposing city, a former player of his will come by, whether they're a fan or whether they're working for another team, and they embrace Charlie like -- it's impressive how he was a favorite of players. And I know that will transition over at the Big League level.
Q. Talking about tendencies, in general what is the role that winter ball can have for Tommy, for any player?
KEVIN CASH: Tommy is a very driven player, very motivated. He was just outstanding for us when he came over. And at the end of the year we sat down and talked and he said he wanted to go play winter ball to work on his swing. And I said, How much more do you need to work? You hit .350 the last two months for us, hit all the home runs. When he was healthy, we had a different lineup because he was in it.
So there was some concern. But he felt there was more tinkering that needed to be done. He plays all out. I asked him, Please don't run into any walls on the Dominican baseball fields. Be careful. We called his manager and asked the same thing. But he's motivated and driven to get his swing where he wants it. And I think that speaks volumes to a guy that has had the last two or three years of success that he still wants to get better.
Q. Winter ball used to be so much more common in the past. Is it something that can help a guy in the middle of his career like a Tommy or is it something that's going to wear him out when he gets to Spring Training?
KEVIN CASH: No, I still think it can help a guy. Winter ball, it's a very serious. The fans are passionate. The teams are passionate about winning. But it does allow you to work on some things that maybe you wouldn't be too aggressive, willing to work on in the Major League season. But I think we would like a lot of our guys to go play winter ball and continue that, because all they're doing is bettering their craft.
KEVIN CASH: You know, I think Jake, of all of our young players that came up, Jake was as talked about as anybody, rightfully so. I think just experience and maturity, he was the youngest guy in the league. He's been the youngest at every level he's performed at. And he figured it out. He's always struggled and started to stabilize himself a little bit and then he gets hot and he puts together some pretty good numbers offensively.
I think that's what we saw this year at the Big League level. He struggled, he probably didn't have the right time to figure it. It was the right time for Jake to go home and gather his thoughts. But he was a little bit of an anomaly, when you watch his at-bats, his swing looked the same, everything looked the same. He wasn't getting his hits.
And I'm confident, Jake has hit everywhere, he's going to hit. Defensively, our defense got a heck of a lot better when he was out there. And the confidence that he gave our infielders and the things that he can do around the bag were really impressive. I hope Jake is enjoying himself, letting his mind take a break and come in fresh this Spring Training and ready to compete.
KEVIN CASH: We know how special Brent is, and how valuable and what we view in our organization. But if we're going to do Brent right, we have to let him go through the rehab process, not rush him. Knowing his personality, he's going to want to make a club out of Spring Training. That's not going to happen. We've got to do it right. Our medical staff is second to none. And I know Brent understands that. But he's a motivated player, and he wants to be a part of something that we all view as pretty special right now.
We'll do everything we can to calm him down, let him go through the process to make sure he's a hundred percent healthy and get him through his rehabs and get him to affiliate, get some innings, and hopefully he does help us.
KEVIN CASH: What we've talked about is some time May, June. But that's not set in stone. We adjust really well given the player. We have a bunch of players coming back from Tommy John and they all have different -- they all have some good weeks to the rehab and they all have some slowdown weeks. Everybody is different.
Q. You were joking you're not the front of any trends. But you walked into the Winter Meetings in San Diego, when you first got the job four years ago, how different is it for you now?
KEVIN CASH: It's different. It's different. There's no doubt there's more comfort. I think comfort comes with experience. And this thing here at the Winter Meetings in Vegas, you're going to be more comfortable just because of the atmosphere I think that's created.
But just the years of managing, the experience, getting to be around so many educated people in the game. You find that balance to where you continue learning but you also kind of keep in the back of your mind all the stuff that you've learned along the way, and I think gives you some confidence going forward.
KEVIN CASH: That's amazing to me. That is amazing. There's a lot of good managers. I know the transition in this game, especially this offseason, with all the jobs that came about, but that's a little odd.
Q. What is your position on the shift, whether it's good for the game or not?
KEVIN CASH: It's good for us. But I do think it's good. I think that fans to come in, and I know people say that it takes away hits. Those guys that are hitting home runs at a record clip right now. It's not taking away those.
But you see more thought. You see more decision making on at-bats, pitch count, two-strike counts, how guys are moving. I know we pay attention, we know what we're going to do on a nightly basis shifting. But when we see other teams do stuff against us, we go back after the ballgame and say what were they thinking. What was the information they had to make that make sense.
So I'm personally a big fan of shifting. And I think we're going to see it, we've already seen the infield take over heavily, I think we're going to see more outfield shifting.
Q. What about the talk of banning it or limiting it?
KEVIN CASH: I think it would be tough to do. I'm not in those talks, but eliminating shifts, putting a number on bullpen moves, I'm probably not the person to speak on it. Until that's done, we're going to continue to do all those things.
Q. It would limit a lot of what you do, right?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah. But our guys are really smart upstairs, and if they change rules, we'll find ways and do good things within the rules to help us, what we think, have that advantage.
Q. On the earlier question about managers being hired without prior experience. We're seeing a lot of young coaching changes, guys from college. How do you see that impacting the game?
KEVIN CASH: Well, we just hired a process and analytics coach in Jonathan Erlichman. So, look, I think all teams are looking for an edge right now. And the traditional way of thought is a great way. But if you can bring that thought with maybe those innovative, out-of-the-box thoughts, you think you're getting the best of both worlds.
There's a tech conference here at 11:00. We have five, six guys going to that to get more knowledge. Whatever we can do, whatever we can look at, whatever information we can utilize to help our players perform on the field, help them get rest, help them just the grind of the season, we're going to do.
And I think that mindset -- some of those guys that don't have the playing experience, they get shunned out of the game. And I think if you're really doing it right you want that perspective, they have no experience of playing the game on a nightly basis, but they've sat -- for us to have hired a guy that has sat and watched a lot of our games from the suite or done a lot of games on the computer and projection-wise, to bring that in house to have those conversations on a daily basis is only going to make us better.
Q. How do you sift through all that? You get the reports, you get some kind of summation. How do you use it and apply it to what you're doing?
KEVIN CASH: Well, we have daily conversations. Sometimes the perspective is you get the advance report before a series and you just go. We're talking throughout the day. We're talking before the game about whether it's bullpen management, roster management, decision making on platoon switch. All those things we're talking throughout. And then we follow-up after the game, and we try to learn.
But there's never too much information. Never enough information. You take it and then you rely on the quality of your staff to kind of help sift it through the players to where they're getting what they need on a daily basis.
KEVIN CASH: Well, I think it made sense for those clubs. I didn't talk to Craig Counsell at all. I know I spoke with Bob Melvin a couple of weeks ago and really admired what he's done, what that organization has done. Very similar how I think, very similar to the Rays.
As far as the opening, I know it's going to continue to get a lot of talk. I think it's going to come down to what clubs, organizations feel the strength of their staff is, and how it's aligned. And if they're a bunch of young guys that they can mix and match, they might go that way. If they're traditional, if they've got a bunch of guys that have logged innings and have a wealth of experience similar to maybe the Red Sox or the Astros, you're going to see them stay Pat.
Q. Is it hard to do on the fly, in one offseason, because of personnel?
KEVIN CASH: I don't think so. I don't think it's too hard. I really don't. I think that once you get the players to embrace it you take off from there. And we saw -- some of our young pitchers, Ryan Stanek, Castillo, they loved after a ballgame coming in, before the media sessions, you walk up and say, You're starting tomorrow. They really began to embrace that. And that's not how it normally goes. Normally starters know four or five days or weeks out when they're starting and making those plans. But I think that our guys did such a good job of embracing the role and that's why it was successful.
Q. What stood out watching Nate Eovaldi in the offseason?
KEVIN CASH: So happy for him. I'm not too thrilled that he decided to stay in the division and sign back with the Red Sox. We'll work around that.
But watching him perform, we really got to know Nate Eovaldi the year 2017, when he was hurt. And the way he came to the ballpark, the way he went about his rehab, the type of teammate he was, you can't help but pull for the guy. And then he had so much success for us and then he went on to Boston and the way he took the ball. And obviously the extra inning game, it was fun to watch.
Q. You obviously had him to increase his cutter use significantly while he was with you guys. How long does it take to view a pitcher that's been one thing in his career, based on a change in pitch usage or pitch mix, to say, Oh, he's a different guy than he was before?
KEVIN CASH: That's a good question. I didn't get him to do that but I'll give credit to Kyle. I'll give credit to our front office and ultimately Nate. Nate recognized with the stuff that he features, there's probably a way he could wipe out some guys at a higher clip, whether it was cutter usage, or whatever, he bought in.
Your second part of the question, I really don't know. I think you trust your thoughts and projections on a specific pitch. And if the pitcher decides to use it more, whatever that was saying, if it's the right decision to use it more, more times than not you're going to get a more consistent pitcher having success.
Q. Doesn't that make it hard to trust projections? If a guy makes a small adjustment, recognizes it quickly, guys are recognizing the impact that a subtle change can have. Is it becoming a little bit harder to say he's been up until this point and he's going to project off of that?
KEVIN CASH: Well, I think -- what's your time frame? You're talking a couple of starts or a season's worth of starts?
Q. Yeah, a couple starts a month.
KEVIN CASH: I mean, look, when our guys make adjustments and we see it right away with -- if the four-pitch mix and you go heavier on one of the four as opposed to what you were doing, you can see those adjustments and projections can take off right away. It doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes it takes a pitcher to find some comfort throwing that pitch in different counts, challenging himself to be able to trust it a little bit more. So every situation is a little bit different.
Q. Where the Yankees and Red Sox are, did you guys enter the offseason with a goal? Is there a specific goal that you guys have in the offseason?
KEVIN CASH: I don't know there's a specific number, I don't think there is. We recognize that New York and Boston, they're there. They're always going to be good. They're very, very talented. And then the rest of the division, Toronto is only going to get better with their youth movement, and the Baltimore Orioles, you scratch your head a little bit about where their season was. You can quickly see them rebounding and challenging the division.
But, no, I think we've got to worry about what's in our building and make the most of that situation. But, yes, we do recognize that they're talented teams. I hope we don't see 200-win teams again unless we're one of them. How many times do you see that in baseball? And I think we saw it twice, I believe the Astros and the A's did it really close. So there were some really quality teams in the American League this past year.
Q. (INAUDIBLE.) Were there ever any conversations with staying involved in baseball, anything you remember about any of those conversations?
KEVIN CASH: Knowing Chris, he was just -- he was so passionate about the game. He's an infielder, but whether it was hitting, whether it was pitching, I was on the bench more than he was. But we had opportunities during the season to talk. He really liked to kind of follow the game.
And he was, for a veteran player that maybe wasn't an everyday player, I'll never forget, I was in Spring Training as a young player, popped a ball up and just kind of jogged to first base. And Chris kind of took me in the dugout afterwards in a very quiet way and said, That's not you, that's not the type of player that you're going to be. And for a guy to do that with three years' experience, I think you've got a pretty good sense, he knows how to communicate with all players, whether it's a veteran guy or the young player, it had a big impact.
Q. Are you surprised at all that some people think it's been the worst thing ever, it's the doom of baseball?
KEVIN CASH: Who?
Q. I mean media people, even some baseball people saying they wouldn't do it, things like that.
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, and I'm a little bit surprised but I think it goes back to how your organization's built. And it's the same thing with do you want to have the DH that sits there and DH's every single day or didn't get the flexibility to get guys off their feet. You're going to get pros and cons. It's going to challenge us. Make us think more, why is that perspective, why are they saying that. And is there something we can look deeper in to recognize it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports