The one line you need to hear from each manager at winter meetings


We listened to all 29 managers in Orlando so you don’t have to (Ned Yost did not attend the 2018 winter meetings). Here are the most interesting takeaways from their time at the winter meetings.

AL East

Buck Showalter on how to combat Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and the Yankees’ offense: “I’m glad they haven’t changed the rule where the further you hit it, you get a run and a half, a run and a quarter. Can you imagine? If they had one of those Skee-Ball things where the further you hit it, the more points you get? Don’t give them any ideas in the competition committee. Could you imagine a stadium like — of course, the Yankee Stadium, as little as that ballpark is, they don’t need any help.”

Alex Cora on when he found out Stanton was traded to the Yankees: “I was at home. Saw the rumors on Friday night going to bed. I prayed. I got up in the morning and saw it. … I went to [Yadier Molina’s charity] event on Saturday, and all of a sudden, this group of reporters from back home [in Puerto Rico], you see them coming at me, and the first thing [I said] is, ‘I ain’t talking about Stanton!'”

Aaron Boone on getting managerial advice from his dad, former Royals and Reds manager Bob Boone: “I would say he’s been the biggest influence on me in my life, just as a person, as a man, as a ballplayer, now as I go into this role. He’s starting to cry in his old age a lot more. When I told him [about getting the job], laughter turned into some tears. He’s pretty excited, obviously, for this opportunity. He and my mom will come over at Christmastime, and I know he’s going to want to sit me down on the couch and give some words of wisdom about things that are important to him. I’ll take in all advice and filter some of it, like I do with everyone else.”

Kevin Cash on what it will be like to face the 2018 Yankees: “I heard somebody say, ‘Baseball’s good when the American League East and the Yankees are playing well.’ I’ll say the American League East. I could care less if the Yankees are playing well. But it’s a challenge that we embrace.”

John Gibbons on facing power Red Sox and Yankees teams over the years: “One thing you always liked is when they played each other head-to-head before they played you. There was something to that, too. They came in, and they were beat up. You go back to those years — middle of June, end of June, both those teams usually pulled away by then. So that was kind of a different division. It was almost out of hand at that time. But they’re great teams to play. They play in ballparks that are great places to go to, fun places to go to, and if you’re going to be the best, you got to beat the best. Historically, those are your best teams because they’re just great sports teams and great cities, and the people demand a lot and ownership’s forced to react to that.”

AL Central

Rick Renteria on the language of analytics (and The Martian): “The players have been exposed now to new bits of terminology. I saw a movie the other day, and they were trying to figure out, for NASA actually, what math did you use to get the original astronauts to come back to Earth? And it was an old math equation that they ended up using. They were trying to figure out new math, and they realized, ‘Gosh, the old math works.’ So all I’m saying is there are new ways of being able to describe different things — nothing wrong with it — but as coaches we also have to understand the math and the language that they’re using.”

Terry Francona on the maturation of free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana the past few years: “Rarely, at least in my time, do you see guys change in the middle of their career. He could get kind of surly at times and get a little consumed with how he’s doing, and at about the halfway mark of the last couple years, he’s a better teammate, better person. He turned himself into a very good first baseman. He’s hard not to like, lovable. You see him before the games come up and kiss me on the head, get handshakes with everybody. He’s a great kid.”

Ron Gardenhire on the lack of longevity in management: “Well, it’s an evolving game. Everything changes. You know what? If the team sucks, you fire the manager. It’s never changed. I mean, when we started playing bad in Minnesota, they made a change. I understood. They gave me 13 good years as a manager. I had a blast. I loved it. I don’t know if you’ll see that ever again. That’s the way the game is.”

Paul Molitor on whether he knew the 2017 Twins had a shot early on: “I think that we all started to see some of the things that we tried to make a priority in spring training start to happen on a more consistent basis, eliminating a lot of the mistakes, and it started to just gain a little bit of momentum. We had a couple periods where it looked like it was slipping away, but I think clubhouse leadership was able to keep us on track. Part of maturing as a player up here is getting an understanding of just how long a season is and the ups and downs and how you’ve got to keep pushing.”

AL West

A.J. Hinch on sharing DH at-bats: “Right now, I think Evan Gattis will get the most at-bats in the DH spot. I could see spreading it around. Getting Jose Altuve a few days at DH, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel a few days, maybe even introduce the DH to Carlos Correa, just to try to alleviate some of the time when they’re playing on both sides of the ball. In any season, you go in wanting to be very smart and proactive in resting your guys. The DH is kind of the cheating way to do it. You don’t have to take them completely out of the lineup, but you can limit some of their physical requirements.”

Mike Scioscia on whether 2018 will be an experiment: “I sure hope it’s not an experiment. I don’t know if we want to be experimenting with a championship run. But I think in regard to having a unique player like Shohei, there are going to be some things that maybe haven’t been done in baseball here in the United States, but it’s things that he’s done in Japan, so therefore our comfort level is very high. I don’t look at it as an experiment. We have a real good idea that Shohei’s going to be able to do the things that we’re going to ask him to do. Hopefully it’s going to be very, very successful season for us.”

Bob Melvin on the chances that Ohtani both hits and pitches: “I wish I had the problem of how to try to figure that out. Obviously, the Angels do right now. But I don’t know that anybody has come to the big leagues that has been quite like this yet. So I think there will be some wait-and-see [with] how they’re going to use him. Would I like to have that problem? Obviously, I would, but I don’t know that you’ve seen a true two-way player to this point come to the big leagues like him.”

Scott Servais on how to use Ohtani and other two-way players: “I think the two-way guy, how do you keep him healthy, keep him going on the mound and keep the bat going as well? There’s no doubt it’s a challenge. All the teams that had talked about possibly bringing him in, I’m sure they all came up with a plan of how to do it. Everybody’s going to look at it a bit differently. I do think it will be interesting to see how it plays out. It could open the door for more players.”

Jeff Bannister on the possibility of a four- or six-man rotation: “There are parts of it that make sense. The schedule makes it challenging. Construction of your roster makes it challenging. … [But] you’re able to collect enough data that tell us there are pitchers who definitely benefit from the extra day’s rest or the routine of being on that five-day rest period or six-day rest period. You can point to ERAs. You can point to VLOs. You can point to walk rates go down, strikeout rates go up. The challenge, again, is the schedule and finding the guys who are willing to be part of it. Because traditionally, we’re kind of stuck in that five-man rotation.”

NL East

Brian Snitker on whether the Braves have embraced the “rebuild”: “I don’t really think about it that much. The thing I like is that our young players that we have had our eye on for a few years now are starting to surface in the big leagues. You can term it any way you want, but we’re starting to get our young guys in the big leagues. We feel really good about that, and we’re going to give them the opportunity to help us win games.”

Mickey Callaway on the demands of the job: “I think that passion for baseball probably counteracts that. Obviously, you have obligations and things that you have to do as a manager. You just embrace every second. I love the game of baseball and thinking about it and thinking about leadership. That, and a lot of coffee. I get up real early and drink tons of coffee. I don’t think I’m going to burn out unless I have a heart attack or something.”

Don Mattingly on resetting operations in Miami: “Again, you recognize the disappointment in the fans. It seems like there’s been a lot of negative. I look back at what Houston was able to do a few years back and where they’re at right now. We needed a reset. It wasn’t working. What we were trying to accomplish and the way we were doing it, trying to win, it just wasn’t working, and we had to get a model going that was sustainable, a chance for us to build something that we could have success on a yearly basis, be able to compete. We’re like every other club that comes here. You may look at some more seriously than others, but we’re trying to build a team that has the opportunity to compete for a World Series on a yearly basis.”

Gabe Kapler on building a positive environment: “The analogy that I’ve used and will continue to use is the coaching staff, the front office, all of the various departments around a baseball organization are the soil, and our players are the plants and the trees that are going to grow in that soil. So that soil has to be extremely nutrient-dense.”

Dave Martinez on lobbying to keep Bryce Harper: “Can I lobby right now? Hey, I can’t wait to work with him, and I hope we get to work together for a lot of years. He’s a tremendous player. Of course, anybody would want him on their team, but as of right now, he’s a Washington National, and I’m looking forward to him being at spring training and working together.”

NL Central

Joe Maddon on the idea that it’s World Series or bust for the Cubs: “I don’t want to grow up to be that guy that if you don’t get the pony every birthday, you’re going to be upset or start crying in the corner.”

Bryan Price on the rise of the power player: “The game is changing from the youth organizations up into professional baseball. People are getting paid to hit homers. There’s a lot of money to be made hitting homers and driving in runs with the home run. The strikeout isn’t as frowned upon as it once was. The fact is that so many big power arms are getting to the big leagues without really knowing how to pitch. We’re finding more and more guys that throw hard, but they don’t know how to pitch, and those guys are being exploited because hitters can hit velocity — that has been proven. I think until the pitching improves, you’re going to see a trend in offense as we have seen in the last two years.”

Craig Counsell on managing an evolving clubhouse: “I always say that this is like a soup you put together. The ingredients are always a little different. When we show up for spring training next year, the soup’s going to be a little different.”

Clint Hurdle on leadership development in young players: “There’s one comment I share every spring that some of them cringe, but I remind them they’re going to be ex-players much longer than they’re going to be players. And you have an opportunity to build a foundation now as a player in the community within your own home first and impact other people.”

Mike Matheny on filling a hole by acquiring Marcell Ozuna: “For a while there, you have a Mark McGwire kind of fill that spot in the order, then you have an Albert Pujols followed by a Matt Holliday, who was that presence. As you watch teams that have sustained success, there’s typically a presence in the middle of that lineup. So that has been a focus of this club, still believing that we can develop those style players, and we have some guys that are developing into those kinds of players. But right now, to put a couple players or a player in that spot is a priority.”

NL West

Torey Lovullo on his first year as a manager: “Well, I made a lot of mistakes. There’s no doubt about that. I feel like I grew as a manager and understanding what it takes to make the right decision with a lot of stimulus. I relied on a lot of good people that were around me, and I had to kind of do my own soul-searching, but I learned how to rely on other people that helped me make good decisions. I’m not going to say that it’s going to be a perfect science this next year, but I learned how to let things go and not let it bother me. I just learned that’s part of the game.”

Bud Black on how the role of speed in baseball has changed: “For speed to stay in our game or increase in our game, we need fast guys to be playing as kids. So let’s do that. Let’s get them off the soccer field, get them off the lacrosse field. Let’s get them on a baseball diamond. If you guys see young, fast guys out there, get them a baseball glove for Christmas.”

Dave Roberts on getting over the World Series loss: “Gosh, I don’t know if you ever get over it. Especially [if] you go to Game 7 and a lot of things could have been different — a pitch here, a pitch there, maybe change the outcome. But you still go through your mind and what you could have done possibly different to potentially influence it. But at the end of the day, it is what it is, and you learn from it. I’d argue that our guys are as hungry as anybody in all of baseball to be that close. We’ll be right there in the mix again.”

Andy Green on playing in a division full of playoff teams: “We got to test ourselves against the best competition in the game, which is exciting when you’re trying to build something. You want the best in your division, like, you want to unseat them. We have to get better. We have to execute at a higher clip. We have to continue to bring in more talent. We have to raise the culture of expectation as an organization to catch up to those guys.”

Bruce Bochy on savoring the good times: “We talked about that, actually: You don’t savor the good times as much as you dwell on the tough times. That’s a tough season for everybody: fans, ownership, front office, coaching staff, players, all of us. It’s not a lot of fun to lose 98. It wears on you, and it makes the season quite a bit longer — not quite a bit, a lot longer. So, yeah, I think that’s why you got to enjoy the successes, and when you win a game, celebrate. We don’t do it enough, especially in baseball because it’s pretty much every night. You’re playing 162 and hopefully more. You can’t dwell on the losses too much.”

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