Interview with Buck Showalter

Interview with Buck Showalter

Q. What are your thoughts on Reynolds?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Talking to him and his wife, Cathleen, they have a 14 month old probably more information than you need, right. He's looking forward to getting back closer to home. I was talking to Brady Anderson this morning, and he's living out in the same area they are. But you know, we are excited to keep Josh out of some of the deals, too. Gives us some depth and some ways we can go. Still, you never know what may happen in the spring but we are excited about Josh, too. No, excited about Mark. We didn't have that guy statistically last year.

Q. Have you spoken to a lot of your players?

BUCK SHOWALTER: A lot of my players? I don't know what you would call a lot. As many as I can. I try to leave them alone as much as possible, too, but we are getting closer to that time, we set our Spring Training dates and everything and when we get out of here, I've got meetings when I get back to Baltimore Friday and Saturday with trainers, conditioning coaches, all the coaches are coming in and look at where we are and make sure we are not surprised by anything. So far, so good.

Q. You said you were going to talk to Josh Bell just to make sure he's still in your plans. Did you speak to him and you said his off season is still pretty stuff conditioning wise?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Andy and I talked to him in Tampa last year about winter ball versus a real emphasis on some things he wanted to do with his body conditioning wise, and decided as a group that he was going to take a week or so off and take it from that point forward and really try to come back and change some things to his body physically. I have two calls into him right now. I have to re check my numbers and see if I have the right one. But I haven't spoken directly to Josh yet.

Q. How much did the addition of Reynolds help Markakis' game offensively?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I'm not a big proponent of that, if you get one player; ideally you get to a point where you have more of a pass the baton club, where there's not the weight of the world on one guy. But I don't think we are at the point now yet that one player is going to automatically make everybody do that much more. You know, you look at the walk totals, though, with him, you look at the on base percentage, for that matter, and he doesn't clog up the bases; the guy runs pretty well, so he could help something from that point depending where we hit him in the batting order.

Q. How significant was left handed pitching against a right handed batter, because was that a big factor because of the struggles against lefties?

BUCK SHOWALTER: That's something we talk about during the course of the conversation and this idea goes way back. Andy and them have been working on the potential of it, but you look at in Mark, hopefully we feel like in probably the low area of his statistical and his career, he's going to have, he still did X number of things, and the left handed pitching, the way I look at it, we are going to see a minimum of ten to nine left handed starters in the month of April and we would like to get off to a decent start. That was another factor, so when you look at the picture where mark is concerned and the picture for next two or three years, he's younger than a lot of players that we are describing as our young core.

Q. Do you have a sense of shortstop or first base what you'll be doing in those positions?

BUCK SHOWALTER: What we are going to be doing for sure, no. We have some moving parts there. Sure it will change from the time I left to the time I get back. But there's some possibilities out there. That we continue to look at.

Q. How much do you think Ty Wiggington will help the Rockies?

BUCK SHOWALTER: As a person, a lot. As a baseball player, I think Ty is really staging his career, he really knows what he needs to bring and he's a winning player. He's good people, and I'm excited for them. I just wish him the best because I hope every guy gets to have guys like Wiggy. I know Jimmie will like him.

How is Jim doing?

Q. Mild arrhythmia. He's got a house in Bradenton, so he's okay but pretty scary for a while.

BUCK SHOWALTER: What was the other follow up?

Q. What kind of a fit he'll be in Coors Field.

BUCK SHOWALTER: He was versatile for us, first base, second base, he'd go in the outfield, anything to get in the lineup; pop. You know what you're going to get from Wiggy every day when he shows up and he loves to play baseball. He's a good fit for anybody, not just Colorado.

Q. Do you have a guy that can fit what Wiggy did for you guys?

BUCK SHOWALTER: We hope so. We are looking at some of it. First base, third base, we have got some ideas out there, got some ideas of how we can fill that void.

Q. The process with other teams, what has this been like compared to the past few?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, I was asking around a little bit. It seems like teams, not just us, spend more time meeting with agency groups as opposed to teams. It's a little different dynamic than I remember. But it's only been two years. But it's a very agent driven industry.

Q. What's the challenges of managing such a young staff in the AL East? You have a young, talented staff. What's the challenge specifically?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, we are trying to attack the bullpen, get more of a proven area, some guys with good track records and feel like we are fairly close on some of those things. I think hopefully we can get Jimmy Johnson for a full year, if he comes back for a full year and he's healthy for the full year, he adds a couple of track record guys down there.

Q. When you say fairly close, do you mean, the next few days of the Winter Meetings?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well I know where we are with it but you have to have cooperation from the teams you're dealing with or an agent. The way we feel things can go and the way they feel are sometimes two different things. But it's not part of my job description. I just listen and have another cracker upstairs or fruit.

Q. How involved have you been with Andy in terms of bringing players to the ballclub, do you have a wish list?

BUCK SHOWALTER: There's a free flow of information from everybody and when you're opinion is asked, you give it and when you feel like you have something, you bring it up but that's true with everybody.

But we have a little different situation than some other people, too. We have to be careful about what chips we move. We have had interest in some of our players, obviously, and rob from Peter to pay Paul.

Q. Brian Roberts, how important is it to have somebody who can play second for an extended period if something happens?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, whether it be Brian or anybody, you're thinking about your what ifs, not just because Brian has had some physical problems last year. I think regardless of who is playing anywhere, you go what if at first, what if at second, what if at short. You know, we have some internal candidates and we have some people that we are looking at.

But I think in the American League, I think it's much, if not more than the National League, somebody can play every day at that spot as opposed to double switch or come in late offensively. You look at somebody that you can run out there for an extended period of time. It has no reflection on where Brian was last year physically, we were doing that regardless.

Q. Going into the season, if you had your preference and some acquisitions occur and whatever, would you prefer guys like Brit ton and Tillman to start the year in the minors? I know you have to see them when they get to March.

BUCK SHOWALTER: Right now we have got six or seven for five and if you look at the schedule with off days and what have you, I hope they all make it tough on us but they have a way of separating them says a little bit in the spring. I think some of the you have to be careful in the spring. Some of the worst evaluations go on in the spring and the fall.

We like that we have them and we have some depth there with the younger pitchers and more coming, but I know Andy has just thought about possibly adding another pitcher, if we can make it work. If not, I'm real comfortable with letting those guys compete for that fifth spot. I know Mark and Rick are, too. They have been watching a lot of tape and putting their arms around these guys the last three or four weeks. In fact, we will go over a lot of it Friday and Saturday in Baltimore.

Q. So you could see a Tillman and Britton competition for the fifth spot as a possibility?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I would not throw that out of the realm of possibility. I have not definitely said one is going to start in Triple A but that's just me.

Q. When you evaluate last season how much do you put in the six weeks at the end of the season where you played very well versus the overall record?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Not much. Because it's quickly forgotten. Hopefully we can take it to a level better than where we were last year and get a little better. Not putting any limitations or goals necessarily that we have got to have just X number record and do this. I don't want to put limitations on our guys. I think a lot of them you don't put it around one phase. You don't say, if all the balls are around how quick are you when the pitching comes. We have to catch a baseball. I think that's something we did a lot better the last two months of the season. We got a lot of people out on the field and Andy had envisioned part of an everyday team. [Check] Pie came back, Roberts played a lot more. A lot of the guys that were hurt came back.

Q. Speaking of catching the baseball, you've been a big proponent of Izzy since you got here, but could you envision a scenario where he could comeback as a utility guy and play?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Sure, I could see him coming back as shortstop.

Q. If that door closes, could you see him playing as a utility guy at second and short?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Yeah, that would be a decision he would have to make. We are not there yet with him. We would still view him as an option at shortstop and I'm sure some other clubs do, too.

Q. What do you make of the big contracts that are out there, 126 for Jayson Werth and 50

BUCK SHOWALTER: If we could just have that movie one day here, Liar Liar I think it was, where everybody didn't bite their lip. I guarantee every room up there with the possible exceptions of a couple of teams that signed them, you know, they are saying behind closed doors, I think there's some you're envious of the player, not having that player. But you know, you don't dwell on it. You move on.

Q. What does it say about the health of the game?

BUCK SHOWALTER: That's not for me to judge how healthy the game is. I know I haven't heard of any checks bouncing in baseball. And everybody's lucky to be doing it. So must be pretty healthy. Well, I don't know if I should say that completely. Some of them got close I guess.

You know, what players get, God bless them. They are the best in the world at what they do and that's what they are able to someone covets them enough to do that, then you know, I look at, just hope we can get the coaches salaries up there. Not managers, coaches.

Q. You talk about getting to the next level or whatever

BUCK SHOWALTER: Whatever it is.

Q. Whatever that might be. What has to happen in your mind, like two or three keys or whatever have to happen?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, you look at teams, like nobody dreamed the Padres would do as well as they did last year and obviously their bullpen was locked in. They were playing six inning games. They shortened the baseball games. And that was in the National League, too.

But I think that you have to have some well, I wasn't expecting that to happen so quickly. I wasn't expecting that. You can't paint a perfect scenario. Something has got to happen that someone comes at a quicker pace or expands into the player you that you expect he will be at some stage in his career.

So we are going to have some things go on, but the normal pace of how it happens, doesn't happen, that we get a little quicker. But you know, I'm not really thinking that I'm going to put any limitations on it. We'll see. We'll see. We play too many games and just too long of a season; the strengths and weaknesses will show up. It's a long season.

Whatever we are not good at will show up and what we are good at will show up. We will have our curiosity satisfied very quickly. But I want us to get better.

Q. Would your young starting pitching

BUCK SHOWALTER: Sure. And how do you quantify, purely, statistically?

I feel comfortable with not only the work done while I was there and before I was there that we have them all at a level as far as any innings pitched and their load. They have been handling in a way that if they are going to take the next step that we all wait for and let's face it, if you have six or seven of those guys, if three of them hit, you're lucky, real lucky. I'm hoping we don't follow that norm, you know.

A lot of times, we overlook an orchid while searching for a rose and someone you were thinking all of a sudden pops. Hope that happens.

Q. How do you evaluate your left field situation?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I know it's early and obviously with P.A. and we hope Nolan, talked to Brady, but that workout facility, and we are hearing good things with Nolan and we know that Luke can play out there. I might be forgetting somebody but right now those are the three that we're talking about.

Q. If you don't get any a first baseman in free agency or trade, would Luke be an option? Or would you prefer DH for him?

BUCK SHOWALTER: He's capable of playing first base, and that is one thing that's attractive about him. He's a guy that can DH, obviously play first base and left field. I would not pigeonhole him into any of those and say that's what he can do. The thing I like about him is he works hard about it. He wants to make everybody feel comfortable, but on the day that he's not DH'ing, he can handle the load. He works at it.

Q. Were talking about how you have to be careful about making judgments in the spring and the fall. What about what happened in the last six weeks are you convinced was real?

BUCK SHOWALTER: That's considered the fall, right? (Laughter.)

What's real, what's not? I think the young pitchers maturing, we can see their confidence level rise a little bit when they quit giving the other team too much credit and trusting themselves a little bit more.

I think realizing certain things were done that it gave you a lot better chance to win a baseball game. You can see some of them, their feet getting on the ground a little bit more, understanding that it's not easy, but they can do this, if they follow a certain approach to it. But even some of the young guys in the bullpen, just fun to watch. You can see in their faces a little bit but that can go away very quickly, it can go away very quickly.

I'm aware of the reality of what's ahead of us.

Q. As an evaluator, where do you see Wieters' overall game right now?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Keep in mind, he's a couple of years from his college senior year so to speak. I came in obviously with a pretty open mind about everything and I was not surprised but I was really happy with Matt. He cares about catching. He cares about putting down good fingers. He cares about working with the pitching staff. All the other stuff, he makes three or four hundred decisions behind the plate and four at bats. You do the math. He grasped that at a very early age. What he does offensively, I don't spend too much time dwelling on it.

I think the greatest compliment I could pay him is he's going to be as good as he's capable of being, whatever that is; he'll reach it and that's a real testament to his mom and dad and he's good people. I'm glad he's on our side.

Q. Can you talk a little about Willy Randolph and what he brings just to the table as your bench coach, and do you like the fact that he has managerial experience and he coached in the American League and National League?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, it's like Willy and John, both, they have worn so many hats in their career. We're excited to add them. Willy can do a number of things that John can do. He could have coached third base, either one of them. Willy is going to handle the infielders primarily, and I look at John and him both as bench coaches so to speak.

I feel really confident about bouncing things off of them and sharing your pain so to speak, and your happiness, so to speak. Willy is good people. He was my third base coach in New York years ago and I know his family very well and we go way back and can trust and he understands the reality of what is ahead of us. Very close to him. He's good people. Gretchen, him and the kids, In fact, they are all coming to Baltimore Thursday.

Q. When you add Mark's glove to the left side of the people, how much does that affect the philosophy of the organization in filling the shortstop need?

BUCK SHOWALTER: None. Just because, if you've got a guy you feel is like a good defender, doesn't mean that you go out and get some guy that can't play shortstop because this guy is going to cover it all.

I would like to have a good third baseman, which we feel like we have, and a good shortstop. It's not always about run production. It's about run reduction. And to this day, I think that the biggest improvements he made the last two months, we made runs matter and balls that stayed in the ballpark we caught for the most part. You can't do it in the American League. You can't give away extra outs. In any league, for that matter.

Q. You've been part of conversations how confident are you that when you guys leave here you'll have a better idea of what you have and how close do you think you guys are to making some moves?

BUCK SHOWALTER: It's a process. Like I said before, you keep making someone want to do something that you think is good for the club, they may think it's bad for theirs and you move on. It not a place where you dwell on something that doesn't work on. You have to have Plan B, C, D, whatever, move on.

At the end of the day, all of those things will make you a little bit better but if not he's been pretty much right on about how the market and everything was going to play for the most part. It's a moving target. You know, I like the possibility of doing some things before we leave here.

Q. With Monday's trade, you have eight relievers and six of those guys

BUCK SHOWALTER: Depends on who you call starters not potential relievers.

Q. Guys we would pencil in now as relievers, and six of those guys have recent injury history. Do you know how many guys you would like to have as far as bring into the system as relievers?

BUCK SHOWALTER: There's a lot of things that I know that you're not aware of yet, but as far as some six year guys that we really like, have the Rule V Draft coming up shortly, and we also have some free agent guys that we feel like we are pretty close on, so that number you are talking about could change quickly.

I'm aware that Koji, JJ, Gonzo, these guys have had some physical issues, Berken, probably missing a couple, but as I've said, got Lord did not intend for you to take your arm over your head and jerk it down violently like pitchers do. That's why we walk around with arms at our side. You go to every club here, you're not going to find a clean arm.

Q. Is there a number you're comfortable adding?

BUCK SHOWALTER: 117. I don't think there's ever you talking about bringing to camp number of pitchers period.

Q. As far as 40 man roster, relievers.

BUCK SHOWALTER: You've got to see people, that by the time we are done here, we have got like five guys that we know are going to be on our Major League bullpen staff, the what ifs are not as deep.

So it's probably a good question for a couple weeks from now when the smoke kind of clears. But you know, I know that if we are able to do the things we are talking about doing here shortly, that question won't be relevant anymore.

Q. You're feeling pretty optimistic about Koji from what you're hearing?

BUCK SHOWALTER: If something could be worked out for him and his family and for the Baltimore Orioles that fits, I would like to have him back. Simple as that. He's good people. Pitched well for me and for the Orioles the last two months he when was healthy but I also realize what went on up until that point. He had some challenges.

Q. Can you talk about the contribution he made last year?

BUCK SHOWALTER: He came in and solidified our bullpen at the back end. His percentage was good. I don't want to say he's a comfortable closer, but he cuts in with a sharp knife. He comes in, bing, bang, bong, that was nice or you're out the other way. I kind of like that and not having top stuff or smoke or anything. it's painless for the most part. We only had one real painful one, just in, out, bingo, here it is, move on. I don't know how it is for everybody upstairs who is looking at a tone of games. He cuts with a sharp knife. We have that going for us. I mean that as a compliment, too. He doesn't mess around much.

Q. With Reynolds' addition, does it make it more likely you can go with a left hander at first base and does it affect much has been made of Carlos Pena's strikeout total. Does that matter to you?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Me personally? Doesn't eliminate anybody, if they are plus defenders. But you know, I think it would be a challenge for me if they were big strikeout guys with poor defender combination.

Q. You had mentioned before about the importance of first base defense, was that still paramount for you?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, I think the game is kind of in a perfect world but you know I always aim to get things done that you hope to get things done. We hope so. We hope everybody at every position our outfield defense the last two months, when we got PA and Jonesy and Nick out there consistently, take in arm strength and everything, that's as good as you want to see in Major Leagues as a group. I think people miss that about the American League and the East, people that can defend. Tampa has shown that. So the thing we have gotten better at and we hope that's something we can get better at and more better. I was impressed with the way Josh played first base, too. We were putting him in for defense, too, at the end.

Q. What are your thoughts on expanded playoffs? That's just talk about it that I'm aware of.

BUCK SHOWALTER: And where is it at?

Q. I just know there's talk.

BUCK SHOWALTER: I don't know if the powers to be want me weighing in on it. At the end of the day, if it affects us can we do it from year to year, how it affects the Orioles? (Laughter.)

I thought you were going do you know the replay angle. I'm glad you didn't ask that one. Don't.

Q. You might have been asked before but how hopeful are you to get Koji signed?

BUCK SHOWALTER: We are, we would like to get him back, if we could get something both parties are comfortable with. I know Andy met with his people and Koji went back to Tampa for awhile. I'm comfortable with the rate and process that they are moving through.