DALLAS - The Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole will be remembered for the free-spending Miami Marlins and the Albert Pujols contract, but there was plenty of other baseball talk:
* After coming within a strike twice of winning the World Series, Texas manager Ron Washington likely will never hear the end of the second-guessing. It came up again in Dallas, when Washington was asked whether right fielder Nelson Cruz was playing too shallow when St. Louis’ David Freese’s two-out, two-strike triple went over Cruz’s head to tie Game 6 in the ninth inning. “We had a no-doubles defense,’’ Washington said. “It was something that happened in the course of a game and we can critique it as many ways as we possibly can - and it isn’t going to change a thing.’‘
* Miami’s new manager, Ozzie Guillen, couldn’t understand why Hanley Ramirez would balk at moving to third base to make room for the Marlins’ new $106 million shortstop, Jose Reyes. “It’d be different if I were replacing Hanley with someone like Ozzie Guillen,’’ Guillen said. “But, I’m replacing him with Jose Reyes.’’ The signing of Reyes gives the Marlins two batting champs and arguably the best left side of the infield of any in baseball.
* Brian Cashman, the New York Yankees general manager, said that he’s happy with his team’s offense, defense and bullpen, but the one weakness he’d like to shore up is the rotation behind lefty CC Sabathia, the Yankees’ No. 1 starter.
* The Boston Red Sox don’t have a closer, and the setup guy, Daniel Bard, could either be a closer or a starter. It depends on what kind of pitching the Red Sox can get. They need at least two starters. Bard told new manager Bobby Valentine that he’d be willing to start or close. Valentine says it’s unfair to leave Bard in that position, but that the Red Sox are going to do it anyway, depending on which avenue they take to add to their pitching staff.
* The Cleveland Indians are excited that Ubaldo Jimenez will pitch winter ball. They think it will make him stronger for spring training. Indians manager Manny Acta reminded reporters that Jimenez’s best season in Colorado came after he pitched winter baseball.
* Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel predicts shortstop Jimmy Rollins will return to the Phillies. “He wants to stay,’’ Manuel said. And Manuel thinks second baseman Chase Utley, if healthy, will hit .300 with 25-30 home runs in 2012.
* Detroit manager Jim Leyland misses the Winter Meetings of old days, when there wasn’t so much emphasis on free-agent signings. Leyland said the Winter Meetings used to be about trades and meeting all hours of the night to make them.
* Designated hitter Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox piled up the strikeouts in a horrible first season in 2011, but his new manager, Robin Ventura, said that he wants Dunn to relax and forget about the past. “That one year isn’t going to define Adam,’’ Ventura said.
* Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said his catcher, former batting champ and American League MVP Joe Mauer, is determined to come back strong in 2012. “He’s healthy and he’s working out,’’ Gardenhire said. “He got beat up in the press pretty good and he’s mad about that. That’s a good thing for the Twins.’‘