The Twins haven’t contacted Orioles bench coach John Russell about interviewing for their managerial position, which was vacated with the firing of Ron Gardenhire. However, they’re expected to reach out to him.
“If they don’t call,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, “then they must have some really good candidates.”
It’s believed that the job belongs to Hall of Famer Paul Molitor if he wants it. Stay tuned.
Immediately following the Game 4 loss in Kansas City, I asked Showalter how long it takes for the disappointment to fade and for him to sit back and reflect on the positive developments from the 2014 season. I decided to check again today.
“Keep asking. Not there yet,” he replied.
“This is a real overwhelmingly sad time of the year for me. Last night, we got back here, the sound of tape ripping, that was all going on. Of course, I’ve had that happen during the last week of the season a couple times for a different reason, so ... I don’t know. There’s disappointment. Sometimes, you also fight a feeling of just being ticked off because you realize how close it is. And it reminds you how little you really have an impact on it.
“Sometimes, things are just fateful, but it doesn’t keep you from grinding it. That’s why we play 162 games, and then you roll the dice in October. There are so many things that can affect games that you don’t really have control over. But I was proud of the way our guys competed obviously all season.
“It’s tough to say goodbye to them. I’m going to miss them more than anything. Man, they keep me young. I live through them with a lot of things. More than anything, it’s a tough conversation with me. I tell them I don’t want to hear any goodbyes. I’ll see you later. They need a break from me, though. They all do. I understand that.”
It didn’t take long for Showalter to turn his attention to next season.
“Probably back in the hotel room that night and on the plane,” he said. “Dan (Duquette) and I already met and we’re going to meet again next week. I’ll be back and forth from Texas, a lot more time in Baltimore than there. But we’re already making some moves on things that are important for next year.
“I just talked to Nelson (Cruz). I try to stay out of their hair. There’s a time and place for everything. Nelson knows how much we like him and we’d like to have him here, but we also realize he’s worked hard, a lot like Andrew (Miller), to present himself as having some options, and God bless him. They did a great job for us and they’re going to have some decisions to make, one of which is whether they want to stay here.
“It’s obvious to me that Nelson would like to stay here, but we’ll see. The game moves on with or without all of us. Makes it easier, but we understand if you do this, then you can’t do that, and if you do that, you can’t do this. So you try to understand the impact that everything has on everybody.”
The Orioles won’t pick up Nick Markakis’ $17.5 mutual option for 2015, but they want to sign him to a multi-year extension.
“We all love Nick and for the right reasons,” Showalter said. “We all know he’s a good baseball player, but the other things are what really separates him. He’s very sincere. What he does during the offseason, during the season, he doesn’t do it to draw attention to himself. He’s very sincere. You get to know family, kids. He’s had all three of his boys here.
“Obviously, we’d like to have him back and they’ve already been talking some and we’ll see where it takes us. When it comes to all my players, I’m very biased, so I’m probably the wrong guy to ask right now.”
The Orioles must decide whether to tender a contract to Chris Davis, who can become a free agent following the 2015 season. In the meantime, he’s got one game remaining on his 25-game suspension for a second failed test for Adderall.
The Royals’ four-game sweep assured that Davis’ suspension would carry over to opening day.
“The good news is we have an extra spot on the 40-man roster for the whole offseason, by God, so that’s what I’m drawing from it,” Showalter said. “That’s the only good thing that came from those four games. It could have easily been four the other way. We all know that. That’s one positive out of it. Can you think of another?”
Davis sat on a clubhouse sofa and stared straight ahead following Wednesday’s defeat. He eventually got up, showered and dressed, hugged a few teammates and headed out the door, declining to speak with reporters.
“It bothered him, bothered his teammates, too,” Showalter said. “There will be a period where it all, too, shall pass, but there will be a lesson learned for everybody on both sides of it.”
The Orioles are faced with the challenge of signing their own players and also leaving room on the payroll for free agents from outside the organization. Plenty of their guys will receive raises while still eligible for arbitration.
“It’s a good challenge, it’s a good thing,” Showalter said. “We’ve got people we want and we have to try to find a way. There’s certain things we can and can’t do to keep the integrity of the organization and everything we’re trying to do over the long haul. But every club does.
“I could name seven or eight guys we have to do some things with. Certainly, there’s been discussions, but I think Dan and I try to show all our cards to each other in the next few days. I know we’re going to meet Monday and Tuesday and go from there. If I knew the answers and could tell you, I’d tell you. I know how I feel about it. But I don’t have to pay the bills.”
The Orioles always want to maintain their roster flexibility.
“You look at Bud (Norris) and you look at Miguel (Gonzalez) and you look at ... There’s some guys I feel good that they’re getting ready to finally get a return, whether it’s Miggy, whether it’s Steve Pearce. There’s two or three more. First time they’re going to get some return for what they’ve put into it,” Showalter said.
“The moving parts come basically from optional pieces. We will continue to try to out-opportunity people. We go calling on six-year free agents, they’ll know whatever we tell them is not shallow. Watch, here’s the way it happens. It should be a good home for a lot of people, so we can replace some of that maneuverability with people.
“We’ve got lists. They’ve been pretty (on) that upstairs since the day the minor league season ended. I’ve been looking at that stuff. But I like our guys, too. There will be some guys who aren’t here now who will be our guys. But we’re always going to look in our farm system first. If we’ve got a choice between having Dariel Alvarez in major league camp as opposed to Joe Schmoe from Little Rock, we’ll take Dariel.”
Showalter was told that Duquette expects another payroll increase next season.
“We already have,” he replied. “We’re at more than we started the year at. I know you all have been watching. Our ownership has been there every time we’ve needed them. That doesn’t mean we have to increase or whatever. I’m not in that business. You give me the cards and we’ll play. And we’ve got some pretty good cards.
“We’re way over what anybody thought we’d be. I’m trying to feel very thankful for that. A lot of teams wouldn’t have added Andrew Miller.”
Showalter should be able to add another honor to his resume when he’s named American League Manager of the Year. Naturally, he tried to deflect the attention and change the subject, asking reporters for their opinions on Gold Glove candidates in the organization.
The talk eventually shifted back to him.
“You know what those are? That’s which team surprised the most,” he said. “If you had a vote of managers and coaches you’d see a whole different guy get it every year. That’s all a reflection on your players and how good they played and how much they surprised people. Sometimes, the best jobs are done when you’re supposed to win. That’s why I have so much respect for those guys. I’d like to have that next year. I’d like to have us expected to win.”
Showalter said he hasn’t been paying much attention to the playoffs. Having two wild card teams in the World Series confirms that “it’s just such a crapshoot.”
“It confirms and takes it to a new level,” he said. “You’re seeing more and more of that lately. You get hot at the right time, you get some hot pitchers, get that mentality around your club, which we had, too. There’s four different seasons and we won the regular season, but you’ve got to win that to get to the next one. Cruel, isn’t it?
“The Royals are playing as good of baseball as anyone in the American League, so they should be playing.”
What about the rest of the playoffs?
“Watching it makes me ill,” he said.