Rays manager Kevin Cash was first up in the media room at the winter meetings today and here are a few up the more interesting things he said:
* On trade speculation regarding their veterans such as Chris Archer and Evan Longoria: "I know there is a lot of chatter about our players. … How that shakes out, I have no idea what will take place. When you have good players people are going to ask about it, and I thinks that what we're seeing leading into this winter meetings is that a lot of names are coming up because they are very respected throughout the industry."
* On potential for trades impacting his planning for 2018: "Maybe a little bit on hold but nothing major. … This should be an interesting meetings (for the industry overall) simply because it's been quiet and now the chatter will really come on."
* On the Yankees adding slugger Giancarlo Stanton to their lineup: "It's a challenge, you can't sugarcoat it. I've already sat and thought about the lineup. … They're going to be very balanced, very powerful. We're going to have to rely on our bread and butter, that's good pitching and play some good defense, catch the ball behind them."
* On restocking the bullpen: "I think we're going to have a bunch of guys from our farm system, namely in Triple-A, come in and compete (including some who started). … We've got to find guys that are very capable of consistency and having success in those middle innings."
* On planning to pull starters more early in games: "There is going to have to be constant selling. … At the of the day it's about winning games and if we feel we can get a better matchup earlier in the ballgame why wouldn't we use it? It's going to be constant communication."
* On carrying an eighth reliever at times: There's going to be opportunities where if we're really versatile with that utility role, a guy that can play infield and outfield, it might allow us to carry an extra reliever at times during the season."
* On relying more on speed: "Speed is a big part of the game. Power is what everybody is paying for. We had a pretty powerful lineup this past year, that's tough to repeat. with that comes inconsistencies – speed doesn't really go away."
* On a bigger role for Mallex Smith: I'm really looking forward to him coming into spring training. … Just kind of take the reigns off and let's see what he can do, whether it's bunting, whether it's stealing, we want to see what he can do. We know how talented of a player he is."
* On finding room for Mallex Smith as a second "speed guy" in the outfield with Kevin Kiermaier, and Steven Souza Jr.: "I think there's definitely room. We have discussed this off-season about doing everything we can to catch the baseball, we want to put the best defense out there as possible. You look at obviously KK, Steven Souza, elite defenders. Last year we had Peter Bourjos who we consider elite, and Mallex is in that same fold with speed. We want as much speed as possible. On the surface maybe you don't see the tradeoff with 30 home runs but when you're saving runs there is a pretty substantial tradeoff. That's what Kevin Kiermaier has become a superstar for."
* On some of their young rising players: "You look at what Jake Bauers and Willy Adames did in Triple-A at a very, very young age. I personally kinda like the fact that they got off to slow starts and you look at where their season ended up it was really impressive. From all reports … they really matured throughout the year. Both guys like to play a lot. They want to come up to bat in that big spot. They're going to get to play a lot in spring training. … Solid guys."
* On it being tough to potentially see some veterans traded: "Sure, there's no doubt. Any manager would tell you that. But our job is to win games and we're confident we can win games with the players that are in this organization. Obviously over three years you build relationships and you don't want to see certain guys go."
* On the strength of their up the middle defense with C Wilson Ramos, SS Adeiny Hechavarria and CF Kevin Kiermaier: "It's got a chance to be a really special group. And you take the second base situation, how that shakes out between Matt Duffy's health, Brad Miller rebounding a little bit, Daniel Robertson did a tremendous job there up the middle. We know what KK is, he's special. Hech, we saw him for two months and I don't know if there was a better defensive shortstop that I've ever seen on a nightly basis. Wilson Ramos, I was really excited about the way he finished. … We saw how big of an impact he can be in our lineup. Up the middle defense is special and we feel that we're very strong."