Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn't about to anoint the Yankees as 2018 champions just because they've added Giancarlo Stanton to their lineup. He made that clear Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
Showalter knows the Yankees have a formidable lineup with Stanton and Aaron Judge set to hit next to each other. So …
"We pitch better,'' said Showalter of how to combat such a powerful lineup. "[When a] pitcher is on top of their game? The pitcher wins. You don't believe me, watch the playoffs. The teams that were playing in October had the best pitching staffs. It's [not] nearly as complicated as everybody makes it.''
• Hot Stove Tracker
Showalter is right about that. The seven teams that produced the lowest staff ERAs all qualified for the postseason, and only two of the 10 survivors were in the bottom half (Colorado, 17th at 4.51; Minnesota, 19th, at 4.59).
But scoring runs counts for a lot, too. Just check out the World Series-champion Astros, who led the Major Leagues with 896 runs scored in the regular season while finishing 11th overall with a 4.12 staff ERA. That would appear to be the Yanks' model.
Showalter says he's ready for the challenge.
"We can do it,'' he said. "We've just got to stay on task and on message and know who we are and who we're not.''
Here are other sound bites from Day 2 of the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.:
Shake off World Series loss?
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked how long it takes to get over the disappointment of losing the World Series in seven games.
"Gosh, I don't know if you ever get over it,'' Roberts said. "Especially [when] 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. You've got to get back up to the top of the mountain.''
The Royals won the 2015 World Series after losing to the Giants in seven games in '14, but the Indians were upset by the Yankees in the American League Division Series last year after losing to the Cubs in seven games in the 2016 World Series.
The Dodgers will be challenged to get back in the National League, with the Nationals and probably also the Cubs as loaded as they were last fall.
Renteria impressed by Robert
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said 20-year-old center fielder Luis Robert lived up to the hype when he saw him in the instructional league in the Dominican Republic in October. The Sox gave Robert $26 million and owe almost that much in tax to Major League Baseball.
"He's a pretty impressive specimen,'' Renteria said. "Listen, this kid can fly. I saw him run down to first, I think it was like 3.56 [seconds], after a full swing on a ground ball. He ran down a ball in center, right-center field effortlessly. He hit a ball against the wind and a gust in center, left-center field that I thought had no chance and it ended up going over the trees.''
The White Sox expect second baseman Yoan Moncada, right fielder Eloy Jimenez and Robert to form the core of their team by the second half of the 2019 season, if not sooner. They're excited to see them play together next spring, and they should be. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Melvin: Davis a humble star
A's manager Bob Melvin talked about how it's a pleasure to manage Khris Davis, the power-hitting outfielder who is the focus of interest by other teams.
"He's a star that just doesn't really look at himself like a star,'' Melvin said. "He just likes to go out there and play and go home and come back the next day and do the same thing [and] be there for his teammates. The numbers that he's put up, it would be very difficult to lose a guy like that, especially in the place where we are, where we think this is the start of something really good for us.''
Those numbers? Stanton leads the Major Leagues with 86 homers the past two seasons; Davis is second with 85 -- 43 in 2017, 42 in '16. No wonder so many teams are checking to see if the A's will trade him.
Hinch: Veteran leadership key
One of the keys to success for the Astros was an infusion of veteran players, including Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick. Manager A.J. Hinch remembered when his eyes were first opened by a veteran added to a new team.
"I think the first time I probably respected it the most was when I watched Jim Thome in Philadelphia, how he influenced the room,'' Hinch said. "A lot of times people will talk about veterans being key at moments of crisis, right? So we get swept by the Yankees in [New York in the ALCS], and in Game 5, Beltran did stand up, McCann stood up and talked, Josh Reddick was very influential. Luke Gregerson was very influential.''
While the Astros have a fairly set roster, don't be surprised if they bring in another warhorse to replace Beltran, who retired after the World Series.
Will Schwarber hit leadoff?
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he still considers Kyle Schwarber a leadoff option even though he got off to a bad start in that role last season.
"It was only failed in the sense that Kyle had a tough time last year,'' said Maddon. "He could have hit one through nine and still had a tough time last year. Just it was not his year, although he rebounded really nicely. We haven't really drawn a lot of conclusions with that. Obviously we still got to see what the team's going to look like in its entirety.''
Without a pure leadoff man, the Cubs patched together a .324 on-base percentage and a .745 OPS from the leadoff spot last season (ranking 18th and 17th, respectively, among Major League teams). They don't seem to be prioritizing the need for a leadoff man this offseason, so the conversation could remain next spring.
Banister talks Gallo's defensive range
Jeff Banister dropped a Gold Glove reference on Joey Gallo as a first baseman, but he said it's too early to know how he'll fit on the Rangers.
"I think Joe is an above-average first baseman right now,'' said Banister. "It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this guy, one day, if he's an everyday first baseman, [will play] Gold Glove-type defense. That's just his range, his ability.''
Gallo has played mostly third base, but he also played a lot of left field last season. He's not going to be at third if Adrian Beltre is healthy.