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RAYS HIRE KEVIN CASH AS MANAGER

“It came down to the energy, the poise that he has, the confidence, but the open-mindedness that goes along with it. That's a rare combination to have in an individual.”

—Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman, who announced that Kevin Cash will become the fifth manager in team history. (ESPN)

“The voice is obviously probably going to change a little bit, but the players and the personnel, and the culture, what they created, that is something that I'm extremely fortunate to be a part of and join in on.”
—Cash, on how he plans to follow the successful tenure of former Rays manager Joe Maddon.

“I like him. He seems like he's got the type of energy that we're looking for. The short conversation I had with him, it seemed like he was extremely excited just to have the opportunity to be the manager, obviously, but you could just hear the passion he had for the upcoming job and the task at hand. It just felt like the right fit.”
—Rays pitcher Alex Cobb, offering his opinion of the Cash hiring.

“But, you look at Kevin, his baseball age is much older than his 37 years on this planet. He's been a student of the game, and that transition to manager is one we think will be a relatively (smooth) one, one made easier by the environment that we already have here.”
—Silverman.

BRAVES GET THEIR HEYWARD REPLACEMENT

“We were absolutely aware of all the medicals, MRI, everything that was there, stem to stem. We had all the information. And the feedback that we got from all the people that we discussed this with, was that he would be cleared (to play) either way. The guy played (155) games last year.”
—Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, on signing Nick Markakis to a four-year, $44 million deal earlier this week. Shortly after signing with Atlanta, Markakis announced that he is expecting to undergo neck surgery this offseason. (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal Constitution)

"I think the biggest thing is the comfort level; they wanted me. Besides a place I grew up and watched (games) for many years, they made me feel like I was home and I think that was real important to my family."
—Nick Markakis, on his decision to sign with the Braves. (Cory McCartney, FoxSports.com)

"We've got a hole in our system. We don't have the impactful young players coming. We're a little bit hamstrung there, and I think therein is the balance that I'm trying to weigh here as we go forward. How much emphasis do we put on '15 and '16, knowing the emphasis [looming] on '17. I want to win and compete, and I think we've got a club that, with a tweak or two, we can be competitive. At the same time, you keep your ears and eyes open for deals that may be unpopular now, but, a year or two down the road…"
—John Hart, on Atlanta’s offseason moves and the trajectory of the organization. (Anthony Castrovince, MLB.com)

THE REST

“DHing is boring,” Cruz said with a laugh. “I don’t like to be the DH. But I understand role. I understand that I’m here to play and contribute in whatever that role might be. I’m here to help. Lloyd makes the call.”
—Recent Mariners signee Nelson Cruz, on serving as a designated hitter. Lloyd McClendon said that he envisions that Cruz will DH about 75 percent of the time. (Ryan Divish, Seattle Times)

“Just like I do all the time: As soon as you get somebody to explain (advanced metrics) … When you look at the rankings of the defensive side of the game, you shake your head many times. I’m not saying a lot of them aren’t accurate, because some of them are, but a lot of them aren’t accurate either. You can use the metrics or you can use the eye, and you should use both. In this instance, I think we’ve seen (Hunter) play probably 30-35 games as an evaluation process this year, and for the most part the lowest grade we had on him was average range. That’s pretty good.”
—Twins general manager Terry Ryan, on weighing advanced defensive metrics against what the his scouts have seen when evaluating the defense of Torii Hunter. The Twins signed the 39-year-old outfielder to a one-year, $10.5 million deal earlier this week. (Mike Berardino, Pioneer Press)

“He is a sophisticated individual. He has a certain performance that is required in terms of the contract and, under those terms, he has four more years of service to be performed. I’m sure he is prepared to do that, and I am sure he understands that. I would say he has done an excellent job with his performance and particularly his performance with [manager] Buck [Showalter]. Why would we want to break up that combination that we have? The relationship between Buck and Dan and the Orioles is something we are very pleased with, to put it mildly.”
—Orioles principal owner Peter Angelos, on VP of Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette, who has been rumored to be a candidate to become the President and Chief Officer of the Blue Jays. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun)

“Didi knows who he is. I don’t think he’ll end up seeing it as if he has to replace Jeter, just that he has to be himself… He’s comfortable in his skin, handles failure well. He’s just a real easygoing guy. Nothing gets to him. He’ll love being in New York and, if people give him a chance, they’ll love him.”
—Reds global scouting coordinator Jim Stoeckel, on how Didi Gregorius will handle replacing Derek Jeter. Stoeckel originally signed Gregorius as an amateur free agent in 2007. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)

“It didn’t work. Let’s do something different. That’s the way I look at it. And I think a lot of people probably look at it that way, too… Whether to play here every day or play somewhere else. It was fun trying to win the way we did last year, but it didn’t prove any more successful than me playing every day or not playing every day… I’d rather play every day and help this team win — or whatever team it is — to the best of my ability. I feel I can, if given a role. As I stand here today, I’m preparing every day to be a starting outfielder for the Dodgers, until I’m told otherwise. I’m not changing my mind about that. It’s probably going to be a little less wanting to take the same role as I did last year.”
—Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, voicing his desire to play every day next season. (Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Times)

“Wilmer at shortstop is one of those guys that doesn’t pass the eye test, but if you start to look at his matrix a little bit, you realize there’s maybe a little more there than you give him credit, and offensively there’s as much potential with him as probably anybody that is available.”
—Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, on Wilmer Flores. Despite the Mets being rumored to be in the market for a shortstop, Alderson indicated that he would not be in “panic mode” if the club entered the season with Flores as the starting shortstop. (Mike Puma, New York Post)