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Q&A with Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman

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Matt Silverman talks about the DH situation, competitive balance picks, and what to expect from Stephen Souza.

Tampa Bay Rays / Skip Milos

For the past handful of seasons the Rays President of Baseball Operations has been kind enough to answer a few questions about the team and general issues within baseball. This year that falls on the shoulders of Matt Silverman, who was promoted to President of Baseball Operations in October. Enjoy.

DRaysBay: What was your involvement in General Manager duties prior to stepping into the position?

Matt Silverman: I've had the benefit of being involved in all facets of the Rays organization for more than a decade.  Andrew and I started together in 2004 and worked in partnership.  We've fostered a collaborative environment here, and we're always looking for ways to enhance it. The goal is for the entire organization, from the front office to the clubhouse, to work in concert.  It's not about who is doing what specific things.  It's about how we can do it better together to generate optimal results.

DRB: How much of the in-game management that we've seen over the past few years was a Rays thing, and how much was a Joe Maddon thing? Should we expect many differences from Kevin Cash with regard to defensive alignment, bullpen management, and other in-game strategy?

there's a lot more to creating competitive balance than doling out a couple of sandwich picks.

MS: We prefer to look ahead rather than recount the past, and we're excited to see Kevin put his mark on our club.  He's inheriting a very different club than the one Joe managed last year, and I expect Kevin will tailor his approach to the personnel we have.  He certainly embraces the way the Rays operate.  He knows that for us to succeed, we need to harness the collective abilities of our roster, and that can only come with player buy-in.  Kevin's a great communicator and he's already forged strong bonds with a number of players.  That's key to our success going forward.

DRB: The Cardinals, one of the most successful franchises in baseball over the past 20 years received a competitive balance pick while the Rays did not. Do you think the process needs to be changed?

MS: We are strong advocates for improving access to talent for lower revenue clubs.  That is key to creating competitive balance.  When the Rays aren't receiving the poorly-named "competitive balance" picks, something's off.  But there's a lot more to creating competitive balance than doling out a couple of sandwich picks.

Matt Silverman 2

Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays / Skip Milos

DRB: What are the team's plans at DH against left handed pitching this season without the right handed bats of Wil Myers and Sean Rodriguez?

MS: It's probably no surprise to your readers that we expect to utilize some platoons again this year.  We don't project to have an everyday DH against left-handed pitching.  We'll have a number of players who can play multiple positions.  That will give us the flexibility to rotate players through the DH spot in order to take advantage of matchups and keep our everyday players fresh.

DRB: The offense has been striking out far less over the past two years. How much of that has been intentional in the type of players acquired, or in the coaching?

MS: C, none of the above?  There's a natural inclination to look for meaning in changes, and they can be a product of design or instruction.  But in this case, it's more of a byproduct of personnel changes that have taken place for other reasons. We pay attention to strikeouts, but they are just one of many factors to take into consideration.

It's not about who is doing what specific things. It's about how we can do it better together to generate optimal results.

DRB: Last season Rays pitchers threw more high fastballs than anyone in baseball, leading to a league high flyball rate and league high strikeout rate. This is obviously something being taught and preached. Can you explain what you think the benefits are this approach are?

MS: Given our ballpark and our outfield defense, fly balls aren't a bad thing.  The more we can induce them, the more we can run them down.  Our coaches aren't preaching differently than they have in the past. It's always about executing pitches and keeping the hitters off balance.

DRB: What are your thoughts on the PECOTA projections for Souza -.261/.336/.458? Setting expectations too high?

MS: We expect a lot from our group as a whole, but don't want to saddle any one individual player with specific expectations. Souza is a well-rounded player who can contribute in all aspects of the game.  We believe that he has the talent and drive to contribute to our club, and we're excited to get to know him better in camp.

Thank you to Matt for taking the time.