He'll need more than home improvements, though, to make the O's contenders in the big-dog AL East. He certainly can't match the Maybach budgets in Boston and the Bronx, and for now must get the most out of midlist players who come with gaping flaws. His GM, Andy MacPhail, traded this winter for a thumping third baseman in Mark Reynolds, who'll hit 40 homers in that bandbox stadium – and shatter the AL record for striking out. He brought in vets Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero, who'll either be anchors or dead weight. And aside from Brian Matusz, the O's don't have a starter or a closer they can count on. But Showalter's fine with an uphill fight; in fact, he seems to prefer it. Without him, the Birds were 8–16 against the Yankees and Red Sox; with him, they served notice, going 6–6 against their longtime tormentors. "I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll," he jeers. "You got Carl Crawford 'cause you paid more than anyone else, and that's what makes you smarter? That's why I like whipping their asses: It's great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, 'How the hell are they beating us?'"
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