You look at Texas and Oakland and Anaheim, and I'll tell you, Seattle is going to be there too.  That's a tough division.  And now Houston.  I think I'm right.

It is what it is.  It's the best players in the world, and the competition only gets better as you come to this level.

So it's a given with Boston and New York and Toronto.  It's a given to me for a different reason with Tampa.  We're going to have to keep grinding to stay up with them.

BUCK SHOWALTER:  Trusting the people that we have like I do and knowing their makeup and talking to them a lot this off¿season, there's a pretty good fire there that's been ignited.  But so has it in different places, and that's why it's so gratifying, if you can do some things like we were able to do last year, but no one was satisfied with that.

There wasn't some celebration after game five against the Yankees.  We felt there was an opportunity we let slip away, and things you have to do to grind to get to that opportunity, but you get a taste of it.

Guys like Manny Machado, it reminds me, when we took Jeter around and exposed him to the playoffs, even though he wasn't eligible, soak that in.  You wonder, you hope that really means a lot to their career as they go forward.  Derek used to say, that's just where I thought we were every year in October.  Is there any other place to be.

And there was a different look in a lot of our guys' eyes at that time of year.  Now that they've got a taste of it, I feel real confident that they'll continue to pay the price to do the things it takes to get there.

Q.  Buck, do you -- now, Dan was referring to this a little bit yesterday.  The fact that you had the kind of season you had last year, within the industry there's a big impact on guys that maybe wouldn't have come here before who did now.  Do you sense that now?

BUCK SHOWALTER:  Coaches for sure.  The players, it's like you heard me say this before.  The agents say it's not about the money.  I think you've really got to expose what a great baseball city Baltimore is and the history and the tradition, and they're a good baseball team and good fans.  But when it comes down to it, I haven't seen any discounts yet what players are asking for or what other teams are asking.

But I'll tell you, you did see it in something.  The free agents with the movement we had and the opportunity that we gave people, and they know we're going to do it from within as much as we need to.  Being able to tell people things and then follow through with it, we have had a lot of interest from some the peripheral things, the six-year freeze, some things that don't normally appear on the radar screen of headlines, but as you saw last year, really play into some successes.

So some of the signings we've had have been upper echelon ratings of six¿year freeze.

Q.  Buck, how close do you think you are to naming a third base coach or making that decision?

BUCK SHOWALTER:  I'm hoping by the end of the week.  I'm flying to Baltimore.  It's tough to get Dan and I -- Dan, especially, and everybody.  I want to sit down with him.  I've got the list pared down pretty good.  I feel confident in them.  We'll see.  I'd really like to, but I'm not going to do it hastily and not feel good about it.

But there's a lot of good candidates.  I'd like to do it just because -- like I got a name yesterday, another great name.  And I thought, gosh, I've got to vet that one through tomorrow.  If you'd just stayed, we wouldn't have that problem.

Q.  Buck, you mentioned Machado, the kind of season he had.  How lucky do you feel to have this young man?  Do you feel him to be an untouchable player in your organization?

BUCK SHOWALTER:  Untouchable?  There's nobody untouchable.  I think our guys have a real grasp.  There's not a sense of entitlement.  They understand how hard it was to do what we did last year and how hard it's going to be to do it again.

I was proud of Manny.  I brought him up because he could play alongside J.J. and do a good job at third.  I'm really proud of the job our minor league system did in preparing him to play third base.  They were instrumental in that.

Manny had a little scare there with, I believe it was meningitis, but he's over it.  I talked to him a couple times, and he's doing well and doing a full workout.  He's going to go in and get an opportunity to can our third baseman potentially, but he's got to earn it.  We've got some other options there.  He's not ready to pick up where he left off.

You asked about first base.  Chris is one of our options over there.

Q.  Buck, Brian Matusz had some real success out of the pen.  What do you see his role going into Spring Training?  Do you want him back in the rotation?

BUCK SHOWALTER:  Yes and yes.  We're going to start out with him in the rotation as an opportunity because I was -- last week or so, trying to put together some of the work groups and some of the starts and the way our games go early in the spring, for some reason they're scheduling split squad games.  We have a split squad game the first day of the spring last year, figure that out, which means you've got to supply 18 innings the first day of games.

Brian will start out as a starter, which allows him to go into the bullpen, if so.  He's going to get an opportunity.  He had some off-season surgery on a hernia that had been bothering him.  Pretty minor, but he's doing great.  Full activity.  He's out there with Brady Anderson, as are about eight other guys working hard.  I know he's out there with Chen.