Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Cash frustrated by Rays' fundamental flaws

RECOMMENDED READING


HOUSTON

Chris Archer avoided tying the team record of 18 losses, and the Rays avoided a rare sweep that would have dropped them back under .500 post-All-Star break with a 10-4 win Sunday over the contending Astros.

But, even with recent improved results, there is no avoiding they are a fundamentally flawed team.

Or, more precisely, there are flaws in how they handle the fundamentals.

Baserunning has been an ongoing issue, with mistakes showing up seemingly daily, drawing the attention and the ire of manager Kevin Cash repeatedly over the weekend. Mental mistakes on defense, such as throwing to the wrong base or not backing up a play or making the wrong play, have been regular occurrences, including Sunday. Pitchers have not been aggressive enough at times, while hitters have not always been smartly selective.

"As a staff, we're losing sleep over it," Cash, looking like it, said Sunday morning.

"Look, we've got a group of some young players here. We're always going to have young players. But at some point those young players, even though they are young, we've got find a way to impact them to where they're making positive decisions and adjustments in their game.

"We've spent a lot of time talking about it, what can we do better this last month, what we can address more of. It's going to take all of us, myself, getting a little more hands-on and coaching these guys, trying to play it out how it's going to happen before it actually does. I think there'd be some benefit to that."

Blame can be assigned in many areas, which is more of an investigative task for baseball operations president Matt Silverman and his staff, of which there certainly are enough hanging around the clubhouse when not pounding their computer keys.

But whether it's that the players they sign and acquire are not instinctive enough from the start, or that the minor-league staff does not develop them properly, or that Cash and his crew of coaches don't make it enough of a priority, or that as big-leaguers the players get too casual and, well, big league, something has to change.

"It's got to stop at some point," bench coach Tom Foley said. "It's got to stop. These players have to take pride in their trade, in what they're doing."

Physical errors are part of the game and going to happen, sometimes at incredibly bad times. The Rays' 79 errors are third most in the American League and a prime factor in the 41 unearned runs they have allowed.

But it's the lack of awareness, the brain cramps and the bad decisions — even seemingly small ones that can lead to bigger problems — that are most annoying and troubling, especially among repeat offenders such as Tim Beckham and Steven Souza Jr.

"The mental mistakes shouldn't happen, whether it be defensively or offensively, it does not matter. They should not happen. So we need to get better, obviously," Foley said.

"Basically, it can't happen. You can't win games by making mental mistakes."

Especially not the way the Rays typically win games, with an emphasis on pitching and defense. There is just no margin for so many transgressions.

During the six-year run in which they made the playoffs four times, the Rays seemed to be one of the tidiest teams in the league, playing clean defense and forcing other teams into mistakes with heads-up aggressive moves on the bases. But that started to erode during the final years of the Andrew Friedman/Joe Maddon regime and has yet to be restored.

The coaches are not the only ones frustrated with the repeated mistakes.

"You don't expect that from guys at this level," old-school second baseman Logan Forsythe said. "I think it's not thinking too much ahead. Knowing the situation but not going over the situation in your head — what could potentially happen, where do I need to be, what's my thought process. …

"Guys have to realize the mistakes we've made this season and take it into spring training. Fundamentally, we have to become a better ballclub."

Cash said they plan to start now, doing specific onfield work over the next five weeks to put players in more game-like drills to get them thinking the right way. And they are already plotting ways to make it even more of an emphasis in the spring, though they thought, incorrectly it turned out, they did that this past year.

But it's not as if they haven't tried addressing it — over and over and over — with the players.

"I'm disappointed with the way that I've handled things with them," Cash said, somewhat magnanimously. "I'm surprised at my lack of communication with them."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/23/17
Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

Rays INF Matt Duffy has to say big goodbye to 27-pound cat Skeeter

When the Rays acquired INF Matt Duffy from the Giants during the 2016 season, we also heard about the giant and somewhat famous cat he had, an up-to-27-pounder named Skeeter.Duffy announced over the weekend on Instagram that the family had to have Sk...
Published: 11/21/17
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE, 8:11: RHP Jose Mujica was an additional addition to the roster, beyond the six previously reported. Mujica, 21, was 14-8, 3.04 ERA in 27 starts between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery.So among those left unprotected and potentially ...
Published: 11/20/17
Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Aubrey Huff isn't going to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.But at least the former Devil Rays standout has the satisfaction of making the cut to get onto the ballot, one of 19 first-timers up for election this year.Other newcomers with Rays ties are O...
Published: 11/20/17
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17