Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Kevin Cash hopes experience pays off

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Cash is already seeing one tangible benefit of being in his second year of managing the Rays: When he shows up at the Trop for winter workouts and meetings, he doesn't have to introduce himself.

That familiarity is one of several reasons to assume Cash will manage better this coming season than during his 80-82 indoctrination.

He will know more about his players, in terms of what they can do and how to best motivate and manipulate each one, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of opponents, the strategies and tendencies of other managers, even the quirks of the umpires.

He now has firsthand knowledge of how best to handle the protocols and procedures of everything from replay challenges to clubhouse discipline to budgeting his time among myriad on- and off-field responsibilities, such as media interviews.

And he has a better sense about himself, what areas of decision-making he feels comfortable with and which he needs to focus on, when to go with the accumulated data or the feeling in his gut, why a certain move worked or didn't.

"Last year, there wasn't much I could fall back on," Cash said.

Colleagues and executives around the game say the experience gained in the first season as a manager — good and bad — makes for the most significant improvement going forward.

"I think he did a pretty good job in his first year," Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox said. "But the more you're in the league and the more knowledge you gather in your head, it's easier to make decisions. With a full year under his belt, that experience is more than helpful."

Longtime successful general manager Pat Gillick said a key is constantly learning more.

"Once you get to know your players — and that takes a while; you might do it with some players in spring training but other players it might take the whole year — but once you get to know them and you get to know the opposition, you kind of don't forget about them, but you kind of put those behind you and concentrate on some new challenges," said Gillick, another Hall of Famer.

"So, consequently, I think the first year is the most difficult. Getting to know not only your players, but the other managers and how they manage, getting to know the umpires. And turning your head on unimportant things. There are things you thought were important, but you dismiss those and really concentrate on the issues that are important."

Cash acknowledges there was a considerable learning curve in his first season managing at any level. While he has targeted specific areas he needs to improve on — topped by his handling of the running game — he figures to benefit just from being more comfortable in the position of ultimate on-field authority, where everyone from the clubhouse staff to the owner want his opinion or okay on something.

"You get a better feel for what's going on around you," said Joe Maddon, who started his full-time managing career with the Devil Rays in 2006 and moved to the Cubs last year, where he won his third manager of the year award.

"Just doing this, you become more aware. I think there's a level of awareness that becomes more comfortable. As you become more aware, you become less fearful of things. You really become more absorbed in the process of the day. … You just feel what's going on around you in a better way and able to react to it better."

Cincinnati's Bryan Price felt the biggest advantage heading into his second season was going through the travails of his first.

"It was managing those previous 162 games," Price said. "When you get an opportunity like this, I think that the first thing you tell yourself is don't screw it up. You don't want the team to be worse off because you're managing the club as opposed to the guy before you or somebody else that was an option.

"The other thing is that you have to stay true to what you believe in as a manager, and you have to learn, because you'll make mistakes or you'll do things and you'll go, 'Oh, boy, given that opportunity, I might do it differently the next time.' "

Colorado's Walt Weiss said his biggest gain was knowing more about his own players, individually and as a team.

"I felt my second year that I just knew my club a lot better," he said. "That first year was a year of assessment, really in a lot of ways for me. But that second year, I felt like we knew who we were and what we needed to do to get better and to be more competitive. I think that was probably the biggest change from one year to the next."

Cash, 38, openly admits he has a lot more to learn. But he also feels a lot better about how much more he knows this year than last.

"Ultimately we are in a better place as far as our relationships with the players," he said. "There were a lot of unknowns. I think we all did a really good job of coming together. But it's going to be exciting to get back in there come spring training and see everybody. Much more high-fiving and hugging and seeing how everybody is, how they did, their families, rather than shaking your hand and introducing yourself."

Comments
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
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17