Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays owner Sternberg: Kevin Cash doing 'tremendous' job

NEW YORK — With Saturday's 8-4 defeat to the Yankees continuing the Rays' slog through a miserable season that will push 100 losses, grumbling from fans about manager Kevin Cash's job status, especially during the 3-24 summer-starting stretch that doomed their plans, made it all the way to principal owner Stuart Sternberg.

"I understand the chatter," Sternberg said. "I respect the chatter. And the more chatter the better, because people care about it.

"But those who know, that's the beauty of what we've done here. We take a long-term view of things."

And that long-term view clearly includes Cash, who nears the end of the second season of his five-year contract for his first managing job with a 126-151 record.

Sternberg's assessment of Cash's work so far?

"Tremendous."

And the chances of Cash's job being imperiled?

"Zero."

Sternberg compared these complaints to what they heard after Joe Maddon lost 101 and 96 games, respectively, in his first two seasons on the job — then went on to average 92 wins for six seasons and lead the Rays to four playoff appearances.

"Better to have (Cash) go through it — it was worse than we have seen under my ownership maybe since the first couple years, and you don't want to have it be that bad — but to go through these sort of times will only make him a better manager," Sternberg said.

"We knew coming in, he was here as a long-, long-term guy. And he'd react differently than some other managers might. Maybe it was better to have him than Lou Piniella here. Maybe it was better to have him than Joe Maddon here. Maybe it was better to have him than (Yankees manager) Joe Girardi. I don't really know.

"But he handled things extraordinarily. As I would expect he would. And it makes him even more valuable going forward."

In a wide-ranging interview with the Tampa Bay Times before the Rays-Yankees series, Sternberg talked about how "shocking" it was to see this season crumble; what he thought went most wrong; and how important the final seven weeks will be in determining their plans for 2017, confident they have a strong core of infielders, centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier and starting pitchers.

Also, that after another year of finishing last in attendance, the payroll, which was a majors-low $58.6 million to start the season, "ain't going up."

Here are excerpts:

On seeing the season turn out this way after thinking they would be contenders:

It's nothing short of shocking. It's incredibly disappointing. And very frustrating. We thought we had, and even now individually, we're really pleased with the guys we have, the roster we have in place. But collectively, it really fell on its face.

On the biggest reason why:

It's always easy to point to an injury here (specifically Kiermaier), a few injuries there, and there's no doubt that played a part in it. But to me, and to us, it all begins and ends with our run prevention. And it was awful, for Rays baseball.

On whether they feel they can compete in 2017, or this could be an ongoing rebuilding:

That's what we're going to have to evaluate, as to what the next seven weeks brings us. We think we're a much better team than we are now. But can you ever think you're a 60-something win team to go to a 90-plus win team? Except that it happened to us in '07. … If we take a look at this at the end of the year and we think we could be a high 80-win team, then we're going to go with it again. … We're in "go" mode unless something says stop. But we don't and we can't and we won't, as people say, go all in. We're never going "all in" — that means you're trading your future.

On how they would act on that decision:

People are going to look at us in October and say, "What are you going to do with all that starting pitching?" And we're going to have to figure that out. If we did make a trade, is it going to be for future or for present? What we like to do is present and future.

On whether getting a high draft pick provides solace for the bad season:

It's a solace, but it's not a goal by any stretch because a) the top four, five, six guys that we've seen, even in our own past, things happen, and b) they're not going to help you immediately.

It's more important to us as an organization, a clubhouse, manager, coaches, to play really good baseball, competitive baseball, win baseball games and give us a true indication of what the team looks like for next season.

On the moves made by baseball operations president Matt Silverman, since taking over for Andrew Friedman in October 2014:

None of these trades are done in a vacuum. It's how it affects other things, and clearly there are things we've done that we wish we hadn't, and clearly there are things we've done that we're ecstatic about.

On whether he is pleased with Silverman's overall body of work:

Oh yeah, ecstatic. I look at it as a department. When Andrew was here, it was more about him, and he was the lead guy in all this, and that worked for him. It depends on who the person is. With Matt, we've worked on things as a team, and I think the process has been outstanding.

On whether any of the potential bay area stadium sites could work:

I have some in my mind that could, it doesn't mean that others won't. … We're still parsing through about two dozen. So we'll see.

On whether he deserves any of the fault for the disappointing season:

Of course. I have to take the blame over everybody else, so they can go and do their jobs.

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

Comments
Rays place Wilson Ramos on DL for potential extended absence, seek replacement

Rays place Wilson Ramos on DL for potential extended absence, seek replacement

ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays made the inevitable move Wednesday of placing catcher Wilson Ramon on the DL while still looking for a replacement.Ramos strained his left hamstring Saturday in Minnesota, forcing him out of the All-Star Game. The Rays...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays reinstate discount pizza promotion with Papa John’s after corporate action

Rays reinstate discount pizza promotion with Papa John’s after corporate action

The Rays reinstated the discount pizza promotion with Papa John's based on actions taken by corporate officials after the ouster of founder John Schnatter following reports he used a racial slur.The Rays had suspended the promotion, which offers half...
Updated: 4 hours ago
MLB: Brewers’ Josh Hader must take sensitivity training after tweets

MLB: Brewers’ Josh Hader must take sensitivity training after tweets

WASHINGTON — Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader will be required to go through sensitivity training after years-old racist and homophobic tweets of his resurfaced during the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball said Wednesday. MLB announced that th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
MLB player poll: Rays (and Marlins) fans are ‘the worst’

MLB player poll: Rays (and Marlins) fans are ‘the worst’

Rays fans and Tropicana Field are routinely ripped by media and out-of-towners, and the usual defense is the critics don't really know what they're talking about.Well, now the major-league players have spoken.Or at least some of them.Rays fans shared...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game, 8-6, in 10 innings

Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game, 8-6, in 10 innings

WASHINGTON — A record 10 home runs . A slew of strikeouts. The all-or-nothing All-Star Game mirrored what baseball has become. Astros teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer homered on consecutive pitches to begin the 10th inning, and the American...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Blake Snell’s All-Star debut

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Blake Snell’s All-Star debut

The Rays' Blake Snell makes his All-Star debut with a memorable first pitch, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says he likes the Rays' new stadium plans, and there is controversy at the Home Run Derby.Plus, Florida head coach Dan Mullen says the Gators ha...
Updated: 10 hours ago
All-Star morning after: On Blake Snell’s opening act

All-Star morning after: On Blake Snell’s opening act

Willson Contreras had seen Rays lefty Blake Snell before.Five times over two 2017 games, and at least a couple of times in 2015 when they were both playing at Double-A.So the Cubs catcher had a good idea what to expect when Snell threw his first pitc...
Published: 07/18/18
The Twitter controversy that marred All-Star Game

The Twitter controversy that marred All-Star Game

What had been a three-day feel-good All-Star celebration of baseball ended in some controversy on Tuesday night with Brewers reliever Josh Hader apologizing for a series of tweets from 2011-12 that contained racist, sexist and homophobic comments."Th...
Published: 07/18/18
MLB commissioner Manfred confident Rays owner is ‘going to get’ stadium deal done

MLB commissioner Manfred confident Rays owner is ‘going to get’ stadium deal done

WASHINGTON – Acknowledging both the challenges and urgency to work out a public-private financing plan, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday expressed extreme confidence in Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg to make a de...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Blake Snell settles down after giving up homer in All-Star Game

Blake Snell settles down after giving up homer in All-Star Game

WASHINGTON — Blake Snell's first All-Star experience started with, well, a bang.The first pitch the Rays left-hander threw, a 98 mph fastball, was knocked over the leftfield wall by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.Snell seemed a bit unsettled in...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18