Monday, July 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' slump shouldn't — and won't — cost Kevin Cash his job

BALTIMORE

Sure, Kevin Cash is as much to blame as anyone for a Rays losing streak that has grown to 11 after Sunday's 12-5 drubbing by the Orioles.

When a team is going as bad as the Rays are, it's obvious the manager needs to manage better. Just like the pitchers need to pitch better, the hitters hit better, the coaches coach better, the athletic trainers train better, the team executives executive better, and so on.

But this mess is not Cash's fault. There really isn't much he can do about it. And, if you were actually wondering, there is no chance he will pay for it with his job.

The injuries that have decimated the starting lineup, with four front-line players sidelined plus their closer, and the inconsistencies that turned the once-touted rotation into a daily dilemma are much more the reason for their 31-43 record than Cash's usage — and, yes, over-usage — of the bullpen or occasional strategic stubbornness.

"It's definitely not his fault," team leader Evan Longoria said. "I've always said, good manager or bad manager, you're always defined by your players. Usually the quote-unquote 'good' managers have good teams and have good players. We have good players. We have a lot of good players hurt.

"There's absolutely nothing he can do in regard to that. … When you don't have the players, it's tough."

On the other side of the clubhouse, rotation leader Chris Archer said much the same thing, noting injuries, specifically to their top starters, were also a contributing factor in Cash's 80-82 debut season in 2015.

"It's tough to manage a team with 50 percent of your opening day starting lineup out," Archer said. "It really is. You put anybody in that seat and I don't think there's much better you can do."

When the Rays took a leap after Joe Maddon bailed following the 2014 season to hire Cash to manage for the first time at any level, they committed to much more than a season-and-a-half of injury-marred play, 111-125 thus far.

This is an organization that tends — perhaps to a fault — to be more deliberate in decision-making than knee-jerk reactive. And one that typically doesn't scapegoat.

When they gave Cash a five-year, approximately $5 million deal — even though they didn't announce the terms — the message was clear that he would have an extended run to prove himself.

How the Rays are playing and how Cash, 38, is handling it publicly, with his straight-faced expression in the dugout and calm, somewhat bland media sessions, seem to rankle some fans — at least among those who care enough to share on social media.

"I don't think he's to blame," Longoria said. "And I don't think the fans should jump off board with him for the simple fact that he just doesn't have the players accessible to him right now."

Those around Cash know how rough the losing has been on him, even more so since the Rays had won nine of 11 before the streak, getting back to within a game of .500.

And those who know Cash say he's just not the type to go all Lou Piniella — whom he played for briefly — and start calling out players, much less his bosses, in frustration or slamming doors.

Actually, Archer, Longoria and other players said they feel the patient and positive manner in which Cash is handling the situation is pretty much pitch perfect. In the few team meetings Cash has called, the message preached has been similar, though perhaps a tad more colorful.

"That's what you want from a leader," said first baseman Logan Morrison, who has played under eight different managers. "Someone who's going to be the same person whether you've won 10 in a row or lost 11 in a row. I think he'd done a good job of that. He's always looking after us, making sure we're all right."

Cash acknowledged the extended skid is a test but emphasized that they are in it together. A win will help, just to reduce the pressure of the streak, four shy of the franchise record for ineptitude. A couple, more so. But better will be getting outfielders Brandon Guyer and Steven Souza Jr. potentially back this week, and getting their starters straightened out.

"There's no doubt it's tough," Cash said. "We all work so hard, our players, our staff, our organization works so hard to get positive results, and we're not getting them right now. …

"We've got the support of our front office, no doubt. They listen and hear everything. We just have to grind through it a little bit. You do what you can to stay positive, but it's difficult to do. We're losing ball games in so many different ways right now."

As the manager, he deserves the blame. But not the fault.

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

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Twins game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Twins game

There are times when Rays OF Carlos Gomez looks lackadaisical, but he made an urgent dash in from rightfield to near the mound when the benches first cleared and was ready for any action. Reminiscent of Jonny Gomes in '08.The loss is still what matte...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays journal: Twins grand slam ends heated game

Rays journal: Twins grand slam ends heated game

MINNEAPOLIS — That the Brian Dozier walkoff grand slam in the 10th inning that beat the Rays 11-7 was only part of the drama probably tells you all you need to know about Sunday's 4½-hour plus roller coaster ride, which included two benche...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays lose hot-tempered game to Twins 11-7 on walkoff grand slam

Rays lose hot-tempered game to Twins 11-7 on walkoff grand slam

MINNEAPOLIS – The Rays didn't have quite enough fight in them Sunday.Brian Dozier hit a walkoff grand slam in the 10th inning to give the Twins an 11-7 win in a back-and-forth and hot-tempered game that sent the Rays into the All-Star break at ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Wilson Ramos injury is a giant pain for Rays

Wilson Ramos injury is a giant pain for Rays

MINNEAPOLIS — The immediate reaction around the Rays to the extent of catcher Wilson Ramos' hamstring injury is disappointment, everyone knowing how much he was looking forward to playing in Tuesday's All-Star Game in Washington.But they are li...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays Wilson Ramos is “going to miss some time”

Rays Wilson Ramos is “going to miss some time”

The Rays don't have an exact timetable yet for how long C Wilson Ramos will be sidelined, but it sounds like it could be weeks, or maybe even months, which could impact and possibly eliminate the opportunity to trade him."Not the best" news, manager ...
Published: 07/15/18
For starters: Rays at Twins, with a lot going on

For starters: Rays at Twins, with a lot going on

UPDATE, 1:03: Cash said it's "not the best" news on Ramos, who has a left hamstring issue. … No set timetable but "he's going to miss some time." … Duffy was scratched from the lineup after all, the Rays deciding not to risk a further iss...
Published: 07/15/18
Rays shuffle bullpen, acquire Hoby Milner, send down Chih-Wei Hu

Rays shuffle bullpen, acquire Hoby Milner, send down Chih-Wei Hu

The Rays went outside the the organization to add a fresh arm to the bullpen, acquiring LHP Hoby Milner from the Phillies on Saturday night for cash considerations.The Rays sent down RHP Chih-Wei Hu to make room on the 25-man roster and designated fo...
Published: 07/15/18
Rays journal: Wilson Ramos will miss All-Star Game

Rays journal: Wilson Ramos will miss All-Star Game

MINNEAPOLIS — C Wilson Ramos had been so looking forward to starting Tuesday's All-Star Game in Washington, where he played seven seasons and, depending on the latest rumor, could be returning via trade.But he lost that opportunity Saturday, wi...
Published: 07/14/18
Updated: 07/15/18
Rays’ Blake Snell: This is how a Star is born

Rays’ Blake Snell: This is how a Star is born

MINNEAPOLIS — Blake Snell didn't know where he was headed at this time last year.Having made a couple of unimpressive starts after rejoining the Rays following a six-week demotion to Triple A he earned with a brutal beginning to what was suppos...
Published: 07/14/18
Rays roar back to blast Twins 19-6

Rays roar back to blast Twins 19-6

MINNEAPOLIS – There was a time late Saturday afternoon when things actually looked bad for the Rays in what turned out to be a very good day, a 19-6 victory that ensured a winning record at the All-Star break.Tampa Bay had given back an early l...
Published: 07/14/18