Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Cash: Rays 'not good enough right now' (w/video)

LOS ANGELES — The Rays were good enough Wednesday afternoon.

Good enough to beat Andrew Friedman's contending Dodgers 3-1, packaging a couple of key hits, a handful of good defensive plays — plus a memorable one by Logan Morrison — and another impressive outing by Matt Moore, who either has boosted his value enough to prod a contender to make a deal for him by Monday's deadline or prompt the Rays to decide they can't dare ditch him.

Good enough to make it a happy flight home after completing a rigorous three-city, nine-game, 10-day cross-country road trip 4-5 and reach a relatively decent 5-7 since the All-Star break.

Good enough to start feeling good about themselves again despite an overall 39-61 mess.

"Not just this game, but think about the road trip," Moore said. "How well the staff has pitched. Our defense has been really good. We're scoring just enough runs right there to feel like Rays baseball.

"Since the All-Star break we've played a lot closer to the true colors of our team."

But Wednesday morning, frustrated by four straight and six total one-run losses since the break and undoubtedly fueled by a short night with a noon start, manager Kevin Cash made it very clear that they were far from where they needed to be.

"We're not good enough right now," Cash said. "We've got to figure out a way to win those ballgames. The one-run losses, the amount that has taken place here since the break, we just keep continuing to come up short.

"Something, we've got to change. We've got to get the big hit, make the big pitch, whatever, the big play. It seems like when those big moments of the game are coming, we're not getting it done."

It wasn't quite Lou Piniella trashing his players, bosses and paycheck-signers as he was wont to do during his doomed Devil Rays tenure, but for Cash, those were strong words.

He was clear to not blame any one area of the team, and to include himself, in what he said was essentially a group fail.

"I think it's a team thing. It's not finger-pointing at one specific individual. It's totally on the team, on myself, on the staff," he said. "We're just not good enough right now, and we've got to make adjustments to overcome that."

Even more interesting, and potentially damning, he at least hinted that he's not sure the players in the room are good enough to do that.

Asked if the shortfalls were a matter of the players having the talent but needing to dig deeper and do better, Cash didn't necessarily agree.

"I guess you can say that," he said. "But when do you find out whether they do or don't have the talent? I don't have a good answer for you. … I don't have a good answer."

As of now, or as soon as they do whatever they are going to do by Monday's deadline, getting those answers, deciding who stays and who goes, needs to be their top priority.

"From there, we need to start thinking about — obviously continue to do everything we can to win games right now — but how are we going to get better going into next year," Cash said. "There's plenty of questions out there we could answer over August and September."

Think about it: Only three positions on the field are set for next year, with Evan Longoria at third, Logan Forsythe at second and Kevin Kiermaier (even with his .215 average) in center. Everything else is at least open to discussion, or just plain open.

Similarly, the only sure bets for the bullpen look to be Brad Boxberger and Alex Colome. And depending on which, if any, starters are traded, there could be openings in the rotation, though that's where the Rays have the most depth.

For all the cover the extensive spate of injuries has provided, and the inexplicable months-long struggles of the starters — who, curiously, finally started pitching well about the time the trade rumors began flying — what's clear is that they have serious deficiencies to address.

"Things haven't really aligned," Longoria said. "We've had streaks where the pitching has been good but the offense hasn't been there. You have to put those things together if you want to be a winning ballclub. We've played sloppy. We haven't played together at times. And it's tough to rack up wins when you're not doing that consistently."

In other words, on most days, they have not been good enough.

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

     
 
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