Rays’ Cash still believes in his team

by Gary Shelton on March 28, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Cash thinks his team's defense will be better./JEFFREY S. KING

Cash thinks his team's defense will be better./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

On a new morning in his old house, Kevin Cash sat in a dugout with his back to the wall. Given the expectations of the road ahead, it seemed as fitting a place for Cash to start his journey as anywhere.

In front of him was the new turf of the Trop. Above were the aging banners of successes long ago. There was a catwalk, and blue seats, and, despite what most of us think, possibilities.

The Rays unwrap a new season Thursday, one in which Cash and his team believe will be more successful than most of the rest of us. Hey, someone has to believe, right? It might as well be Cash, a guy whose job it is to have faith.

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Look around, and you cannot help but notice the low expectations that surround this team. The Rays are a new-look bunch without a high-priced import, and as a result, critics don't expect a lot of wins in 2018. .

Then again, it wasn't as if the Rays broke up the '27 Yankees, was it? If team had brought back every player from a year ago, it still wouldn't be picked to be much higher than third place.

Still, Cash thinks his team might do a lot of the little things better than a year ago. That's not a bad place to start.

"In theory, we're going to catch the ball better," Cash said. "We're going to show more range in the outfield, more range in the infield. We're going to make routine plays at a better clip than we've done in the past.

"I'm not saying that we were bad at it, but we all know that our margin of error is very slim. We play in a lot of tight ballgames. We have shown the ability to pitch. So one hiccup on defense can be game-changing. They (the front office) have done a good job that can really defend behind our pitching staff."

If you're wondering, yes, Cash says he likes this team.

"A lot," he said. "I like it a lot. It's been the best spring of the four years that I've been there. A lot of that comes from the young players that come in, the energy they bring.

"When you see a group of big league players diving around the infield, diving in the outfield, hitting cutoff men. We're working in the right direction."

So what's a good number? Sixty-three, which assures the Rays that they won't lose 100? Seventy, which would bring the team within 10 wins of last. year? Eighty-two, which would be Cash's first .500 season? More, which should put Cash in the running for Manager of the Year?

Ask Cash if he listens to the outside talk, and he makes a brief, snorting noise. No, he doesn't care that much what a media guy from Los Angeles things. Or one from New York.

According to Cash, his expectations are the same as they always have been. Make fun of him for it if you wish. But the guy expects to win a decent amount of the time.

"They haven't changed," Cash says of his expectations. "To go win. Competitive in this division is not good enough. We know we have good teams we're playing against. We need to win.

"We need to find ways to win on the road better. We need to find a way to come out on top of these close games, the late inning games. We've been in there a lot the last three years. but being in there isn't enough. We've got to win -- on the road in tough environments. We're going to learn a lot the first two weeks."

Give Cash credit. He isn't backing down, and he isn't blaming the front office for its fire sale.

Will it be enough? You decide. But the guy in charge still believes. That's something. Isn't it?

Look around, and you see low expectations everywhere with this team.

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