Has Cash done his best managing job?

by Gary Shelton on August 22, 2023

in general

Cash's team is still contending./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

When it comes to the race for the American League manager of the year, I suspect three things:

  1. Brandon Hyde of the Orioles is going to win it. Hyde might as well clear space for the award on his bookshelf. The Orioles have the winning combo of being very good this year and dreadful in recent years, which is always a hit with the voters.

2) Aaron Boone of the Yankees isn’t going to win it. Not unless they change the name of the award to Mangler of the Year. Never has so much been spent for so little.

3) Kevin Cash of the Rays should get a lot more consideration than he’s going to.

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Cash, a two-time winner, probably won’t win it again. Still, this is probably the best job of managing that he’s done in his career. 

The season of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t expected to be much, and after a hot start, the season has been a minefield. Yet, Cash remains the center of the Rays’ inner confidence. They’re currently three games behind in baseball’s toughest division. That alone should put him on the short list.

Ah, but there has been considerable difference between a 13-0 start and the casting of the ballots, and by now, the Rays’ start seems like old news. Cash isn’t the hot candidate he should be.

But consider:

— The Rays how lost three starting pitchers this season, which would stagger most teams. Consider that 31 major league pitchers have started at least 25 games this year. Shane McClanahan is four short of that. Tyler Glasnow is  11 short. Drew Rasmussen  is 17 short. Jeffrey Springs is 22 short. What other team has had to deal with  54 lost starts from their staff?

— He woke up one morning and found out that his starting shortstop (allegedly) had turned into Jerry Lee Lewis.

— He survived a July in which the Rays’ hitters were as bad as we thought they would be all along.

— He still has a miserly payroll.

And still, the Rays have won 75 games. They’ve come from behind 24 times (almost a third of their wins). 

Okay, okay. No baseball manager is without critics. But you have to admire how even-keeled Cash is. It doesn’t matter whether Wander Franco is being taken off the roster, or if Brandon Lowe is in one of his slumps. Cash never panics. He never rips into his team. With Cash, it’s always on to the next game.

Look, this manager of the year voting is a funky thing. It often has little to do with winning a World Series. It’s more often a team that has been lousy turning a corner.

In other words, the main thing working against Cash this year is that Cash’s team was pretty good last year, too.

This year, I say he’s been better. 

It doesn’t matter if it comes with a plaque or not.

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