When Kevin Cash was a backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and 2008, he built a strong friendship with his manager, Terry Francona. Now in opposite dugouts, Francona is continuing to have fun with the Tampa Bay Rays skipper.
It would be fair to say that Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash had a fairly forgettable career in the majors. Although he appeared in parts of eight seasons, he never reached the 200 plate appearance mark. Given his overall .183/.248/.278 batting line, and OPS+ of 35, it is hard to argue that he deserved more playing time.
Given the friendship that has sprung up between Francona and Cash, it is not a surprise that the latter’s playing career would be the source of a few jokes. The pranks began when Cash was a part of Francona’s coaching staff in Cleveland, and have continued when the Rays and Indians face one another. The pranking continued yesterday, with Francona taking another opportunity to poke fun at Cash’s offensive struggles.
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Cash, for his part, has not taken part in the hijinks. While his playing career was not great, Francona was not exactly a superstar himself. The Indians manager posted a .274/.300/.351 batting line in his ten years, worth an OPS+ of 81. It may have been below average, but Francona was also hampered by injuries throughout his career, limiting his effectiveness at the plate.
Meanwhile, Cash, as the above tweet points out, had the fifth worst OPS+ of any player with 650 or more plate appearances. Cash was barely above Bill Bergen, who may well be the poster child for offensive ineptitude. Even Rafael Belliard outperformed Cash with the bat.
However, those days no longer matter. What is important is how Cash guides the Rays, and whether or not he can help steer the team back to playoff contention. He certainly had a great mentor in Francona, and after watching him guide the Red Sox to a World Series title, may be able to bring some of those lessons to Tampa Bay. Fortunately, the Rays are willing to be patient while Cash guides the next wave of young talent.
Kevin Cash may not have been a great ballplayer, but that does not change how he is running the Tampa Bay Rays. Just don’t think that Terry Francona has forgotten about his struggles.