Season preview; can the Tampa Rays ride Kevin Cash’s coattails, again?

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – With lightning speed, faces constantly sweep through a myriad of revolving doors. The old axiom, “what have you done for me lately?” resonates through every clubhouse, locker room, stadium, and arena.

The essence of success appears elusive and “the drawing board” is constantly altered and revised. Throughout the past decade, the one constant for very few major league teams has been the consequence and value of the field manager. While Bruce Bochy won three titles with the San Francisco Giants and another with the Texas Rangers, his success and longevity are nearly mythical.

Arizona Diamondbacks’ skipper Torey Lovullo guided his team to two post-season appearances in his initial seven years in the desert and Aaron Boone of the Yankees directed the Bombers to five consecutive post-season appearances from 2028 to 2022. While Rays’ manager Kevin Cash is responsible for six straight winning seasons, including post-season appearances each year from 2019-2023, the post-season results have been marginal at best. In guiding the Tampa franchise, Cash’s record in post-season play is 15-19.

Still, Cash’s ability to successfully guide a franchise through the previous decade, with a plethora of winning seasons, remains a remarkable feat. That’s because the Rays are considered one of those “small market teams,” play home games in Tropicana Field, a venue rated as one in the worst game, and the franchise, in recent years, existed on a bare-bones budget.

Regarding success at any level, the common refrain touches on two core elements. These tend to be communication and the development of a distinct culture. Entering his 10th season as manager of the Rays, Cash’s vision of a team concept, the “open door” policy of communication, and creation of a viable, conducive culture in the clubhouse represent the core of his approach.

“Any adjective you can come up with, Cash as it,” said pitcher Zach Eflin. “The biggest thing with him is that he has no ego. He probably doesn’t care what job he has and only to be part of and help guide. He is a tremendous leader. At the end of the day, there is no ego for him to live up to and he is one of us.”

A catcher by trade, Cash, at 46 years old, is a native of Tampa and originally signed by Toronto as a free agent in 1999. In all, Cash played for eight years in the majors for the Jays, Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, and Astros. He finished with a .183 batting average but is considered as one of the most austere minds in the game.

“Kevin has a rare blend of strength and humility,” said Erik Neander, the Rays’ president of baseball operations. “He has a way to command respect and also never stops looking for ways to get better. He’s accountable to himself and the leadership is there. It’s clear. People play hard for him. His desire to get better and the confidence he has for himself is probably not much different than a few years ago. He is as authentic as they come and as comfortable in his skin as they come. There is an incredible range to his personality.”

A consensus holds the core of Cash’s ability to command a baseball team and the reason for his longevity is communication. Friendly and open, yet candid and precise with the media, Cash’s ability to communicate with players on a high level is common to those who achieved success.

When Lovullo was hired as the Arizona manager after the 2016 season, he went out of his way to make a clear point. During the introducing news conference in Oct., 2016, he clearly stated, “what matters to the players, matters to me.”

Cash’s penchant for interacting with his players at a high level equates to a similar plane and clearly resonates with his players.

“It’s has a Hall-of-Fame career, already,” said reliever Jason Adam. “I think communication would be a good way to describe him. He communicates well, lets you be yourself and expects you to be a good teammate. When you get a bunch of talented guys who are committed to be good teammates, the results speak for themselves. He does a great job modeling that and implementing that.”

With the season about to begin, players have an opportunity to implement Cash’s driving penchant for success with their execution.

Consider… among active managers, Cash’s regular season won-lost record is among the best. According to, here are the top 10 managers in winning percentage and post-season record.

  1. Dave Roberts – 10 seasons, 2015-2023. 754-444, .629, 45-39 in post-season.
  2. Aaron Boone – 7 seasons, 2018-2023, 509-361, .585, 14-17 in post-season
  3. Brian Snitner, 9 seasons, 2016-2023, 646-509, .559, 24-21 in post-season
  4. Kevin Cash, 9 seasons, 2025-2023, 739-617, .545, 15-19 in post-season
  5. Craig Counsell, 10 years, 2025-2023, 707-625, .531, 7-12 in post-season
  6. A. J. Hinch, 11 seasons, 2009-2023, 791-717, .525, 28-22 in post-season
  7. Ron Washington, 9 seasons, 2007-2023, 664-611, .521, 8-16 in post-season
  8. Bob Melvin, 21 seasons, 2003-2023, 1517-1425, .516, 16-23 in post-season
  9. Bruce Bochy, 27 seasons, 2093-2101, .499, 57-27 in post-season
  10. Torey Lovullo, 8 seasons, 2-26-2023, 495-537, .480, 11-10 in post-season

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