ORLANDO — The winter meetings are in full swing and the first thing on the ticket was a press conference with Rays’ skipper Kevin Cash.
Of course, the first thing to come up was trade speculation. “When you have good players, people are going to ask about them”. Cash said that the Rays are still going to have a core group and trade chatter is not going to affect the players. However it would be an interesting meeting as the two big targets — Ohtani and Stanton — were off the market and had been taking up a lot of teams’ time.
Speaking on the Yankees, who nabbed Stanton, Cash said that the lineup became extremely balanced and powerful, with a nice mix of left and right handed hitting. He says the club embraces when the AL East is competitive, and they see it as a “fun challenge”. Although the Yankees became even more powerful, Cash said they need to rely on their bread and butter, which is good pitching and a solid defense. Cash said they need to find a way to win at Yankee stadium, where they went 2-8 in 2017.
Cash mentioned finding a player that could fill a true utility role that could play both infield and outfield, so they could carry an extra reliever. He wants to put the young players in a position to succeed, and mentioned finding pitchers who are reliable for the middle innings.
Cash was very excited about his new staff, speaking highly of new pitching coach Zack Snyder and new third base coach Matt Quatraro. Snyder will be leaned on a lot this year for his experience with the young arms coming through the system like Faria, Snell, and Alvarado. Although Snyder, Quatraro, and the bullpen will have a wealth of information thrown at them, Cash said the biggest hurdle is learning about the rest of the league, but has confidence that they can get up to speed quickly.
What Cash was really excited to talk about was the youth movement coming through the season. He mentioned the excitement surrounding Bauers and Adames, and was not bothered by their slow start saying it makes their final line and contributions that much more impressive. He mentioned that both Bauers and Adames want the spotlight and want to come up in that big spot where their team needs them. Although Cash mentioned “it’s going to be tough to replicate power from 2016” he was confident that they can win games and stay competitive in the AL East.
Cash is looking forward to the Rays’ power arms in Stanek and Schultz contributing in 2018. On Stanek, Cash said, “he is still maturing, but he’s a guy we like an awful lot. We gotta get him over the plate and get him to buy into one of his offspeed pitches that he can put guys away”. Cash is also looking forward to seeing Schultz in 2018, and seeing where he is in spring training. He was excited to hear about the young group of players and pitchers coming up and that “you never know about the roster.”
Cash also made an interesting comment about the middle infield defense being special and between Robertson, Duffy, and Hech “our middle infield is something special.”
Of course, Cash was asked about the stadium. He said that “We have good fans. We don’t think too much about the situation. In time we will get it done”
That’s it so far! Stay tuned for more coverage from the MLB winter meetings.