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Cash Considerations: Nobody writes songs about Pittsburgh

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Rays drop two of three; Cash manages games and a clubhouse.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while.

Sorry, life has been weird lately. Plus, since our team has gotten better (except the bullpen), our manager hasn’t had to work nearly as hard. So I’ve been slacking.

But we’re gonna try to get back at this, and a ‘burgh vs. ‘burg Interleague series seems like a good place to start.

June 27: Rays 4, Pirates 2

Pulling Cobb

In case you forgot, Alex Cobb was pretty good on this night. And Alex Colome – um – wasn’t.

When Cash pulled Cobb with at 2-0 lead after eight inning, he was at 92 pitches. He had given up just two hits and a walk, and nary a run. Colome, on the other hand, was fresh off an implosion against Baltimore.

So sending Cobb back would certainly have been a reasonable thing to do.

But!

When you look beneath the surface, Alex Cobb wasn’t as dominant as all the roundy numbers on the scoreboard would suggest. His biggest achievement was that he didn’t make any real mistake pitches. But he did miss location on more than one occasion, though usually up and out of the zone instead of in the middle of it. He only induced three whiffs on the night. And his splitter – which seemed to be coming around in his last start – was hardly in play at all.

A two-pitcher starting his fourth time through the order is not usually a recipe for success.

So I get pulling Cobb. And, come on, there’s nothing magical about the last three outs of the game. Anybody on the major league roster should be able to pitch an inning and not give up two runs more often than not, right?

All that said…

Let me be honest; I was annoyed at the move even before Alex Colome clipped John Jaso’s helmet. Because Alex Colome scares the crap out of me right now.

Yeah, yeah, I totally understood the move. I even agreed with it on an intellectual level. And I’m sure Alex will figure it back out soon, and I won’t have this feeling of impending doom every time he toes the rubber forever. That’s not going to happen with him sitting in the pen. But while this was objectively a perfectly fine move, probably even the right move, that doesn’t make nights like Tuesday any more fun.

Verdict: Pass the Tums

Defensive Replacement

For that fun-filled bottom of the ninth, Peter Bourjos took over center field, pushing Mallex Smith over to left and Corey Dickerson to the showers. Later in the inning, Bourjos made a nice running grab of a ball toward the gap for one of the few outs Colome would record.

Would Smith have made this catch? Yeah, probably. But — well, have you watched Smith play center? No doubt he has the physical tools, but it can be a bit of an adventure sometimes.

So, sure. Fine. Good move, I guess. Even if it does take Corey Dickerson bat out of the lineup. I mean, it’s not like we’re going to need Corey to hit later, right? We got a two run lead in the ninth!

Verdict: The brilliance of this move really shines on Earth 2 where El Caballo is still a shutdown reliever

The Send

Credit for this one can’t go to Cash, but it’s still worth talking about.

But how about that send by Charlie Montoyo of Steven Souza Jr. in the tenth?

Okay, you can’t actually see the “send” in the frame. I didn’t really catch it till about the third replay from the angle behind home plate. But Montoyo is waaaay down the line, and he doesn’t actually waive Souza until after Steven is around third and the ball is already in the air, when Charlie can see that the throw is off line and weak.

It’s just a great job by a runner busting it all the way and giving himself a chance, and a coach getting himself in position, then waiting and letting the play develop before making an aggressive call.

Great job, everyone.

Verdict: Everybody get ice cream!

June 28: Pirates 6, Rays 2

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

I mean, what’s a manager to do when his starter gives up four runs before everybody can get through the concession line? Or when the offense strands 69 runners?

Cash pinch hit in all the correct spots. The bullpen moves were fine. When it’s not your day, it’s just not your day.

Verdict: Mondays don’t always happen on Monday

June 29: Pirates 4, Rays Zilch

Well, this one was boring.

Beckham #tootblan’d

During the offseason, the Rays made a commitment to being less the dumb on the bases. And I think they’ve largely succeeded. But not everybody gets it right all the time. And in the third inning, with the game far from decided, Tim Beckham didn’t.

It started out nice. After leading off with a single, Timmy swiped second with one out and new acquisition Adeiny Hechavarria batting.

Good job!

But then, when Hech grounded to Mercer at short, Bex tried to take third and was thrown out, spoiling a nice scoring opportunity.

Boo!

I’m sure Cash will have a talk with TBex about this, and it’s not like it’s been a recurring problem this year. The Rays are far from the worst tootblan offenders this season. Also, this was sin of aggression, which are generally more forgivable. And maybe Beckham is pressing a bit, trying to impress now that the new guy has bumped him off his position (more on that in a second).

But it’s still dumb.

Verdict: Let’s not make this a habit

Whitley against Bell

First, there was nothing inherently wrong with having Chase Whitley face Josh Bell. Sure, he’d put a couple guys on, but he’d also gotten two outs. We’re already down 3-0, just let him clean up his own mess.

But if you’re going to bring in Adam Kolarek to face the next hitter after Bell singles, I’m not sure why you don’t make the move a batter earlier. Bell hits righthanded pitching much better than lefthanded pitching (116 wRC+ vs. 74 wRC+). So why not pull the trigger a batter sooner?

On the other hand...

Kolarek is making his debut. He’s maybe a true LOOGY, so even a guy with bad splits against LHP might not be a good matchup for him. Maybe Bell hooks one over the around the foul pole, and we lose by six instead of four.

I dunno. In a boring game, it was something for me to yell at the TV about.

Verdict: 50/50/90

Tim Beckham is maybe upset

One thing we try not to do in Cash Considerations is get into clubhouse management. Mostly because we aren’t in the clubhouse. But in case you haven’t noticed, the Rays acquired a new shortstop, bumping the former position holder over to second. And according to Rays beat reporter and ax grinder Marc Topkin, Tim Beckham isn’t happy about it.

Well, we’re supposed to assume Beckham isn’t happy about it. What we know is that Beckham told the PR staff to tell the press he didn’t want to talk about the move. Then (I guess?) somebody asked anyway, and he told the press directly he didn’t want to talk about the move.

Now, as somebody who has lost more than one job, (and on at least one occasion had to train my replacement) I totally get this. Tim Beckham owes us no explanation. He is not obligated to let us peer into his soul. He owes us nothing but effort on the field.

And it certainly looks like we’re still getting that. So that part is a non-story.

What Kevin Cash owes us is something entirely different. Kevin Cash needs to balance egos. He needs to back his guys that need backed, and he needs to prod the guys that need prodding.

And he needs to not let a nosy sports reporter create locker room controversy out of nothing.

So I thought this interview was revealing not for anything it said about Beckham, but for how Cash handled it.

First, he acknowledged it was difficult and in fact understandable for Tim to feel the way he did.

He backed Tim Beckham.

He then emphasized what Hech brings to the table without disparaging Beckham.

And he laid out for the nosy writer what was expected of Beckham in a matter of fact way that said Cash expected it to happen.

We don’t often get a look into locker room management. And I’m sure there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. But this was nice to see.

Verdict: Good job