And Then There Were Two……..
So now the Tampa Bay Rays choices for their new Manager are down to the dynamic duo of Don Wakamatsu and Kevin Cash. Both former MLB catchers have their positives and distractions and we wind down the last hours before the Rays front office makes their official announcement.
Will the Rays follow the current MLB trend of hiring a Manager who will develop and mature on the job, or will they select the candidate who has taken a few knocks and has learned from his bumps and bruises as a Manager.
Will age play a factor and the Rays decide that quite possibly Wakamatsu, who is 51 as the leader of their next generation of stars or will the team go with youthful route and select Kevin Cash who will turn 37 on December 6th and who is only several years removed from his own MLB days.
Could the fact Cash has 2 World Series rings as a member of the New York Yankees (2009) and Boston Red Sox (2007) show he knows what it takes to play within the highly competitive American League East.
Will the differences between the 2 candidates go even deeper taking into account their MLB careers that might benefit young Mr. Cash as Wakamatsu only played with Chicago White Sox (1991) while Cash played for 5 different clubs, 4 of which played in the AL East (Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Rays).
Can the true aspect of game day experience on the dugout stoop be the deciding virtue on whether Cash or Wakamatsu get a chance to manage the Rays?
Would the Rays be more inclined to check mark Wakamatsu’s obvious game day experience as he has had stints in coaching with the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, and the current AL Champion Kansas City Royals as well as a year and a half at the helm of the Seattle Mariners.
Or can Cash in his limited 2 years coaching window show his skill set is larger than his resume and that his time in advance scouting as well as his tenure in the Cleveland Indians Bullpen and around Terry Francona will merit brownie points from the Rays.
Neither candidate has huge black marks against them as players or coaches, but Wakamatsu’s only dent in his resume might be his past inability to keep control and respect of his clubhouse in Seattle.
Will Wakamatsu’s undoing be his lack of keeping his clubhouse in check and losing the respect and confidence of his players and upper management, or will he address this frankly with the Rays and provide a different recourse and path if it ever happens again.
Could Cash’s limited tenure as a Coach be a defining line in the sand that the Rays will not cross, wanting more dugout time in hand than the game day views from down in the Bullpen area.
I must admit, I really would have loved to be the fly-on-the-wall during both their recent in-depth interviews to learn each candidate’s personals views, goals and aspirations for the Rays over the next 3-5 years. How Cash or Wakamatsu would implement or bring in changes that would elevate the Rays both on and off the field.
Would they both utilize advance scouting reports in-depth and embrace the art form that is sabermetrics to enhance their team’s successes, while also playing to their intuitions and game experience to play the odds to turn defeat into victory.
Can they educate, inspire and build on team interaction as well as provide moral support and understanding as needed. Can they build upon the foundation left by Joe Maddon in St. Petersburg and grow the Rays Way into a tweaked and refined version of their own that will be embraced by the team, organization and fan base?
You wonder if either of them have hidden in their arsenal a new innovation cohesion or program that could be utilized from Day 1 by the Rays franchise-wide and bring the next generation of outside the box thinking to the Rays.
It is going to be interesting to see who is finally selected as the Rays next skipper as each has merit and the ability and where the Rays drew their line in regards to experience over room to grow.
Whoever is announced and subsequently featured prominently in the Rays Press Room on Friday or Saturday, let’s hope Tampa Bay fans quickly get behind this choice, find a common ground and ready ourselves for their tenure as the Rays Manager.
So, who you got making their Rays Managerial debut on the stage?