On Friday afternoon, the Rays announced that Kevin Cash as their new manager. The team decided on Cash over Don Wakamatsu.
Last week, we looked at how the Rays might be able to market their new manager and how he could replace Joe Maddon as a presence in the community. Of the three candidates at the time, Cash had the best potential. Besides his high baseball acumen, Cash’s Tampa baseball roots run deep.
Just by taking the helm, Cash continues a legacy of Tampa managers. According to Bill Chastain of MLB.com:
He also becomes the sixth Tampa-born manager in Major League history, and the second for the Rays, joining Lou Piniella (whom Cash played for in 2005), Hall of Famers Al Lopez and Tony La Russa, Dave Miley and John Hart.
That’s a lot of baseball brains from the Tampa Bay area.
I don’t expect Cash to be a full-time mascot and community representative. That’s not his job. Nor will he have the same type of allure for the wine-and-cheese, Bayshore Blvd demographic that Joe Maddon had. But Cash provides a lot marketing potential, both in the “homecoming” narrative now and in the future with local connections and outreach.
Seeing how the Rays use that to their advantage will be interesting. Will they allow Cash to be public for a few months and then reel him back in to get him started on his managerial education? I would assume there will be a lot of behind-the-scenes mentoring and learning the organization going on.
Over the last few years, the Rays have emphasized deepening the bonds with the community and their fanbase, whether though community service or through Rays Card memberships and benefits. The hiring of Kevin Cash, besides bringing in one of the best young leaders in baseball, continues that theme.