Rays skipper Kevin Cash was honored as American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, winning the award over finalists Charlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria. Cash was a deserving winner, leading Tampa Bay to its second World Series appearance in franchise history. Unfortunately, Cash may never live down his Game 6 blunder, pulling ace Blake Snell, who had allowed just two hits over 5 1/3 dominant frames, in favor of struggling reliever Nick Anderson. The Rays seemingly checked out after that, struggling to muster any offense against the Dodgers in their series-clinching, 3-1 victory.
Cash, who may be as analytics-driven as any coach in the sport, was skeptical of letting Snell face Mookie Betts for a third time, prompting his controversial departure after just 73 pitches. The Rays manager employed a similar strategy the series prior against Houston, lifting Game 7 starter Charlie Morton a mere 66 pitches into his outing. The early hook worked on that particular occasion, but not the second time as Anderson coughed up the lead almost immediately, yielding a double to Betts before letting the game-tying run come across on a wild pitch.
Cash was predictably roasted for overplaying his hand against Los Angeles, weathering criticism from the media, fans on social media and, apparently, even his own teenage daughters. “Not to bring up Game 6, I’ll go ahead and bring it up, Camden and Ella were the first ones to say, ‘Why’d you take Blake Snell out?’” Cash told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. “They said it in Game 5 or 6 of the ALCS and they said it in Game 6 of the World Series. When you’re getting it from 14 and 13-year-old daughters, you can handle it from just about anybody.”
A critically important part of being an MLB manager is having thick skin, a great trait to fall back on when Twitter trolls and media talking heads are questioning your every move. And while Cash’s meddling may have cost him in Game 6, how many other managers could have taken a team with the league’s third-lowest payroll to the Fall Classic? Not many.
After getting an earful from his daughters, hopefully Cash will think twice about dipping into his pen the next time his ace is dealing.