Cash's catchers view led him to dugout role

Torre believes Rays skipper has tools, experience for success

Cash's catchers view led him to dugout role

SARASOTA, Fla. -- With the Tampa Bay Rays, it's always about the numbers.

The Rays consistently place heavy emphasis on statistical analysis throughout their organization, whether they're scouting amateur talent, considering a trade or filling out a lineup card.

Virtually no baseball decision -- no matter how large or small -- is made without the presence of strong numerical support, an approach that has helped the Rays capture an American League pennant and secure four playoff berths over the past seven seasons.

So it's extremely likely that when the need arose last fall to hire the fifth manager in their 18-year history, the Rays were well aware of the remarkable statistical anomaly that emerges from analysis of the last 19 World Series champions.

While catchers typically comprise just eight percent of a Major League roster, a stunning 63 percent of World Series-winning managers since 1996 -- 12 of 19 -- have been former backstops.

"I don't necessarily think you're going to be a good manager just because you're a catcher, but those numbers? I guess they don't lie," said Cash, who said he was unaware of the data before being told this morning.

"I just think it's unique that catcher is the one position on the field that you have a different view from everybody else. You have eight position players looking in at you, and there's so much detail now that goes into the pitcher-catcher relationship and game-planning for hitters.

"It really forces catchers, and good catchers, to really think," added Cash.

Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre personally represents 4 of the 12 World Series winners in question, and he didn't hesitate when asked for an explanation of the statistical skew.

"Well, we're smarter than most people," laughed Torre, who spent the first 10 seasons of his career catching for the Braves and Cardinals.

"I'm kidding, obviously, but I am a little biased," Torre continued. "Catchers just have to know more about what's going on. They're the only guys that stand back there and don't have to do this [turns his head from side-to-side] to see everyone on the field. They just look straight out and they see the game develop."

"Pitching is such a big part of the game, and I think catchers have more conversations with managers and pitching coaches than anybody else on the field, so you get knowledge by mistake," he continued. "Essentially, I think that catchers probably study the game more so than position players."

And what does Torre think of the Rays' decision to hire the 37-year-old Cash?

"I had a conversation with Kevin at the Winter Meetings and I really liked his enthusiasm," Torre said. "It's exciting for me to watch and observe the young guys when they start out, and even to watch them make mistakes and learn from them. He was a backup catcher for most of his career, and those guys usually have to work very hard."

Any concerns about Cash's age?

"When I first started managing, I was 36 years old and I'd lay in bed at night saying 'I wish I didn't do that and I wish I didn't do this' and then you get to the point where you get tired of blaming yourself, and you go learn from the stuff you did," Torre said.

"Kevin's got the knowledge and the energy it takes to succeed. I'm sure he'll do just fine."

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.