Kevin Cash Adds Youth to the Indians Coaching Staff
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the coaches selected to be a part of Manager Terry Francona’s staff.
By Ronnie Tellalian
In October 2012 the Indians announced the new additions to their coaching staff. Among these new faces was former catcher Kevin Cash, who has been named Bullpen Coach for the 2013 Cleveland Indians. It’s no surprise that Cash found a position here in Cleveland. During his eight year playing career Cash spent two and a half seasons as a catcher in Boston while Francona served as the Red Sox Manager. He also spent a half year behind the plate in Houston during Indians Third base coach Brad Mills‘ stint as Manager.
Cash comes to the Indians with a baseball pedigree. His uncle Ron Cash played six seasons in the minor leagues and a grand total of 34 games with Detroit Tigers. Kevin Cash began his career in the Toronto Blue Jays system. He went undrafted and signed as an amateur free agent in 1999. He played in 101 games for the Jays from 2002 to 2004 before being shipped off to Tampa Bay. He eventually signed as a free agent with Boston in 2007.
In 2008 with the Red Sox, Cash served as Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher replacing Doug Mirabelli. He caught all 30 of Wakefield’s starts with marginal success. Cash led the American League with 14 past balls, but this is not a knock on Cash’s defense. In 1999 Jason Varitek caught 17 of Wakefield’s starts allowing 13 past balls. A good chunk of those came in one game against the Cleveland Indians. On May 28, Varitek allowed a whopping five past balls. The Red Sox were able to navigate those snafus and cruse to a 12-5 victory.
Cash was able to play in the league for parts of eight seasons due in large part to his defense. He had a very strong arm, throwing out 44% of base stealers in 2004 and 50% of base stealers in 2005. In 2008, when he spent the vast majority of the season catching Wakefield, Cash had quietly incredible success at throwing out runners. Knuckleballers are easy to run on, their velocity is relatively low and they dip and dive of the ball makes it tough enough to catch, let alone catch and throw out runners. Still, Cash throughout 16 runners in 42 starts behind the plate for a 30% success rate. This may seem low, but the league average for catchers in 2008 was 27%. Facing the disadvantage of having to catch a knuckleballer, Cash still gunned down runners at a better than league average rate.
Cash retired as a player following the 2011 season and signed on as an Advance Scout for the Toronto Blue Jays. Advance Scouts travel to the cities that will be coming up on a team’s schedule. They scout those future opponents and bring back information that will aid their team in forming strategies against them.
Blue Jays Coach John Farrell was pleased with Cash’s abilities as a scout. Back in 2012, Farrell had this to say about his new scout:
“He has done a very good job, because he has recently been a player and has caught in games and called pitches against a lot of the guys he’s now seeing,” Farrell said. “We feel like he gives us the best available information going into a series.”
This will mark Cash’s first season as a major league coach, but he brings experience with him and a fresh look at players in the current game. Cash has competed with and against many of the players the Indians will face and he can bring a new perspective on player tendencies and how to pitch to certain guys. As a new coach, Cash will not only serve his bullpen duties, he will bounce around and cover many different areas.
One of his first assignments with the Indians was as a recruiter. Back when the Indians were making a recruiting push for Nick Swisher, Cash was among those sitting at the dinner table with the free agent. He played with Swisher in 2009 and was a helping hand in coaxing him to sign with the Indians. Before the Indians signed Daisuke Matsuzaka, they watched him throw off the mound to Cash in front of coaches, scouts and team personnel.
He is a hard worker that comes packed with potential. His experience and knowledge had drawn some elite comparisons. The Tribe may have a young Dave Duncan in their wings. For those who do not know, Duncan is a personal friend of Tony LaRussa and he surved as his pitching coach in Chicago, Oakland and St Louis. He gained fame for his ability to work with pitchers and get the best out of them. Cash may very well be a rising star that rockets through the coaching ranks to fill the same role for Francona in the future.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer