In this installment of the Players You Forgot Were Astros series, we look at the career of Kevin Cash.
Most Houston Astros fans will know Kevin Cash as the current manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. His scrappy club gave the Astros a difficult time in the ALDS in 2019, but the local nine eventually prevailed. Before that, however, Cash actually played in Houston for a short time.
Cash played in the majors for eight seasons with five different teams. He broke into the big leagues with the Blue Jays in 2002 and played three seasons in Toronto, hitting a combined .173/.222/.262 in 101 games. He wasn’t exactly an offense-first catcher.
The Blue Jays traded him to Tampa after the 2004 season, and he played in just 13 major league games in 2005 before spending all of 2006 in Triple-A. He caught on with the Red Sox in 2007 and had his best major league season in 2008, hitting .225/.309/.338 in 61 games. He then had the distinction of playing for the Yankees in the very next season, making 10 appearances in pinstripes.
Landing in Houston
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Cash signed with the Astros prior to the 2010 season and appeared in 20 games, hitting .204/.271/.333 with a pair of home runs. He also appeared once as a pitcher, allowing a run on three hits in one inning of work in a 15-6 loss at Cincinnati.
The Astros then traded Cash to the Red Sox on July 1 for infielder Angel Sanchez. Playing primarily shortstop and second base, Sanchez appeared in 175 games in Houston over two seasons, hitting .258/.310/.314 but providing -1.2 WAR. The defensive metrics weren’t overly kind to him from a WAR standpoint. He resurfaced to appear in one game with the White Sox in 2013 but hasn’t seen the majors since.
Cash appeared in 29 games with the Red Sox after the trade and compiled just a .374 OPS. He spent all of 2011 in Triple-A with the Rangers before calling it a career. He finished with -3.1 WAR in eight seasons — not exactly a banner career, but one a lot of people would love to have.
The Rays hired him as their manager prior to the 2015 season in a move which seems to have paid off. He didn’t have a winning season until his fourth year, but he’s now got two straight 90-plus win campaigns. His Rays won the Wild Card game in 2019 and took the Astros to the brink in the division series.
Cash appears to have set himself up for a nice managerial career, which can often happen with former catchers. Though his playing career was nothing special, he does appear to have a special talent as a manager. He also has the distinction of having been an Astro, albeit for a brief time.