Cash wins 2nd straight Manager of the Year; Kapler NL winner

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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For Kevin Cash, being mentioned in the same sentence with Bobby Cox is an honor.

“That’s wrong. I shouldn’t be,” Cash said. “But saying that, it’s incredibly humbling. When you think about greats in our game, Bobby Cox is right there.”

Cash has now accomplished something only Cox achieved previously – back-to-back Manager of the Year awards. Cash won the American League honor. The Tampa Bay skipper was joined by San Francisco’s Gabe Kapler, who won the National League award.

Cox took the NL honor two years in a row with Atlanta in 2004-05 during his Hall of Fame career.

That’s the feat Cash has now matched. He led the low-payroll Rays to a second consecutive AL East crown this season. Tampa Bay (100-62) finished with the AL’s best record before losing to Boston in the Division Series.

The Rays made it to the World Series in 2020, but Cash came under criticism for removing starting pitcher Blake Snell in the final game. But if anything, quick hooks like that were a fairly normal strategy in this year’s postseason – perhaps another example of Cash and Tampa Bay being ahead of the curve on new ways to approach the game.

The Rays are now 2 for 2 on major awards. Outfielder Randy Arozarena was named Rookie of the Year on Monday. It wasn’t always the smoothest of seasons for Tampa Bay – right-hander Tyler Glasnow and reliever Nick Anderson were limited by injuries – but the Rays still held off threats from the Red Sox and Yankees in their division, as well as an improving Toronto team.

“We had the youth, we had the athleticism, and ultimately the talent to perform really really well,” Cash said.

Seattle’s Scott Servais finished second behind Cash in the voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Houston’s Dusty Baker was third.

Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays was fourth, followed by Alex Cora of the Red Sox, Tony La Russa of the White Sox and A.J. Hinch of the Tigers.

Cash received 19 of the 30 first-place votes.

Kapler won the NL award after guiding San Francisco to a franchise-best 107 victories in his second season with the Giants. He beat out Craig Counsell of the Milwaukee Brewers and Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kapler managed two seasons in Philadelphia before being fired. The Giants hired him after Bruce Bochy’s retirement. Kapler had both big shoes to fill – Bochy won three championships with San Francisco – and a struggling team to take over. When the Giants went 29-31 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, it was their fourth straight losing record.

Then, in a year when the star-laden Dodgers and Padres were supposed to compete for NL West supremacy, San Francisco surged to the best record in baseball. The Giants beat out the Dodgers by a game for the division crown, although they lost to Los Angeles in a tightly contested Division Series.

Kapler said he’s learned to become a good listener.

“I think I’ve really started to respect, understand and appreciate the feedback that I’m getting from players on a regular basis,” he said. “I really trust our players.”

As it turned out, Bochy was the person who announced Kapler’s award on the MLB Network show.

“I continue to feel like it’s impossible to fill Bruce Bochy’s shoes,” Kapler said.

Perhaps it is, but now Kapler has done something Bochy never did with the Giants – win Manager of the Year. Bochy did receive the award in 1996 when he was with the Padres.

Kapler is the first Giants manager to win since 2000, when Baker received the honor for the third time in an eight-year span.

Counsell finished second behind Kapler after leading the Brewers to the NL Central title. Shildt was third – a month after he was fired over what Cardinals president John Mozeliak described as philosophical differences.

Brian Snitker of the World Series champion Braves and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers were the other managers to receive votes.

Kapler received 28 of the 30 first-place votes, which were cast before the playoffs began.

UP NEXT

The Cy Young Awards are announced Wednesday night. Tampa Bay won’t be winning that: The AL finalists are Gerrit Cole of the Yankees, Lance Lynn of the White Sox and Robbie Ray of the Blue Jays.

The NL finalists are Max Scherzer, who pitched for the Nationals and Dodgers this year, along with Corbin Burnes of the Brewers and Zack Wheeler of the Phillies.

A’s running out of time to find home in Oakland, Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — The Oakland Athletics have spent years trying to get a new stadium while watching Bay Area neighbors such as the Giants, Warriors, 49ers and Raiders successfully move into state-of-the-art venues, and now time is running short on their efforts.

The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, and though they might be forced to extend the terms, the club and Major League Baseball have deemed the stadium unsuitable for a professional franchise.

They are searching for a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, but they have experienced difficulties in both areas. The A’s missed a major deadline in October to get a deal done in Oakland, and there has been little indication they will receive the kind of funding they want from Las Vegas.

“I think the A’s have to look at it in a couple of ways,” said Brendan Bussmann, managing partner at Las Vegas-based B Global. “Obviously, they have struggled in Oakland to get a deal across the line. It isn’t for a lack of effort. . You have an owner that’s willing to pony up money, you have a club that wants to sit there and figure out a way to make it work, and you keep running into obstacles along the way.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait. Oakland, do you want them or not? And if not, where are the A’s going to get the best deal? Is it Vegas? Is it somewhere else? They’ll have to figure that out.”

What the A’s are thinking is a little bit of a mystery. Team President Dave Kaval was talkative earlier in the process, saying the A’s are pursuing two different tracks with Oakland and Las Vegas. But he went silent on the subject several months ago. A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said mostly recently that the club would withhold comment for now.

The A’s have been negotiating with Oakland to build a $1 billion stadium as part of a $12 billion redevelopment deal.

Newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao said reaching a deal is important as long as it makes economic sense to the city. Her predecessor, Libby Schaaf, led prior efforts to reach an agreement, but after the city and the A’s missed that October deadline, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed reservations a deal will ever get done.

“The pace in Oakland has not been rapid, number one,” Manfred said at the time. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not tenable. I mean, we need to do something to alter the situation. So I’m concerned about the lack of pace.”

Recent California history justifies his concerns. SoFi Stadium in Southern California and Chase Center in San Francisco were built with private money, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was 90% privately financed.

“And then I think there was some contagion where around the country people realized these deals could be done well privately and could generate a return on investment to those investors,” said David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California. “Why are we throwing public money at it at all?”

That’s also a question being asked in Las Vegas, even though the Raiders in 2016 received $750 million from the Nevada Legislature for a stadium. That then was the largest amount of public money for a sports venue, but it was surpassed last March by the $850 million pledged to construct a new stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Another deal like the one for Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders play, appears unlikely in Nevada. T-Mobile Arena, which opened in 2017, was privately financed. An arena planned for south of the Las Vegas Strip also wouldn’t rely on public funds.

Las Vegas, however, has shown financing creativity. Its Triple-A baseball stadium received $80 million in 2017 for naming rights from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room taxes fund the authority, so it was public money in a backdoor sort of way.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who is on the board of the convention authority, has spoken with A’s representatives about their interest in Las Vegas and said he is aware of the club’s talks with other Nevada officials. He said the A’s are taking a much different approach than the Raiders, who identified Las Vegas early as their choice landing spot after many years of failing to get a new stadium in Oakland.

“When the Raiders decided to come to Las Vegas, they had a clear plan,” Naft said. “You had a clear body that was tasked with assessing the worth and the value, and they committed to the destination. I have not seen that from the Oakland A’s at any level, and it’s not really our job to go out and beg them to come here because we have earned the reputation of the greatest arena on Earth. We have put in both the dollars and the labor to make that the case.

“I think I’ve made myself clear, but from conversations with others, I don’t think I’m alone on that.”

New Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo “will not raise taxes” to attract the A’s or any other team, his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Ray, said in a statement. But she said the club could qualify for other ongoing “economic development programs,” which could mean tax breaks similar to what Tesla received in 2014.

Manfred said in December that the A’s relocation fee would be waived if they move to Las Vegas, a savings to the club reportedly of up to $1 billion.

“We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said then.

Naft said Allegiant Stadium filled a hole that went beyond landing an NFL team. It allowed Las Vegas to attract major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four and major concerts such as Garth Brooks and Elton John that “in many cases we would not otherwise have.”

He said he doesn’t believe a baseball stadium would accomplish that, and sports economist Victor Matheson agreed.

“I think there’s a real question about how much people are willing to watch baseball in Las Vegas,” said Matheson, a professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “It’s not like locals don’t have a huge number of entertainment options right now, and it’s not clear exactly how much people might travel to watch baseball in Vegas, either.”

If the A’s truly want to be in Las Vegas, Naft said they need to make that clear.

“I just believe you can’t play destinations against each other,” Naft said. “If you want to come here and you want to be met with open arms, you’ve got to commit.”

Should the A’s fail to reach an agreement in Oakland or Las Vegas, they could consider other destinations such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and Portland, Oregon. Whether they would have the time to explore such options is another question.

Oakland has already shown it will watch the Raiders move to Nevada and the Warriors go across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Las Vegas, Matheson noted, is hardly in a desperate situation. He also expressed caution that Las Vegas could go from being among the largest metropolitan areas without a major professional sports team to among the smallest with three franchises.

“So you’ve gone from kind of being under-sported to being over-sported in a short period of time if the A’s were to go there,” Matheson said.