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Goal not met, but Cash sees solid foundation

Manager joined by president of baseball operations Silverman to review Rays' 2015 @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Cash's first season as a Major League manager is over, and he offered the bottom line as far as the Rays' season went.

"Ultimately we didn't get where we wanted to get," he said.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Cash's first season as a Major League manager is over, and he offered the bottom line as far as the Rays' season went.

"Ultimately we didn't get where we wanted to get," he said.

In other words, the Rays are not going to be participating in the playoffs.

"We want to be playing postseason baseball for this year and upcoming years," Cash said. "I think we're all aware, so we're not there."

Cash and Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman spoke at a news conference on Tuesday.

Cash's mea culpa was to be expected. But he also allowed "there were a lot of positives to take away from the season," after the Rays finished 80-82.

Video: A look back at the Rays' top moments of 2015

"We found out, even with injuries as negative as they can be, we found out a lot of positive things about some of our young players," Cash said. "We had some guys who stepped up and did some things. Nate Karns. Erasmo [Ramirez] from the pitching side.

"Then the opportunities that presented for a guy like Logan Forsythe to kind of have a breakout year. A ton of positives in regard to him. Our young players who have come up to contribute have done some nice things for us."

Silverman noted that the Rays reported to Spring Training "believing we had a team that would compete for the playoffs and possibly extend our season deep into the playoffs."

"And that didn't happen," Silverman said. "There are a number of reasons for that."

For starters, Silverman cited that the Rays "don't really have the luxury for bad breaks." Bad breaks included 23 players on the disabled list serving a Major League-high 27 stints.

"We build this team without much margin for error," Silverman said. "In fact, we probably needed some good breaks along the way for us to get into the postseason. We didn't get those breaks this year.

"Certainly didn't have the type of health we wanted on the club. And we fell short. But if you take a step back -- and that's what we get to do in the immediate days after the season -- you take a step back and reflect what's taken place, there's a really good foundation going forward."

Of note, the Rays managed just two wins in 15 extra-innings games -- and winning close ballgames late is something Cash said the team will need to improve upon.

"Because we're going to be in close ballgames," Cash said. "We pitch well. We catch the ball well. We prevent runs, and that's something we did well this year. We have to do it better to come out on top in some of those close games."

Among the things Cash is looking forward to in 2016 is the comfort level derived from having been on the job a year.

Video: TOR@TB: Mahtook pads large lead with two-run home run

"We've experienced a lot," Cash said. "We've learned a lot, Matt and myself together. There's been a lot of communication with the players. It's never easy. We're going to be more informed going into next year."

Cash is excited about the valuable experience the young players from within the organization got to accrue this season.

"You can't simulate that," Cash said. "Whatever we do in Spring Training, it's not a big league game. The atmosphere is not the same. So what a lot of our young players [gained in the final months of the season] ... is going to comfort them in to making believe they belong here. They can help us win."

Thus, the Rays will head into Spring Training with a good idea about what certain players can do in Major League games.

"I think Mikie Mahtook is a perfect example of how optimistic we are for him or a guy like him coming in with the experience they've gained," Cash said. "I think there's all the additional factors that take place in the offseason. You can't quite anoint anybody in any role yet. That wouldn't be fair to him or the organization to do."

Unlike the last offseason, the Rays won't need to look for a new manager or general manager. And they only have two potential free agents -- shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and DH John Jaso. Still, Silverman anticipates a lot of activity.

"It's going to be another busy offseason," Silverman said. "Certainly in terms of conversation. It's hard to predict whether that turns into action and activity, but we will be very busy talking. We have a number of positions where we have question marks. I think many clubs have similar question marks or a similar number of question marks heading into the offseason."

Silverman identified catcher and shortstop as the positions that should be particularly competitive, given the number of candidates to fill each. In addition they will be "monitoring" possible fits for those positions from outside the organization.

"And then we have great depth at the pitching ranks, both at the Major League and Minor League levels," Silverman said. "That's how we build our team with that pitching depth and pitching talent. It's a great luxury to have. At the same time, it's a way to improve other areas of our teams in terms of conversations with clubs. And so I imagine, like always, we'll be active with dialogue in how to maximize all of our roster spots."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for

Tampa Bay Rays