Ron Washington – the man who gets no respect
Go back with me to the beginning of the baseball season. Now what would you have guessed the Rangers record to be after 90 games with these names on the roster:
Catching – Max Ramierez (Started season at Frisco) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (OK City)
Third Base – German Duran(OK City) and Ramon Vasquez (Bench Player)
First Base – Chris Davis (Frisco)
Outfield – Brandon Boggs (OK City)
Pitchers – Scott Feldman (Frisco), Luis Mendoza (Frisco), Eric Hurley (OK City), Frank Francisco (OK City), Warner Madrigal (Frisco)
I would have guessed 35-40 wins at best, landing them solidly in last place. I don’t know of one – not one- expert prognosticator, sports predictor or pundit who expected the Texas Rangers to have a record of 46-43 as the team prepares to play their 90th game tonight. Especially after a horrific 7-16 start that included an embarrassing 19-6 loss in Detroit to the Tigers.
Many around town, in the papers, on the radio, and in the stands, were calling for the firing of Rangers’ manager Ron Washington. I have to admit after the Tigers debacle I was ready to add my voice to the chorus. It wasn’t just the team’s record, it was the manor in which the team was losing that made things seems so desperate.
The self-proclaimed baseball man was brought to Texas on the premise that his teams would be built on solid defense and good pitching. There wasn’t much of either in the first month, and the team’s batting average with runners in scoring position was abhorrent to put it bluntly. They hit about a buck fifty with ducks on the pond, squandering at bat after at bat in those situations (is it a coincidence that the club has performed better in this area since Hank Blalock left the lineup)?
Things got so bad Jon Daniels threw gasoline on the flames of a Dallas Observer Blog rumor by saying that Washington’s status as manager would be revisted at the All-Star Break. Bad form Jon.
Washington has made diamonds out of poo poo in his 2nd season as Rangers’ manager. He has 4 All-Stars at the top of the lineup, one of whom (Milton Bradley) is here only because of his recommendation. Other than that it’s guys who have no major league skins on the walls.
The team he now manages has 9 rookies, and that doesn’t include Saltalamacchia or Feldman (or the still baseball young Josh Hamilton). In the four games coming up against the Angels, the team could pitch 4 first time starters.
I hear everyone getting credit for the Rangers turnaround, including team president Nolan Ryan, Daniels, and a loose clubhouse provided by team leaders. Last week I even heard how the “Rudy Jaramillo approach” at the plate is finally paying off. The whose what? The same hitting coach whose hitters didn’t take four balls in a game, less known in a single at bat.
Just guessing here but how about the Ron Washington i.e. Oakland A’s approach? One of the first things Washington talked about when he got to Arlington was working counts and being patient at the plate. That message wasn’t well received by Mark Texiera or a few others in the Ranger clubhouse at the time.
It would be nice to hear some support from management, and a little more from his team as they discuss the Rangers’ recent success. Sure the subtraction of Mark Texiera and Buck Showalter helped team chemistry -as C.J. Wilson let us know on the Ticket last week. But the addition of Ron Washington cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence. I think people get the sense that these guys are out there freestyling, and I just don’t believe that to be the case.
Rather than firing Ron Washington as the team reportedly considered doing over the All-Star break, talks of a contract extension would be more appropriate. I’m sure that a wait and see approach will be taken, but any other manager getting so much out of so little would already be mentioned as a manager of the year candidate. Hang in their Ron, you are making in happen.