It’s an unpopular opinion - part ways with the manager of a franchise that has been to the World Series twice in the last three years, and is flirting with the best record in baseball. Yet, the need is still there. Ron Washington has shown unequivocally that his perceived value of maintaining productive chemistry in the clubhouse is greatly overvalued. The harsh truth is this: managers in baseball have very little capacity to add a ton of value to a team, but a ton of opportunity to take away value. Let’s look at a few of the decisions of Ron’s in the past that have been particularly vexing.
- Tonight’s Game Against the Cubs – the decision to walk Darwin Barney with pitcher Scott Feldman coming up next came to hurt Ron and the Rangers as Feldman reached base and plated a run. Barney then scored on a subsequent hit. Let’s just chalk that up to a move not working, right? Wrong. Barney is the worst regular hitting position player on the Cubs, and the 17th worst hitting player in all of the major leagues. To put another runner on base for free goes starkly against any sense of logic. Why walk to get to a poor hitter when you could just pitch to the poor hitter at the plate and then have another poor hitter to follow. No cost-benefit evaluation, eye test, or valuation structure supports this decision.
- Last Year’s Wild Card Play-In Game Against the Orioles Terrible Decision #1 – Ron Washington decides to start Michael Young at first base, an inferior fielder to Mike Napoli, and puts Napoli at designated hitter, instead of the other way around. Fast forward in the game, and when the Rangers are down and need some offense, Mitch Moreland comes in to hit for catcher Geovany Soto. Now here’s the rub. Since the replacement catcher (Napoli) is the DH, the Rangers have to move Napoli to catcher, thereby losing the designated hitter for the rest of the game, meaning that the pitcher will have to hit. Had Ron played Napoli at first, then you could have had a very simple swap of Mitch to hit for Soto, then swap Napoli to catcher and Moreland to first in the field – the designated hitter (Young) stays intact.
- Last Year’s Wild Card Play-In Game Against the Orioles Terrible Decision #2 – With Texas ace Yu Darvish only 91 pitches into the game, Ron decides to bring in starter Derek Holland, who was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs, but hasn’t served in that role all season. Not only does Yu have plenty of gas left, as his pitch counts routinely go 110 pitches or more, but Yu has at this point only yielded five hits and one earned run. Ron’s reasoning? He wanted the lefty-lefty matchup with Nate McClouth. Problem here is that McClouth had only reached on an error by Michael Young (shocker!), fouled out, and grounded out on the day. Why pull your ace, who is pitching pretty well, with only 91 pitches just because a lefty is coming up? Holland doesn’t even have the statistics to support this move – on his career, right handed hitters only barely hit better off of him than lefties – there is no discernible advantage to this move. What happens next? Wild pitch from Holland, then a single and the Orioles go up 3-1. Absolutely mind boggling and inexcusable.
- The Reliance on Using Michael Young, 2012 Albatross – Michael Young posted the worst metrics of any qualified hitter in the major leagues last year. The worst. Want to know what makes that even more disgusting? Only 38 players in the entirety of Major League Baseball had more plate appearances than Michael Young. Ron’s blind and unfounded attachment to his terribly performing veteran without any solid or legitimate reason not only did more to single-handedly hurt the Rangers as the season progressed, his defiance and attachment to him led to the Rangers having to make significant personnel decisions. Ron’s inability to properly manage his roster led to the awkward situation of Jurickson Profar being called up by the front office, yet rarely being used (a waste of a call-up to give plate appearances to a terrible hitter), but also led the team to being forced to trade Michael Young this offseason.
- Do you want someone to blame for Michael Young not being a Texas Ranger? – Blame Ron Washington. Michael Young would have filled a very great role this season as a bench bat and part time utility infielder on the Rangers. However, the front office all but acknowledged Ron’s inability to use Michael appropriately by trading him to the Phillies. The Rangers are now paying the Philadelphia Phillies to use Michael Young because of Ron Washington’s complete detachment from the reality of his roster. No player who is struggling so badly as to be the worst hitter in baseball needs to be given carte blanche access to the lineup card so frequently.
- Game 6, 2011 World Series – Go here: http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2011/10/28/moves-like-washingtons-doom-texas/ - I don’t want to relive the terrible decisions made here.
This is a short list. The examples of his poor decision making capacity as a manager are abundant. These are not good process, bad luck decisions. This is a consistent demonstration of an inability to show a logical process towards handling a major league ball club.
Ron Washington is simply outmatched as a major league manager. National league games seem to confound him, and simple things such as bench and bullpen management are woefully mismanaged. Ron continually has ridiculous logic for his reasoning of his decisions. The “gut” is not a sufficient defense for a well-paid, highly important position on a major sports franchise. No part of Ron Washington’s clubhouse magic stopped the team from falling apart down the stretch last year. It didn’t stop Josh Hamilton from losing any sense of normalcy or composure or the team’s near historic drop from a division championship.
This team deserves better.