“A manager's job is simple. For one hundred sixty-two games you try not to screw up all that smart stuff your organization did last December.” -- Sparky Anderson
Nolan Ryan said on Monday that Ron Washington is doing fine and that no plans for any change were being discussed, two weeks into a season that has seen Texas jump to 3-0, fall to 3-5 and subsequently 5-7. Jon Daniels echoed this sentiment.
This is not surprising; front office types have chronically tight lips with regards to speaking on such matters, and Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels are no different.
However, the mere idea that such rumblings are occurring so early in the season seems to make the question of Washington’s future with the team relevant, if not pressing.
As stated, the Rangers are currently 5-7. This is the same mark as this time last year, and the third (ostensibly) bad April in as many years as Texas’ manager for Washington.
If Texas continues to be mired in these early season woes, scapegoats will be found; obviously, Washington is the first name that comes to mind, and it doesn’t help that former Rangers third base coach Don Wakamatsu currently has the Seattle Mariners sitting on top of the division.
But let’s assume Ron Washington is fired tomorrow. Let’s assume also that Texas brings in a Johnny Oates-like fundamentals-hound who has Texas fielding percentage at .990 the rest of the way out.
Even if this hypothetical skipper had Texas executing on all cylinders from the outset, the difference in Texas’ record would be miniscule. Most of Texas’ losses have been decided by ineffective starting pitching, bullpen collapses and uncharacteristically quiet bats.
This is not necessarily indicative of poor managing.
Of course, there have been a few base running errors in 2009, but none of them ultimately cost Texas anything, with the possible exception of Ian Kinsler’s ninth inning gaffe last week against Baltimore. (For the forgetful: Kinsler failed to tag up on a Michael Young line-drive to deep right-center. He could’ve presumably scored on Josh Hamilton’s subsequent pop-up, tying the game at 10-10. Instead, Texas lost this game 10-9.)
None of this may matter come fall. If Texas goes hunting for scapegoats after another disappointing year, Washington will likely be the first casualty. It would be no great tragedy in the grand scope of professional sports.
If we’re to assume that Jon Daniels (a) has a plan, (b) that this plan is working, and (c) that his job is safe, then we are basically at his mercy, left to wait for an indefinite manifestation of front office maneuvering.
At this point, it looks like Ron Washington is no different.