MANAGERIAL HOT SEAT
Texas manager Ron Washington is already on the managerial hot seat as the Rangers head to Baltimore for a four-game series this weekend. A good start was thought to be the key to having a successful season. A young team needs to be convinced early they are good enough to compete, and digging out of a sub-.500 hole in May is not convincing. A trademark of Washington’s teams is the slow start. They were 11-18 last year on May 1, 10-16 the year before. This year’s team started with an impressive three-game sweep of the Indians, but has won just three games and no series since, to put them on track for another sub-.500 April. A better start was anticipated this year as the schedule was so favorable. Texas opened at home for just the second time in the last eight years, had more April games at home than on the road, and had just one April opponent that finished above .500 last year. Three games under .500 at 6-9 going into this weekend’s Orioles series is more than disappointing.
Last week’s 2-6 home stand fueled rumors that Washington’s demise was imminent. The swirl in the local media got so strong that both team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels felt the need to address the media last Monday to reaffirm Washington as manager. They said in effect that they thought he was doing a good job and that there have been no discussions about replacing him. It had to be nice for Washington to receive this public display of confidence, but there was no mention of extending Washington’s contract beyond 2009.
It’s easy to point to Ranger pitching for their record, as if that absolves Washington from blame. For sure, the pitching is bad. They have a staff ERA of 6.21, 28 th in the Majors. However, Ron Washington’s three editions of the Rangers have been fundamentally unsound teams. The defense is horrible. They led the American League in 2007 with 124 errors, led all Major League teams in 2008 with 132, and have a double digit error total already this season. They make base running mistakes. It’s an all or nothing offense that doesn’t execute to create runs. After Thursday’s games, Ranger hitters led the Majors in home runs and strikeouts. It’s the type things that add up to losses in close games, and so far this season, Texas has lost six of eight games decided by one or two runs.
This weekend in Baltimore gives the Rangers the opportunity to right the ship, as the Orioles are struggling with just two wins in their last eight games. However, if the Texas ship doesn’t get “righted” soon, Ron Washington could well be a May managerial casualty.
By: Richard W. Humphrey
MLBcenter.com Guest Writer
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