Ron Washington has become one of the most beloved managers in Texas Rangers history and has managed this team to levels never attained by previous squads. With the success has come a new level of expectations in Arlington – a trip to the postseason is no longer where the bar is set, but rather considered acceptable and lackluster.
Wash do what Wash do…
Since taking the reins in 2007, Wash has managed the Rangers to a record of 520-452 and finished in the top five for AL Manager of the Year honors three times (’09, ’10 & ’11; not always a good thing). This isn’t the place to compile “the resume of Ron Washington”, but I just wanted to set the stage. Oh yeah, his teams also reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011…but something tells me you knew that.
So, with all this success, why is the term “hot seat” being mentioned in the same breath as Wash? Well, because “that’s the way baseball go”.
Jim Bowden (former MLB GM & current ESPN.com contributor) from interview with Ben & Skin (ESPN Radio, 103.3 FM):
There’s a lot of pressure on managers to win when their teams are good enough to win. As long as Ron Washington makes the playoffs, his job will be fine. I think that’s the key, whether it’s the division or the wild-card, he’s gotta do that. If the Rangers are on the outside looking in come November, it would not surprise me at all if they decided to make a change. So, yeah, I think there is pressure there.
As we have been reminded throughout the offseason, baseball is a performance business where winning now is the measure of success – especially for teams with existing talent at the major league level. With that in mind, it’s only fair that we take a look at Wash under the same scope that we would a player who fails to perform as expected when needed (ahem…Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, etc.).
Two Types of Managerial Situations
For a manager, while winning isn’t everything, it certainly provides a good amount of job security.
Develop and don’t regress. Some managers aren’t necessarily expected to win now (ex. Bo Porter in Houston), but more expected to set the tone for the team, develop young players and wait for more talent to arrive. When Wash arrived in Arlington in 2007, he was
Win now. Then there are managers with good major league talent and fan base and front office that expected a trip to the postseason – for these managers, winning is everything – and it’s on this list of managers where you’ll find Ron Washington.
To be clear, I’m not calling for Ron Washington to lose his job right now. Far from it actually – our 2013 Field Trip T-Shirt has a Wash Theme. We are simply asking the question, should Wash be “on notice”, and if the 2013 season were to get off on a bad foot, should there be a change?
If so, how bad would it have to get for you to feel that firing Ron Washington during or immediately after the 2013 season would be justified? Read on, then comment below.
Argument for the “Hot Seat”
Last year’s meltdown and the perceived loss of respect late in the season are enough to warrant Wash being on the hot seat. The window to compete can be quickly closed, and while the Rangers have some great young prospects in the pipeline, we need a manager that can deliver a championship when provided with a championship-caliber roster.
…I think he’s on something of a hot seat this year. Washington didn’t have a great year last year as the Rangers manager, but I think he learned from it.
The way the 2012 season ended left us all sick, and while that can’t be all we base Wash’s job security on, I repeat…it’s about winning now when you have as much talent as the Rangers.
In addition to the decline in on-the-field performance that led to the poor ending last season, it seemed evident that Wash had lost the respect of some players. We all remember the confrontation between Wash and Josh in the dugout in Oakland, and I know we aren’t concerned with Josh’s respect of Wash now, but it’s very possible that other players feel the same way.
If Wash has started to “lose the clubhouse”, there is no question that he should be on notice. He must prove that he has the proper command and respect of the clubhouse in order to maintain his role in this organization.
Unbalanced managers often “lose the clubhouse” because they are too “huggy” or they are overly strict. This could very well be the case with Wash and could be what led to the collapse last season.
Finally, Wash has been out-managed in some key situations and games during his tenure as manager – often going with his “gut” instead of a more statistically-aligned decision. Game management, just like player management, requires balance and if Wash can’t provide more balance in his approach to both, the Rangers will need to look elsewhere for a manager that can lead this franchise back to the World Series.
Even dating back to the team’s back-to-back World Series losses in 2010 and 2011, there were serious criticisms of Washington’s in-game management skills and alleged over-reliance on “gut decisions.
Argument against the “Hot Seat”
Back to the opening statement of this post…
Ron Washington has become one of the most beloved managers in Texas Rangers history and has managed this team to levels never attained by previous squads.
When a manager has taken you to the World Series twice in the last three seasons, he does not deserve to have his role under the microscope. It is extremely difficult to do what the Rangers did in 2010 and 2011 and with that success, Wash has earned our patience, support and respect.
The idea of including Wash in any “Managerial Hot Seat” article is absurd given his track record and impact on this franchise and the DFW sports scene.
He has transcended the status of Major League Manager, and has become a cultural icon synonymous with a new era in Rangers baseball and everything that is fun and enjoyable about this team and this great game.
Tim Cowlishaw (SportsDayDFW.com), when asked “Do you think Ron Washington is on the hot seat after losing the division?” may have summed it up best:
Where do you stand?
Again, I’m not calling for Wash’s job here – simply asking the question…should Wash be on the hot seat heading into the 2013 season?
In your opinion, is Wash on the hot seat?
Either way, what scenario would has to play out during 2013 to change your opinion?