My fire Ron Washington website was going to be up soon but with the Indians hiring Terry Francona over the weekend, it looks like that’s going to have to wait a little while.
But regardless many changes are going to be blowing in the Rangers camp this offseason between free agents, trades, released and maybe possible coaching and manager changes. Many players and coaches you may have seen the last of in a Rangers uniform.
“NO SERIOUSLY, RON WASHINGTON WOULD LIKE HIS PANTS BACK, YOU GUYS.” – Jay Jaffe [Sports Illustrated] via Twitter
This has been a terrific run from 2009-2012 for this group. The last four years have been fantastic for Rangers fans. Did fatigue play a part? Did Washington play his regulars too much? Did the front office not give the coaching staff a good enough bench to give the regulars time off? A quick look at what I think fatigue played a huge role:
Let’s look at the core players for example. Here are their games played in 2012 and the games they didn’t play in the final months of the season. Players will tell you they get off days [but only four the last ten weeks] on the schedule and they want to be out there every day and they played in two straight full Octobers. Here’s a look:
Ian Kinsler: 157 games played, career high (3 games off in final two months)
Nelson Cruz: 159 games played, career high (1 game off)
Michael Young: 156 games played, most since 2006 (2 games off)
Elvis Andrus: 158 games played, career high (1 game off)
Adrian Beltre: 156 games played, most since 2006 (2 games off due to injury)
Josh Hamilton: 148 games played, most since 2008 (6 games off due to injury)
In contrast, he club was dealing with more injuries coming down the stretch in 2011, so the players got built-in time off by no choice:
Ian Kinsler: 155 games played (1 game off in final two months)
Nelson Cruz: 124 games played (17 games off due to injury)
Michael Young: 159 games played (1 game off)
Elvis Andrus: 150 games played (2 games off)
Adrian Beltre: 124 games played (miss all of August due to injury)
Josh Hamilton: 121 games played (3 games off)
Manager Ron Washington did what he could early in the season to get his regulars off. And he hoped to get them time off down the stretch. But it didn’t happen. Why? All we can do is speculate. Bench was not good. Couldn’t put the Athletics away. Who knows. We do know the Rangers were challenged much more this season than they were in 2010 and 2011 in the final weeks. In the past two years, Washington could get his team full breaks after they clinched (with more than a week left in 2010 and five games left in 2011). That didn’t happen this year.
Players are expected to stay healthy and play full seasons. And Washington rotated the DH at times to get guys half-days off. Perhaps the difference for the Rangers was that the club had a large group of players who played in two straight World Series and might have been a little more fatigued than other teams and players because of it.
Rest is not the only reason this team didn’t get it done. But it was a team that looked physically and mentally tired down the stretch. And with playing more games than anyone over the last two seasons you can make that a case. Washington playing Michael Young everyday when he was one of the worst everyday position players is also another case and a damn good one.
But now it’s time for some changes whether we want them to happen or not.
Even though I’ve voiced some opinions here already, there will be plenty of time in the days and weeks and months to debate who is to blame, who will be the scapegoat, who will be brought back or re-signed or traded for or brought in, and who will be cut. There does need to be change, and there will be. No team that fell short of its ultimate goal can remain the same and expect to compete in the following season.
But I am not sure of where to go from here. After last year’s crushing finish, fans could look ahead and think the core is still going to be there in 2012, the front office/ownership are going to augment that core over the winter, and they’re going to still be a very good, very dangerous, and be a World Series contender. Now, though, we’re looking at Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Koji Uehara, Mike Adams, Mark Lowe, Ryan Dempster, Roy Oswalt, Scott Feldman, David Murphy, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and Ron Washington all possibly/likely being gone, and a potentially significant retooling process that could very well turn 2013 into a transitional season than a season where the Rangers easily figure to emerge as one of the 2-3 best teams in baseball. That’s a tough expectation to meet.
We could see and probably will see a heavier dose of Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar, the top two minor league position players in the organization next season. If Profar is ready, could they move Andrus to centerfield? They could explore trading Andrus [although I shutter the thought] and get a front line starting pitcher [David Price?] If Olt is ready could he play leftfield or firstbase and Moreland to left? All speculation, but things to ponder the next few months.
What we do know is the team has already resigned Colby Lewis for 2013 with him slated to back back sometime probably early August after coming back from elbow flexor tendon surgery. Neftali Feliz should also be back around the same time coming off Tommy John surgery but what you get from these guys will be up in the air. Alexi Ogando has already stated his preference to return to the rotation next season as well. The only starters locked in to the rotation in 2013 are Darvish, Harrison, and Holland.
There are going to be changes, impactful changes, and they’re changes that need to happen. The identity and culture of this team is going to shift somehow in 2013, and we’re going to be a little further removed from this golden era of Rangers baseball that has spanned the last four years. The organization’s window isn’t shutting, but on this current roster it is, and there’s nothing you can do about that except to hope the front office makes good, supportable baseball decisions on who to let go and who to keep and who to acquire, because you can’t live in the past and keep the same roster around forever and remain a championship caliber team. I understand that.
I’m just sad that this current group of players couldn’t manage to get it done, and yet another year has come and gone without that most ambitious of baseball dreams being satisfied.