Written By, Clifford Santa Monica

You know, Tom Grieve is a very intelligent man who says a number of insightful things during the course of a Rangers’ telecastBut now that their season has come to an inglorius end I think it’s now fair to say that he never seemed to miss an opportunity to soft-pedal the dumb cluck decisions Ron Washington made as well as all of the careless errors this poorly coached club commited following their 15-4 start. Whenever I point out how coddled and cavalier Peter Popup (my nick name for Ian Kinsler) is–and how he makes more errors and gets picked off base more often than any second baseman in either league, Ranger fans look at me as if I’d just spat in their corn flakes. (I cannot imagine Ian being as slipshod and nonchalant as he’s appeared in the field and on the base paths if he were being managed by, say, Joe Maddon or Davey Johnson or Buck Schowalter. But I digress. When I tell people that Nelson Cruz’ 90 RBI’s are deceptive both because 19 of them came in just three games and because he tends to bat very poorly with runners in scoring position, I feel like the little boy in Hans Anderson’s fable who tried to tell his countrymen that the Emperor had no clothes on when he was busy parading himself in front of his gullible subjects and courtiers. I usually get nods of agreement when I tell people that Michael Young’s bat looks 50% slower than it did last season, though. But even so, Ron Washington rushes to his defense (as he does to Ian Kinsler’s) whenever Young’s critics voice similar opinions. Washington has said on more than one occasion this year that Michael has earned the right to have long slumps and still remain in the lineup. If any team will have him I think trading Young for pitching depth is an idea whose time has come.

Along those lines, Ron Washington’s personnel decisions have often sent the wrong message. Earlier this season I watched Craig Gentry get FIVE hits in a game (June 9th) against the Giants, and then noticed that he was sitting on the bench two games later. Contrast that with Jim Leyland’s decision to play left fielder Quinton Berry everyday following HIS five hit game against the Colorado Rockies on June 17th. Washington–rather than DEVELOPING young players with ability–always takes the path of least resistance and goes with his favorites (Cruz, Young, Kinsler) even though their play in the field, on the base paths and at the plate often doesn’t justify it–despite decent overall stats.

Mitch Moreland is another case in point. I think he’s one young player who does enough things well to merit an extended look against ALL pitching. But Wash won’t allow him to get experience against lefties, preferring to sit him and play Olt, (or earlier Brian Snyder who flat out disappeared, or whoever) instead. While it’s true that Moreland hasn’t hit lefties for a good average, he HAS shown power against them–hitting a 463 foot homer against a lefty versus the Twins earlier this year and a game winning three run homer against tough port sider Jose Mijares when he was still pitching for the Royals. But Washington plays percentages–and the Rangers have lost more games than they’ve won when Moreland sits against lefties. (BTW, average-wise,  Andre Ethier is at least as bad against lefties as Moreland is, but the Dodgers still pencil him into the lineup everyday…). So what has Ron Washington’s platoon really accomplished this season other than helping to undermine Mitch;s confidence? If they didn’t think Mitch would EVER hit left handed pitching they should have just kept left handed first baseman Chris Davis, who’s justified Buck Schowalter’s faith in him by blasting 32 homers in an everyday role.

For all of those reasons and others too numerous to mention I feel RW is a poor tactician. But until this past Friday night he got away with it because he has a talented—if a tad over-rated–roster. Now that his troupe will begin their summer vacations earlier than hoped I look for Ron Washington to be Nolan Ryan’s next pink slip victim–something that bodes well for the Rangers’ chances of winning big next year in my opinion…

If not, Texas–a year older and slower at most positions–will be even worse next year. And for those of you who think that the Rangers are just suffering from having played more games than any other team in the majors over the past three years, just THINK for a moment about the last team to reach (and WIN) three consecutive World Series–the Oakland A’s. Back then those athletes weren’t considered to be as big, strong or proficient as today’s supposedly superior athletes are. I might add that Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Dick Green, Reggie Jackson, Blue Moon Odom, Ken Holtzman, Vida Blue, et al weren’t using steroids, HGH or other PED’s in the very early 70’s (not that any of the current Rangers are…)

Draw your own conclusions…


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