ARLINGTON — Rangers manager Ron Washington was not in the playful mood when I asked him if he was worried about his job security.“Don’t bring that in here my man,” he scolded me.That’s coach speak for “Go to h---.”It may not be fair, but when a baseball team is in mid-collapse for a second consecutive September, job security speculation follows. Part of the deal.Should Washington be fired for his “lack of ability” to win a World Series, and steering the S.S. Gag for a second consecutive year? No.Should GM Jon Daniels be fired for his trusting that Lance Berkman had anything left and assembling a lineup that was always one bad break away from an inspiring inability to score runs? No.These men, together, have done too much for this franchise to be fired just yet. Regardless of how these final six games play out, the smarter decision will be to give this tandem another shot before dropping the ax on the manager. And, make no mistake, it will be on this manager.Regardless of how these final six games play out, and if the Rangers indeed miss these playoffs, once the smarter head prevails we will remember this is what we expected this team to do. They were built to be “around it,” and not much else.“I thought we were a contending club and we’re a contending team,” Daniels said when I asked him if this team, given the circumstances, has performed to the level it should.Because God has a sense of humor and is a Rangers fan, the team plays the Astros and Angels in their final seven games. With the Rangers’ win against Double A Houston on Monday, the club is a combined 26-6 against the Astros and Angels this season.The Rangers are a mere one game back of the Indians for the final “season-saving” wild card spot. This can still happen, but no one is preparing for the season to extend beyond next week.There exists a faction of Rangers Nation convinced that Wash is all things wrong with this team. A lot of these are the same people who secretly wish the team simply hired a computer to manage the club, and that once and for all the game was played where it was meant to be, on a spreadsheet.There exists a faction of Rangers Nation (cough-cough, Randy Galloway, cough-cough) convinced that Daniels out-smarted himself last off-season and never adequately filled the glaring needs this lineup had, primarily in the number of power hitters who could protect Adrian Beltre.Don’t you worry, Wash haters and JD lovers, the Rangers can point to a different bad guy in this sports tragedy. The fall guy is shaping up not to be Daniels or Wash, but rather Mr. Nelson Cruz, he of the 50-game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. It’s his fault!Cruz recently did an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today where Cruz said he was going to fight his suspension until the night before he accepted it.“We would be a better club with him,” Daniels said Monday afternoon, but would not say whether Cruz would be on the postseason roster should the team qualify. Don’t be stupid, Jon, put him in the lineup.This offense has collapsed without their leading home run hitter and RBI producer. Beltre’s production has all but vanished without Cruz providing protection. The team recently completed a stretch of scoring two or fewer runs in a stretch of 22 games that did not include Monday night.Given Cruz’s absence, no one should be surprised this team is where it is — hanging on, around it. That is the way the team was built.We have, however, short memories. When the Rangers swept the Angels in late July on three consecutive walk-off home runs we got a case of the stupids. By the end of August the team was 79-56, and two games ahead of Oakland.Then September happened, and here we are.The Rangers were never as good as they looked in August. They are not as bad as they have looked so far in September. They were always somewhere in between, which thanks to the Angels and Astros, created something above average.It should be noted that this season is not over, a million things can happen, and that this is not entirely on Wash, JD or Nelson Cruz.The Rangers have been too successful under JD and Wash to fire anyone regardless of how this ends.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Follow me on Twitter @MacEngelProf The Big Mac Blog