Bench coach bringing new vibe to Rangers’ dugout
02/28/2014 11:01 PM
11/12/2014 4:07 PM
At age 74, Jackie Moore was a respected career baseball man, beloved by many on the field and in the clubhouse and — as many Texas Rangers fans saw it — little help, if any, to manager Ron Washington.
His firing last October, two days after the regular season ended, was messy. It came 24 hours after Washington himself had said that he expected all of his coaches to return. And it quickly turned uneasy because Jackie was a “Nolan guy,” at a time when Ryan and the organization were about to undergo an awkward divorce.
There are two ways, I suppose, to handle being fired. There’s the silent, classy way in which you let your work record speak for itself. And then there’s the way that Moore did it, going on the radio and on Mike Doocy’s Fox 4 TV show to call your former employers “an embarrassment to baseball.”
So now, with the dugout seat embers still smoldering from the gasoline that Jackie poured on it, it is new bench coach Tim Bogar’s turn to take the seat next to Washington.
At age 47, Bogar is more than 27 years younger than Moore. He is comfortable with baseball’s new arithmetic. He even knows and has worked with sabermetrics pioneer Bill James.
“I don’t want anybody to think that I’m this overly smart guy,” Bogar said Friday at the Rangers’ spring training camp. “I’m a baseball man. We play baseball.
“But I also understand the importance of that side of it and what value that brings to the team. I spent a time with the statistical side of it — I do know Bill James — and there’s value to it.”
Both Bogar and Washington were asked Friday to describe what the dynamics of their dugout decision-making will be.
Bogar will help, Washington said, by “seeing the things I don’t see and not being afraid to tell me what he’s seeing. Not being afraid to keep me aware of things I might be missing. Not being afraid to give me suggestions. I’ve already got that straight with Bogey.”
For his part, Bogar sees his role as being Washington’s “second set of eyes.”
“The biggest thing is for me to be the guy that Wash isn’t afraid to lean on,” Bogar said. “To ask questions. And I’m going to be as honest with him as possible.”
But will he speak up when he sees something that could help the manager?
“Oh, definitely,” Bogar said. “I have no qualms about telling him anything. I feel like our relationship is already there. We’ve only been together since the beginning of February, but I feel like I can say what I need to say to him.
“He’s either going to use it or he’s not.”
A self-confessed old-school guy, Washington bristles whenever a media colleague asks him a question about baseball’s new math. But when he circles his old-school wagons, I think Washington is only playing a predictable role.
He wants to win, maybe more than anyone in the organization. In truth, he appreciates the information, even the percentages that he chooses to disregard.
“My gut feeling is paramount,” Washington said. “I’m watching the game, I’m feeling the game, and I’m going to do what I think the feel of the game is telling me to do.
“I know the stats. I look at them. But I’m not going to run a ballgame according to stats.”
The volume of daily reports, visual and statistical, available to major league teams today is staggering. Bogar’s task, as he did with the Red Sox, will be to digest those reports and condense them.
There’s going to be a different vibe this season, in other words, when the TV camera scans the manager’s bench.
Washington and Moore’s hugs after a Rangers victory rose to YouTube celebrity status. So, forgive me, I had to ask: What sort of hugger is Tim Bogar?
“We’re working on it right now,” Wash said with a wink. “The first win of the season, watch what we do.
“We’re going to shock the world.”
Yep. It’s going to be a different dugout in Arlington.
“You’ll see,” Bogar said. “You’ll see.”
About Gil LeBreton
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