The first time Jon Daniels hired a manager, he found a former MLB infielder who was a third-base coach for a team that had success developing players but also had a different way of putting a team together.
Ron Washington worked out pretty well.
Daniels’ third hire is Chris Woodward, a former MLB infielder who was the third-base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They spend a ton of money, unlike Washington’s Oakland A’s, but they also have developed young players and infused analytics into a pennant-winning team.
Woodward won’t single-handedly turn the Rangers into a numbers-crunching, development-minded, technology-advanced contender, but the Rangers apparently believe that Woodward will be able to convey the message to players and make the correct baseball decisions game to game.
And he needs be patient. In fact, patience needs to be one of his strengths.
He hopped into coaching as soon as he retired from playing, and it wasn’t that long ago. Woodward is 42 and knows what players need to hear and need to feel. The rah-rah stuff doesn’t fly 162 times a season.
Players don’t like to be kept in the dark. They like being told what is happening and, when necessary, why. They are the most important thing in their world, and they need their egos stroked.
And, the Rangers judged, Woodward will do that better than any of the other 11 (perhaps more) candidates who were interviewed.
But the Rangers look to be more than two seasons away being a full-fledged contender. They should be better in 2019 and then in 2020 for the first season of Globe Life Field, but it could be until 2021 before the Rangers are ready to act like a contender again.
Their best young pitching prospects – Hans Crouse, Cole Winn, Cole Ragans, Tyler Phillips – are years away from the majors. Three more who pitched last year in Double A – Taylor Hearn, Jonathan Hernandez and Joe Palumbo – should pitch in the majors this season.
At some point the Rangers are going to have to spend money, as they did in 2010 and 2011. Those were the World Series years after taking their lumps in 2007 and 2008. They were better in 2009 as young players developed.
There’s a blueprint for Woodward to follow.
The Rangers believe he’s the manager to help them pull it off.