The Texas Rangers’ season attendance has dropped by more than one million in the last five years. But president and general manager Jon Daniels didn’t feel pressure to go out and make a “splash” hire to re-energize the fan base with the team’s next manager.
Instead, Daniels cared solely on making the “right” hire and he wholeheartedly believes that Chris Woodward is the right man for the job.
“The only thing we cared about is somebody we felt would lead us to where we want to go,” Daniels said on Monday as the team introduced Woodward. “I don’t believe that anybody buys a ticket based on who the manager is. I really don’t. Or who the GM is. That’s not meant to be a negative.
“They come to see an energetic team playing a brand of baseball they like and that has a chance to win and a chance to win a championship. That’s why we hired Chris.”
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Daniels pointed to when he made his first managerial hire in Ron Washington. At the time, it wasn’t the biggest name on the market but Washington became a fan favorite and helped steer the Rangers on a couple World Series runs.
“Ron Washington, we hired him, people weren’t excited about it and they grew to love him here. He was a star here,” Daniels said. “He was a star here because of the culture that he created and allowed his players to play and motivated them to play.”
Daniels believes Woodward has the ability to create a similar culture.
Woodward certainly didn’t disappoint in his debut as Rangers manager, saying all the right things at his opening news conference.
Common words throughout his first news conference included “passion” and “growth” and “process.” He didn’t shy away from World Series expectations.
“I love that. I embrace expectations,” Woodward said. “You will hear me say that a lot with our players. I want our players to have expectations of winning a World Series. You have to establish that belief now.
“I don’t know how many wins we will have this year, but that championship belief is powerful. It’s important to instill in these guys now so when that time comes, whether it’s this year or next year, or the year after, that foundation will be there.”
Woodward touched on everything from growing up five houses down from Rangers great Michael Young in Southern California to working for the Los Angeles Dodgers, known as a forward-thinking organization that has blended the use of advanced statistics as well as anyone in today’s game.
Woodward even shared a heartwarming personal story on why he’ll wear No. 8 for the Rangers.
Woodward’s favorite player growing up, Cal Ripken Jr., was No. 8 – the same number of his high school coach’s favorite player back in the day (Yogi Berra).
His high school coach, Tom Quinley, passed away in August.
“It’s a tremendous honor to put this on and know that he’s watching upstairs,” Woodward said.
Woodward, 42, emerged as the choice for the Rangers after a lengthy search to find Jeff Banister’s replacement. Daniels said the organization talked with 15 candidates before settling on Woodward.
Woodward has minimal managing experience. His only professional experience is managing New Zealand in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
But he’s viewed as a rising star within the industry. He served as the Dodgers’ third-base and infield coach on Dave Roberts’ staff the past three seasons, including consecutive trips to the World Series in 2017-18.
Prior to the Dodgers, he worked as the first-base and infield coach for the Seattle Mariners in 2014-15 and as Seattle’s minor-league infield coordinator in 2013.
Woodward’s playing career ended in 2012 after playing all or parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues.
“Chris stood out in two major areas. First and foremost, his interpersonal and leadership skills,” Daniels said. “He is extremely bright, high energy, you can see that as a third base coach. See it when you sit down and see what he is passionate about. He is a communicator and a good listener, selfless leader with minimal ego. Very consistent day to day who he is as a man and he has empathy and respect for everybody. All traits that we set out looking for in the beginning.
“Secondly, he brings a really unique understanding of the game, developing strategies, how to use data and probabilities to make decisions, also understanding the role that plays in blending those elements with a feel for players and what drives them. A really good balance.
“We are building something here that we’re really excited about, fans will be proud of.”