Never has such a major move from one of our local teams been quite so unintentionally buried as the formal introduction of the new Texas Rangers’ manager on Monday morning.
News leaked that Chris Woodward accepted the job on Thursday. The club did not make the news official until the weekend, amid a full slate of college football and NFL games.
When the Rangers introduced Woodward in a press conference at 10 a.m. on Monday, kickoff for the Dallas Cowboys’ game was nine hours away, across the street on Mass Construction Blvd.
And Woodward’s introduction came one day before our national mid-term election that figures to ruin everyone’s Thanksgiving Dinner into a living hell of awkward silences and uncomfortable confrontations.
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Mr. Woodward, you deserved a better introduction.
While we’re on the subject, he deserves a slightly better team, too.
These current Rangers are built to lose, and expecting Woodward to turn a team that nestled into last place of the AL West with a tidy 67 wins into a winner in 2019 is asking your weather forecaster to stop it from raining.
Never in this century has this franchise been more irrelevant than it is right now.
The only element that is captivating about the local baseball club isn’t this new managerial hire, or whom he will have the GM approve as the team’s pitching coach, but rather their facility. Forget the players, the stadium is the Rangers’ point of sale for the next two seasons.
We are entering one year away from the Rangers’ move into Tax Hike Friendly Ballpark in 2020. Next season will entirely be about nostalgia at their ancient building, which was opened in a pre-historic time that historians call, 1994.
The memories of the franchise’s first division championships, consecutive World Series appearances and so many others that all occurred in the Ballpark will provide cover for the on-the-field product, which figures to be not good for a third straight year. PA man Chuck Morgan should have hours of stock footage to air on the outfield JumboTron during yet another pitching change.
Just know whatever the state of the team is by 2020 it will not be because of the manager, but rather his boss.
His boss has gone full MLB trend this offseason. With the hiring of Woodward, Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels has embraced baseball’s growing fascination of hiring young managers who are fresh on the scene.
Woodward finished his playing career in 2011. He’s 42 years old.
Speaking of trends, Woodward was a part of Dave Roberts’ staff with the L.A. Dodgers that invested heavily into baseball’s growing love affair with using analytics for everything up to and including determining what time a batter should use the toilet.
Go back to JD’s first presser immediately after the season, when he said the team plans to invest in “R&D” (research and development) in player development; the hiring of Woodward makes sense that this team will be asking Siri, Google and Alexa what the the statistical odds are for everything.
In the past, JD had said that he thought the Rangers were maybe not quite as analytics heavy as perceived; after the success of the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and the rest, the Rangers have no choice; they are going to try to be as computer savvy as Google.
Will it work?
With no real plausible improvement from their hitter-friendly pitching staff forecasted for ‘19, we won’t know until ‘20.
The Rangers hired a new manager on Monday, and given this team’s history that’s not much to celebrate. Of the previous 18 Rangers managers, five of them posted records over .500. One of those, Tim Bogar, managed a total of 22 games.
The Rangers hired a new manager and no one has a clue as to if he’s any good, because the roster he has to work with is inferior. That’s on his boss.
So, for now, let’s just focus on what the Rangers will focus on: Celebrating memories of the “old stadium,” and the delicious thought of wearing a jacket inside teeth-rattling air conditioning for mid July baseball in the new stadium.