No fear: Washington deserves to keep job
Rangers skipper not concerned about being dismissed, has backing of GM
ST. PETERSBURG -- There was this story that had a brief life Tuesday. Ron Washington, manager of the Texas Rangers, in a radio interview, supposedly said he was concerned about his job security.
When this was mentioned to Washington in his pregame session with the media at Tropicana Field, the manager responded in a unique way. He crawled under his desk.
This turned out to be a symbolic sort of answer. When Washington emerged from under the desk, he said that he did not want to give this story any kind of "legs." And then he said in a forceful kind of way that "I never said a thing about fearing [for] my job."
Soon thereafter, general manager Jon Daniels reaffirmed that he fully expected Washington to return as the Rangers' manager in 2014.
"My full expectation is that he will be [back]," Daniels said. "My full expectation is that I will be [back]. Beyond that, we'll address everything in the offseason. I refer to us as partners. I feel very much that way. I fully expect that partnership will continue."
What gave the story about Washington's alleged job concerns momentary plausibility was that the Rangers were in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. These were the Rangers, AL pennant-winners in 2010 and '11, a postseason team in 2012. An extended bout of losing isn't on their agenda.
"Like anything else in life, it's an experience," Washington said. "I don't think anyone, no matter what sport it is, wants to go through this type of experience. But in some way you're being challenged. If you can find your way through this challenge, it's another experience you have in life.
"And that's what's happening. We're going through an experience that I don't think many of us have ever gone through. We've got to stay steadfast -- and focused on what we have to do and get it done."
Tuesday night, with a 7-1 victory over Tampa Bay, a solid game in all aspects for the Rangers, the world looked a little brighter for the Texas club. They were back in a tie for the lead in the American League Wild Card chase.
Even after the seven straight losses, the 13 losses in 16 games, and being pushed out of the AL West race by Oakland, there was still life for the Rangers, there was still hope, there was still a very reasonable chance of qualifying for the postseason.
And implicit in all of that is the notion that Ron Washington deserves to keep his job. His contract runs through 2014. The manager is always the easiest one to blame when expectations are not met, but the disappointments with this club don't add up to managerial shortcomings.
Evaluating a manager, Daniels said Tuesday, could be like the balloting for Manager of the Year. It is essentially grading on a curve, weighing performance against expectations.
"I look at it relative to the talent that he has to work with," Daniels said of Washington's performance this season. "In some ways, the depth of the pitching staff is as good as it's been, but from a position player standpoint, as a matter of raw 'now' talent -- not what guys are going to be in five years, but what guys are today -- I've said it before, I didn't think we were quite as talented coming into the season.
"And I think Wash has done a good job utilizing platoons, using the hot hand. And if the guy you expected to hit .270 is hitting .215, I don't hold [Washington] accountable. At some point, it's on the player."
What the Rangers have encountered recently is a slump by some of their major run producers, in combination with atypical struggles by some members of the starting rotation. It is a combination that will get any team beat.
"But we're still in a position to get this thing done," Washington said. "And I'm confident that we still can."
It was good to see Ron Washington crawl out from under his desk and get back to managing the Texas Rangers. He had lost a bunch of games, but not his sense of humor. He and his team were still on the job and still in the chase for October.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.