Tracy Ringolsby

Rangers face tough task in replacing Washington

Rangers face tough task in replacing Washington

As if a lingering 100-loss season on the heels of the best five-year run in franchise history isn't enough of a challenge, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was blindsided on Friday.

Ron Washington, the most successful manager in franchise history, abruptly resigned, citing personal issues that need to be addressed. Nobody would say what prompted Washington's decision, other than to make it clear that drug use is not involved.

It was one thing for Nolan Ryan to resign as president at the end of last season, a decision that had been pretty much expected following a front-office shake-up the previous spring that limited Ryan's day-to-day involvement.

No surprise that assistant general manager A.J. Preller left a month ago to become general manager of the Padres, an upward move for him in his front-office career.

Washington's decision, however, came out of left field. And for a franchise looking for a quick turnaround, it's a major blow.

Daniels and Co. might be able to work overtime and revamp a roster that has been besieged by injuries and inconsistencies this year, resulting in the Rangers setting single-season Major League records for players used (63) and pitchers (40). The man, however, who has to make the pieces fit on the field is the manager, and the biggest strengths of Washington's many strengths was his ability to deal with players, and earn not only their respect but their loyalty.

When word surfaced in the spring of 2010 about Washington testing positive the previous summer for drug usage, Washington offered his resignation. The Rangers, however, refused to accept it. Management, from the youthful Daniels to the well-seasoned Ryan, had never seen players step up in support of a manager the way Texas' players did for Washington in the wake of that event.

The confidence in Washington was repaid by success on the field.

That 2010 season, the Rangers made their first World Series appearance, and they returned for an encore in '11.

The franchise is coming off the best five-year stretch in its history -- four 90-win seasons and three postseason appearances, including those two World Series trips.

Resigning just 22 games shy of eight full seasons on the job, Washington walked away having managed more games (1,275) and won more games (664) than any of the other 16 men to manage Texas. He is one of only three managers in franchise history to have a winning career record (664-611, .521), joining Billy Hunter (146-108, .575) and Johnny Oates (506-476, .515).

Now comes the challenge for Daniels, who at the time of his hiring following the 2005 season was 28 years, 41 days of age, the youngest general manager in history.

Daniels now must add finding a manager to his "to do" list. Tim Bogar, Washington's bench coach, is handling the job on an interim basis and will be among the candidates to assume the job on a full-time basis. But there will be others the Rangers will consider, most likely including former Rangers coach Dave Anderson, who Texas' front-office execs have supported in his bid for other managerial spots in recent years, along with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

Daniels already faced putting the roster back together from a season in which the Rangers haven't had a winning record since they were 28-27 on May 30.

Two weeks earlier, Prince Fielder, the major offseason addition in a trade from Detroit from Ian Kinsler, had called it a season, agreeing to back surgery after hitting only three home runs and driving in only 16 runs in the first year of the seven-year, $138 million financial obligation that Texas assumed.

A team known for its explosive offense in five previous seasons, the Rangers went into the weekend ranked 12th in the American League with 554 runs scored and 14th with 98 home runs. Their .255 average was seventh in the AL. Texas hasn't had a season average lower than .259 since the 1992 team hit .250.

But then between injuries and slumps, it has been that kind of season for the Rangers, who currently have 14 players still on the disabled list.

Texas needs to win 11 of its final 21 games to avoid the seventh 100-loss season in franchise history, the first since the club suffered 100 losses in 1972 and 105 in '73, the first two seasons after the move from Washington, D.C.

Trying to piece a lineup together, Washington used 18 players at designated hitter, 11 at first base, eight in left field, seven in right field, six each at second base and third base, five at catcher, four at shortstop and three in center field.

And as of Friday, the Rangers have also used two managers.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.