No Snap Judgements In Texas

By Tim Cowlishaw
Updated: May 11, 2008

ARLINGTON — Rangers president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels say they hope speculation about manager Ron Washington’s job status will cease.

There is one easy way for Rangers management to take care of that.

Either — or both of them — could come out and say Washington has the job for the rest of 2008. Neither man has said that.

Daniels said Washington was safe at least until the All-Star break. That wasn’t much of an endorsement — a two-month reprieve.

And this is for a guy who has the Rangers suddenly playing their best baseball in years.

“I don’t have any feelings about it,” Washington said. “I didn’t have any feelings about it when everyone was talking about it.

“I’ve never been in a managerial position where I needed an endorsement.”

Ryan tried to calm things down Friday, saying he likes the job Washington is doing and that no meetings are scheduled to discuss his status at this time.

Again, he left open the door to do something later this year. I just don’t think that approach makes any sense.

Midseason managerial changes rarely spark instant change or excite the fans. It worked for George Steinbrenner in the ’70s when he would yank Billy Martin back and forth.

But it worked because whomever he named manager had the luxury of writing down the names Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson every day and Ron Guidry every fourth day and had Goose Gossage and Ron Davis anchoring a deep bullpen.

That comparison has nothing to do with the Rangers’ situation.

The Rangers have some pitchers who are overachieving at this point. The staff posted 33 consecutive scoreless innings before allowing a run in the third inning Saturday against Oakland.

When these pitchers weren’t performing early in the season, Washington was a bad manager.

Now that they are pounding the strike zone, he gets to stay.

For a while.

The thing is, if you thought Washington was good enough to be your manager when you went to spring training, there’s no reason to consider change with the club two games under .500 and four games out of first place.

You shouldn’t make a judgment after 30 or 40 games. That’s too small a sample.

If Washington was the fall guy when this team was playing poorly and losing seven straight games in Boston and Detroit, doesn’t he get some of the credit when it starts clicking against division rivals?

The Rangers have won five straight series since their season looked like it was crashing in Detroit. Washington has this team performing at right about the level it’s capable of getting to.

The lineup is good, not great. Ranking third in the American League in both on-base and slugging percentage is very good for this team.

Team ERA still ranks next to last in the league, but it’s coming down, and it’s nowhere close to last year’s disastrous level.

Boil it down, and the Rangers are who we thought they were – a .500 team or something close to it, nothing more and nothing less.

For that, Washington should be given the opportunity to not be looking over his shoulder every time this team drops a game. He should be allowed to perform his job the way he thinks is best and see what this team can do for the rest of the year.

After two full seasons, then you can evaluate what he brings to this team and whether he is the right man for the job. There’s no reason to look into it any sooner than that.